That Nice Elderly Year

That nice elderly year

Lying on his death bed,

A fellow of our previous path

A willing caller to everyone’ longing;

His days were once lustrous

Evening, a rosy blonde,

When his hope was high

He weaved fanciful visual nights;

How he lavished his liberal hand

All the treasures in his possess?

I find his tiny traces in Apollo

Or vanishing lunar light,

As I have all praise, less to blame;

I thank God for past every moment

Love you for thy timely prick,

It’s all my choice

If I were a failure;

Now I can shun my greed and strife

As thou taught me a restful sleep,

To wake up for New Year morn

Sound in judgments,

Devoid of wasteful desire



Sandeep Kumar Mishra







Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

Our bodies are made of remnants of stars and massive explosions in the galaxies

How 40,000 Tons of Cosmic Dust Falling to Earth Affects Us

View Images

In this infrared image, stellar winds from a giant star cause interstellar dust to form ripples. There’s a whole lot of dust—which contains oxygen, carbon, iron, nickel, and all the other elements—out there, and eventually some of it finds its way into our bodies.

Photograph by NASA, JPL-Caltech

Astrophysics and medical pathology don’t, at first sight, appear to have much in common. What do sunspots have to do with liver spots? How does the big bang connect with cystic fibrosis?

Astrophysicist Karel Schrijver, a senior fellow at the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, and his wife, Iris Schrijver, professor of pathology at Stanford University, have joined the dots in a new book, Living With the Stars: How the Human Body Is Connected to the Life Cycles of the Earth, the Planets, and the Stars.

Talking from their home in Palo Alto, California, they explain how everything in us originated in cosmic explosions billions of years ago, how our bodies are in a constant state of decay and regeneration, and why singer Joni Mitchell was right.

Subscribe to NGM mag

“We are stardust,” Joni Mitchell famously sang in “Woodstock.” It turns out she was right, wasn’t she?

Iris: Was she ever! Everything we are and everything in the universe and on Earth originated from stardust, and it continually floats through us even today. It directly connects us to the universe, rebuilding our bodies over and again over our lifetimes.

That was one of the biggest surprises for us in this book. We really didn’t realize how impermanent we are, and that our bodies are made of remnants of stars and massive explosions in the galaxies. All the material in our bodies originates with that residual stardust, and it finds its way into plants, and from there into the nutrients that we need for everything we do—think, move, grow. And every few years the bulk of our bodies are newly created.

Can you give me some examples of how stardust formed us?

Karel: When the universe started, there was just hydrogen and a little helium and very little of anything else. Helium is not in our bodies. Hydrogen is, but that’s not the bulk of our weight. Stars are like nuclear reactors. They take a fuel and convert it to something else. Hydrogen is formed into helium, and helium is built into carbon, nitrogen and oxygen, iron and sulfur—everything we’re made of. When stars get to the end of their lives, they swell up and fall together again, throwing off their outer layers. If a star is heavy enough, it will explode in a supernova.

So most of the material that we’re made of comes out of dying stars, or stars that died in explosions. And those stellar explosions continue. We have stuff in us as old as the universe, and then some stuff that landed here maybe only a hundred years ago. And all of that mixes in our bodies.

Your book yokes together two seemingly different sciences: astrophysics and human biology. Describe your individual professions and how you combined them to create this book.

Iris: I’m a physician specializing in genetics and pathology. Pathologists are the medical specialists who diagnose diseases and their causes. We also study the responses of the body to such diseases and to the treatment given. I do this at the level of the DNA, so at Stanford University I direct the diagnostic molecular pathology laboratory. I also provide patient care by diagnosing inherited diseases and also cancers, and by following therapy responses in those cancer patients based on changes that we can detect in their DNA.

View Images

Book jacket courtesy of schrijver+schrijver

Our book is based on many conversations that Karel and I had, in which we talked to each other about topics from our daily professional lives. Those areas are quite different. I look at the code of life. He’s an astrophysicist who explores the secrets of the stars. But the more we followed up on our questions to each other, the more we discovered our fields have a lot more connections than we thought possible.

Karel: I’m an astrophysicist. Astrophysicists specialize in all sorts of things, from dark matter to galaxies. I picked stars because they fascinated me. But no matter how many stars you look at, you can never see any detail. They’re all tiny points in the sky.

So I turned my attention to the sun, which is the only star where we can see what happens all over the universe. At some point NASA asked me to lead a summer school for beginning researchers to try to create materials to understand the things that go all the way from the sun to the Earth. I learned so many things about these connections I started to tell Iris. At some point I thought: This could be an interesting story, and it dawned on us that together we go all the way, as she said, from the smallest to the largest. And we have great fun doing this together.

We tend to think of our bodies changing only slowly once we reach adulthood. So I was fascinated to discover that, in fact, we’re changing all the time and constantly rebuilding ourselves. Talk about our skin.

Iris: Most people don’t even think of the skin as an organ. In fact, it’s our largest one. To keep alive, our cells have to divide and grow. We’re aware of that because we see children grow. But cells also age and eventually die, and the skin is a great example of this.

It’s something that touches everything around us. It’s also very exposed to damage and needs to constantly regenerate. It weighs around eight pounds [four kilograms] and is composed of several layers. These layers age quickly, especially the outer layer, the dermis. The cells there are replaced roughly every month or two. That means we lose approximately 30,000 cells every minute throughout our lives, and our entire external surface layer is replaced about once a year.

Very little of our physical bodies lasts for more than a few years. Of course, that’s at odds with how we perceive ourselves when we look into the mirror. But we’re not fixed at all. We’re more like a pattern or a process. And it was the transience of the body and the flow of energy and matter needed to counter that impermanence that led us to explore our interconnectedness with the universe.

You have a fascinating discussion about age. Describe how different parts of the human body age at different speeds.

Iris: Every tissue recreates itself, but they all do it at a different rate. We know through carbon dating that cells in the adult human body have an average age of seven to ten years. That’s far less than the age of the average human, but there are remarkable differences in these ages. Some cells literally exist for a few days. Those are the ones that touch the surface. The skin is a great example, but also the surfaces of our lungs and the digestive tract. The muscle cells of the heart, an organ we consider to be very permanent, typically continue to function for more than a decade. But if you look at a person who’s 50, about half of their heart cells will have been replaced.

Our bodies are never static. We’re dynamic beings, and we have to be dynamic to remain alive. This is not just true for us humans. It’s true for all living things.

View Images

Stars are being born and stars are dying in this infrared snapshot of the heavens. You and I—we come from stardust.

Photograph by NASA, JPL-Caltech, University of Wisconsin

A figure that jumped out at me is that 40,000 tons of cosmic dust fall on Earth every year. Where does it all come from? How does it affect us?

Karel: When the solar system formed, it started to freeze gas into ice and dust particles. They would grow and grow by colliding. Eventually gravity pulled them together to form planets. The planets are like big vacuum cleaners, sucking in everything around them. But they didn’t complete the job. There’s still an awful lot of dust floating around.

When we say that as an astronomer, we can mean anything from objects weighing micrograms, which you wouldn’t even see unless you had a microscope, to things that weigh many tons, like comets. All that stuff is still there, being pulled around by the gravity of the planets and the sun. The Earth can’t avoid running into this debris, so that dust falls onto the Earth all the time and has from the very beginning. It’s why the planet was made in the first place. Nowadays, you don’t even notice it. But eventually all that stuff, which contains oxygen and carbon, iron, nickel, and all the other elements, finds its way into our bodies.

When a really big piece of dust, like a giant comet or asteroid, falls onto the Earth, you get a massive explosion, which is one of the reasons we believe the dinosaurs became extinct some 70 million years ago. That fortunately doesn’t happen very often. But things fall out of the sky all the time. [Laughs]

Many everyday commodities we use also began their existence in outer space. Tell us about salt.

Karel: Whatever you mention, its history began in outer space. Take salt. What we usually mean by salt is kitchen salt. It has two chemicals, sodium and chloride. Where did they come from? They were formed inside stars that exploded billions of years ago and at some point found their way onto the Earth. Stellar explosions are still going on today in the galaxy, so some of the chlorine we’re eating in salt was made only recently.

You study pathology, Iris. Is physical malfunction part of the cosmic order?

Iris: Absolutely. There are healthy processes, such as growth, for which we need cell division. Then there are processes when things go wrong. We age because we lose the balance between cell deaths and regeneration. That’s what we see in the mirror when we age over time. That’s also what we see when diseases develop, such as cancers. Cancer is basically a mistake in the DNA, and because of that the whole system can be derailed. Aging and cancer are actually very similar processes. They both originate in the fact that there’s a loss of balance between regeneration and cell loss.

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited genetic disease. You inherit an error in the DNA. Because of that, certain tissues do not have the capability to provide their normal function to the body. My work is focused on finding changes in DNA in different populations so we can understand better what kinds of mutations are the basis of that disease. Based on that, we can provide prognosis. There are now drugs that target specific mutations, as well as transplants, so these patients can have a much better life span than was possible 10 or 20 years ago.

How has writing this book changed your view of life—and your view of each other?

Karel: There are two things that struck me, one that I had no idea about. The first is what Iris described earlier—the impermanence of our bodies. As a physicist, I thought the body was built early on, that it would grow and be stable. Iris showed me, over a long series of dinner discussions, that that’s not the way it works. Cells die and rebuild all the time. We’re literally not what were a few years ago, and not just because of the way we think. Everything around us does this. Nature is not outside us. We are nature.

As far as our relationship is concerned, I always had a great deal of respect for Iris, and physicians in general. They have to know things that I couldn’t possibly remember. And that’s only grown with time.

Iris: Physics was not my favorite topic in high school. [Laughs] Through Karel and our conversations, I feel that the universe and the world around us has become much more accessible. That was our goal with the book as well. We wanted it to be accessible and understandable for anyone with a high school education. It was a challenge to write it that way, to explain things to each other in lay terms. But it has certainly changed my view of life. It’s increased my sense of wonder and appreciation of life.

In terms of Karel’s profession and our relationship, it has inevitably deepened. We understand much better what the other person is doing in the sandboxes we respectively play in. [Laughs]

Simon Worrall curates Book Talk. Follow him on Twitter or at

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

The Perfect Bond

Elena Caldera

Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

Ireland has just saved the UK from the madness of a hard Brexit

Ms May said the deal would ensure “no hard border” in Ireland and added the deal was a “significant improvement” which had required give and take on both sides.

Let’s not understate the import of what Ireland has just achieved. It has not just secured an outcome that minimises the damage of Brexit on this island. It has radically altered the trajectory of Brexit itself, pushing that crazy careering vehicle away from its path towards the cliff edge.

This saga has taken many strange turns, but this is the strangest of all: after one of the most fraught fortnights in the recent history of Anglo-Irish relations, Ireland has just done Britain a favour of historic dimensions. It has saved it from the madness of a hard Brexit. There is a great irony here: the problem that the Brexiteers most relentlessly ignored has come to determine the entire shape of their project. By standing firm against their attempts to bully, cajole and blame it, Ireland has shifted Brexit towards a soft outcome. It is now far more likely that Britain will stay in the customs union and the single market. It is also more likely that Brexit will not in fact happen.

To adapt Henry Ford, Britain can have any Brexit it likes, so long as it is green

Essentially what this extraordinary deal does is to reverse engineer Brexit as a whole from one single component – the need to avoid a hard Irish border. It follows the Sherlock Holmes principle: eliminate the impossible and whatever remains, however improbable, must be the solution. The Irish Government, by taking a firm stance and retaining the rock solid support of the rest of the EU, made the hard border the defining impossibility. Working back from that, the Brexit project now has to embrace what seemed, even last Monday, highly improbable: the necessity, at a minimum, for the entire UK to mirror the rules of the customs union and the single market after it leaves the EU. And this in turn raises the biggest question of all: if the UK is going to mirror the customs union and the single market, why go to the considerable bother of leaving the EU in the first place?

The great surprise of the text of the joint report is that its language is actually much more favourable to Ireland that the text that was leaked on Monday as having been agreed. The language that caused the Democratic Unionist Party to threaten hellfire and damnation suggested that there would be continuing “regulatory alignment” between the two parts of Ireland. What we’ve actually ended up with is much firmer and clearer – and it explicitly invokes the customs union and the single market as the source of these regulations: “In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the internal market and the customs union which, now or in the future, support North-South co-operation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement.”

The phrase “in the future” is crucial – it means that every single change in the EU’s rules will have to be mirrored north of the border. But this is now the wooden horse inside the walls of Troy because, to avoid the idea of Northern Ireland becoming a separate regulatory space, there will also have to be the same mirroring of the rules and regulations that continue to apply in Northern Ireland by the UK as a whole. The mathematics are simple: if A equals B and B equals C, then C equals A. A is Ireland’s position in the single market and customs union, B is Northern Ireland’s full alignment to that position and C is the UK’s commitment not to differ from Northern Ireland. The commitment to have no barriers to east-west trade means that London is effectively a prisoner of Belfast.

I suggested earlier this week that we were seeing things being turned upside down: instead of, as DUP leader Arlene Foster insisted, Northern Ireland leaving the EU on the same terms as the UK, the UK will have to leave the EU on the same terms as Northern Ireland. This, in effect, is what is now agreed. We always knew the Border is extremely porous, but what has now been smuggled across it is a minimum condition for the second phase of the Brexit talks: whatever trade arrangements eventually emerge, they cannot be ones in which Britain strays much beyond the existing customs and market arrangements. To adaptHenry Ford, Britain can have any Brexit it likes, so long as it is green.

Apart from all of its other consequences, this means the DUP’s great bluff has been called. It was insisting on two contradictory things: no special status for Northern Ireland and completely leaving the customs union and single market. This contradiction has come back to haunt the whole Brexit project -the DUP has been forced to concede that if the first condition is to be satisfied, the second in effect cannot. The deal secured by Ireland does not necessarily force the UK to stay in the customs union and single market. It just forces it to act as if it has stayed in – a distinction without a difference. Call it what you like – if it acts like a customs union, moves like a customs union and is fully aligned like a customs union, it is a customs union.

But this, of course, is precisely why this deal is not just the beginning of the end of the Brexit talks. It is potentially the beginning of the end of Brexit itself. If the deal sticks, the dreams of a clean break, of throwing off the shackles of EU regulation and sailing off into the great blue yonder of Empire 2.0 are over – unless the “swivel-eyed loons” can stage a coup, call off the talks process and crash out with no deal.

And as they themselves have always argued, if Britain is not making a clean break, what is the point of breaking up with the EU at all? Ireland has just pointed its neighbour towards one obvious answer to that question.


By Fintan O’Toole

Posted in homepage | 1 Comment

Uranium firm urged Trump officials to shrink Bears Ears National Monument

a view of a canyon: The Moki Dugway, a series of steep switchbacks that climb 1,200 feet to the top of Cedar Mesa, is no longer part of Bears Ears National Monument after President Trump’s action. © Scalzo/Epa-Efe/Rex/Shutterstock/Scalzo/Epa-Efe/Rex/Shutterstock The Moki Dugway, a series of steep switchbacks that climb 1,200 feet to the top of Cedar Mesa, is no longer part of Bears Ears National Monument after President Trump’s action. A uranium company launched a concerted lobbying campaign to scale back Bears Ears National Monument, saying such action would give it easier access to the area’s uranium deposits and help it operate a nearby processing mill, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and top Utah Republicans have said repeatedly that questions of mining or drilling played no role in President Trump’s announcement Monday that he was cutting the site by more than 1.1 million acres, or 85 percent. Trump also signed a proclamation nearly halving the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is also in southern Utah and has significant coal deposits.”This is not about energy,” Zinke told reporters Tuesday. “There is no mine within Bears Ears.”But the nation’s sole uranium processing mill sits directly next to the boundaries that President Barack Obama designated a year ago when he established Bears Ears. The documents show that Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc., a subsidiary of a Canadian firm, urged the Trump administration to limit the monument to the smallest size needed to protect key objects and areas, such as archeological sites, to make it easier to access the radioactive ore.

Subscribe to the Post Most newsletter: Today’s most popular stories on The Washington Post

In a May 25 letter to the Interior Department, Chief Operating Officer Mark Chalmers wrote that the 1.35 million-acre expanse Obama created “could affect existing and future mill operations.” He later noted, “There are also many other known uranium and vanadium deposits located within the [original boundaries] that could provide valuable energy and mineral resources in the future.”

Trump instructed Zinke in April to assess 27 monuments designated under the 1906 Antiquities Act, which gives presidents wide latitude to protect federal lands and waters under threat. Conservationists, tribal officials, ranching groups and other interests sought to influence the review’s outcome, unsuccessfully in the case of the two Utah sites.

Gov. Gary R. Herbert (R-Utah) addressed the energy considerations in an interview Monday. “The only thing that smacks of energy is the uranium,” he said. “The uranium deposits are outside the monument now.”

Energy Fuels Resources did not just weigh in on national monuments through public-comment letters. It hired a team of lobbyists at Faegre Baker Daniels — led by Andrew Wheeler, who is awaiting Senate confirmation as the Environmental Protection Agency’s deputy secretary — to work on the matter and other federal policies affecting the company. It paid the firm $30,000 between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, according to federal lobbying records, for work on this and other priorities.

The company’s vice president of operations, William Paul Goranson, joined Wheeler and two other lobbyists, including former congresswoman Mary Bono (R-Calif.), to discuss Bears Ears in a July 17 meeting with two top Zinke advisers.

Goranson said Friday that the session with Downey Magallanes, who oversaw the monuments review and serves as Zinke’s deputy chief of staff for policy, and Vincent De Vito, his energy policy counselor, was focused on fairly narrow issues.

Company officials “were trying to get a sense of what was going on” with the review because some of their air and water quality monitoring stations and a road leading to the now-dormant Daneros mine all lay within the original monument, Goranson explained.

“The goal of the meeting . . . was not to go and advocate on the boundaries,” he said, adding that the lobbying for that was “on a separate track.” Still, the officials proposed small boundary adjustments to accommodate the monitoring stations as well as the mine, he acknowledged. And they emphasized that the company had cut its workforce by more than half since 2015 because of low uranium prices.

“They heard what we had to say about the job losses, etc.,” he said. Zinke’s deputies “were pretty positively disposed to” the idea of spurring future domestic uranium production.

The Interior Department did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

The price of uranium has recently hovered between $20 and $25 per pound. To justify mining activity, it needs to approach $40 to $50. Michael Heim, a securities research analyst at Noble Capital Markets, said Friday that the current amount “is not a sustainable price” for firms such as Energy Fuels Resources. Given today’s price, Heim said, “the idea of creating more areas to mine wouldn’t have much impact.”

But Goranson said he and other company officials are “confident” that the construction of nuclear plants in Asia and elsewhere, along with other factors, will eventually push prices higher and justify reopening the Daneros mine.

Greg Zimmerman, deputy director of the Center for Western Priorities, a conservation and advocacy group, said the Energy Fuels Resources effort shows the extent to which industry interests influenced the monuments review.

“You listen to the rhetoric about how this was all really about taking special interests out of the equation,” Zimmerman said. “They’re doing this on behalf of special interests. When you look in terms of public access to recreation areas, there’s not a hunter or angler or outdoor recreationist who wants to be out and around an uranium mine.”

The idea of uranium mining is particularly sensitive among members of the Navajo Nation, who have a reservation near Bears Ears and played a key role in pressing for its creation. More than 500 uranium mines have been left near or on their lands, and most of these designated Superfund sites have not been cleaned up. Contamination still affects drinking-water wells, springs and storage tanks.

Navajo Nation Council delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty, who represents several communities near Bears Ears, said Friday that the nation opposes any additional uranium development. “We felt the full brunt of uranium contamination and lost a whole generation of men who were mining or milling uranium,” she said.

The Navajo Nation and other tribes are challenging Trump’s Bears Ears proclamation in federal court, and Navajo President Russell Begaye expressed confidence in an interview that the move will be overturned.

Yet “there is a definite door that’s been opened” with its signing, he said. “With this proclamation, it’s an open invitation for mining companies to come in and start mining uranium and other minerals in the area.”


Juliet Eilperin



Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

We Watch You…

Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

County Cork Viagra Song



Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

On Making Oneself Less Unreadable

A photograph of H. W. Fowler in sporting attire from his biography The Warden of English.

Grammar enthusiasts either love Henry Watson Fowler or they have yet to encounter his work. It is possible to read his Dictionary of Modern Usage (1926) from cover to cover as a weird, wonderful essay; it is impossible to do so without laughing out loud. A few entries from the second edition, revised by Ernest Gowers:

avoidance of the obvious is very well, provided that it is not itself obvious; but, if it is, all is spoilt. [If the reader believes] that you are attitudinizing as an epicure of words for whom nothing but the rare is good enough, or, worse still, that you are painfully endeavouring to impart some much needed unfamiliarity to a platitude, his feelings towards you will be something that is not admiration. The obvious is better than obvious avoidance of it …

Frankenstein. … A sentence written by the creatress of the creator of the creature may save some of those whose acquaintance with all three is indirect from betraying the fact: “Sometimes I endeavoured to gain from Frankenstein the particulars of his creature’s formation; but on this point he was impenetrable” (Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley). Frankenstein is the creator-victim; the creature-despot and fatal creation is Frankenstein’s monster … The blunder is very common indeed—almost, but surely not quite, sanctioned by custom: If they went on strengthening this power they would create a F. they could not resist 

if and when. Any writer who uses this formula lays himself open to entirely reasonable suspicions on the part of his readers. There is the suspicion that he is a mere parrot, who cannot say part of what he has often heard without saying the rest also. There is the suspicion that he likes verbiage for its own sake. There is the suspicion that he is a timid swordsman who thinks he will be safer with a second sword in his left hand. There is the suspicion that he has merely been too lazy to make up his mind between if and when

soccer, -cker. Soccer did not deserve its victory in the competition between these alternative spellings …

Born in Kent in 1858, H. W. Fowler was one of our greatest lexicographical geniuses. He led an ascetic life: he was a runner and a swimmer (lakes, rivers, ocean); he lived with his brother in relative seclusion on the island of Guernsey; and he held—and proved—that anyone should be able to subsist on a hundred pounds a year. He devoted his life to literature: he won the fifth prize in the immensely popular competition with which the Encyclopedia Britannica celebrated its tenth edition; he rediscovered and translated Lucian; he took on, almost single-handedly, the herculean project of boiling down the entire Oxford Dictionary to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, which is, to this day, one of the most widely used reference books in the language. He was a politely outspoken atheist who lost his teaching position for being unwilling to prepare his students for confirmation. During World War I, he refused to collaborate on the recruiting campaign to send young men into harm’s way while he remained safe. Instead, he lied about his age (forty-four), got enlisted, and was sent to the front. After a rather hermitic life, he got happily married when he was in his seventies and died three years after his wife, in 1933. In the words of Ernest Gowers, “The simplicity of his habits has a counterpart in the simplicity of diction he preaches.”

Hackneyed phrases, worn-out humor, and clichés bothered Fowler only as much as novelty hunting, formal words, and any form of officialese (all words in italics are entries in his dictionary). It is no surprise, then, that his main target is the combination of both: exquisite commonplaces and abstruse voids—or, in one word, pretentiousness:

abstractitis. The effect of this disease, now endemic on both sides of the Atlantic, is to make the patient write such sentences as Participation by the men in control of the industry is non-existent instead of The men have no part in the control of the industry … The danger is that, once the disease gets a hold, it sets up a chain reaction. A writer uses abstract words because his thoughts are cloudy; the habit of using them clouds his thoughts further; he may end by concealing his meaning not only from his readers but also from himself, and writing such sentences as The actualization of the motivation of the forces must to a great extent be a matter of personal angularity …

genteelism. By genteelism is here to be understood the rejecting of the ordinary natural word that first suggests itself to the mind, and the substitution of a synonym that is thought to be less soiled by the lips of the common herd, less familiar, less plebeian, less vulgar, less improper, less apt to come unhandsomely betwixt the wind and our nobility …

incongruous vocabulary. Austria-Hungary was no longer in a position, an’ she would, to shake off the German yoke. Be in a position to is a phrase of the most pedestrian modernity; shake off the yoke, though a metaphor, is one so well worn that no incongruity is felt between it and the pedestrianism; but what is an’ she would doing there? … The goldfish an’ cannot live in this sentence-bowl unless we put some water in with it, and gasps pathetically at us from the mere dry air of be in a position. Only a child would expect a goldfish to keep its beauty when out of its right element; and only the writer who is either very inexperienced or singularly proof against experience will let the beauties of a word or a phrase tempt him into displaying it where it is conspicuously out of place …

vogue words. Every now and then a word emerges from obscurity, or even from nothingness or a merely potential and not actual existence, into sudden popularity … Ready acceptance of vogue words seems to some people the sign of an alert mind; to others it stands for the herd instinct and lack of individuality. The title of this article is perhaps enough to show that the second view is here taken … [Some words owe] their vogue to the joy of showing that one has acquired them …

Because his is a usage dictionary, Fowler goes beyond the lexical level. But whether he discusses split infinitives, the use of the subjunctive, or a syntactical problem, he objects, once again, to vacuous pedantries. Grammar should not be confused with the worship of “popular fallacies” (to quote from the title of another of his books) or with idées reçues fossilized into unquestioned rules:

superstitions. “It is wrong to start a sentence with ‘But’ … The word should either be dropped entirely or the sentence altered to contain the word ‘however’.” That ungrammatical piece of nonsense was written by the editor of a scientific periodical to a contributor who had found his English polished up for him in proof, and protested. Both parties being men of determination, the article got no further than proof. It is wrong to start a sentence with “but”! It is wrong to start a sentence with “and”! It is wrong to end a sentence with a preposition! It is wrong to split an infinitive! See the article fetishes for these and other such rules of thumb and for references to articles in which it is shown how misleading their sweet simplicity is; see also substitute for an illustration of the havoc that is wrought by unintelligent applications of an unintelligent dogma … Well, beginners may sometimes find that it is as much as their jobs are worth to resist their editors’ edict, as the champion of “But” did. On the other hand, to let oneself be so far possessed by blindly accepted conventions as to take a hand in enforcing them on other people is to lose the independence of judgement that would enable one to solve the numerous problems for which there are no rules of thumb.

Some of Fowler’s grievances remain uncannily current, after ninety years:

literally. We have come to such a pass with this emphasizer that where the truth would require us to insert with a strong expression “not l., of course, but in a manner of speaking”, we do not hesitate to insert the word that we ought to be at pains to repudiate; cf. veritable. Such false coin makes honest traffic in words impossible. If the Home Rule Bill is passed, the 300,000 Unionists of the South and West of Ireland will be l. thrown to the wolves … / Our eyes were l. pinned to the curtain / Marie Corelli, when she settled in Shakespeare’s native town, l. took the bard to her bosom …

literary critics’ words. … The better the critic, the fewer literary critics’ words he uses. The good critic is aware that his public wants to understand, and he has no need to convince it that he knows what he is talking about by parading words that it does not understand. With the inferior critic the establishment of his status is the first consideration … The reader is to have it borne in upon him that a more instructed person than himself is talking to him. One mark of the good literary critic is that he is both able to explain his meaning without resort to these lingo words and under no necessity to use them as advertisements.

-tion and other -ion endings. Turgid flabby English is full of abstract nouns; the commonest ending of abstract nouns is –tion, and to count the –ion words in what one has written, or, better, to cultivate an ear that without special orders challenges them as they come, is one of the simplest and most effective means of making oneself less unreadable. It is as an unfailing sign of a nouny abstract style that a cluster of –ion words is chiefly to be dreaded … Writers given to overworking these words would be wise to try doing without them altogether; they would seldom find any difficulty in it, and they would have a salutary exercise in clear thinking. See also abstractitis.

Others haven’t aged so well:

gender, n., is a grammatical term only. To talk of persons or creatures of the masculine or feminine g., meaning of the male or female sex, is either a jocularity (permissible or not according to context) or a blunder.

Still, it really doesn’t matter whether we agree with him or not. Everywhere, even when he is showy—because despite his intolerance for any form of affectation, his could be a rather ostentatious austerity—Fowler’s true love for language is always above his love for himself.

In his Dictionary of English Language (1755), Samuel Johnson famously defined lexicographer as “a writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge … ” Johnson himself was the first to prove that there was little in the way of drudgery in the task of the lexicographer. Fowler, one of his heirs, confirmed it.


Hernan Diaz is the managing editor of RHM (Columbia University). His first novel, In the Distance, was published last October.

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

OZ era’s feminist offspring.

Marsha Rowe, left, and Rosie Boycott in the Spare Rib office in London in June 1972. Picture: Getty Images
THE London-based women’s liberation magazine Spare Rib was the “daughter” of the male-dominated 1960s underground press, including OZ magazine, says its co-founder Marsha Rowe.

Speaking from her home in Norfolk in Britain, Rowe says Spare Rib grew out of the frustration felt by many women in support and production roles who felt they did not have a voice in the underground press. But she says she could never have launched the magazine in 1972 had she not spent years working as a secretary at OZ in Sydney and London.

“I saw the freedom, the opportunity to make satire, the (editors’) lack of reverence for authority,” she says. “I was still rather mentally restricted in terms of authority, but I could see how they were so funny and mentally stimulating. I learnt a lot from OZ — how to start a magazine and do it yourself. Where do you go for new ideas and thinking?”

Rowe and Louise Ferrier, who later worked extensively in indigenous art, are the best known of the women behind OZ but their careers have attracted far less attention than those of the men who dominated the Sydney and London versions of the magazine.

It is almost 50 years since Rowe, a shy 19-year-old typist, took the lift to a grimy office in Sydney’s Hunter Street to meet Richard Neville and Richard Walsh, the editors of Sydney OZ. It was late 1964 and the two, along with Martin Sharp, were appealing convictions for obscene publication. Rowe was an avid reader of the satirical magazine launched on April 1, 1963, and had answered an ad for a secretary. “They offered me the job, but my father said absolutely not,” she recalls. “I was not 21 yet and in those days you were, as it were, under the law of your father. Eventually both Richards went to see my father, and he said all right.”

Working at the magazine opened her eyes to a new world, but as Stephen Alomes says in his book When London Calls, Rowe soon found that “class snobbery and gender prejudice ensured that her role was menial; typing and sweeping the floor were higher priorities than research”.

It was the same story in London a few years later when she went to work as a secretary for Neville, who had launched a London version of the magazine. In 1971, when Neville and co-editors Jim Anderson and Felix Dennis were prosecuted for obscenity, Rowe spent every evening typing evidence to prepare for the next day’s hearing. Australian radical filmmaker Albie Thoms recalled in his memoir, My Generation, published shortly after his death last year, that he was once employed as OZ office manager when the three male editors were away: “The fact that OZ had not been left in (Rowe’s) capable hands smacked of male chauvinism and led to a discussion of the way it treated women. Marsha thought there was a need for a magazine that addressed women’s issues. But it would be several years before it became a reality.”

Rowe realised there were some “exceptional” women such as Germaine Greer who wrote for OZ and in 1970 co-edited a famous “Female Energy” issue. Greer had originally wanted to call it the “c . . . power” issue. Australian journalist Lillian Roxon also wrote extensively for OZ.

But Rowe was angry that the countercultural press was so intent on winning sexual freedom that it was objectifying women. “Louise Ferrier and I called a meeting of women in the underground press . . . We had important roles in the underground press, but women had no voice in the underground press.

“We did all the production and kept things going. It was through that I said, ‘Why don’t we start our own magazine?’ In six months we raised the money and had our first issue out.”

Ferrier did not join her at Spare Rib but Rosie Boycott, who went on to a successful career on Fleet Street, did. The following year the magazine became a collective. It continued for more than 20 years. Rowe played a key role in feminist publishing in Britain and is now writing her memoir.

Ferrier, who lives in Sydney, had a significant input into London OZ working alongside her then boyfriend, Neville. Their flat at 38a Palace Terrace Gardens was the OZ office for many years, but Ferrier says: “I was a very silent person, a very naive person. I was around and I was doing all the stuff, the secretarial stuff I guess.”

Alomes writes that Ferrier kept the magazine ticking over when Neville was “out and about”. She also posed for several covers, including a sensational one with dress designer Jenny Kee — both of them naked — in January 1969. Ferrier says that after OZ, she spent years trying to establish her own identity.

Walsh, who co-edited Sydney OZ but was not connected to the London version, says the magazine was a product of its time. “Let’s face it, women’s lib was a product of blokes like us in the 1960s and (the charge) that we hadn’t taken women seriously,” he says. “That doesn’t mean we were dismissive . . . (but) we could be a bit dominating.”


Helen Trinca


Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Inferno dolce

Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

Grenfell Fund?

WHERE HAS THE £19m DONATED TO GRENFELL VICTIMS ACTUALLY GONE? The British people donated enough money to give each Grenfell household around £150,000 – BUT THE MONEY HAS DISAPPEARED. The ‘official’ story is that it has been given to “THE LONDON EMERGENCIES TRUST” which is not a ‘trust’ nor a ‘charity’ but is in fact a PRIVATE COMPANY who calls itself ‘LONDON FUNDERS’ which is listed at HM Government Companies House as having “44 Officers” – however, only 11 people are in active roles – the rest have RESIGNED. The official Companies House listing says there are NO PEOPLE or OFFICERS WHO HAVE SIGNIFICANT CONTROL over the so called “LONDON FUNDERS” private company who started a new ‘front’ organisation in March 2017 called the ‘London Emergencies Trust’. No senior patron – such as a Lord, or a Judge, nor a member of the royal family – not even an accountant is in charge – no one is listed as being ‘in charge’, even though Grenfell residents are being told that the £19m donated to them by members of the public has now mysteriously been given to this private company. Only a tiny fraction of the £19m has been given FOUR MONTHS AFTER THE TRAGEDY. By the way, that £19m generates at least £190,000 per year @ 1% interest, in other words, more than £15,000 per MONTH is generated in interest from these donations – WHERE HAS THE INTEREST GONE? No Grenfell survivor has been asked permission, nor told anything about why this money – which could help all the residents re-boot their lives – is being banked, or who is indeed in charge of it.


Christopher Everard

Posted in homepage | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

What Hollywood Gets Wrong About Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation.

A new crop of films portrays their lifestyle as rebellious, adolescent fun. But what made the Beats so influential in the first place was that they were radical, free-thinking adults.

Sony Pictures

John Clellon Holmes, author of the seminal Beat Generation novel Go, wrote in 1952 that for the free-spirited rising stars of American literature known as the Beats, “how to live seems to them much more crucial than why.” In those years, young people in the U.S. were in the process of inheriting both economic prosperity and stifling societal mores from their parents. So for many, the Beat Generation of writers—with their stupendous refusal of social and cultural norms and their way of life governed by the pursuit of pleasure, belief, and truth—was a godsend.

Today’s young people experience problems of a bit of a different ilk. Feeling free and adventurous won’t avail you of your student loan debt, poems penned in the days between drug-fueled nights probably won’t make it into your favorite lit mag—and, if they did, you’d probably be asked to write for free anyway, you know, “for the exposure.” But this hasn’t stopped a veritable resurgence over the last few years of Beat obsession, beginning with the film Howl (2010), and continuing with On the Road (2012) and two new films, Kill Your Darlings, in theaters today, and Big Sur, opening November 1. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg—the authors of On the Road and Howl, respectively—have been the focus of two films each.

Given what the Beats meant to young people of the 1950s, perhaps it isn’t so surprising that their culture has been revived for millennial consumption. What teenager or 20-something doesn’t long to drop everything and take a road trip to wherever, with friends and booze and drugs and sex? And in an age when many young people are discovering that young adulthood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, we could use some fun, right? But the current Beat revival arguably goes too far with its re-imagination of the Beat writers’ livelihoods as simple adolescent goofing around—its most prominent writers were, after all, well into their grown-up years when they wrote many of their most notable writings. This crop of films diminishes what was so radical about the Beat Generation in the first place: their iconoclastic approach to life, which extended far beyond their 20s and into adulthood proper.

Conspicuously absent from the latest revival is the third heavyweight of the movement, William S. Burroughs, whose Naked Lunch was adapted into a disturbing and gritty film by David Cronenberg in 1991. The omission perhaps isn’t so surprising: Burroughs credited his awakening as a writer to a 1951 incident in Mexico when he accidentally killed his wife while playing “William Tell,” a bar trick Burroughs invented that involves shooting a glass off someone’s head, so his legacy would likely be a bit harder to spin as one of harmless and youthful adventure.

The exclusion of Burroughs from the Beat revival isn’t the only way the movement has been crafted for optimal consumption, though: Howl and Kill Your Darlings focus on Allen Ginsberg at his most youthful and promising. Kill Your Darlings, in which a baby-faced Daniel Radcliffe plays Ginsberg, tells a little-known tale of murder in the Beats’ group of friends at Columbia University, which ends up bringing the group together. The appeal of the story seems to be that it’s about a set of famous people who may have been involved in a possible murder during their youths, the occurrence of which may or may not explain their genius, or art, or something. In Howl, however, Ginsberg’s collection of poems are the subject of an obscenity trial, and though you’d never guess from James Franco’s youthful appearance as Ginsberg in the film, the author was actually 30 years old when Howl was published.

On the Road, published when Kerouac was 35, seems most susceptible to being reimagined as a series of youthful whims. A recollection of Kerouac’s mid-20s, which he spent traveling with Neal Cassady (known as Dean Moriarty in the book); Neal’s wife, Luanne Henderson; and other Beat figures, On the Road is a paean to recklessness and discovery. Significantly, the film replaces the famous opening line of the book, “I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up,” with “I first met Dean not long after my father died,” likely because it interferes with the viewer’s image of carefree and unbridled youth. Scrubbed from the film is any mention of Sal’s age at the time (25) or his stint in the military before attending Columbia. However, the film doesn’t balk at Luanne’s age: characters make numerous references to “Dean’s 16-year-old bride,” known in the book as Marylou.Sal Paradise, Kerouac’s character in the book, describes Marylou as being “awfully dumb and capable of doing horrible things.” In the morning after Sal’s first all-night meeting with the couple, Dean “decided the thing to do was to have Marylou make breakfast and sweep the floor.” Shortly after, Dean and Marylou have a fight, and Marylou kicks Dean out of their shared apartment. According to Sal, “Dean said she’d apparently whored a few dollars together and gone back to Denver—‘the whore!’” This is all within the first three pages. While Marylou’s character in last year’s film adaptation of On the Road, played by Kristen Stewart, is spared some of the nastier epithets, the story’s misogyny largely lives on unchallenged and uncut. Marylou plays a tiny role in the story, mostly as a “dumb little box” whom Dean and Sal trade around until she gets pregnant and they tire of her.
In casting the authors as eternally and fundamentally adolescent, the recent revival tones down their behavior—both revolutionary and repulsive—as a sort of passing teenage phase, something that young people just sort of do. And in that way, the latest cultural reincarnation both nullifies and excuses the behavior of its leaders. In the end, I’m not sure what’s more offensive—the film’s rampant and unapologetic misogyny or Stewart’s interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, in which she claimed that On the Road told her “that you have to use every second in life. You can’t get complacent and let life pass you by,” as if fathering children and abandoning them is just an essential part of what it means to be free, man.

Big Sur, it’s worth noting, is remarkably different from the other films. The film, to its great credit, largely avoids the pitfalls of the others by tackling subject matter that’s less inherently glamorous. An adaptation of Kerouac’s 1962 novel, his first after the publication of On the Road, Big Sur shows Kerouac suffering from the burden of fame and lamenting the fact that he’s no longer young. The film opens with a lightly adapted quote from the novel: “All over America high school and college kids thinking ‘Jack Kerouac is 26 years old and on the road all the time hitchhiking’ while there I am almost 40 years old, bored and jaded.” (Jack Kerouac is known as Jack Duluoz in the book.) The film follows Kerouac as he wanders from Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s cabin in Big Sur to San Francisco and back again, usually in the company of several Beats and lady friends. The film crescendos with Kerouac’s alcohol-induced nervous breakdown, accompanied by a sudden epiphany and strangely chipper ending. Though Kerouac behaves much the same way as he did in On the Road, he doesn’t feel the same way: He becomes obsessed with death and drinking, and the narrative seems to comment on the binary of blessed youth and damned old age.

The misogyny of On the Road also figures into Big Sur, and it gets a little harder to stomach as it becomes clear that it’s not just a phase of adolescence, but rather, it’s seemingly central to the life of a Beat writer. A significant portion of the plot revolves around Neal Cassady’s mistress, whom he introduces to Kerouac. Kerouac, in turn, becomes her lover, promises to marry her, and introduces her to Cassady’s wife. He later calls off the marriage, or any form of commitment, leaving his lover to wonder how she’ll take care of herself and her four-year-old son. Unlike in On the Road, these actions finally begin to reflect upon Cassady and Kerouac in negative ways. Their casual womanizing no longer seems like something fun and rebellious to partake in, but like a deep-seated and decidedly unfortunate character flaw.Overall, while these films are supposed to offer some vintage escapism, their takes ring hollow. Kerouac may have been a tremendous writer, but the enormity of his art is largely left out of the film adaptations. Even for all the dramatic voiceovers of Kerouac’s prose, On the Road and Big Sur are mostly left to work with muddled and problematic plot points. Still, what’s most problematic about these films isn’t their artistry but their authenticity.Yes, to some extent, the real Kerouac and Cassady will always be remembered as somewhat youthful. Seven years after the publication of Big Sur, Kerouac died of cirrhosis of the liver, nearly 30 years before both Burroughs and Ginsberg died; Cassady died the previous year at the age of 41. But despite the fact that they “died young,” both of them were said to look far older than their years. One could argue that these films are only trying to honor the spirit of the Beat Generation, but can you separate the “essence” of a story or a movement from what its progenitors really said and did, and at what point in their lives? Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac were grown men who were also alcoholics, misogynists, and womanizers who killed themselves with substance abuse. Pretending Kerouac’s life was some sort of consequence-free dream not only does a disservice to viewers, but to the Beats, as well.Even at its best, the idea of a revelatory and sensual Beat adventure is rather clichéd, but especially so when divorced from the movement’s great and lasting achievements: Their rebelliousness paved the way for the counterculture of the sixties, and artists from Patti Smith to Thomas Pynchon have hailed the Beats’ style of jazz-like improvisation as an influence. The Beats deserve to be celebrated for the way they lived and what they created, not just for how fun and sexy their escapades may have looked. 

Posted in homepage | 1 Comment

Stream 35 Hours of Classic Blues, Folk, & Bluegrass Recordings

From Smithsonian Folkways: 837 Tracks Featuring Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie & More

Image of Woody Guthrie by Al Aumuller, via Wikimedia Commons

Marshall McLuhan’s chestnut “the medium is the message” contains some of the most important theory about mass media to have emerged in the past century. In its honor, we might propose another slogan—less conceptually tidy and alliterative—that brings to mind the arguments of critical theorists like Theodor Adorno: “the economy is the culture”—the economic mechanisms that govern the “culture industry,” as Adorno would say, determine the kinds of productions that saturate our shared environment. In a purely corporate capitalist model, we consume culture—that which is marketed most aggressively and distributed most plentifully—and often discard it just as quickly. In an economy that doesn’t make profit the fulcrum of its every move, things go otherwise. The lines between consumers, creators, and communities become blurred in weird and wonderful ways.

This can happen in decentralized environments like the wilds of the early internet. And it can happen in institutions that code it into their design. The Smithsonian is one of those institutions. The public collections in its vast network of museums has remained, outside of special exhibits and films, free and “open access” for everyone. And one of their key cultural contributions, the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, has devoted itself since its founding in the late sixties to “culture of, by, and for the people.”


Even if you’ve never taken the time to delve into their curatorial efforts (and you should), you’ll know their work through Folkways Recordings, the record label created in  by Moses Asch—founder of Folkways Records in 1949. After he passed away in 1986, Asch’s family donated over 2,000 records, his entire discography, to the Smithsonian, with the proviso that they always remain in print, whether or not they made a buck.

This has meant that scholars and fans of folk from all over the world have always been able to find the work of Pete Seeger, The Carter Family, Woody Guthrie, and Lead Belly, to name but a few of the label’s “stars.” There are many more: Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, Elizabeth Cotten, Reverend Gary Davis…. So many names in the pantheon of folk giants Robert Crumb immortalized in his colorful, and unusually tasteful, Heroes of Blues, Jazz, and Country. But Folkways has preserved much more besides. Kentucky’s Old Regular Baptist Church’s a capella hymns, Kilby Snow’s autoharp, Snooks English’s New Orleans street singing, Alice Gerrard and Hazel Dickens’ 60s interpretations of traditional bluegrass…. Music that appealed to small but culturally rich communities in its day, and that may have disappeared along with those communities in the scrum of cultural history, dominated as it is by mass entertainments.

The small, regional creations, some teetering on genius, some haunting in their artlessness, are critical documents of old America, the hollers, deserts, streets, swamps, low country, back country, mountains, valleys….  Hear it all in the Spotify playlist above (or access it here), 837 tracks of Folkways recordings. Smithsonian Folkways is perhaps best known for its North American artists, but it has released recordings from all over the world. Rather than creating commodities, the institution functions as a repository of global cultural memory, collecting and preserving “people’s music.” Since Asch’s endowment, Folkways has created an additional six labels under its umbrella and released over 300 new recordings. In 2003, they partnered with the American Folklife Center for the “Save Our Sounds” project, which aims to preserve recordings like those made by Thomas Edison on wax cylinders. Folkways opens a window on an alternate world where cultural production is not a perpetual struggle for ratings, reviews, and sales dominance.

It’s not entirely a utopian vision. There is the danger of a paternalizing approach. Curators like Asch, Harry Smith, John and Alan Lomax, and hundreds more serious enthusiasts and ethnographers have their own agendas, interests, biases, and blind spots. What we understand now as traditional Delta blues, for example, is a product of selection bias—it excludes many artists and varieties that didn’t catch on with collectors. Still Folkways remedies much of this shortcoming by including work from a broad spectrum of unknown composers, interpreters, and performers. There may be no form of modern folk music today that hasn’t been crafted and molded by the music industry, which might mean, by definition, that there is no modern folk music. For such a thing to exist—the “people’s music”—perhaps more democratic economies and institutions must prevail.

Related Content:

Hear 17,000+ Traditional Folk & Blues Songs Curated by the Great Musicologist Alan Lomax

Alan Lomax’s Music Archive Houses Over 17,400 Folk Recordings From 1946 to the 1990s

Legendary Folklorist Alan Lomax: ‘The Land Where the Blues Began’

Woody Guthrie at 100: Celebrate His Amazing Life with a BBC Film

Hear Zora Neale Hurston Sing the Bawdy Prison Blues Song “Uncle Bud” (1940)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Origanally From

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Woman will never go back to men ‘after having sex with 20 ghosts’

Picture: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

Have you ever been so bored with sex that you have considered getting close with a ghostly spirit?

That might sound utterly ridiculous and impossible, but according to a woman from Bristol, it is real.

Amethyst Realm claims to have had sex with 20 different ghosts in the past 12 years and that they are better than men in the bedroom.

The 27-year-old appeared on a recent episode of This Morning where she discussed her experiences.

Realm, who is a “spiritual guidance counsellor” states that it all began when she and her then-fiance moved to a new house where she noticed there was a presence or entity.

Talking to Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, Realm said:

It started as an energy, then became physical. There was pressure on my thighs and breath on my neck.

I just always felt safe. I had sex with the ghost.​

Although she could never see the ghost she claims that she could definitely feel it.

She says that she had an affair with the spirit for three years until her partner caught her in the act.

Since then she has moved on to other ghosts and has even looked into the possibility of phantom pregnancies.

You can watch part of the segment in the video below.


It has been suggested that these sorts of experiences could be a result of sleep paralysis or hallucinations while someone is drifting off to sleep.

Ghost researcher Alexandra Holzer is also sceptical of these stories, she told Huffington Post:

The people who report having sex with a ghost report feeling pressure on them and even penetration, but ghosts don’t have warmth.

When they’re in the room it’s a very cold environment.


HT Huffington Post

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment



Whether vain
Or merely curious
I could not help but stop
And stare at a figure reflected
In the window of a shop

Weather vane
Atop the cupola on the roof of my old school
The place where 60 years ago
I had been accused of being cruel
A fat kid in was in the playground
“Murderer!” he said
About a classroom accident
This memory’s stayed in my head

The shop is in St John’s Wood high street
It’s school is Barrow Hill
The window reflection is the spectre
of a kid who did not kill.

Wandering here, pondering this
Just the other day
Paul McCartney passed me on this street
Walking the other way.

Harry George Stanley Lupino
Illustration Nick Victor

Posted in homepage | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Fake Oyster Card card

Spelling Mistakes Cost Lives Logo

Posted in homepage | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Two new books OUT NOW from New River

 Both available from
Press enquires:

Dear all,

We are extremely excited to announce the release of these two books. They’ve been a long time coming, and it’s a pleasure to see them make their way into the world. More information about each of them is below. Let us know if you have any questions.

With love,
New River Press



GRETA BELLAMACINA: SELECTED POEMS 2015-2017 is the most comprehensive collection to date from Greta Bellamancina. It gathers together poems from her sold out New River Press collection Perishing Tame with 14 new poems.

Bellamancina is a poet based in London, where in 2014 she was short-listed for the “Young Poet Laureate”. Her earliest collection Kaleidoscope was published in 2011. In 2015 she edited On Love, a survey of contemporary British love poetry from Ted Hughes to the present day, featuring the work of Wendy Cope, Emily Berry, Annie Freud, and Sam Riviera.

In 2016 she published Perishing Tame, “a dazzling meditation on motherhood, female identity, ennui, and love”, which she launched with iconic readings at Shakespeare & Company in Paris, the Albion Beatnik bookshop in Oxford, The Chateau Marmot in Los Angeles, and the ICA in London, as well as with radio readings for the BBC.

In early 2017 she edited Smear: Poetry for Girls, an anthology of new feminist poetry. Dazed & Confused magazine said Smear “unapologetically confronts self-image, body autonomy, and our relationships with each other, celebrating the imperfect, frank women”.

Spearheading a new generation of female poets Bellamancina writes with a liquid musicality and existential complexity, influenced by the French Surrealists, Sylvia Plath, and Anne Sexton. Perishing Tame marked her as perhaps the most significant new female voice in British poetry to emerge in the last decade. Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine said of her “Bellamancina is garnering critical acclaim for her way with words and her ability to translate the classic poetic form into the contemporary creative landscape.”



is a  survey of contemporary poetry from the Fitzrovia poetry publishers New River Press, featuring new work from over one hundred poets. The collection includes established names such as Heathcote Williams, Michael Horovitz, Jeremy Reed, Lisa Luxx, Jan Woolf, Jeramy Dodds, Salena Godden, James Massiah, Greta Bellamacina, Robert Montgomery, Chris McCabe and Niall McDevitt, as well as a host of emerging poets from around the world. The “Yearbook” is a collective portrait of the year that Trump and Brexit took hold and the poets paint a vivid picture of a culture and society in flux with strong doses of dissent and rebellious optimism.

As a truly new generation poetry press NRP assembled this book entirely via call outs on social media. The almost 300 pages of new poetry paints a collaborative portrait of our year in history with contributions from across Britain and from as far afield as Iceland and Pakistan. There are poems about the Grenfell Tower catastrophe, social media anxieties, the death of Heathcote Williams, and the rise of  Donald Trump. One highlight is a reflection on the war in Syria by 11-year old Lily Cheifetz-Fong, who writes with tragic wisdom beyond her years. Another is the manic genius of Jeramy Dodds, who is, in the words of Robert Montgomery, “out there bravely chasing after the new gods of our post-electric reality. He is ravaging the Wifi connections of our collective heartbreak, and our panicked wonder, for the truth about what the hell is happening to us.”

The New River Press Yearbook 2017/18 is an encapulation of our historical moment. A perfect gift for anyone fighting to find a language for their optimism in difficult times.


An exclusive poem from the New River Press Yearbook…
SEVEN SISTERS – Greta Bellamancina and Robert Montgomery You are beside me, winter trees, a comrade to the world, a home, the TV is playing war, we hope for peaceful sunlight.The children are dressed in black, they are throwing petrol bombs at the embassies, throwing electric flowers into the graveyards of capitalism.The philosopher is counting the slow candles of the icebergs, noting how many summers we have left. She is brilliant in her sunlight hat. Her chest is a pyramid.The president has retreated to the golf club, he rules in half sentences. Coughing up the 1950s his mind is a puddle where broken dreams sit on the rooftops of libraries.New weddings and empty churches, the minarets talk to the dawn before the sun lights up the city. The priests are whirling like dervishes in circles, they pinball off the walls, singing silence.Diana and the swan ride an open topped red London bus, the trumpets beside them play rave music, LSD trips to the sound brass bands. CCTV diamonds for Oyster cards.

God is bored of us now. She sides with the animals and the weather and they watch our digital alien rampage, with cool sad eyes.





Posted in homepage | Leave a comment


Goodbye to a Depressing Year

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

A November Afternoon in 1964


“Those are very nice boots you are wearing, my dear,” he said. “Where did you get them?”

Waiting at Piccadilly for a taxi on a chilly November afternoon, I was approached by a tall, middle-aged gentleman sporting a black homburg. He had the customary brolly draped over his arm. He could have been a colonel or a banker with a home in Mayfair and a cottage in the Green Belt, the gin and tonic and bridge type.

Equally elegant in a Harris Tweed outfit, his handsome wife stood a few yards away.

“In Soho,” I answered, thinking naively that he wanted the information for his wife.

When he continued with, “You’re so pretty. What do you do, darling?” I realised he wasn’t only interested in my soft, black leather, knee-length boots.

“I’m a dancer,” I lied, deciding to amuse myself until the never-coming-taxi arrived.

“How interesting, and where do you perform, dear?”

“Oh, here and there. In Soho clubs, you know.”

“And what are you doing now? Maybe you’d join my wife and me for a cup of tea at our house?”

His daring invitation was appealing to my sexual fantasies, but good sense prevailed. What exactly would be expected of me? Would they take it too far? How far is too far? And what if they kill me and bury me all chopped up? My imagination jumped from Eros to Thanatos in a split second.

“I have to go home I’m afraid. My husband is waiting. He would be worried.”

“What a shame,” the gentleman said as he made to join his companion.

Just as I was beginning to curse the lack of London cabs, a taxi’s yellow light shone through the damp air which was turning my chestnut hair — that I’d had straightened at considerable expense just a few hours ago — back to its Medusa frizz

I gave a sigh of relief as I waved to the driver. At that same moment, a well-set determined man in Savile Row attire dashed, like a pigeon chased by a cat, from under the arcade in front of the Ritz Hotel. He put out his cane and stopped the cab.

I ran up to him. “I’m sorry!” I was adamant even though I immediately recognized him. “That’s my taxi, I’ve been waiting for it for a long time.

Randolph Churchill, the bulldog’s son, Winston’s boy, looked at me and retorted with the assurance of his rank: “But I got it, so it’s mine.”

Before the word bastard had time to cross my lips, he continued: “Let me offer you a lift to your home.”

Our ride was a chatty one. He was forthcoming, inquisitive, interested.

“You’re not English? Ah, Yugoslav. I love Yugoslavia. I was parachuted there during the Second World War.”

This was a historic fact which I knew. “My father was a partisan then also,” I told him.

It was a pleasant journey which I was sorry to see coming to its end.

“Left at the lights, driver please,” I instructed.

“Is this it?”

“A few doors down.”

“Nice to have met you,” Randolph said, leaning forward and across me to open the heavy black door. Did I feel his arm press on my breasts?

“Thank you for the ride.” I gave him my best smile. (A smile which Francis Bacon had recently told me, at the Colony Room in Soho, that he would never be able to paint to perfection.)

At home I found Christine Keeler waiting for me. Yes, that Christine, the charismatic young woman who had been the protagonist of the ‘Profumo Affair’. That rough diamond, who had emerged from the gutter to take London by storm and had been destined to make history.

We’d met her shortly after she came out of prison. John Rudd, an old friend of ours from Johannesburg, whose grandfather had been a partner of Cecil Rhodes, the Rhodesian diamond magnate, brought her round to our place and we became friends immediately.

Although she was always much more Hugh’s pal than mine I enjoyed her free spirit and gutsy anarchy and for some years there was a sisterly feeling between us.

“Nice to see you, Chris,” I said as I threw my handbag and black velvet jacket on a wooden chair.

“Hugh let me in,” she said lifting her brown, doe eyes from the mug of steaming tea she was sipping. “I hope you don’t mind, I made myself some tea.”

Putting it down on the low, pine table in front of the settee, she picked up her cigarette from a butt-heaped ashtray. “He’s gone to the Queen’s Elm and says to join him there.”

“I just got a taxi ride with Randolph Churchill!” I was chuffed. After all it’s not every day one gets a chance to have a tête-à-tête with the son of one of the world’s most famous men.

She blew out a mouthful of cigarette smoke. “Did you ask him up?”

“No! Of course not.”

“You should have,” she said, brushing off a bit of ash that had fallen on her navy blue skirt (which was even shorter than mine). Uncrossing her shapely legs and crossing them the other way she continued. “You know how the likes of him love the likes of us.”

This came as a surprise. I’d never thought of myself as the likes of us.

The likes of whom, then? I asked myself.

Well, here’s a story:

Two frogs fell into a bucket of cream. The first frog said, “We are done for,” and drowned. The second frog began to swim furiously. Round and round she paddled for dear life until the cream churned to butter and she was able to stand on it and jump out.

I consider myself the likes of that second frog.


Hanja Kochansky
Illustration: Claire Palmer


Review by Heathcote Williams:

“She can light your darkest hour” Fran Landesman wrote in a song about Hanja Kochansky, the Croatian writer from Zagreb who cast her spell upon an already magical era: an elfin beauty with a crinkled Medusa frizz of flaming hair, piercing blue eyes framed by kohl and a smile so potent that Francis Bacon wilted at the thought of trying to paint it.

Light as a butterfly, she shows in this litany of love that it’s possible to live on air, to be a luftmensch.

It’s a winning tale. She travels with the subversive Christine Keeler, who brought down a government, to a hideout on the continent, comically revealing Keeler’s dread of foreign food as she stocks up in advance with cans of baked beans and Irish stew before catching the ferry.

Hanja’s antennae are finely tuned: she catches seminal events and records them. She’s in Rome for the Dolce Vita explosion, and becomes part of Cinecitta’s ‘Hollywood on the Tiber’ when she plays one of Elizabeth Taylor’s handmaidens in the film Cleopatra. She’s a pregnant Playboy Bunny; an avatar of the sexual revolution ushering in the Age of Aquarius; she’s in Amsterdam for the Wet Dream Film Festival; she’s a joyful feminist who knows how to follow the music’s beat while knocking on heaven’s door; her conscience has her recording the worst aspects of apartheid; her witty powers of observation has her recording the badinage of louche, Rabelaisian and picaresque drunks in the Queen’s Elm (“Get her tight enough and she’ll fuck anything, including the hairs on the barber-shop floor,”); her concern for human rights has her embracing Judith Malina and Julian Beck’s Living Theatre; her concern for an end to rigid linear thinking has her engaging with alternative psychiatry and Timothy Leary; she believes passionately in Illich’s DeSchooling Society and she educates her child accordingly.

She’s capable of thinking “beyond the beyond” like a Passionaria of the alternative:  she was at the first Glastonbury: earth angel in the Vale of Avalon, and in that spiritual valley, the place of Blessed Souls, she wove her benign spells.

Sometimes the universe conspires to convey good news. It has done so in the form of Hanja Kochansky.


Heathcote Williams



Posted in homepage | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Acts of Survival

Before the execution date,
each night,
lands I have never seen come to visit
this self-contained universe.
The only place for waiting, for submitting,
the place where god decided
it was the moment to shoot itself.
This captivity has become an act of survival,
for an industrious nation of slaves.
Here, the immediate!
The fear behind the hate sounds louder and louder
in each city where cathedrals
are now for sale
on detergent coupons.

A man is lost at sea, I hear,
total strangers marching East
minutes before the water-ropes bring the closure.

Here and now, my enemy,
the blood inside all my cavities has become
the last supper
for I,
chiselled, strapped, nailed to my crimes,
had confessed: ECCE HOMO!

My nation, my never-never land!

If we have been at war for thousands of years,
catching bullets today,
in these meat-eating times,
it is the pain which, finally, will set us free,
not words.
The silent joy of those who know
how very few will make it through the
death sentence.


Maria Stadnicka
Illustration: Claire Palmer

Posted in homepage | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Joseph Kabila’s Insatiable Hunger for Power

  • Joseph Kabila has proven that he will not leave power any time soon but his country is marred by political and economic crisis and there is widespread civil unrest in the country.


Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Trump Moves Israel To US



In an unprecedented move this week President Trump announced that Israel will be formally moved to the US. The news was unanimously welcomed by Arab leaders throughout the Middle East –along with a majority of world leaders- as it had been feared that Trump foolishly planned to move Israel’s existing capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a potentially disastrous step with grave ramifications for the Palestinian Israeli conflict and almost certainly guaranteeing an escalation in hostilities both across the entire region and into the global sphere by breaking the Holy City’s 1948 UN-assigned neutral status first established to minimize historical religious tensions. Islamic communities around the world, along with 98% of all Earth citizens, breathed a communal sigh of relief when White House officials announced a last-minute change in the presidents’ plans and that the new occupied territories will be Trump’s deserted Plaza in Atlantic City which will be renamed ‘Israel II The New Second Coming‘ or ‘The New Holy Land Atlantic City Heights Plaza Strip‘ for short and feature a two-thousand mile long 30 ft high ‘Mexican-style’ surrounding wall.


President Trump explained the thinking behind his plans in a Tweet made whilst eating a pizza on the toilet, ‘This plan is a great plan. A plan which is truly great. Yes, truly, truly great. We first considered moving Israel’s capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but then, after I saw a great film last week called Cast A Giant Shadow where Kirk Douglas moves Israel from the Bible to Palestine, I thought if Kirk can move countries round like that why can’t I? What a great movie. So, henceforthrighteously I have chosen to make the new Israel in Atlantic City and call it ‘Israel II The New Second Coming‘ or ‘The New Holy Land Atlantic City Heights Plaza Strip‘ for short, after some great advice from my truly great team of hand-picked advisers. Great advise and a great name. After all, America and Israel  already share many great policies like; great democracy, war, religion, secret nuclear weapons, normal nuclear weapons, lots of other weapons, new weapons, old weapons, conventional weapons, space weapons, chemical weapons, weapons in general, giving weapons to each other, especially us giving weapons to them, using weapons in wars, invasions, occupations, stealing countries, regime change, did I mention wars and weapons? Oh and money, Goldman Sachs and putting a huge 40 ft menorah in your front garden at Christmas. What great countries we both truly are. Happy Hanukkah to my best friend Benjamin Netanyahu. I love ya Bibi!’


This is not the first time Israel has been relocated as it was last moved from the minds of British politicians 100 years ago in 1917 onto a piece of paper called The Balfour Treaty which was then sent to Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild and drawn onto his extremely expensive map of the world. Speaking on the epochal events unfolding on the world scene, both now and over the past century, acclaimed peace activist and member of the recent Israeli and Palestinian Women’s Peace March Professor Eirene Pax PhD, commented, ‘Let’s face it, the 100 years since it’s [Israel’s] last relocation have been a bit of a [coughs]… can I say headache? for everyone concerned, and unconcerned for that matter, so let’s hope that Israel can finally get on with its new neighbours which, apparently, already outnumber existing Israelis in its present location.’

Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel capital, upending decades of ……trump-israel/trump-to-recognize-jerusale…

2 days ago

President Donald Trump on Wednesday will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and set in motion the …



Thousands march through London in Balfour protest – The National…/thousands-march-through-london-in-…

5 Nov 2017

The protest was delayed by almost an hour as pro-Israeli demonstrators attempted to block the streets.


Israeli and Palestinian women hold peace march | Euronews › News › World

8 Oct 2017

Thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women trekked through a biblical desert landscape converging on the …



Cast a Giant Shadow 1966 movie – YouTube

4 Oct 2010 – Uploaded by hellasellada

In late 1947 the British plan to withdraw from Palestine and the Arabs openly ignore the announcement of the …



ethan harrison


Posted in homepage | Tagged | 1 Comment

Heathcote Williams Workshops

Posted in homepage | Tagged , | Leave a comment



Christine was the famous Christine Keeler, protagonist of the “Scandal of the Century”, which caused the downfall of Harold Macmillan and his Tory government in England in 1963.

A rough diamond, who emerged from the gutter to take London by storm like a modern-day Zola heroine destined to make history, she was a live-wire, a luminous spark, game for anything. You could tell she was a star because in any crowded room all eyes would inevitably be drawn to this untamed, charismatic, young chick of dubious ethic, who caused a furore when she found herself having an affair with three powerful men concurrently. John Profumo, the English Minister of Defence; Captain Eugene Ivanov, the Assistant Naval Attaché at the Russian Embassy; and Lucky Gordon, a violent West Indian who held convictions for larceny, rape and grievous bodily harm, had all three lost their head for her. And who could blame them.

When word of her indiscreet and explosive love-life (Lucky toted a gun he didn’t mind using) filtered through both London’s shallow society and deep underground, MI5, suspecting possible espionage, decided it was time to investigate, and Christine became the epicentre of a political and social cyclone. In the end, after months of interrogations, lengthy trials, much lying and loads of publicity, careers were ruined, marriages broke up, suicides took place, Harold lost his job and Christine, charged for perjury, went to do a nine-month stint in Holloway prison. And sold her story for a lot of money.

In the summer of 1965 Christine and I went to St. Tropez. She had taken a house for the season and had invited me, all expenses paid. In turn my role was that of her chauffeuse, even though she was a much better driver than I was, but having a damaged reputation, she wasn’t allowed a driving license – at least, she wasn’t allowed insurance. A Catch 22 predicament.

It was a memorable trip which began with our boarding the ferry at Dover at the very last moment. We were late because Christine had gotten a sudden attack of primal fear that she might go hungry in France (of all places) and insisted on quickly going shopping: “You know what the food is like over there,” she explained as she rushed out of the supermarket, laden with tins of baked beans and Irish stew, just as I was about to have a nervous breakdown.

As we had been the last to get on the ferry, we were the first in the long line of cars to get off. I pushed the knobs, pressed the pedals, pumped on the gas, but nothing would induce the cream Triumph to start. The hooting horns of a swarm of holiday-makers behind us didn’t help either. Piles of pale bodies anxiously awaiting their long-planned vacation; with rollicking children hanging out of windows; with tents, suitcases, deck-chairs, bikes and even canoes strapped high on car roofs, wanted us out of their way, hey presto.

“You can’t drive, my God, you can’t drive!” Christine yelled at me.

“I know I can’t fucking drive, I told you I hate fucking driving! Anyway you  drive it, it’s your fucking car!” I yelled back at her.

“I wish you wouldn’t swear so much – it’s common. You know very well that I can’t drive because they won’t give me insurance. I can’t even insure my bleeding mink – which is all right – just let anyone try stealing it from me!” Her brown eyes shut to a thin slit and I remembered how she told me that one of her childhood games was to shoot the water rats that swam in the river that ran at the back of her bleak caravan home. “My house is on wheels,” she would tell her school mates.

“Excuse me, miss, what seems to be the trouble?” a polite official inquired.

“I don’t know, it won’t start.” I was sulking.

“No it won’t, will it, miss? That’s because there’s no petrol in it.”

“Shit!” hissed I.

“I beg your pardon?” asked the polite official.

“Nothing!” hissed Christine.

“We’ll just have to push you ladies off,” said the official and called upon a couple of sailors to do the job.

In the enormous grey hanger in Calais the customs officers smiled French charm at us (did they suspect the hash in my bra and the speed in Christine’s bag?). They were desolate, but there was no petrol here, they explained. Since I spoke some French, I set off to find a garage. Forty-five minutes later lugging litres of gasoline and an aching back, I returned to find Christine niftily showing her shapely thighs as she sat cross-legged on the bonnet of her car, signing autographs.

“They recognized me!” she beamed, flashing the impertinent smile of the young and slim.

“I thought you wanted to travel incognito.”

“Well, from now on I will,” she assured me.

Our first stop was for lunch at a country auberge. I ordered frog’s legs, Christine said: “Ugh!  Steak and chips please. Well done.”

She tasted my frog’s legs: “They’re good,” she said.

“I know they’re good.” She ate my frog’s legs as I was left with well-done steak and chips. Ugh.

When we arrived in Paris, Christine insisted we should stay at the George V.

“It’s got to be one of the most expensive hotels in the world, Chris,” I informed her as though she didn’t know.

“It’s just for one night. We need a good rest on some soft beds. Don’t worry about the money, I’ve got plenty.”

A steaming bath in a huge marble tub, a change of attire, a telephone call: “Hi, we’re from London, Annie Ross told us to ‘phone. Can we come to your club in trousers?”

“Bien sur, madame.”

It was the in-spot, called ‘The Living Room’ and that’s the feeling it had – cosy: comfy sofas, a bar to one side, the jazz combo in a corner. We were bought drinks, chatted up the musicians, took a pill to keep awake, snuck into the lavatory to get stoned, got invited to another place, then another. In the early morning hours we picked up a piano player with a notable dandruff problem, who took us to Les Halles to eat the traditional onion soup.

“It’s good,” admitted Chris who was fast acquiring a taste for French fare.

“I hear they’re shifting Les Halles out of Paris. What a shame.” I said, saddened by the fact that also the market of Covent Garden was due to be relocated quite soon.

“It will leave a lot of rats behind,” said the pianist, brushing dandruff off his tattered jacket’s collar.

“Hey, what’s the time?” I suddenly realized that the dawn had long dawned.

“Nine,” said the pianist.

“Nine! My God, Chris, we should get started.”

We went back to our plush room, picked up our luggage, took more speed; she paid for the soft beds we hadn’t slept in and we steamed out of gay Paree. Needless to say, by this time Christine, who couldn’t bear my snail pace, was driving.

Finally we arrived at our cute cottage on the outskirts of St. Trop, under a French Riviera sky, which obviously means it was dripping with stars (both human and cosmic).

Too early in the morning we were woken by a gale which was shaking our small house, and maniacal knocking at the door.

“Allo, allo, allo!” someone was shouting from outside.

As I rolled out of bed I got my feet wet: there were inches of water on the floor. “Jesus, we’re flooded, I almost drowned, the roof must be leaking.” I moaned. “Oh, Christine, you left the fucking bidet on!”

“Don’t nag me, just open the bleeding door, you’re so slow.” She ordered, as was her way of doing.

“Allo, allo, allo!!” The man outside sounded like the enemy. I didn’t feel at all secure and besides I have a thing about being bossed about.

“Don’t shout at me, I don’t like people shouting at me, you open the fucking door!” I tucked my cold, wet feet back into bed like an ostrich – what did I care about the lunatic in the storm.

Christine went to the door. His name was Franco: rough in a sort of Corsican-peasant appearance, and the secretary of playboy millionaire Gunther Sachs (soon to become Brigitte Bardot’s husband). Were we free for lunch? We certainly were!

But we did not go down well at this posh party where we were treated with chilly reserve by bejewelled, elegant, perfectly coifed and immaculately manicured beauties accompanied by highly polished socialites and suave aristocrats. Our informal, swinging-London ways, my patched blue-jeans, Christine’s spontaneous cry: “Blimy, is this all there is?” at the meagre buffet served by mute black waiters in red livery, ensured we would not be asked back. It hardly mattered, from then on there was no shortage of fun. Frolicking in Mediterranean waves, picnicking in pine forests, sailing on yachts, gossiping in cafés, excursions to restaurants in neighbouring villages and never missing a wild night in the innumerable discos, dancing into the glorious sunrise. St. Trop. was buzzing: from de-frocked priest to de-throned kings; from the famous and filthy-rich to characters like Yuri, the extravagant, wild Cossack artist, bone thin like some ancient pirate, reputed to have escaped from a prison camp in Siberia, who was now planning to descend into Vesuvius wearing an asbestos suit: “to paint in the bowels of the earth”. And of course there were the curly haired, hungry eyed, loose, lost, lusty, penniless young adventurers. Those were the ones that tugged at Christine’s heart (and purse) strings, taking her for all she had. For a woman with goddess-like sexual power why was it that in the final run she was always the victim?


Hanja Kochansky

Christine Keeler Born 22 February 1942 – Died 4 December 2017


Posted in homepage | Tagged , | Leave a comment





In a Karthalia still to find, Spiller maps out new futures

From tribdwellings pastures, a psychotripic storm

Taints the air. Here, then, is a writer whose words

Offer the wind of time no fresh suture,

But who through dark vapours lends imagination’s aim

Its new sword. Writing Science Fiction today

Is merely the report for tomorrow. The home of ideas

And of warnings, it is all we can do take heed.

New authors take note of this new and dangerous music,

For now the end is beginning as the need for new tales gathers speed.

— A poem by IT editor David Erdos,

inspired by the below chapter




An extract from Josh Spillers forthcoming speculative fiction novel, The 8th Emotion. You can watch a video about it – and receive a signed first edition, or have your name printed in its acknowledgements – by supporting it on Kickstarter here


In a tribdwell situated in Karthalia, but beyond the boundary of any tribe – like some exiled building – Pavneet worked frantically.

Night-time candles glowed on his desk, while a cooking fire burned in the corner of his tribdwell’s main room. The smell of acidic chemicals singed the warm air, emanating from the beaker of green liquid that sat on his desk.

Taking yet another sheet of paper, Pavneet scrawled more notes, his eyes – behind his brass-rimmed glasses – in a trance-like state. He wore a long, stained jacket which he used as a makeshift lab coat. Above his greying temples, his craggily-lined forehead was furrowed in intense concentration. His World had contracted to the sheet of paper that lay before him, so much so that he hadn’t noticed that Bastian, his sandy-coloured dog, was barking in agitation and fear.

Two strident door-knocks resounded through the room. Cowering, Bastian fell silent, before leaning forward and barking with even more aggression.

Pavneet, frozen still, stared over the rim of his glasses, at the front door that lay directly ahead of him. No one had knocked on that door in years. Cautiously, he rose from his wooden chair, and started to shuffle around his desk.

Then with frightening suddenness, something shattered loudly. Pavneet instinctively ducked, snapping his gaze in the direction of the noise. Any last dregs of his trance-state were gone. The real World had come roaring in, flooding his alert mind with intense, vivid impressions. From beneath Bastian’s deafening barking, he heard, with acute sensitivity, a dull and solid thud strike the floorboards somewhere nearby. Then he saw that the single window in the left-hand wall was smashed open. And framed within its new jags of glass, which were like a jaw of predatory, vitreous teeth, a balaclavaed face stared back at Pavneet.

“Shut that dog up!” the balaclavaed man hissed. Then, with menacing slowness, he raised a lit candle into view. “Or we’ll blaze this place to the ground.”

In a state of shock, Pavneet whispered: “Sh-shush boy. Shush.” Bastian fell silent.

“Good,” the balaclavaed man said, and Pavneet could practically hear the smirk in his voice. “Now – open the door.”

An enormous fear gripped Pavneet, rattling his heart in its gigantic grip. Please, he thought. Oh please, don’t let them hurt me…

With a trembling hand, he unlocked the door, and pulled it toward him.

Two imposing men, balaclavaed like the one at the window, stood before him. One held a knife, its sharp point only an inch away from Pavneet’s gut.

“Get inside,” the man with the blade said. Within the holes of the man’s balaclava, Pavneet saw tiny, gloating, and vicious eyes. Silently, just enough to prod the flesh without cutting it, the man jabbed the knife into Pavneet’s stomach.

“W-what do you want?” Pavneet mumbled, fearfully stepping backwards toward his desk. He couldn’t believe a stranger was attacking him. Such a thing had been known to happen in other lands, in other times, but never in Karthalia. It was a peaceful place. “P-please. I’ll give you anything.”

“We already know that,” the man carrying the blade said, speaking with a twisted and gleeful sense of power.

He forced Pavneet back into the chair by the desk. Half-collapsing into it, Pavneet rubbed Bastian’s neck with trembling hands, as if he were trying to soothe his beloved companion, when it must have been obvious that it was simply a nervous expression of his own terror. Bastian growled, baring his teeth.

“E-easy, boy” Pavneet whispered. “Shhh.”

The other two intruders seemed subservient to the man with the blade. Both were now searching Pavneet’s tribdwell, one rifling through the sheafs of pamphlets and notepaper which Pavneet, to get them out of his way, had piled up around the edges of the room; the other, taller one standing nearby, inspecting the notes in the drawers of Pavneet’s desk. It was obvious that neither was finding what they were looking for.

The man carrying the blade spoke, still holding the knife just in front of Pavneet’s chest: “You’re not a liar, are you Pavneet?”


“So this is true?” ‘Blade’ withdrew from his pocket a scrunched-up piece of paper. He flattened it out on the top of the desk, before showing it to Pavneet. With a gut-wrenching sense of horror, Pavneet recognised it at once. The page had been ripped out from the last scientific pamphlet he’d written, published only a week ago.

The chain of reasoning Pavneet had expounded in the pamphlet flashed into his mind, fierce and white-hot like burning magnesium:


  1. Single-celled organisms don’t experience emotions, or if they do, they experience very little.
  2. Humans evolved from single-celled organisms.
  3. Humans experience emotions.
  4. Thus, humans must have evolved emotions.


Then came the main part of Pavneet’s article. He’d claimed that he knew how to unlock humanity’s next emotion, so that it could become a permanent part of anyone who wanted it. What’s more, he’d said that when everyone possessed it, it would end all human conflict, equalising everyone profoundly, and ushering in a true paradise.

For now, though – he’d ended his article – he needed to do more testing, to check that what he’d discovered was safe. But in the next pamphlet he released, he would explain how people could tap into this emotion for themselves.

This memory of what he’d written hit Pavneet with the force of a tempest, and then, following close behind, realisation stabbed through him: these men were searching for proof that he really could unlock this next emotion. Why? He had no idea. But if they found it, he knew they’d have no reason to keep him alive.

“I lied,” Pavneet blurted. “I just did it to sell the next issue. I’m alone, my income, it’s all through trading these pamph—”

Out of nowhere, Blade’s knife-gripping fist smashed into Pavneet’s cheek, knocking him into his desk and rattling the container of chemicals that sat on top of it. Bastian barked ferociously, but Pavneet retained his terrified, white-knuckled grip on the dog’s collar. As he gasped from the blow, Pavneet could almost feel ‘Blade’ grinning at him sadistically from behind his balaclava.

“Give me a reason to do that again,” ‘Blade’ said.

Then one of the other men came over to ‘Blade’, pointing at something on a piece of paper.

They’ve got it, Pavneet thought, a cold thrill of terror running though him, shifting the hyper-real present into even sharper focus. He felt upon his back the heat from the cooking fire in the corner. Saw the fire’s light gleaming upon the knife, as if the blade shone with its own golden, vicious soul. An inchoate, instinctual plan was forming in his mind.

With regret, he remembered how – on the day of his breakthrough – he had told himself that he would never again inflict any type of injury on another human being. A sort of premonitory sympathy pain shot through him: he understood the agony these men might be about to suffer. And there was something still worse…

He looked at Bastian with sorrow.

‘Blade’ stared at the piece of paper, his eyes widening in a look of quiet awe. All humour had dropped out of his voice: “So you really can do it.”

And with that, Pavneet’s decision was made.

With his right hand, he shoved Bastian forward and released the dog’s collar. “Go!” he shouted, and Bastian leapt upon ‘Blade’, slobbering fangs barking and snapping. Spinning round, Pavneet snatched up the container of chemicals and threw it at the cooking fire. A blaze exploded upwards, blasting a wave of searing heat over Pavneet’s face. Everything became confusion and clamour. Fire-tongues gobbled ravenously at floorboards and terracotta walls, vomiting black smoke. Pavneet bolted across the room, past the indistinct shapes of his attackers, through a haze of barking, swearing, and shouts. Leaping, he hauled himself up to the smashed-in window, his adrenaline making him oblivious to the jags of glass that were slicing open his forearms.

Then, through the whirlwind of smoke and shouts, there cut a sharp, canine yelp. For a moment, Pavneet froze. Tears brimmed in his eyes. Blood poured out of his arms. He wanted to look back, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Struggling over the knives of glass that jutted up below him, he toppled out the window’s other side, landing with a thump on the soil and vegetables below.

Gasping for breath, he hauled himself to his feet, and ran, trampling vegetables, fruit, and grass, sprinting alongside the winding River Menignus. The reek of sulphur burned in his nostrils, beneath a clear, starry sky.

Who were those men? Why were they after him? He didn’t know. And that meant he couldn’t trust anyone.

Still running, he tried to ignore his screaming desire to go back, even as tears ran down his cheeks. Bastian… it was Pavneet’s fault. And it was too late for him to do anything about it.

And as he ran, Pavneet also imagined that gang of men, amongst the fiery confusion, enduring an emotion they’d never felt before… enduring Oceanos, as the flames ate through the scientific specimens stored in his bedroom, and released their psychotropic vapours into the air.



‘The 8th Emotion’ is nearing the end of its crowdfunding campaign. It’s almost there. You can support it – and get exclusive art, T-shirts, and access to 1-to-1 writing classes – by visiting its Kickstarter page here


by Josh Spiller of the NAL

Posted in homepage | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

More Sisters of Reggae

Playing tracks by

Alton Ellis, Peter Tosh, Bobby Kalphat, Jennifer Lara and Yellowman, Fathead.



Janet Kay, Alton Ellis
Still In Love
Novlet Russell
I’d Rather Be Lonely
Hortense Ellis
Down The Aisle
Susan Cadogan
Laurel Aitken And The Unitone
Rudi Got Married
The Gaylads
You Should Never Do That
Stranger Cole
What Moma No Want She Get
Stranger Cole, Lester Sterling
Roland Alphonso And Beverly’s All Stars
Song For My Father
Baba Brooks
Sly Mongoose
Cornell Campbell
Girl Of My Dreams
The Cliques
The Girl Of My Dream
I Roy
Black Cinderella


Lucky Cat Baxter


Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

Discover Europeana Collections


“Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?,” asked T.S. Eliot in lines from his play “The Rock.” His prescient description of the dawning information age has inspired data scientists and their dissenters for decades. Thirty-six years after Eliot’s prophetic lament over “Endless invention, endless experiment,” futurist Alvin Toffler described the effects of information overload in his book Future Shock, and though many of his predictions haven’t aged well, his “prognosis,” writes Fast Company, “was more accurate than not.” Among his many “Tofflerisms” is one I believe Eliot would appreciate: “The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn.”


Indeed, the exponential accumulation of data and information, and the incredible amount of ready access would make both men’s heads spin. Internet archives grow vaster and vaster, their contents an embarrassing richness of the world’s treasures, and a perhaps even greater store of its obscurities. Each week, it seems, we bring you news of one or two more open access databases filled with images, texts, films, recorded music. It can indeed be dizzying. And of all the archives I’ve surveyed, used in my own research, and presented to Open Culture readers, none has seemed to me vaster than Europeana Collections, a portal of “48,796,394 artworks, artefacts, books, videos and sounds from across Europe,” sourced from well over 100 institutions such as The European Library, Europhoto, the National Library of Finland, University College Dublin, Museo Galileo, and many, many more, including contributions from the public at large. Where does one begin?

europeana grammophone

In such an enormous warehouse of cultural history, one could begin anywhere and in an instant come across something of interest, such as the stunning collection of Art Nouveau posters like that fine example at the top, “Cercle Artstique de Schaerbeek,” by Henri Privat-Livemont (from the Plandiura Collection, courtesy of Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalynya, Barcelona). One might enter any one of the available interactive lessons and courses on the history of World War I or visit some of the many exhibits on the period, with letters, diaries, photographs, films, official documents, and war propaganda. One might stop by the virtual exhibit, “Photography on a Silver Plate,” a fascinating history of the medium from 1839-1860, or “Recording and Playing Machines,” a history of exactly what it sounds like, or a gallery of the work of Swiss painter Jean Antoine Linck. All of the artifacts have source and licensing information clearly indicated.

Vue du Mont-Blanc, prise du Sommet du Col de Balme

The possibilities may literally be endless, as the collection continues to expand at a rate far beyond the ability of any one person, or team of people, or entire research institute of people to match. It is easy to feel adrift in such a database as this, which stretches on like a Borgesian library, offering room after endless room of visual splendor, documentation, and interpretation. It is also easy to make discoveries, to meet people, stumble upon art, hear music, see photographs, learn histories you would never have encountered if you knew what you were looking for and knew exactly how to find it. Eliot warned us—and rightly so—of the dangers of information overload. But he neglected, in his puritanical way, to describe the pleasures, the minor epiphanies, the happy chance occurrences afforded us by the ever-expanding sea of information in which we swim. One can learn to navigate it, one can drift aimlessly, and one can, simultaneously, feel immensely overwhelmed.

Related Content:

New Archive Makes Available 800,000 Pages Documenting the History of Film, Television & Radio

Yale Launches an Archive of 170,000 Photographs Documenting the Great Depression

The New York Public Library Lets You Download 180,000 Images in High Resolution: Historic Photographs, Maps, Letters & More

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness


Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

British Underground Press

British Underground Press (Classic Edition)

James Birch and Barry Miles
Special edition £35.00 GBP
In stock and ready to go!
In 1966 Barry Miles and John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins decided to start a newspaper. They called it International Times and launched it in April. It was the first British underground newspaper, and began a news media revolution.This catalogue of the exhibition of the same name, displays the covers of every British underground paper that launched in the 1960s: International Times, Oz, Friends/Frendz, Gandalf’s Garden, Black Dwarf and Ink. It also includes cOZmic Comics and Nasty Tales the comic books that grew out of the papers, and various examples of the graphics, ads, posters and flyers produced by each publication.
Default Title ISBN
224 pages

Press reviews

“Honouring the legacy of the magazines that formed a key part of 1960s counter-culture…”


“Steps back into a lost world – a time when a generation was truly in motion…”


“Here is changing Britain in a kaleidoscope of images, some of them pleasure-seeking, others bristling with revolutionary intent…”

Financial Times

“As the exhibition proves, without the underground press there may well have been no British counterculture…”

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

We Need to Talk About Bob



Trouble in Mind: Bob Dylan’s Gospel Years – What Really Happened?, Clinton Heylin (336pp, £16.99, Route Publishing)

Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series vol. 13/1979-1981. Bob Dylan (8CD + DVD, Columbia/Legacy)


When people ask me about Bob Dylan, I always answer that I’m not a big fan, but then I look at my shelves and realise there’s a foot-and-a-half or so of CDs there, including many unofficial album releases and live concert recordings. Like many others, something draws me back to his work, albeit specific periods or albums. For me it’s Desire and Blood on the Tracks that remain his most important works, along with the late 60s stuff, but there’s a sprinkling of most periods of his work up there, although I’m sceptical about the albums that every so often get announced by critics as ‘a return to form’.


Some of the live recordings I’ve got hold of are concerts from his so called ‘gospel years’. The Solid Rock, Rock Solid and Contract With the Lord bootlegs have been in circulation for a long time, so it’s no surprise to me that live versions of the rather dull albums Slow Train Coming, Saved and Shot of Love are finally getting the attention they deserve. Dylan has always been hit and miss in the studio, and seeemed especially so when recording these fervent religious songs. The live versions turn them into gospel music, powerful, muscular workouts; the unreleased songs sung at some of the concerts appear to be some of the most interesting and inventive tracks – why were they left off the official albums at the time?


It appears Dylan was suffering at the hands of the press, and from the expectant evangelical christian community he’d turned to for support and information, not to mention the fact he was churning out new songs in ‘born again’ excitement without time to document them properly. Thank goodness for live archives! Heylin is nonplussed by the religious fervour of Dylan at this time, quite rightly pointing out that Dylan had always been (and continues to be) a spiritual seeker, and that with hindsight the three albums fit into Dylan’s discography perfectly well.


He also points out that however shocking in some ways the concerts were, with no previous songs or greatest hits included, plus the fact Dylan was initially prone to preaching between tracks, the mass audience walkouts were pretty much an invention of journalists and reviewers at the time. Whilst there was some catcalling and jeering, many fans loved the concerts, and the tours in this period settled down into a righteous groove that even the most ardent atheist or perplexed agnostic could enjoy. And many did, critics included.


So why all the negativity? We’re all very good at adopting rock stars and musicians for our own causes, we all have our own hatred of certain belief systems, not many of us like being challenged about what we think. Spirituality is a private affair for most people., especially those with countercultural leanings. Whilst most fans accepted Dylan’s occasional explorations of his Jewish heritage, they were unprepared for him adopting a hellfire judgemental christianity, however rooted it was in the Jesus Movement which had happened a decade before. Radical and questioning theology appeared to have mutated into a more traditional, evangelical church, even if accompanied by rock music and fashionable dress. Dylan was perhaps unprepared for the expectations of the community who’d supported his wide-ranging explorations of the Bible with their pastors and priests.


Dylan has never really explained himself (why should he?), mostly relying on his songs to present his thinking at the time. The rants he offered audiences in his 1979 concerts were shockingly provocative and closed-minded, binary in their heaven or hell perspective, in the same way his gospel-only setlists were. Heylin suggests that he soon mellowed anyway, but also that many missed (and still miss) the questioning nature of some of the songs, as well as the humour of tracks like ‘Man Gave Names to All the Animals’.  Interestingly enough, even at the time, but especially now, songs such as the ‘In the Garden’ (which was in many ways simply a retelling of a Biblical story as a series of questions) were critically acclaimed. Live it sparkles and shimmers musically, with swells of organ and backing vocals, and Dylan in fine voice. One can’t help but be caught up in the declamatory celebration.


By the end of the box set Dylan had started including old songs again, and his initial faith-full fervour had gone, but the songs have got better and better from constant revisiting and reinvention. Whilst many fans breathed a sigh of relief and critics claimed it all as a passing fad now abandoned, Heylin points out that although Dylan has questioned the phrase ‘born again’ and suggested it’s not term he would use now, he has never disowned those albums or spoken against what he said he believed. He has carried on exploring the spiritual, political and social, and if we still don’t really know what happened (despite Heylin’s best attempt in his fantastically informative, detailed and readable book) those with an open mind will enjoy hours of amazing new music  and reading matter here.


Rupert Loydell


[Trouble No More is also available in a 2CD version]

Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment



I found the way
By the sound of your voice
So many things to say
But these are only words
Now I’ve only words
Once there was a choice

Did I give you much?
Well, you gave me things
You gave me stars to hold
Songs to sing

I only want to be loved

And I hurt and I hurt
And the damage is done
You gave me songs to sing
Shadow and sun
Earthbound, starblind
Tied to someone

Why didn’t I stay?
Why couldn’t I?
So many lives to cross
Well I just had to leave
There goes everything

Can I meet you there?
God knows the place
And I’ll touch your hand
Kiss your face

We only want to be loved
We only want to be loved

I only want to be loved
And I hurt and I hurt
And the damage is done
You gave me songs to sing
Shadow and sun
Earthbound, starblind
Tied to someone



David Sylvian & Robert Fripp

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment



liberal elitists rant on the airways,
“the president lies”,
“the President lies”,
conservatives have known this to be the case,
for at least the last eight years,
if not even longer,
but the shouting continues,
“the president is a racist”,
“and a bigot”,
but alas,
nothing new,
in a high pitched squeal,
the claim is made,
“the president attacks the religious”,
“something he should not do”,
but once again,
nothing original,
nothing new,
Obama and Trump,
could be twins,
separated at birth,
be it in Africa,
born in the USA.



Douglas Polk

Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

A Dancing

Word one:
Black backed spatter
on an otherwise pearlescent.
Brandishing sentiment,
flourishing pardons.
Piles upon piles.
Rocky death mounds,
broken clutters,
green between,
pushing aside the shadow
displacing the earth.
winding instability.
Leading all the way.
Viney dice clutches,
table top summit
turned over.
Awkward caresses,
hysterical bleeding
Stringy and committed.
Detectable in conspiracy.
A fallen elephant
in an empty room.
Murder murmurers
in concentric circulars
orbiting glandular pedants.
Washed morning sunshine
due a retraction.
Blistered in epigram.
Analogue machine talk.
Utterance of distant glimmerings
Mind mouth filter
caging the spiral dynamic,
fostering the dawning
melee appendages.
Dancing indirect,
meant and seen,
stuttering hesitance
for consistency.
Blues-band back-bone,
sudden speckle flecked image
from a far.
Blonde edged,
twisted inward.
The flight of the lower levels,
buzzing humming,
around my head;
a dancing
Weaving me in baskets.
Privacy indeterminate.
Fence leaner
denying icons
Sleights and scratches in the cold dead ground.
Embered and renewed.
Mothy feather-red balloon ride.
Taken to the skies.
A difference.
Power replacement
hissing in static
door opening reassurance,
Muddied leaves,
bud and rot
A way
and reset.

Greg Fiddament
Illustration Nick Victor


Posted in homepage | Tagged , | Leave a comment


So, we apologise for everything.
The NHS and parking, unemployment,
attitudes to immigrants, the price
of food and drink. It doesn’t
really affect us, we don’t know
about shopping bills, bus fares
or the cost of fuel; but we’re sorry
to hear you’re struggling –
can you try harder to earn more?

We didn’t mean to pinch your arse
or overlook promotion. Didn’t mean
those rude remarks, or your
lower pay scale wages. If you
want a job then fight for it,
you must pay for education;
sitting in the bar, like us,
won’t help with your ambition.
Can’t you try harder to earn more?

The line is longer than you’d wish,
the pub was quiet and empty.
I’m  always amazed how much I know
compared to all the experts.
We’ve started so we’ll finish,
the odds are stacked against us;
nothing’s ever gained by deceit,
so figure out your reasons
for not earning what you’re worth.

Yesterday’s forgotten, tomorrow
isn’t here, so work out your position.
You didn’t mean to end up this way,
but this is what the facts say:
you did this and you did that,
then thought of other things to do.
You say that you deserve more,
you are worth more, but we’re
at the mercy of market forces:

you’re only worth what they will pay
and you are always undervalued.
Life is shit, and what is worse,
there is no love between us.
Things we value are worth less
(which implies a kind of freedom),
but we are lost and without work,
even though we want to earn
what we’re worth or more.

Trust us and we’ll prove ourselves,
return on your investment.
Pennies pinched and spent
will reward phantom guidance.
We don’t know the cost of things,
are not involved in daily finance,
but of course we understand
and care, please rest assured
we know how hard things are.

We apologise for everything:
the price of drink and unemployment.
Revise your attitude to immigrants
and the price of food and drink.
We don’t know about shopping bills,
bus or train fares, what gas costs.
Sorry to hear you’re struggling,
we’re sorry to hear you’re poor,
but can’t you manage to earn more?


© Rupert M Loydell
Photo Cecil Beaton

[First published in I am Not a Silent Poet]

Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

Our political foundation is rotting away

President Trump retweeted three anti-Muslim videos Nov. 29, posted by the far-right group ‘Britain First.’ Here’s what you need to know about the videos.


Great nations and proud democracies fall when their systems become so corrupted that the decay is not even noticed — or the rot is written off as a normal part of politics.

President Trump has created exactly such a crisis. He has not done it alone. The corrosion of norms and values began long before he propelled the nation past the edge, and his own party is broadly complicit in enabling his attacks on truth, decency and democratic values.

In fact, Republicans are taking full advantage of the bedlam Trump leaves in his wake. They are using a twisted process to push through a profoundly flawed tax bill with scant scrutiny.

The convoluted proposal is so generous to the wealthiest interests in the country and so damaging to significant parts of the middle class and the poor that GOP leaders know it would not survive extended debate.

They dare not take on Trump because doing so might derail the pursuit of what are now their party’s only driving purposes: court packing, the care and feeding of the privileged, and the gutting of federal social services and regulation. This, too, is a form of corruption, a refusal to face larger questions when partisan political victories are at hand.


Trump’s anti-Muslim retweets, explained

President Trump retweeted three anti-Muslim videos Nov. 29, posted by the far-right group ‘Britain First.’ Here’s what you need to know about the videos.

We are so inured to the chaos and the lying that characterize Trump’s presidency that we see each outrage as little more than another passing episode on an ongoing cable news drama.

But events of just the past few days should remind us that the longer this president is in power, the weaker our country will become.

On Wednesday morning, the nation learned that it has a president who traffics in fascist propaganda — and I am not using the f-word lightly. Trump retweeted three inflammatory anti-Muslim videos of unknown accuracy put out by an ultra-right British group called Britain First.

Britain’s Conservative prime minister, Theresa May, was horrified and did not mince words in a statement put out by her office criticizing Trump for distributing “hateful narratives.” She added that “British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far-right, which is the antithesis of the values that this country represents: decency, tolerance and respect.”

We’d like to think that the United States is also a nation of decency, tolerance and respect. We can’t make this claim while Trump is president.

In the meantime, we learned how low the right will sink to advance the interests of accused sexual predator Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican Senate candidate, and to discredit mainstream journalism. Thanks to meticulous reporting, The Post exposed the apparent efforts by conservative activist James O’Keefe to bait the paper into publishing a false account that Moore had a sexual relationship with a woman when she was 15 and encouraged her to have an abortion.

Please think about this: These conservatives are defending the sanctity of life by setting up a woman to lie about having an abortion. In the effort to bring down fair-minded journalism, nothing is sacred. It is another case of corruption, and at an astonishing level.

Recently, my friend (and Brookings Institution colleague) Benjamin Wittes issued a widely noted series of tweets arguing that the left and the right needed to engage in a “temporary truce” to confront the emergency Trump represents and “unite around a political program based on the protection of American democracy and democratic institutions.”

I could not agree more. As a liberal, I salute the anti-Trump conservatives (many of them writers) who understand the threat the president poses and have spoken out unequivocally and bravely.

But here’s what also needs to be recognized: At the moment, political power in our elected branches (and, in effect, in the Supreme Court) is held by Republicans and conservatives. They are using Trump to push through outlandish policies on taxes and health care. They are lauding Trump’s executive orders that scuttle regulations safeguarding consumers, workers and the environment. They are ecstatic about his filling the judiciary with his, and their, allies. Progressives cannot be asked to pretend this isn’t happening. We’re a long way from a “truce.”

It is an unfortunate fact that the corruption Trump exemplifies has seeped deeply into the Republican Party and substantial segments of the conservative movement. The burden is on the responsible right to dismantle the permission structures that are allowing Trump to wreck our democracy, despoil our values and endanger our standing in the world. Otherwise, the people will have to do it themselves by voting his Republican enablers out of office.

Read more from E.J. Dionne’s archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook.

Posted in homepage | 1 Comment

Carried Aloft

Robert Montgomery

Posted in homepage | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

If I Can Dream: Elvis In Concert


Review of:


 at ‘The First Direct Arena’, Leeds

24 November 2017


Elvis Presley is dead.

Priscilla confides how she first heard Mickey Newbury’s acoustic “American Trilogy” on her car radio, and knew it was right for Elvis. But he always chooses his own material, and resents interference, how to bring it to his attention? So she buys a 45rpm copy, and allows him to ‘discover’ it himself. He plays it seven times straight, memorising it. I immediately resent the bombastic overblown arrangement he subsequently dumps on the single that climbs to a UK no.8, 7 July 1972. But watching Elvis do it now, on the big screen above the busy Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, I reconsider. Clumsy, unsubtle, but the one-time Memphis Flash sweats a near-autobiographical slant onto its down-home Dixie themes. A glimpse of what’s within his psyche. And when he gets to that ‘all my trials, Lord, soon be over’… well, it resonates.

There are a million impersonators leeching comfortably off the Presley legacy, enough slicked-back quiffs and bejewelled jumpsuits to form their own autonomous republic. By contrast, this is no facsimile. This spectacle is as close as we’re gonna get, forty years down from that terminal Graceland bathroom incident. ‘No Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones in 1977’ gloat the Clash. ‘I don’t think so’ retorts Priscilla. Souvenir programmes cost £15. One woman has Elvis tattoos all down her arm. Another wears a ‘Mrs Elvis Presley’ T-shirt. I wear the Sun Records top I bought in Memphis.

Elvis is dead. He’s not secretly living under an assumed identity in Brazil. He doesn’t work down your local chip shop. He wasn’t abducted by Area 52 Space Aliens. He’s deceased. I know for sure. I visited his grave at Graceland. And yes, I confess, it choked me up.

Elvis once gave ‘thanks to my friend Little Richard. I’ve never met him. But he’s my friend.’ When an interviewer had the temerity to call him ‘King Of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ Elvis points to Fats Domino instead, and says ‘no, he’s the King Of Rock ‘n’ Roll.’ He never gave a one-to-one in-depth interview. But at a Press Conference he was asked ‘is it true that you’re just a country boy at heart?’ He says, ‘well, I’ve got this belt,’ standing up to reveal a wide gold precious-stone-encrusted belt, with bling enough for an entire Rap crew. Which is no answer, but all the answer you need. If a simple country boy won the lottery, he’d buy pink Cadillac’s, a house for his Mom, and a belt exactly like that one.

Yet he was blessed – and damned, by enough charisma to shift planets from their orbit, a more potent superpower than the entire Marvel pantheon. Tonight, when he sings “A Big Hunk Of Love”, he gets to the line ‘you’re a natural-born beehive, filled with honey to the top’ and gives an amused shrug that says ‘who the hell wrote this dumb stuff anyway?’ When he does “Are You Lonesome Tonight” in a clip from his Las Vegas residency (‘Baccarat Around The Clock’), he adds the ‘do you gaze at your bald head, and wish you had hair’ line. He goofs with “Don’t Be Cruel” and fluffs the words to “Hound Dog”. When he does a “Suspicious Minds” that brings the stadium to its feet, he throws in a ‘I’ll dry the sweat from your eyes’. He does not treat these songs as sacred texts.

A muted trombone plays intro to the finger-popping “Fever”, originally from his 1960 ‘Elvis Is Back’ first post-Army album, part of a purposeful push to broaden and deepen scope, shifting demographics upwards. Remixed as a duet with Michael Bublé on the first of three Royal Philharmonic Orchestra CDs in 2015, here it strips back to just Elvis as he lip-smacks a big wet exaggerated kiss to ‘thou giveth fever, when we kisseth…’ Twin flutes play into “Can’t Help Falling In Love” from the 1973 ‘Aloha From Hawaii’ concert. It subsequently charts for UB40, the Stylistics and Andy Williams, but Elvis does the one you remember. Then Leiber & Stoller’s smouldering “Don’t” – burning with frustrated sexuality in an arrangement also from the 2016 ‘The Wonder Of You’ RPO collaboration. As Priscilla tells it, it reveals remarkable maturity for the twenty-one-year-old Elvis. Then, from the third revisioning CD – 2017, strings and chorus shimmer around “Blue Christmas” illustrated by home-movie footage of Daddy Vernon as Santa, Lisa Marie and a ten-foot snowman on the Graceland lawn.

By contrast, “In The Ghetto” – written by Mac Davis, comes illuminated by a run of sepia childhood photos, and narrates how generational deprivation is a perpetuating social trap. If his later politics tend towards the dubious – photographed with a smiling Nixon, well, wasn’t the Elvis story living vindication of the American Dream, dirt-poor white-trash poverty to unimaginable overnight wealth? When “Trouble” from the 1968 TV Comeback Special segues into “Guitar Man” there’s a collage of those insurrectionary vintage clips that rip the tired complacent 1950s to its very core and imprint his surly sneering insolence across the decade, the Jordanaires, the ‘Jailhouse Rock’ grid, Scotty & Bill, DJ Fontana, the Dorsey Brothers TV show, the incandescent Tupelo Mississippi-Alabama Show news-footage from 27 September 1957.

There were always four Beatles, to check and balance each other. There was only ever one Elvis. With all the sycophantic Memphis Mafia his celebrity could buy. The original black-&-white movie clip of “Love Me Tender” blends into stills of him with co-stars Ann-Margaret, Dolores Hart, Debra Paget, Juliet Prowse and Ursula Andress. Those Pop proto-video movies that were sent out to tour the world when he did not.

Priscilla explains the “It’s Now Or Never” history, how it took just twenty-minutes to add lyrics to “O Sole Mio” (earlier adapted for Tony Martin’s “There’s No Tomorrow”), and how it was ‘on the charts’ for five weeks in America and eight weeks in the UK. Of course, she means it was no.1 for those weeks, not just on the charts! Although stilted and hesitant tonight – despite her commendable role in three ‘Naked Gun’ comedies, a Wimbledon Pantomime, ‘Dallas’ and Graham Norton chat-shows, she’s the astute curator and architect of this re-imagining project. Bringing Elvis here, to freezing gridlocked Leeds. Maybe if Elvis had listened to her more, and to Col Tom Parker less, things might have worked out more positively? Challenging, testing and pushing him. Yet “Blue Suede Shoes” brings the orchestra up and jiving. “Memories” gets the glow-phones swaying aloft… just like it’s a real gig. Not a virtual one.

The close-down is “If I Can Dream”, which is as much a glimpse of what’s within his psyche as he ever committed to vinyl. ‘We’re trapped in a world that’s troubled with pain, but as long as a man has the strength to dream, he can redeem his soul and fly…’

Elvis is dead. But tonight in Leeds, he flew, he flew.





Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

When You Buy Their Sorrow


Icy winds filled with chimney smoke

Signaled the burning of Christmas block,

When colorful lights all around gleam

The holy monks sing the merry theme,

Sacred lilies, decorative ivory, fill homes

Town to town our joyful echo roams,

Perch like a bird around the tree to sing

Listen to chorus, sweet jingle bells bring,

Meet the beloved ones you missed daily

Hug the foes; don’t let slip away easily,

Rich and poor at the same table

Do the labor but make it a fable,

Let care go some hidden place

Let love take its due space,

Drink and drown all the worry

No one seems alone or in hurry,

Once you have the Christ sign in thy heart

Feeling His grace makes you Gilbert,

The God loves all in their true form

Shun the bad habits in His charm,

Time to wish all a prosperous morrow

It’s Merry Christmas when you buy their sorrow



About the Writer

Sandeep Kumar Mishra is a writer, poet, and lecturer in English Literature. He is the art instructor at Kishlaya Outsider Art Academy. He has edited a collection of poems by various poets – Pearls (2002) and written a professional guidebook -How to be (2016) and a collection of poems and art-Feel My Heart(2016)





Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment


Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

500 years of Female Portraits in Western Art

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment


Merely shapes on a page
Filaments on the screen
We transmute and play
To know what they might mean
Bonie Moronie wants to do the huckle buck
Rama Lama Ding Dong couldn’t give a fuck
Short Fat Fannie says “who you callin’ fat?”
And Nam Myoho Renge Kyo
Where’dya get a name like that…
All that you hear everything that you see
All art is whatever
You want it to be.


Harry Lupino
Illustration Nick Victor

Posted in homepage | Tagged , | Leave a comment

In memory of Geoff Gilbertson, 2nd May 1950 – 24th October 2017

Not so much Rage Against the Machine as Slightly Peeved the Taps Won’t Work

Geoff Gilbertson: the photograph he wanted on his website

Geoff Gilbertson, co-author, with Anthony Roberts, of the seminal 1980s conspiracy book, The Dark Gods, has died, age 67.

It’s true that I hardly knew him. I met him once, in the 90s, when we went out to the pub and got drunk together, and then again about four years ago, when he helped me find a website designer. After that I would see him maybe two or three times a year, although he rang me up several times a week. The conversations were always brief and often bizarre. I have to admit that I didn’t always answer the calls.

Nevertheless I think I have an important part to play in Geoff Gilbertson’s story. He told me that the night we went to the pub was the last time he remembered being happy.

Geoff was born on the 2nd May 1950 in Pembury, Kent. His father, John C. Gilbertson, had spied on the Nazis in Bonne, in 1936. He was a linguist and spoke over 30 German dialects. After that he served in Bletchley Park.

John died early and Geoff and his two older sisters, Isolde and Mary, and his twin sister, Jill, were brought up by their mother, Nanette, who struggled with a debilitating physical condition. This became a bone of contention in later years, when Geoff “dropped out” and became a hippy. He was considered to be the black sheep of the family.

Nevertheless he made a strong impression on his young nephews, Mark & Paul Duffield. To them Uncle Geoff was the living embodiment of an alternative lifestyle, doing things on his own terms.

He once took them out in a car that was so rusted that there was no floor in the back. They could see the road skimming by underneath as he drove. He had a house in Glastonbury that was leaning so much with subsidence that the furniture had to be nailed to the floor, and he once swapped a car for a loaf of bread. Such things made a strong impression on their young minds. He was their favourite uncle. If you needed money, he would give it to you, even to the detriment of himself.

“He travelled through life like a holy fool, making everyone fall in love with him, and he turned many heads along the way…”

He was always in love with someone, although it was usually unrequited. He gave his money away. He travelled through life like a holy fool, making everyone fall in love with him, and he turned many heads along the way. Wherever he found himself he would find a new friend.

According to everyone I spoke to, he blamed the illness that dogged his later years on the writing of the Dark Gods.

It was the ultimate conspiracy book, predating David Icke and Dan Brown by more than a decade. The basic contention was that there was a malignant force in the Universe, undermining humanity at every turn, which the authors attempted to delineate using a variety of sources: from myth, from fiction, from folk story and from history. It was said that the Dark Gods influenced the Stranglers in the making of their 1981 concept album, The Gospel According to the Meninblack.

Geoff told friends that he came under sustained psychic attack after its publication. He had a minor breakdown, and spent some time recuperating in a Monastery. Later he told people he no longer believed many of the things he had written.

In the 90s he became a website designer, and was named website designer of the year by the Guardian. He was very computer savvy and ahead of the curve when it came to tech stuff. Meanwhile he was researching for a new book to counterbalance the Dark Gods hypothesis. He used to walk around with a plastic lizard in his pocket. He said he wanted to reclaim the lizards from David Icke.

This was at Megatripolis, the legendary underground London nightclub which flourished at the height of the Rave era. Geoff took an active part in this. He was known as “Cyber Geoff”, and brought his enthusiasm and his encyclopedic knowledge to the mix, hosting talks, compering on stage and lecturing at the “Parallel Youniversity”, the Megatripolis educational project.

One of his friends from this time, Lucy Wills, thought that Geoff might have had Asperger’s Syndrome.

She said, “Many of the things that made him so special, and also made his life so difficult at times, very much fit in with the new, emerging understanding of this condition.”

It was possibly this that made him neglectful of his health. He didn’t eat properly. He wasn’t grounded. His head was so full of esoteric and occult things, and he could talk for hours on UFOs, but he was lost on Planet Earth, living off junk food and snacks. As his friend, Wayne Sturgeon, put it: “He was so heavenly minded, he was of no earthly use.”

Barrow Mump by Tom Eveson, pencil on paper early 1980’s, an illustration for the “Dark Gods” by Antony Roberts and Geoff Gilbertson

According to Tom Eveson, who illustrated the Dark Gods, he was not like your generic, straight-out-of-the-factory human. He had no protective armour. He was incredibly – impossibly – sensitive. He was this very big guy, Tom said, but with a lot of feminine characteristics. There was none of that male ego competitiveness you get with most men. He meant the best for everyone.

Tom met Geoff when they were both attempting to sell prints to the same cafe owner at the same time. This was in Bristol. Later Tom took some prints round to Geoff’s house. It was this large Georgian property in Hotwells, a hippy commune. There was a cafe downstairs which was open all night, and Geoff went down to work behind the counter, leaving Tom in his room. After awhile Tom noticed this strange smell emanating from a cupboard. It was foul: “a demon smell, like it had come from the bowels of hell,” Tom said. He opened the cupboard and there was a sudden rush of oxygen into the cupboard and an intense ball of flame, which set light to everything. Tom rushed downstairs to alert everyone and the fire brigade was called. This must have been in 1977, because there was a Fire Fighter’s strike on, and it was the Army in their Green Goddesses who turned up. The house burnt down and Tom lost all his prints.

He read the Dark Gods three times to get an idea of what it meant, so he could do the illustrations. It chimed with thoughts of his own about the possibility of some malign force governing everything. Later he changed his mind about this. “We don’t need any help fucking ourselves,” he said.

Geoff travelled a lot and it could be years between one meeting and the next.

There had always been an edge of paranoia about him. He talked a lot about UFOs, past lives and conspiracy theory, and other fringe stuff. But in 2008 Wayne Sturgeon met him again and Geoff told him he was being abducted by aliens and having sex with Diana Ross on an alien spaceship. He became agitated and defensive when Wayne expressed reserve. “You’re one of them!” he said.

After that he disappeared. There were rumours that he had died. He was found vagrant in France and deported and ended up in a mental hospital near the Quaker Centre near Euston. Wayne used to go and visit him. He was in an awful state. He could hardly talk. He’d become infantilised, and spoke in a strange, high-pitched voice. He would come to visit Wayne at his house and Wayne said that even his seven year old daughter was more mature than Geoff. She would lead him around by the hand and help him to do things.

Ah yes: that voice! It was unlike anything you’ve ever heard. When I first heard him speak, on the phone, I had no idea who I was talking to. I thought it was some mad woman ringing me up. It was like this high-pitched twitter. Other people have described it as demented, even sinister. James Hamilton, for whom Geoff had designed a website in the 90s, said it sounded like he was trying to talk to angels.

It went along with his walk, waddling along like a wooden toy, with his palms turned out, and this look of startled bemusement on his face. He was probably on a lot of psychiatric drugs by this time.

James says he blamed his later paralytic psychosis on a skunk joint he took at the Rainbow Centre in Notting Hill in the early 2000s. He said Geoff spiralled inward after that and became very withdrawn, although the inward mood was interspersed by spontaneous bubbles of absurd optimism, equally worrying in its own way.

He said that Geoff never told him he had cancer.

Not that it was a secret. He used to say, “I’ve got cancer but it’s OK because I’ve got good friends.” He was supposed to be going into hospital for an operation, but then declined the treatment. He said, “well I’ve got to go sometime!”

This was the reason that his death came as a surprise. People knew he was ill, but were expecting him to go into hospital soon. But it’s a measure of his essential good nature that even then, when he knew he was going to die, he remained cheerful, coming to friends house just a few days before and offering to help her carry her bags up the stairs.

He died on the 24th October 2017. The cause of death was “malignant neoplasm of the sigmoid colon and ulcerative colitis.” Cancer of the colon, in layman’s terms.

His last words to Wayne, sent via text message, were: “Father healed me.” Just those three words, without any explanation.

You could say that Geoff’s life was a failure. He was immensely talented, almost a genius, but none of it ever came to anything. He was an excellent guitarist, an accomplished artist, a decent writer, a great researcher and a voracious consumer of obscure facts. Later he was a successful web-designer, way ahead of his time. He could have had a brilliant career, had he been better supported with his health issues, and the psychosis not allowed to take over.

But while it’s true to say that he never achieved any personal success, he was definitely an inspirational figure, and a catalyst for many other people’s creativity.

More than anything there was an incredible sweetness about him, a real generosity of spirit. He believed that the world was a beautiful place, and he helped others see it that way.

I wish I could take just one last phone call from him, so I could wish him goodbye.

He is survived by his sister, Isolde.


Posted in homepage | Tagged | 1 Comment

striking portraits of counterculture teens in 60s san francisco

Haight Street, 1968

Emily Manning

In the late 1960s, Elaine Mayes photographed the rock gods and teen runaways who flooded Haight-Ashbury, California’s countercultural epicenter. A new exhibition revisits her portraits, 50 years later.

Next week marks the 50th anniversary of the Monterey Pop Festival. America’s first large-scale rock concert drew between 25,000 and 90,000 people over three June days in 1967. A free-wheeling love-in that would set the stage for Woodstock two years later, Monterey first introduced the nation to the transformative sounds of Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and Janis Joplin. Beyond its music, Monterey is remembered as the lightning rod that ignited the Summer of Love. The counterculture incubated in Monterey quickly spread up the California coast and took root in San Francisco, luring over 100,000 young people to Haight-Ashbury.

A haven for anyone who rejected the cultural and political ideologies that had defined American life, the Golden Gate Park-adjacent neighborhood became flooded with runaways, rock gods, junkies, poets, radicals, pacifists, artists, drifters, and activists. Photographer Elaine Mayes documented these hippie halcyon days, and the harsh realities that wilted flower power (harder drugs, higher crime rates, and the worsening Vietnam War). Elaine Mayes: Summer of Love — a new exhibition of her black-and-white photographs opening tomorrow at Joseph Bellows Gallery — revisits this era, 50 years later.

Rebel, 25, Golden Gate Park, 1968

Mayes wound up in the Haight after studying at Stanford University, and later the San Francisco Art Institute. While in school, she began working as an independent photojournalist. In 1967, she embarked on an assignment to capture the Monterey Pop Festival, making in-the-moment photographs of the musicians, flower children, and festival fans who dropped out and tuned in.

The exhibition displays these photographs alongside Mayes’s other well-known body of work from the era: her formal portraits of fellow Haight residents after Monterey. Described in The New Yorker as, “understated and unsentimental but quietly astonishing, as if August Sander had been around for the Summer of Love,” these images at times captured another, harsher side to the hippie dream.

Linda, Haight-Ashbury, 1968

“Early on in the Haight I had realized that the Summer of Love was a media-fueled idea, and the media in fact had created the situation in the Haight,” Mayes has said. “I knew I wanted to make pictures that would show something other than the media version of Haight-Ashbury. I shifted from the photojournalistic approach that had served the magazine assignments to making formal portraits of people I knew or met on the street.” Mayes often made these portraits where she encountered her subjects: on stoops or in parks.

Mayes’s black-and-white photographs show the vast array of young people who came together to create a new kind of living — to break from the past and fashion a new future. And as the recent Berkeley Art Museum exhibition Hippie Modernism explored, the 60s’ struggle for utopia has much to teach us about technology, ecological consciousness, gender, social justice, and creative protest in the digital age. Mayes reminds us how the era’s idealism and expressivity radically altered the course of American culture.

‘Elaine Mayes: Summer of Love’ is on view at Joseph Bellows Gallery from June 10 to August 26, 2017. More information here

Couple in Park, San Francisco, 1968

Grateful Dead, Golden Gate Park,1967

Krishna Devotee, 1967

Janis at the Fillmore, 1967

Steve Miller, 1967

Two Friends, Haight Street, 1968

Haight-Ashbury, 1968

Haight-Ashbury (young woman in park), 1968


Text Emily Manning
Photography Elaine Mayes, courtesy of Joseph Bellows Gallery


Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Fingers on Lips

NEW! When citizens accused the state of treating them like children, the government launched the ‘Fingers on Lips’ campaign. More information:…/the-fingers-on-lips-campaig…

Scarfolk Council
Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

Neil Young’s online music archive

If ever there was a time to listen to Neil Young, it’s today. The musician’s entire catalog is available to stream for free on his newly launched archival website.

“We developed [the archive] to provide fans and historians with unprecedented access to all of my music and my entire archive in one convenient location,” writes Young in an open letter introducing the archive.

The songs are organized chronologically spanning more than 50 years. Included are all of Young’s released solo titles, as well as his records made with Buffalo Springfield, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and Crazy Horse.

Additionally, there are ten unreleased albums and a few unreleased films. “These are projects I did not release at the time for one reason or another, and many of the songs subsequently appeared on other albums as the years flew past,” Young explains. “The archive is designed to be a living document, constantly evolving and including every new recording and film as it is made. It is not yet complete as we are still adding a lot of detail to the older recordings.”

Read more:
Neil Young’s Top 10 Songs
The 25 Best Neil Young Covers
The Very Best of Neil Young

Most of the music is available in a high-resolution audio format via Young’s Xstream streaming platform. Original pre-digital analog albums were transferred to the highest digital resolution, according to Young. More recent recordings are found here in their native resolution.

“Full resolution is attained with no compression, unlike any other streaming service to date,” Young explains. Full resolution is attained when your bandwidth is high enough to play back all the quality of each individual recording. This is as good as it gets.” (There’s an option to toggle back and forth between the highest-quality tier and standard 320kbs, and you can most definitely tell a difference.)

The archive is presented in two distinct formats: in a filing cabinet or and as a comprehensive timeline, which also includes touring information, photos, videos, and details on relevant events in Young’s life. Each song  has a corresponding info card containing production and engineering credits, musician credits, press reviews, archival live footage, photos, and more.

The launch of the archive coincides with the release of Young’s latest album, The Visitor. In celebration, he’ll be live streaming a special concert in his hometown of Omemee, Ontario later tonight.

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

It took six months & a lot of work but we’ve caved completely, says David Davis

BREXIT minister David Davis has proudly told Britain that after six months of tough negotiating he has given in to every single one of the EU’s demands. 

Davis, who turned up to negotiations in June with a blank notepad and a hopeful expression, promised that nobody could have fought harder or achieved less than he did.

He continued: “From the first day, when I conceded that negotiations would proceed exactly as the EU had decided and then spent months trying to reverse that, I have been massively out of my depth. 

“For fruitless meeting after fruitless meeting, I have vainly insisted that things that were never going to happen should happen, no matter how clear it was that I was wrong. 

“And, finally, after battling through our own reality-denying pigheadness, we have achieved what we could have achieved on day one by capitulating utterly. 

“Now we have caved on the divorce bill, look forward to me caving on EU citizens’ rights and Northern Ireland in short order. Certainly before Christmas.”


Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Boko Haram strapped suicide bombs to them. Somehow these teenage girls survived.

“They said to me, ‘Are you going to sleep with us, or do you want to go on a mission?’” Aisha, 15

“I didn’t want a situation where I’m the reason anyone dies.” Fatima M., 16

“I really didn’t expect to survive. I thought I had only minutes to live.” Maryam, 16

“They brought out a belt and tied it to my waist and showed me a button to press.” Nana, 13

The New York Times interviewed 18 girls who were captured by militants in Nigeria and sent into crowds to blow themselves up. Here are their stories.

The girls didn’t want to kill anyone. They walked in silence for a while, the weight of the explosives around their waists pulling down on them as they fingered the detonators and tried to think of a way out.

“I don’t know how to get this thing off me,” Hadiza, 16, recalled saying as she headed out on her mission.

“What are you going to do with yours?” she asked the 12-year-old girl next to her, who was also wearing a bomb.

“I’m going to go off by myself and blow myself up,” the girl responded hopelessly.

It was all happening so fast. After being kidnapped by Boko Haram this year, Hadiza was confronted by a fighter in the camp where she was being held hostage. He wanted to “marry” her. She rejected him.

“You’ll regret this,” the fighter told her.

A few days later, she was brought before a Boko Haram leader. He told her she would be going to the happiest place she could imagine. Hadiza thought she was going home. He was talking about heaven.

They came for her at night, she said, grabbing a suicide belt and attaching it to her waist. The fighters then sent her and the 12-year-old girl out on foot, alone, telling them to detonate the bombs at a camp for Nigerian civilians who have fled the violence Boko Haram has inflicted on the region.

“I knew I would die and kill other people, too,” Hadiza recalled. “I didn’t want that.”

Northeastern Nigeria, now in its eighth year of war with Boko Haram, has become a place afraid of its own girls.

So far this year, militants have carried out more than twice as many suicide bombings than they did in all of 2016, and the attacks keep coming.

According to Unicef, more than 110 children have been used as suicide bombers since the start of the year – at least 76 of them girls. Most were under 15 years old. One girl blew herself up along with a baby strapped to her back.

Bombers here at the center of the battle against Boko Haram have struck mosques, marketplaces, checkpoints, camps for displaced civilians and anywhere else people gather, including a single polo field attacked multiple times. Trenches have been dug around the University of Maiduguri, a frequent bombing target, in hopes of slowing down attackers.

“I knew very well that bomb would kill me.” Maimuma, 14

The deployment of children has become so frighteningly common that officials in the areas where Boko Haram operates are warning citizens to be on the lookout for girl bombers. A huge billboard here in Maiduguri – the Nigerian city where Boko Haram was born – proclaims “Stop Terrorism” with the image of a scowling, wild-eyed girl with explosives on her chest, clutching a detonator.

Officials are publicly urging parents not to hand over their children to Boko Haram for use as bombers, while the military is circulating a video telling bombers they can surrender. It features an 11-year-old girl.

“Do not allow them to tie explosives on you,” says the girl in the video. “It is dangerous.”

The public service ad paints bombers and their families as Boko Haram collaborators who either support the militants’ campaign of terror, or were brainwashed or drugged into doing so.

But The New York Times tracked down and interviewed 18 girls in Nigeria who were sent on suicide missions by Boko Haram. Their accounts shatter the narrative often perpetuated by officials.

Far from having been willing participants, the girls described being kidnapped and held hostage, with family members killed during their capture.

All of the girls recounted how armed militants forcibly tied suicide belts to their waists, or thrust bombs into their hands, before pushing them toward crowds of people. Most were told that their religion compelled them to carry out the orders. And all of them resisted, preventing the attacks by begging ordinary citizens or the authorities to help them.

Aisha, 15, fled her home with her father and 10-year-old brother, but Boko Haram caught them. The fighters killed her father and, soon after, she watched them strap a bomb to her brother, squeeze him between two militants on a motorbike and speed away.

The two militants returned without him, cheering. Her little brother had blown up soldiers at a barracks, she learned. The militants told her not to cry for him. “He killed wicked people,” they told her.

Later, they tied a bomb on her, too, instructing her to head toward the same barracks.

Like some of the other girls, Aisha said she had considered walking off to an isolated spot and pressing the detonator, far from other people, to avoid hurting anyone else. Instead, she approached the soldiers and persuaded them to remove the explosives from her body, delicately.

“I told them, ‘My brother was here and killed some of your men,’” she said. “My brother wasn’t sensible enough to know he didn’t have to do it. He was only a small child.”

Other girls, whose full names are also being withheld out of concern for their security, had similar stories of terror and defiance.

Fall on your tummy, face down, the militants told Fatima A., 17. But when she approached soldiers, she put up her hands and yelled at the top of her voice: “Look! I’m innocent! I’m not part of them! They forced me!”

“They told me that by the grace of God I’ll succeed.” Maimuma, 14

“I was so afraid it would explode on its own.” Falmata B., 15

“They told me to go to the big mosque and sit among the worshippers.” Fati, 14

“I can’t kill people, especially innocent people.” Falmata S., 16

Amina, 16, was told to blow up worshipers at a mosque. But as she drew near the crowd, she spotted her uncle, who helped her to safety.

Wait until you find a big crowd of civilians, fighters told Hajja, 17. But if you spot just one or two soldiers first, press the button, they instructed her. Instead, when she came upon a soldier, she showed him her bomb. He guided her to an open field, where he gently removed it.

Fati, 14, was deployed along with nine other girls, each sent in different directions to hit separate targets. She walked into a police station to ask for help, holding the bag containing the bomb that militants had given her. The officers screamed and ran out, she said. But eventually they returned, telling her to leave the bag in a nearby field and walk away.

Maryam, 16, said she got help from an old man resting under a tree. The two hollered to one another from a safe distance, so that he could question her first and get some assurances that she didn’t plan to blow him up.

For these girls and others, even approaching the authorities to ask for help was exceedingly dangerous. Soldiers and civilians at checkpoints are on high alert for anyone suspicious – and usually that means any woman or girl, most of whom wear long head scarves and garments that could cover an explosive belt. In just the last three months of 2016, the United Nations says, 13 children from 11 to 17 years old were killed after they were wrongly thought to be suicide bombers.

Most of the girls interviewed said, like Hadiza, that they had been deployed as bombers after refusing to be married off to a fighter. For years Boko Haram fighters have forced girls into “marriage,” a euphemism for rape, sometimes impregnating them.

Many of the girls echoed Hadiza’s account, saying the militants had promised them paradise in exchange for pushing a red detonator button. The girls, nearly all involved in planned attacks within the past year, were dropped off along empty roads as gun-toting fighters stayed back at a distance to watch them walk toward their targets.

Maimuma, 14, whom militants told to bomb a group of soldiers, said she didn’t want to become like the dozens of other girls who have blown themselves up, taking bystanders with them. She knows that many people suspect she is a Boko Haram collaborator. But she argues that she and other girls like her should be praised for defying the militants.

“Some people see me as part of Boko Haram,” she said. “Some people see me as a hero.”

“I get afraid when I see women.” Hassan, a member of a local civilian militia

In recent months, Nigeria’s gains in beating back Boko Haram – retaking territory and capturing militant hide-outs – have begun to recede. The group’s fighters have launched not only more suicide bombings but more tactical strikes against security forces as well.

In June, they attacked a convoy of soldiers and police officers, kidnapping several female police officers. The following month, militants fired on a military-escorted convoy of oil workers, killing more than 25 people and kidnapping geologists from the University of Maiduguri.

Western intelligence officials say the militants have been recapturing land that the Nigerian military took from them. The United States is preparing to sell half a billion dollars’ worth of attack planes and other material to Nigeria to aid the fight.

The humanitarian situation in the region is dire, with nearly two million people across four countries displaced by war and some living in famine-like conditions. Maiduguri is overwhelmed by families that have fled rural farms and fisheries with no means of making a living. Many live in decaying buildings and thatched huts, or along the banks of the shallow Ngadda River, where one small group survives on roasted scraps of cow hide discarded by local tanneries.

Now, aid groups are fighting an outbreak of thousands of cases of cholera, according to humanitarian workers.

The relentless string of bombings in recent months, mostly around Maiduguri and across the border in Cameroon, has cast a frightening shadow over life here. On Sunday alone, more than a dozen people were killed when bombers struck.

In the past six years, women have accounted for the majority of suicide bombings by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad, according to a report released in August by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

In fact, the report said, the group has deployed more female bombers than any other terrorist group in history.

And as Boko Haram increasingly turns to children to carry out its suicide attacks, it is four times more likely to deploy girl bombers than boys, the report found.

“There is an uneasiness – people often mention their fear of women and girls at checkpoints, in crowded areas, at the camps, at the university,” said Harriet Dwyer, a spokeswoman for Unicef in Maiduguri. “As we see these incidences happening with more frequency, the stigma and the suspicion become a very difficult thing to reconcile.”

The bombings are taking a psychological toll on Maiduguri, a city that by some estimates has doubled in population as families flee Boko Haram in the countryside.

Bombers strike repeatedly at busy marketplaces and camps for the displaced. Residents suspect that the university has been a frequent target because of Boko Haram’s hatred of Western education, one of its founding principles. At least eight attacks on the university have occurred since the start of the year.

The suicide bombers usually operate in the early morning hours, predictably enough that many residents start their days later or avoid certain areas altogether. Worried about being shot by mistake, many women and girls squat before approaching checkpoints, hoping to convince nervous soldiers and civilian militia members that they aren’t wearing explosive belts or vests.

To avoid suspicion, some women say that they are careful to bathe and wash their clothes frequently. Most of the girls used in bombings have lived in harsh conditions in the bush and appear dirty and “haggard,” a word many residents use to describe them.

One Maiduguri resident, Fatima Seidu, 45, said that whenever she saw girls on the street, she crossed to avoid them.

“I get afraid of bombs, and afraid someone will see me and get afraid of me,” said Ms. Seidu, whose husband was killed by Boko Haram. “But hopefully they’ll look at my age and they’ll also see I’m wearing clean clothes.”

Hassan, a member of a local civilian militia, said that when women and girls approach his checkpoint, he tells them to drop what they’re carrying. Several months ago, he said, a woman refused to stop when he shouted at her. He watched as she raised her hand and pressed a detonator, setting off a bomb.

“I get afraid when I see women,” he said.

“They told me to be sure I was ready for heaven.” Amina, 16

“I pitied the women and the children at my target.” Balaraba, 20

“It’s tied on my body. I’m afraid to touch it.” Hadiza B., 13

“They told me to blow up a hospital, to go in the mix of patients and workers and detonate a bomb.” Maimuna, 16

Hassan’s wife, Fatima G., 19, said she had been abducted by Boko Haram, held for about six months, and forced to marry a fighter. One day, militants gathered a group of women hostages and told them to parade before them as they barked orders. It seemed to be some kind of test for obedience, she said.

Not long after, she said, a fighter put her on the back of a motorbike and sped toward Maiduguri. On the way, he told her she was going on a suicide mission. But they came upon a firefight between militants and soldiers instead. In the chaos, she escaped.

Now, in her daily life in Maiduguri, she is fearful of women. “It’s not like anyone is wearing identification,” she said. “There’s no way to know who is who.”

The girls who were sent on suicide missions now try to blend into teenage life in Maiduguri. Most had painted nails, tiny rhinestone studs in their noses and curls of henna on their feet. Their long headscarves covered patterned or sparkly dresses and braided hair.

Nearly all had their schooling interrupted by the war. They are eager to return. They dream of becoming teachers, doctors or lawyers.

They value their religion and say they were unconvinced by Boko Haram’s insistence that Islam supports suicide bombings. Some worry that God would have punished them had they accidentally set off the bombs attached to them.

In most cases, the girls told no one about their missions, other than the security forces who helped them. Some girls did not even tell their parents, frightened of being rejected. Those who did were told not to repeat their stories, for fear they would be labeled Boko Haram sympathizers.

The militants sometimes tried to trick the girls, hoping to convince them they would not be harmed in the attacks. Maimuma was told that the moment she hit the detonator, the bomb would leap from her body and land in the crowd. She didn’t believe it, especially after militants prepared her hair in a traditional burial style.

“I knew very well that bomb would kill me,” she said.

But there was little she could do. They tied an explosive belt around her waist and dropped her along a road. Follow it to where the soldiers are, they told her. Act like a woman, they said. Look attractive. Wait until you’re very close to them. Then press the button.

She tried to keep her composure until she was out of sight. The explosives were heavy and the detonator – a device that looked like a small radio – was hot against her waist, she recalled. She wanted to remove the belt, but was terrified of accidentally setting it off.

She began to cry. Some passers-by spotted her sobbing on the road and approached. She told them Boko Haram had tied a bomb under her gown. They sprinted away. Others approached, but they too fled when she told them her problem.

“They came one after another,” she said, almost laughing at the grim absurdity of the scene. “I tried to run after them and they told me they would kill me if I kept coming.”

After a few minutes, a group of soldiers arrived, telling her to keep her distance and put her hands in the air. A soldier came over to gingerly remove the device. It seemed to take forever. Her arms grew tired as she held them overhead. Finally, the belt was off.

Initially, Maimuma hid the episode from her family and friends, and she worried about being jailed if people found out. “Then I thought to myself, ‘Why should I be arrested for being forced to carry a bomb?’” she said. “I decided I was going tell everyone.”

When Maimuma hears about girls who set off bombs she is frustrated. There’s no question in her mind that they had no loyalty to Boko Haram. She thinks they were naïve, terrified and ultimately foolish for not realizing they had the option of surrendering to security officials, she said.

But that is risky, too. When Hadiza and the 12-year-old girl approached a checkpoint, she was scared of what the soldiers might do. Hadiza told the younger girl to wait by a tree in the distance while she explained their predicament to the soldiers. She knew the girl would raise suspicion because she was too young to be walking in the bush without a parent.

“She was such a small girl,” Hadiza said.

The soldiers believed her and helped the girls take off their explosives belts before splitting them up for questioning. Hadiza was eventually taken to a camp for displaced people. She still doesn’t know where her mother is, or if she is even alive. But her father showed up at the camp a few weeks after she did. When she told him what happened, he cried, both horrified and relieved.

“He would never reject me,” she said. “He was so happy I survived.”


Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

no statement/Sex & revolution




my fake counterfeit poems
with their dance and fake lines
and my neutral fake claims

unlive on my unreal life
stuck in my unreal house
with their none real thoughts.

my fraud art along with my
fake beauty and my posh loose
Lexus like kitschy intuition

unsleep together in my inexistent
bed, up in my secret bedroom, down
deep in my dream within a dream

beyond of the greatest wide shot
what else intrigues me is just past
inside another small scheme

they taught Sex was dirty
yesterday big, but now on/off
they want it all be spiffy clean.

my fake knowledge eats slowly
&my false chair is warm, dim light
friends disposed at the table

like hazy impressions – they
smalltalk trends, brands &
newest of tools & so, she’s

stuffed like a pig. while we
mock&fakekill fake god
with both of your minds’

hands chopped off to, flying
thru the fake ground’s ill-
matched & bien-mapped desert

dusty design-work which
it clearly says, glowingly
power to y’all – heroes

me – for 2 no different reason
i’m quite that indifferent
and naked and fool.


Bogdan Puslenghea
Illustration Nick Victor


Posted in homepage | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I have been following several Donald Trump groups

For going on two years now, I have been following several Donald Trump groups, alt right groups, and just general far right reactionary groups. I have seen these groups grow from 500 or a thousand people to 20,000, 30,000, 50,000, and more. One particularly grotesque example is almost half 1 million.

When I joined them, I felt like something was changing, something new was happening, and I wanted to try and understand it. (as well as for an occasional laugh, it would be fruitless for me to deny that now.) Of course, it was fucking appalling. But I kept watching. I knew Trump would win the primary long before most people thought it was a possibility on the basis of what I saw in these groups. I’ve become familiar with memes and tropes and ideas common in the groups and I think I’ve gotten a fairly good grip on the culture. I’ve been pretty accurate in my predictions regarding the Trump and the hard right over this period of time, other than his victory in the general election. Because of these groups.

Since that time, when the subject of Trump, or the alt right, or neo-Nazis in conversation, sometimes I will suggest to my friends, people on the left, that they join a trump group or an alt right group, to see what’s going on in them. And I can’t remember one time offhand when the person I was talking to thought it was a good idea. (If I’m wrong, if I’m forgetting, feel free to correct me, but I can’t remember anyone wanting to.) My memory is that, to a person, anyone I know on the left who has heard the suggestion has expressed feelings somewhere in a range between lack of interest to horror, generally tending towards the latter.

So the other day I wake up to my feed full of people angry about the New York Times profile of the Ohio Nazi, Tony Hovater. I read the piece and it just seems like a profile of a Nazi to me. Completely unsurprising or notable in any way, other than its correlation with my own experience. I thought it was very well done.

Then I started reading my friend’s posts about the article, articles about the article. Apparently everyone is angry about the normalization of the Nazi in the piece.

Hey, guys. Hey, as someone who’s been watching this shit for two fucking years, here’s a little wake up, You really don’t have to worry about the New York Times normalizing Nazis because it’s too fucking late. THIS SHIT IS NORMAL NOW.

Like I said, for two years I’ve been telling people to join a Trump group, watch a Nazi website, do something to keep yourself familiar with this shit, and for two years I’ve been watching everyone ignore that advice and then act surprised when Nazis happen. Guys, THEY’RE HAPPENING. If the Times profile bothered you, if you were surprised that the Times would print something so bland about a Nazi, you just haven’t caught up to where we are. There’s just no way you would be surprised if you were really familiar with real world, ground-level, political landscape of 2017. It was spot on perfect, in execution and conception. You’re angry because you wanted the Times to treat the Nazi as though he were abnormal, but he just isn’t. You want to read about Nazis leading some sort of twilight existence, on the cultural outskirt, but THAT’S NOT WHERE THEY ARE. The New York Times didn’t normalize that Nazi. He’s normal. Journalists can’t hyperventilate at every Joe Dokes with a swastika poster, anymore. Normal people are Nazis, now. It was a perfect, accurate representation of the ordinariness, the commonness, of contemporary white nationalism and authoritarianism. It’s exactly where America is at, and if you don’t get that, you really need to.

They’ve come in and out of the libertarian group I run, they’re all over the far right pages. The people who actually call themselves Nazis are the minority, of course, and most of the people in the Donald Trump groups wouldn’t dream of referring to themselves as Nazis, right now, but they are not one iota less hateful. To be honest, they are probably more hateful than the guy the Times profiled. And half the people who wouldn’t dream of actually calling themselves Nazis are EXTREMELY sympathetic to great portions of the Nazi program. Shit, white nationalist ideas go down with barely a spoken objection in some of the straight Trump groups, quite often. They’re not problematic at all. The Overton window has shifted so far and so fast, the Nazis are in it now. It’s that fucking simple. They may be on the edge, but they’re well within the frame. The guy in the Times piece is in there, smoking a cigar, kicking back, and putting his feet on the ottoman. Again, guys – THIS IS NORMAL. THE NAZIS ARE NORMAL.

I’ve watched these groups proliferate, grow. You want to tell yourself that this is a fringe, that the worst, loudest, biggest assholes take over groups like that. That ain’t it. A couple dozen groups have become hundreds, thousands. I’ve read the comments, I’ve clicked on the profiles, and I’ve read the user info for all the perfectly nice, seemingly intelligent, well-spoken citizens cheering ICE incarcerating some sick 10-year-old, saying all Muslim-Americans should be deported, demanding football players who protest the police should be put in jail until they stop kneeling, that some reporter should be thrown in jail for asking the president an uncomfortable question, that Iran and North Korea should immediately be nuked. I’m not talking about five or six unpleasant comments on your local newspaper website, I’m talking about literally hundreds of posts with threads that are thousands of comments long, every day, in every group, exactly like this, in too many groups to count. They’re not monsters, they’re not the prison gang leader with the swastika on his neck. They’re just folks. They’re filled with hate. But they are still just folks, most of the time. This is America now.

Nobody thought Donald Trump could win the Republican primary because he was just so stupid, so venomous, and so obviously beyond the bounds of what WE tought were the cultural/political norms, but he did. No one thought he could win the election for the same reason, but he did. And he won not despite those flaws, because of them. A huge segment of the population of the United States is filled with hatred so intense they actively want a vastly more authoritarian government that will shove that hatred down the throats of the left. They want fascism. They’re hungry for it, whether they call it that or not. In the kind of Orwellian doublespeak this administration has become famous for, they call it “liberty” or “freedom” or “American values”, but they’re talking about hard authoritarianism. They’re talking about fascism. A lot of them would balk at the term, but they know what they want.

The guy in the apartment next to you thinks this country would be a lot better off if we dealt with drug users the way Trump’s friend in the Philippines does. One of your coworkers doesn’t like the term “Nazi” because his grandfather fought them, but he goes home every night and sits in front of his computer and considers whether or not some of the points Richard Spencer is making might not be exactly what America needs. The cop that gave you a ticket for speeding last night has a 14 words tattoo that he’s been hiding in the locker room for the last couple years, at least around the black officers. And the girl next to you on the bus, on the way home, she’s a fucking Nazi. I guarantee she’s a fucking Nazi.

November 8, 2016, all of us on the left and a substantial segment of the right watched in amazement as Donald Trump rode a burgeoning wave of race hatred and ideological tribalism into the White House. If you think victory has satiated this monster, you are very fucking mistaken. And if you think defeating the Republicans in 2018 or 2020 is going to stop it, destroy it, you’re delusional.

The new authoritarianism is here, it is part of the culture, and it’s making itself comfortable. Ethno-nationalism, white supremacy, hard right authoritarianism, has been back in Europe for awhile and now it’s here. Not the bad part of America you never actually visit, not some backwoods hillbilly America that we get to ignore in our little leftie bubble. Not the supermax the next county over. It’s all around you, it’s next-door, and it’s in a little town in Ohio where a nice, young, newly married couple are starting their life together.

This is something new. Remember when Bush was president, and you’d hold up a piece of cardboard and shout that he was a fascist with a bunch of your friends? Yeah, he wasn’t. Neither was Obama or Clinton or the other Bush or Reagan. They might’ve been terrible presidents, each of them. They might be terrible people. They might’ve done unforgivable things. Every single one of them was squarely within the tradition of Western liberal democracy, and so were the politics. Donald Trump isn’t. His followers aren’t. We are through the looking glass.

If the left doesn’t stop pretending these people don’t exist, pretending they’re an anomaly, pretending they will go away if the Democrats take back the house, or Mueller catches Donald Jr. red-handed, or your friend posts another meme about Donald Trump being orange, the left is going to get its fucking silly ass kicked again. It’s not going to get better overnight, and if Trump loses in 2020, trust me, I know these people – the hard right, the Trump right, the authoritarian right, is going to lose their goddamn minds. If Trump loses, it’s going to get worse. And what do you suppose happens then? What do you suppose happens when the apple pie fascists find someone capable to do the job? What happens when someone capable realizes there’s an opening? What happens when that person isn’t a fucking clown?

This is it. This is American politics in the 21st century. We are going to be fighting the lumpen neo-authoritarian right for the rest of our lives, likely. That’s the political territory. Whatever this nation’s faults in the past, it was never this before today, not in my lifetime. If it’s going to be stopped, it’s going to be stopped by people who understand what’s actually happening, not people with their heads in the sand and asses in the air. If you care, it’s time hike up your drawers, accept the facts, and familiarize yourself with the culture you’re part of, the parts of it that you’ve been trying to ignore. It’s not going away. It’s likely going to get worse before it gets better. We all need to understand what the fuck is going on before reality slaps us all in the face again, harder, with more permanent and deadlier results.

(ed. – I really like that people enjoy this post, and I’m really glad everyone is sharing it, but some of you are cutting and pasting it and then tagging me. that’s fine, except the reason some of you seem to be doing it is to avoid the Nazi insignia because it might be triggering for some people.

Guys, while I appreciate your concern for people’s feelings, I put it there for a reason. it’s supposed to be triggering. We need some triggering right about now, don’t you think?)


George Godwyn
Posted in homepage | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

John Brown

George Ciccariello

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Tracing the Rock and Roll Race Problem

When Mick met Chuck: the cover of Jack Hamilton’s “Just Around Midnight.”
When Mick met Chuck: the cover of Jack Hamilton’s “Just Around Midnight.”

The premise of Jack Hamilton’s deep new study Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination seems like something that’s been on rock history’s tongue for a long time without ever quite leaving it. Chuck Berry, a black man with a guitar, had been a rock and roll archetype in 1960, but by the end of the decade Jimi Hendrix would be seen as rock’s odd man out for being… a black man with a guitar. How did that occur? The book, out September 26, began life as Hamilton’s graduate thesis (he’s a professor at the University of Virginia). But while it’s intellectually rigorous, Just Around Midnight is also clearly and entertainingly written—not a surprise to anyone who reads Hamilton on Slate, where he’s one of their music critics.

Hamilton locates the ways “rock and roll” (which tended to denote everything from soul to surf music) became just plain “rock” (which tended to mean only guitar music by white people)—namely, in San Francisco’s psychedelic scene, full of ex-folkies. There, a pattern repeated from the folk revival that preceded Beatlemania, in which largely white musicians tended to idolize black forebears while ignoring contemporary R&B. As Hamilton point out, this mindset often put black rock and rollers into the “predecessors” category even when the musicians in question were peers and contemporaries, like when a Beatles biographer claims Smokey Robinson as a precursor when, in fact, Robinson was born the same year as John Lennon.

Even that précis doesn’t do justice to the richness of Hamilton’s ideas, or his wide-ranging research, both archival and musicological—the latter particularly during a chapter on the musical interrelationship of Motown and the Beatles. Are there two more oversaturated musical topics on the planet? Along with the rest of the ’60s rock and soul canon, Hamilton thinks, convincingly, that we’ve only begun to understand them, especially side-by-side. Hamilton spoke to Pitchfork from his home in Charlottesville.

Pitchfork: What awakened you to this particular topic? When did it become a book?

Jack Hamilton: Early in graduate school, I wrote a seminar paper about the Rolling Stones, a lot of which ended up in the final chapter of the book, about “Gimme Shelter.” For that, I was doing a lot of archival research on the way the Rolling Stones had been covered by both the American and British presses. I’m a fan of their music, particularly their late-sixties music. And there are so many crazy issues floating around them—I mean, they’re the archetypal problematic rock band. [laughs] This band was so singularly obsessed with American blues and R&B, and really has been throughout their entire career. Why do we ensconce this band in the genre of rock music? You hear them on classic rock stations all the time in the 21st century, but you would never hear the vast majority of music whose influence the Stones themselves were trumpeting.

I think there’s been a tendency to think of a band like the Stones in particular as being obsessed with African-American music as something that’s old. The obsessions with Robert Johnson and Delta stuff, or later stuff like Muddy Waters—the stuff that was a generation, if not multiple generations, before them. The Stones were completely tuned into black popular music of the moment they were making music as well, just thinking about the “Dancing in the Street” references in “Street Fighting Man,” or who they chose to tour with in that period.

That got me interested very early in the specific postwar British context the Stones were coming out of. How had the Stones’ early encounters with black American music differed from, certainly, Elvis [Presley]’s encounters with it? But also, how had the Stones’ encounters with that music differed from the Beatles’ encounters with it? The Beatles being from Liverpool and the Stones being from London, and coming from pretty different class backgrounds, a lot of the individuals in those bands—how did those things filter through?

The Stones could afford to be bohemians, for example.

Exactly. A crucial difference between the Beatles and the Stones is that the Stones were coming from a high-minded, art-for-art’s-sake subculture of the blues, whereas the Beatles were much more interested in trying to make it as a pop band from the very beginning.

Ralph J. Gleason, who co-founded Rolling Stone, comes up a lot in the book. The quotes you utilize are blindsiding—endless “other”-ing, almost no self-examination. My favorite is when he writes about the “magic rhythmic power” of Santana’s rhythm section, presuming they could only be accessible to people with a direct line to Latin America’s “savannahs and inland plains.” Your respond: “The ‘magic rhythmic power’ that Gleason extolled was provided by Michael Shrieve and bass player Douglas Rauch, both of the savannahs and inland plains of San Francisco.”

[laughs] Yeah. I realized at the time I was coming down fairly hard on Gleason. I definitely don’t feel like I unfairly demonized him or anything. He was an elder figure who had come to rock as a longstanding jazz critic, and who in those early years was a really influential voice because he had that prestige. He was really seen as a critical authority on music. That Santana material is from Rolling Stone; he also wrote a lot [about rock] in the [San Francisco] Chronicle.

Another essay that he published in The American Scholar in 1967 was called “Like a Rolling Stone.” It’s this interesting, bizarre intellectual and artistic manifesto on rock music—in 1967, when this is a fairly early concept, the idea that rock is art. The amount that race figures into it, these quotes where he’s trumpeting white creativity over what he sees as black music selling out. One thing that came up a lot while I was writing the book was that notion of selling out, whether or not a black musician is making music that’s “black” enough. No one’s ever said that Dylan or the Beatles aren’t white enough.

But in the book, you mention the persistent, racially coded mid-’60s news headline, “Would you let your sister (or daughter) date a Rolling Stone?”

That’s true—the Stones are one of the few groups [where that was the case], and I think Elvis prior to that as well. It’s much less pronounced, certainly, in rock music. With the Stones, that is a real disruption they represent. Not just that headline, but throughout the early-to-mid-’60s, the amount of weird racial whistles being used in description of the Stones in both the mainstream British press and the mainstream American press is pretty stunning. They really are being othered in this way that conflates their physical appearance with social danger. Their proximity to black music is really harped on by the fear-mongering pieces about the Stones.

Did you look into how Ike & Tina Turner or Chuck Berry or B. B. King were treated by the audience when they opened for the Stones in 1969?

I didn’t read anything about those artists getting booed or anything like that. There’s obviously footage of Ike & Tina in Gimme Shelter—electrifying footage—where it appears the crowd is hanging on them. By 1969, everybody knew that’s who the Stones were. Earlier in the decade, they’d brought Howlin’ Wolf on TV with them. But when the Stones tour in ’72 and Stevie Wonder opens for them, he’s on the record about feeling that the crowd treated him terribly, feeling like the Stones treated him terribly. By that time, of course, they had a ton of issues of their own. It was the tour after Exile on Main Street. You’d think, these crowds are getting to see the Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder in 1972. What more could you possibly ask for? [laughs]

When Greil Marcus wrote about Prince opening for the Stones in 1981 and getting pelted with garbage, he included a virulently racist letter about the incident, all misspellings verbatim. Looking at it again it’s reminiscent of comment boxes, specifically post-Trump. Especially in light of the book, what do you make of Trump using “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” as his campaign music?

What’s odd to me—no, it’s not odd, it’s depressing—is the way that rock music, particularly rock music of the 1960s and ’70s, has become the soundtrack to the reactionary right, the way it’s become the white-male right-wing revanchist soundtrack. Yeah, the way this music gets appropriated by that side of things; it kind of boggles the mind. But at the same time, it speaks to the extent to which a lot of that music has been really drained of its context, and drained of understandings of the contexts that produced it, understandings of the various political and cultural commitments of the artists that produced it…

Drained of the meaning of the lyrics that are in it, for God’s sake.

Absolutely. Obviously, there’s a long history of politicians, particularly on the right, clumsily using rock and pop music, the Reagan-Springsteen example being the most iconic.

One of the things that did inspire me to write the book: So much of the music that I discuss in this book is so incredibly famous. We just know it effortlessly; it’s in the air. A lot of the songs I write about are songs that people are really sick of hearing. They’re so familiar that they’ve been worn of meaning through cultural use. Part of what I wanted to do was to recapture what was actually going on here. A band like the Rolling Stones, who in 2016—or even in 1989—it’s so easy to be cynical about, and so much of that they have brought upon themselves. But there was a period when this was a band that was making incredibly vital, dangerous, exciting music, in the best sense—music that really was coming out of status quo and doing it in a way that was really exciting and artistically impressive. There was real greatness and teeth and fury there; there was passion.

That’s what gets lost in the way it’s all turned into commodified nostalgia. I think there is a way we can recapture at least some of what made that music great, and great in ways that can still be surprising, and vital in ways we’ve lost touch with.

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Trump vs Talking Heads – Swedemason

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Half-Conscious Poem

Whispers under sleep
and I fly to the red river

barefoot silken robe undone
shadows on the floor

I see a silver blue-eyed flea riding on a bicycle of dust
a birthday balloon and the long face of death

he has a hooded blacked-out face red daffodil fangs
and whistles the names of the chosen ones.

On the counter different coloured truths
I spy the nose of a gun but can’t be sure

my eyes half closed under a cloud
and yellow fog cocoons me

as I step back: all around
the voices of anger dicing for life

and the right to be seen to be heard
a million and three stories

trapped in Chimera’s rotting stomach.
The light is smothered by the fat thumb of depression

yesterday’s tiny square of sun
shredded and scattered over a stale afternoon.

There is nothing in-between no toothy smile
just those who sit in the nostril of self-satisfaction

and there it is on an illuminated sign:
More Fall Prey to Debticide.

The questions are etched on my hand
the answers spread on the dinner table

easy cook microwaved baby sick
a bottle of mineral water

and a mouldering half-eaten hamburger
a police of flies circle crawl defecate

on the cindered hump of meat.
This is the golden head of my reality

a five hundred and fifty-two percent increase
on a snake loan to save the family home.

I watched the pin-striped laughter of the jet-skiing
bully boys drink up my mother’s blood

and I remain restless in a one-stop roach motel while they
sleep like prey under a sharp black night.


Saira Viola


Hear Saira read the poem here:

Acclaimed poet, novelist, song lyricist and creator of sonic scatterscript, Saira Viola has been widely published here, there and on the bathroom walls in Vegas.  Her novel Jukebox is available on Fahrenheit Press, and her published poetry includes the collections Don’t Shoot the Messenger (Underground Books), Flowers of War (Underground Books), Rebel Mini, and Fast Food and Gin on The Lawn(Feed a Read). Of her work, Heathcote Williams (RIP) has said, “Saira Viola’s devised some new designer drug that keeps you reading… powerfully hypnotic language.”

Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

Irish villagers complain Viagra plant fumes have men and dogs walking around with ‘hard-ons’

The rural village of Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork, has been the site of a Viagra plant for 20 years (Picture: iStock)

RESIDENTS of a tiny Irish village where Viagra is manufactured have complained that fumes from a nearby factory have been giving them a hard time.

Pharmaceutical firm Pfizer have produced the erectile dysfunction drug in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork for the last two decades.

Villagers claim that Ringaskiddy’s proximity to the plant and its “love fumes” has been giving local men – and even their canine friends – enormous sexual powers.

Barmaid Debbie O’Grady told the Sunday Times: “One whiff and you’re stiff. We’ve been getting the love fumes for years now for free.”

Ms O’Grady’s mother, Sadie, said that living in Ringaskiddy is a blessing for men who suffer “problems in that department”, adding that there is “something in the air”.

The widower added: “I’m a flirtatious woman, a lot of us are. You just have to have a spark, that’s all. There’s a lovely man waiting down the road for me”.

Pfizer said in a statement that the stiff whiff was nothing more than an “amusing” myth, but there were no hard feelings.

“Our manufacturing processes have always been highly sophisticated as well as highly regulated,” they said.

Nevertheless, residents remain scared stiff that something more sinister is going on.

Psychiatric nurse Fiona Toomey, who recently returned to the village after five years in America, said that local dogs “walk around in a state of sexual excitement”.

“I think that Viagra must have got into the water supply,” she said.

“I’m convinced that’s what happened at the very beginning before they were so closely regulated.”


Aidan Lonergan is a Digital Reporter with The Irish Post. You can follow him on Twitter @ajlonergan

About us

The Irish Post is the biggest selling national newspaper to the Irish in Britain. delivers all the latest Irish news to our online audience around the globe.

Posted in homepage | 3 Comments

The Bear


Maggots glowing red

Swarm the embers

Of my campfire.


Back there

Hearts and Minds

Our only goal


Their Spring Offensive

Pinned down four days

Women and kids

Their bodies

Charred logs

We stumbled over.


They hit us everywhere.


Some we later caught


Smoked dope


At their screams.


I was nowhere.


Shipped back home.


Didn’t like being touched.


Never spoke.


So now every year

I’ve come up here

And it’s him I’ve always seen:

A great black bear

Roaring louder than the gunships

That still shudder through my dreams.


He always charges, feet pounding

Dry clay, stops short rears up arms

Outstretched then dropping back on

All fours turns away

And every year he’s getting closer.


Tonight in this valley

There’s bear skat everywhere,

Tracks too: one set so close

I smell him.



After twenty years,

I’ll ditch these useless weapons,

Rebuild my fire

And then silently stand,

Arms outstretched.



He is bound to come.



Kevin McCann 


Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

First Woman of Colour Wins Turner Prize



Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Robin of Nottingham, where art thou?

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Aldous Huxley, Dying of Cancer, Left This World Tripping on LSD (1963)

Aldous Huxley put himself forever on the intellectual map when he wrote the dystopian sci-fi novel Brave New World in 1931. (Listen to Huxley narrating a dramatized version here.) The British-born writer was living in Italy at the time, a continental intellectual par excellence.

Then, six years later, Huxley turned all of this upside down. He headed West, to Hollywood, the newest of the New World, where he took a stab at writing screenplays (with not much luck) and started experimenting with mysticism and psychedelics — first mescaline in 1953, then LSD in 1955. This put Huxley at the forefront of the counterculture’s experimentation with psychedelic drugs, something he documented in his 1954 book, The Doors of Perception.


Huxley’s experimentation continued right through his death in November 1963. When cancer brought him to his death bed, he asked his wife to inject him with “LSD, 100 µg, intramuscular.” He died later that day, just hours after Kennedy’s assassination. Three years later, LSD was officially banned in California.

By way of footnote, it’s worth mentioning that the American medical establishment is now giving hallucinogens a second look, conducting controlled studies of how psilocybin and other psychedelics can help treat patients dealing with cancer, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, drug/alcohol addiction and end-of-life anxiety. The New York Times has more on this story.

For a look at the history of LSD, we recommend the 2002 film Hofmann’s Potion (2002) by Canadian filmmaker Connie Littlefield. You can watch it here, or find it listed in our collection of Free Movies Online.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you’d like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

Related Content:

Aldous Huxley Warns Against Dictatorship in America

Ken Kesey’s First LSD Trip Animated


by Dan Colman


Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

the face of the death

Elena Caldera

Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment


And all of England laid out like a park,
slanting dusk, high-rises in orange light –
out to fields, violence-rendered houses,
yells of madness or boredom, or both.

Blessed was the rain that rained on this place.
But it’s gone now, falls as sand or debris.
It’s over, who cares – I love the pylons,
motorways into long tail-backs, hidden

intricacies, pointless diversions. And
that’s everything you could ever have –
how to catch it is still unknown. Perhaps
fallen light, old music, thought are enough.

If I was a poet I’d see an England
flag on that public housing from the
Westgate roof terrace and another
on Oxford Castle. I’d laugh at some

garden leered over by bored diners,
then write loftily on identity as
cyclopean geometry that is fatal.
Lucky I’m not.


Paul Sutton

Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment


In my arms we shall begin with none of the rocks, well, there’s no charge
In this land right now some are insane, a million charge
To hell with poverty, we’ll get drunk on cheap wine
To hell with poverty, the check will arrive, we’ll turn the boast again
To hell with poverty, the check will arrive, we’ll turn to boast again

In my arms we shall begin with none of the rocks and there’s no charge
In this land right now some are insane, a million charge
To hell with poverty, we’ll get drunk on cheap wine
To hell with poverty

Gang of Four


Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment


Playing tracks by

Pretty Lightning, The Village Callers, Goat, Ebony Rhythm Band, The Routes and more.

Stoned Circus Radio Show – Garage & Psychedelia from all over the world (from the 60’s to the 00’s) Freak out the jam !
2-weekly SUNDAY 6:00 to 7:00 PM (Gmt +1 Paris).
The 60 minutes long show superbly highlights psychedelic music, garage punk, , mods, Rock’n’Roll, Rockabilly, punk rock, psychedelia, acid-rock, beat, r’n’b, soul & early funk, space-rock, exotic sounds with sitarfuzz from the 60’s to NOW ! (streaming, podcasts, playlist, records of the month)
If you want to send Stoned Circus materials for review
(vinyl, CD, digital download all welcome), please contact me

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Let Us Now Praise Pharoah Sanders, Master of Sax

In A.B. Spellman’s essential 1966 book, Four Lives in the Bebop Business, Ornette Coleman said the following: “The best statements Negroes have made, of what their soul is, have been on tenor saxophone.” As wise as Coleman was, it’s a debatable point: Charlie Parker and Ornette himself both ignited revolutions on alto. But it makes sense, too. Whether Lester Young, Dexter Gordon, or Albert Ayler (to name just a few), black musicians gave their lives to that instrument, told their stories through it, and crafted and refined — and defined — the tenor saxophone’s various sounds and textures.

“The tenor’s got that thing,” Coleman went on to tell Spellman, “that honk, you can get people with.” No one honks and hollers, howls and hums, quite like Pharoah Sanders. The native of Little Rock, Arkansas, who got his start in New York with Sun Ra and made his reputation playing with John Coltrane, went on to record an essential series of eleven albums as a leader for the Impulse! label between 1967 and 1974, three of which — Tauhid (’67), Jewels of Thought (’69), and Deaf Dumb Blind Summun Bukmun Umyun (’70) — have just been reissued on vinyl by Anthology Recordings.

In 1966, Coltrane said that Sanders, whom he had hired the previous year for his landmark Ascension session, and then for his regular quintet, was “always trying to reach out to truth. He’s trying to allow his spiritual self to be his guide.”

Coltrane’s later phase of spiritual jazz would transition into the astral, or cosmic, jazz of his wife (and bandmate) Alice after his sudden passing in July of 1967. While Sanders — who was  convinced to change his name from “Farrell” to “Pharoah” by Sun Ra — was a key contributor on many of Alice Coltrane’s releases of the same era, also on Impulse!, his own works from this period are significant for their Afrocentric aesthetic, which make them particularly timely now.

“Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt,” for instance, is a gorgeous, searching, sixteen-minute Sanders-penned suite from Tauhid. Sanders employed an unusual group for this session, which included Dave Burrell on piano, Sonny Sharrock on guitar, and Henry Grimes on bass, each especially splendid. Sanders, still active at 77, may be most renowned as a tenor, but like many saxophonists he’s well-versed in the entire woodwind family, and early in the piece, he has a striking solo on the piccolo before he raises up a sandstorm with his horn twelve minutes in. The song ends quietly with his own vocal effects — Pharoah as a triple threat.

On Jewels of Thought, he assembled a different but equally impressive group of musicians: Lonnie Liston Smith on piano, Idris Muhammad and Roy Haynes on drums, Cecil McBee and Richard Davis on bass, and the inimitable vocalist Leon Thomas. In “Hum-Allah-Hum-Allah-Hum-Allah,” the first of two expansive pieces, Thomas contributes spoken word and his signature avant-yodeling. Sanders reminds us how lyrical he can be, and what an exceptional tone he has, early in the composition, before he takes off into hyper-expressionist cries.

Throughout these albums, and especially on Jewels of Thought‘s “Sun in Aquarius,” the sidemen contribute with an assortment of percussion instruments — chimes, rattles, bells, gongs, and kalimbas — which creates a whirl of sound that is earthbound yet otherworldly.

The following year, for Deaf Dumb Blind Summun Bukmun Umyun, Sanders added Sun Ra’s longtime drummer, Clifford Jarvis; trumpet star Woody Shaw; and alto saxophonist Gary Bartz, eight weeks before he would be onstage with Miles Davis in front of 600,000 at the Isle of Wight Festival (where he wore a Pan-African flag button.)

Like Jewels of Thought, it has two extended pieces: “Summun Bukmun Umyun” (Arabic for deaf, dumb, blind) and a ravishing Lonnie Liston Smith arrangement of “Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord,” where McBee solos movingly with his bow. If it’s not necessarily the space, or setting, for Shaw to dazzle, it is for Bartz, whose sharp, slashing tone pushes back against Sanders’s soprano nicely. Bartz, still in fine form today, was at a particularly fertile moment in his career as well. Later in 1970, he would record the rich, varied Harlem Bush Music — Uhuru (featuring vocalist Andy Bey), which was reissued recently by the Jazz Dispensary.

The cover art for Deaf Dumb Blind is telling: Six black men, standing in the main plaza of the relatively new Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera House hovering behind. It was the neighborhood formerly known as San Juan Hill, a famously African American area. Smith holds a kalimba in his right hand. They wear bold colored shirts, not dashikis exactly, but gone are the accoutrements of polite dress that were required in certain institutions. Do they want in? Or are they set to establish their own cultural pillars?

Sanders has had interesting turns in his career. He had a proto–smooth jazz hit with “Love Will Find a Way” in 1977. When I saw him for the first time, at the old Fat Tuesday’s during the Lincoln Center–led neoconservative movement of the mid-1990s, he used an electric bass player, anathema at the time — and brought the house down.

The three works here are both of their time (“Sun in Aquarius”) and ahead of their time, as Sanders has helped shape the sound, vision, and sensibility of Kamasi Washington, who has cited Sanders’s Karma as an influence. And that slight pivot away from Western culture fifty years ago has turned into, to borrow a term from Coltrane, a giant step. The music on these Pharoah Sanders recordings doesn’t break down into mere tunes, but instead is a journey, into new and old terrain.


by Michael J. Agovino

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Trump’s Sexist Comments Drawn On Women’s Bodies

“I’m scared that the way he speaks about women will end up becoming a social norm.”

Aria Watson
A powerful photo series illustrates President-elect Donald Trump’s sexist comments painted on the bodies of naked women. 

When Donald Trump won the presidential election in November, 18-year-old Aria Watson knew she needed to do something. So, she turned to art.

Watson, a first-year student at Clatsop Community College in Oregon, created a powerful photo series titled “#SignedByTrump” for a final project in a photography class. The images feature some of the sexist comments President-elect Donald Trump has made about women painted on naked women’s bodies.

Trump’s misogynistic comments paired with these women’s naked bodies serves as a powerful commentary on the damaging effect his words have had ― and will continue to have ― on so many women.

Watson told The Huffington Post she decided to mix her political opinions with her photography because she felt so strongly about Trump and Hillary Clinton. “I never really cared for or understood politics, but this year was different,” she said. “As a feminist, when I saw that Donald Trump actually won, my heart shattered.”


I’m scared that the way he speaks about women — this sexism and misogyny — will end up becoming a social norm.

The 18-year-old, who’s also an avid YouTube vlogger, said she had a very difficult time finding women who wanted to model for the series. Watson ended up including only five women for the series, one being herself and the other four are close friends.

While one of the women is Latina, Watson noted that she wished she could’ve included more diversity in the images given how many groups of people he has insulted. “I’ve gotten tons of messages and comments asking me where all the women of color are… I understand where those people were coming from,” she said. “Don’t get me wrong I would have LOVED to have some more women of color, but I live in such a small town and attend such a small college where the majority of people are white.”

Watson explained why it’s important we continue to call out Trump’s sexism. “Kids are going to grow up and look up to this man for the next four years,” Watson said. “We can’t have a leader who says such horrible things about women. I’m scared that the way he speaks about women ― this sexism and misogyny ― will end up becoming a social norm.”

So, how do we stand up to Trump? Continue to speak out, Watson said.

“We can’t be afraid to speak up about what we are passionate about,” she said. “I don’t know why Donald Trump is in office, or how this even happened, but he is. What we need now more than ever is to come together. We are stronger together.”

photos from #SignedByTrump.

Aria Watson
Trump in an interview with Esquire in 1991.
Aria Watson
Trump said to Howard Stern in an interview on The Howard Stern Show in the1990s
Aria Watson
Trump remarking on a female Celebrity Apprentice contestant on the show in 2013.
Aria Watson
Trump on women in an interview with New York Magazine published on Nov. 9, 1992
Aria Watson
Trump remarking on super model Heidi Klum in an interview with the New York Times on Aug. 15, 2015.
Aria Watson
Trump referring to Megyn Kelly possibly being on her period after she called him out on his misogyny on August 7, 2015.
Aria Watson
Trump referring to women in a leaked audio conversation with “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush in 2005.

To see more of Watson’s work head over to her Tumblr, Instagram or YouTube page. 

The Outrage partnered with Watson to create a #SignedByTrump postcard set. At least 15 percent of the profits from each purchase will be donated to a women’s empowerment organization. Buy the postcard set here

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Every Exhibition Held at the Museum of Modern Art

Presented in a New Web Site: 1929 to Present


Images courtesy of MoMA

We all hate it when we hear of an exciting exhibition, only to find out that it closed last week — or 80 years ago. New York’s Museum of Modern Art has made great strides toward taking the sting out of such narrowly or widely-missed cultural opportunities with their new digital exhibition archive. The archive offers, in the words of Chief of Archives Michelle Elligott, “free and unprecedented access to The Museum of Modern Art’s ever-evolving exhibition history” in the form of “thousands of unique and vital materials including installation photographs, out-of-print exhibition catalogues, and more, beginning with MoMA’s very first exhibition in 1929,” a show of post-Impressionist paintings by Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, and Van Gogh.


The photograph of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe portraits at the top of the post comes from a much more recent exhibition, 2015’s Andy Warhol: Campbell’s Soup Cans and Other Works, 1953–1967. But MoMA, of course, didn’t just just discover the king of pop art last year: search by his name and you’ll find no fewer than 128 shows that have included his work, starting with Recent Drawings U.S.A. in 1956.


You can track any number of other cultural icons through the museum’s history: Yoko Ono, for instance, a view of whose One Woman Show, 1960-1971, which also opened in 2015, appears above, but whose work you can see in eleven different exhibitions archived online.


A look through even a fraction of the 3,500 shows whose materials MoMA has so far made available (and public-domain) reveals a thematic variety throughout the museum’s entire existence: not just individual artists or groups of them, but fast cars (the idea of a “rational automobile” in general in the 1960s and the Jaguar E-Type in particular in the 90s), travel postersJapanese architecture (featuring an entire traditional Japanese house built in and shipped from Nagoya for the occasion), and the font Helvetica. You can also have a look at the materials archived from the various film series and performance programs they’ve put on over the years.


This sort of technological innovation demonstrates that MoMA has, since that moment in the late 1920s when “a small group of enterprising patrons of the arts joined forces to create a new museum devoted exclusively to modern art,” remained as exciting an institution as ever. But nothing can replace the experience of actually going there and seeing its exhibitions in person, which is why, whenever I pay a visit to its digital archive, I’ll also click over to its calendar of upcoming shows. For 86 years, it has given the public the chance to experience the thrill of the modern, but as a trip through the digital archive reveals, the thrill of the modern goes much deeper than the shock of the new.

Related Content:

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Puts Online 65,000 Works of Modern Art

Kids Record Audio Tours of NY’s Museum of Modern Art (with Some Silly Results)

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Launches Free Course on Looking at Photographs as Art

The Guggenheim Puts Online 1600 Great Works of Modern Art from 575 Artists

Free: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Offer 474 Free Art Books Online

Download Over 300+ Free Art Books From the Getty Museum

The History of Modern Art Visualized in a Massive 130-Foot Timeline

Art Critic Robert Hughes Demystifies Modern Art in The Shock of the New

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.


Posted in homepage | Leave a comment


a bird hearing
her sing
in a


Bogdan Puslenghea
Illustration Nick Victor

Posted in homepage | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Cash In Your Car

Darren Cullen

Posted in homepage | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Glass You Walk On

Robert Montgomery

Posted in homepage | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Crisis, What Crisis?



Book Review by Leon Horton


Midlife: A Philosophical Guide.

Kieran Setiya

(Princeton University Press, $15.73 or £18.95)


A midlife crisis is no laughing matter, as this reviewer can readily attest. It creeps up on you when you’re busy being young. One minute you’re all present tense and in the moment, living it large and partying hard – the next you’re looking over your shoulder into a mirror, crick in your neck, wondering how the hell that reflection got there.


And that, dear reader, is when you find yourself hanging round with people half your age, taking drugs you’ve never heard of, and reapplying for university at the age of 46.


At least, ahem, that’s what I’m told.


But if you suffer from this most sneak-thief of maladies, take heart. The midlife crisis, first diagnosed by psychoanalysts sometime in the early 1960s, is a most suitable case for treatment. So says author Keiron Setiya, philosopher at the Massachusets Institute of Technology.


And he should know. In Midlife: A Philosophical Guide he freely admits, at the age of 41, to finding himself caught at a crossroads of “loss and regret, success and failure, mortality and finitude” where “fast cars and wild affairs” are never the answer, cannot possibly compensate.




But Setiya is eager to show us that philosophy can help, and for every neurosis we associate with growing older – living with irreparable mistakes, watching the doors of opportunity close – he offers a therapeutic response. The problem, he points out, is “irreversibility of time”, nothing you can do about that; but you can, if you choose, “embrace your losses as fair payment for the surplus of being alive” and learn to “live in the halo of the present.”


All that might sound like kooky advice from yet another self-help book that only helps the bank balance of the author, but Midlife: A Philosophical Guide is a “takes one to know one” kind of book, written with self-deprecating humour and not afraid to enlist and celebrate such midlife miserablists as Philip Larkin, Virginia Woolf and – would you believe – Reggie Perrin, that fine comedy creation played with such bathos by Leonard Rossiter. Perrin, if you recall, sick of his existence, faked his own suicide in order to reinvent himself – only to recreate the same mistakes he made in his former life.


Well, if you don’t laugh…


As a piece of good-humoured philosophy, Midlife: A Philosophical Guide reminds us middle-aged lightweights that while we might sometimes be in mourning for what our lives could have been, we need to let go and remember: things that have happened aren’t always bad.


As a somewhat wry self-help book, Midlife: A Philosophical Guide probably won’t stop you from putting down a deposit on that sports car, or pretending to be down with the kids – but read it, and the next time you bulldoze yourself into that two sizes two small shirt and catch yourself in a mirror… you might just see a knowing smile above your chins.


About the Author


Leon Horton is a cultural journalist, humorist and fearful sybarite, with a baneful eye for anything wholesome. After gaining his masters from the University of Salford, he lost the will to live working as a court reporter (wouldn’t you?), drank himself into a corner writing “upbeat bullshit” for local magazines, and enjoyed a failed stint as the editor of Old Trafford News.


His writing is published in International Times, Literary Heist, Erotic Review and the Beat Generation websites Empty Mirror and Beatdom. When he’s not too sober, you can find him blogging Under the Counterculture at

Posted in homepage | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Advice For Young People

William S. Burroughs

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

The Black Panthers: Revolutionaries, Free Breakfast Pioneers

When you mention the 1960s Black Panther Movement to those who are old enough to remember, the chances are great that it conjures images of beret wearing, angry revolutionaries with big Afros and guns.

What often gets lost in their story is their program to provide free breakfast for school children. Born in their Oakland, California headquarters in 1968, it was one of the first organized school breakfast food programs in the country.

This fall, a new documentary, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, traces the roots of the Black Panther movement and the impact of its rise and fall on society.

The Panthers’ breakfast offering came at a pivotal time for America: 1968 was a turning point in the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were both gunned down. There was a changing of the guard of sorts, from nonviolent protest for equality to the long, hot summer of riots in black communities all over the country.

In Oakland, the Black Panthers brought a new message of self-determination. The message caught on and their programs quickly spread to black communities across the country, tired of waiting to be saved or treated with equity.

By the end of 1969, the Black Panthers were serving full free breakfasts (including milk, bacon, eggs, grits, and toast) to 20,000 school aged children in 19 cities around the country, and in 23 local affiliates every school day.

Courtesy of Pirkle Jones and Ruth-Marion Baruch

Women carry Black Panther flags. Photograph courtesy of Pirkle Jones and Ruth-Marion Baruch, The Black Panthers:Vanguard of the Revolution documentary

Flores Forbes, author of Will You Die With Me, a book about his years as a Black Panther, says he worked in the breakfast program, cooking, serving the children and cleaning up. “We had a lot of jobs,” Forbes says.

Forbes says that most of the funding for the program came from donations from within the communities being served. “We got support from local stores, churches, and groceries,” Forbes says. The Panthers believed in the importance of education, and of kids showing up at school full and ready to learn, he says.

Bobby Seale, one of the founders of the Black Panther Party, said at the time: “There are millions of people who are living below subsistence; welfare mothers, poor white people, Mexican-Americans, Chicano peoples, Latinos, and black people.“

The breakfast program gave the Black Panthers an anchor to talk about something that seldom made the headlines in America—hunger and poverty.

Forbes says that the breakfast program was just one of many programs the Panthers ran to address the needs of the poor. In fact, they developed more that 60 Serve the People programs, including efforts to provide free clothing and shoes, medical services —including drug and alcohol awareness, —legal aid education, and what was thought to be some of the first true early childhood education programs in the nation, preceding Head Start.

But the Pantheres’ image and focus on self-determination drew the attention of then FBI chief, J. Edgar Hoover. He singled out the Black Panthers as national hate group, and the breakfast program as an act of subversion.

Charles Bursey hands a plate of food to a child seated at a Free Breakfast Program.

Charles Bursey hands a plate of food to a child seated at a Free Breakfast Program. Photograph courtesy of Pirkle Jones and Ruth-Marion Baruch

Forbes says that they were an easy target, “because the public wanted to believe that we were just thugs with leather jackets and guns.”

Hoover perpetuated that image when he declared all out war on the Black Panthers. In May of 1969 Hoover sent a memo to all FBI offices that read:

“The BCP (Breakfast for Children Program) promotes at least tacit support for the Black Panther Party among naive individuals and, what is more distressing, it provides the BPP with a ready audience composed of highly impressionable youths. Consequently, the BCP represents the best and most influential activity going for the BPP and, as such, is potentially the greatest threat to efforts by authorities to neutralize the BPP and destroy what it stands for.”

Once Hoover went after the Breakfast Program, the handwriting was on the wall. Even though the organizers were careful to consult with nutritionists to make sure the children got high quality, balanced meals, and made sure they had the necessary permits from the health and fire departments for the kitchens and halls where they served meals, they became regular targets of local officials. The children they served were caught in the middle.

But after the Black Panther Party and its programs were summarily dismantled, the Breakfast for Children program found new life and a new champion in the federal government.

While President Harry Truman established the National School Lunch Act in 1946 to offer free or reduced cost lunches at school, it wasn’t until 1975 that the government formally added the School Breakfast Program to its offerings to support vulnerable children.

Inspired in part by the ideas and actions of the Black Panthers in the 1960s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture started the School Breakfast Program . It now feeds nearly 13 million students every single day.


Andrea King Collier is a Michigan-based journalist and the new creative director of The Symposium for Professional Food Writers. Find her on Twitter.

Origanating in



Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Kate Tempest: Tunnel Vision

Kate Tempest is a singular creative mind with high ambitions for her art. The London-based musician, poet and author takes on big, complex themes with her work, finding lyrically acessible ways to dissect and re-define the things she cares about. Her latest video, released exclusively today on WeTransfer platforms, feels like a mediation on division. Directed by Akinola Davies Jr, Tunnel Vision appears on her Mercury-nominated album Let Them Eat Chaos. The piece started life as a poem, which is reproduced in full below, giving us an insight into the uncompromising power of her words.

Kate Tempest: Tunnel Vision

Tunnel Vision
Indigenous apocalypse
decimated forests.
The winter of our discontent’s
upon us.

Desolate apostles
slurping Strongbow at the crossroads
We are nothing but an eating mouth
Oesophagus colossal

Will not stop until we’ve beaten down
The planet into pellets
Before the interstellar mission to inflict more terror.
It’s killing me it’s killing me
It’s filling me
I’m vomiting
It’s still in me.

Everything is fine really, silly me.

Poor kids shot dead
Poor kids locked up
Poor kids saying
this is the future you left us?
Stocked up, lunchmeat
Processed punch from an unclean fat cat
Tasty tasty poison.

Post-traumatic bi polar and disaffected


Thinking we’re engaged
when we’re pacified
Staring at the screen so
we don’t have to see the planet die.

What we gonna do to wake up?
We sleep so deep
It don’t matter how they shake us.
If we can’t face it, we can’t escape it

But tonight, the storms come.

She’s screaming, she’s screaming.
The drones
Turned her beautiful boy into a pile of bones
No body to bury
Nobody is home
Running from war
The boats full
The boats sinking
a mile off shore.
No beds in the hospitals
Our minds are against us

Imagine your daughter was gunned down, defenceless
On her way to school, there’d be uproar
But she’s collateral damage.
It doesn’t matter.

If our kids are fine
That’s enough for us
You can’t love into a vacuum
There’s got to be a limit.

Welcome to the biggest crime that’s ever been committed

You think you and I are different kinds?

You’re caught up in specifics.

You and I apart are easier to limit
The illusions so complete
It’s impossible to bring it into focus

Cinematic stock footage:
People are locusts
Uniformed men keep unleashing explosives.

What we gonna do to
wake up?

We sleep so deep
It don’t matter how they shake us.

If we can’t face it
we can’t escape it.
But tonight the storms come.

Tunnel vision
tunnel vision
Work drinks. Heartbreak.
Can’t face the past, the past’s a dark place.

Can’t sleep.
Can’t wake.
Sitting in our boxes

Notching up our victories
as other people’s losses.

Another day another chance to turn your face away from pain
Lets get a take away
Meet me in the pub a little later, say the same things as ever
Life’s a waiting game
When we gonna see that life is happening?

And that every single body
bleeding on its knees is an abomination?
And every natural being is making communication.
We’re just sparks,
tiny parts
of a bigger constellation.
Miniscule molecules
that make up one body

The tragedy and pain
of a person that you’ve never met
Is present your nightmares,
In your pull towards

The sickness of the culture
and the sickness in our hearts
Is a sickness that’s inflicted

by the distance
that we share.

It was our bombs that started this war.

It rages at distance,
So we dismiss all its victims as strangers
But they’re parents and children
made dogs by the danger,
Existence is Futile so we don’t engage.

It was our boats that sailed
Killed stole and made frail
it was our boots that stamped
it was our courts that jailed
and it was our fucking banks that got bailed.

It was us who turned bleakly away,
looked back down at our nails and our wedding plans
in the face of a full force gale
we said it’s not up to us to make this place a better land.

It’s not up to us to make this place
a better land





Trust is

trust is something we will never see

Till love is unconditional

The myth of the individual
Has left us disconnected lost
and pitiful.

I’m out in the rain
It’s a cold night in London

Screaming at my loved ones
to wake up and love more.

Pleading with my loved ones to

Wake up
And love more.




Posted in homepage | Leave a comment


The story of a rodent’s unrelenting quest for happiness and fulfillment. Animation created in After effects, Clip Studio Pro and a bit of ink on paper.


By Steve Cutts

Posted in homepage | 1 Comment

The Republic of Frestonia

The Republic of Frestonia

The unlikely true story of a community of squatters who, faced with eviction, retaliated in a way that shocked the world.

The Unlikely

True Story


Notting Hill, London, 1977

The neighbourhood at Freston Road, acquired by the Greater London Council (GLC), had been allowed to deteriorate into such a state of disrepair that tenants had to be rehoused to nearby accommodation such as Trellick and Grenfell towers, effectively dismantling a community. But by the mid-1970s the area had become home to a new community; a bohemian mixture of artists, writers, musicians and drug addicts. The residents’ circumstances varied. Some gravitated to the area to keep costs low while they honed their skills, for others it was the ideal of communal life. Some had no choice. The winters were hard, resources were scarce, and police protection was a foreign concept.

Among the residents were social activist Nicholas Albery and actor David Rappaport. The playwright Heathcote Williams, a close friend of Nicholas’, lived in Notting Hill.

Derelict house

Owners of properties in the area would often destroy their own roofs to deter squatters.

In 1977, the Greater London Council (GLC) announced plans to redevelop the area, the details of which are captured in an edition of the Tribal Messenger. As former resident Tony Sleep puts it:

“The GLC decided that it was intolerable having 120 people living in these damp old dirty houses and it would be a much better idea to knock them all down and make us homeless…”

Inspired by a previous visit to Christiania, Copenhagen, Nicholas Albery put forward the notion of seceeding from the United Kingdom, establishing the Free & Independent Republic of Frestonia. Albery chaired a meeting attended by 200 locals. A referendum was held on Sunday, October 30th with unanimous support for secession. Citing a legal loophole, the residents took the collective surname of Bramley, in an effort to support their request to be rehoused as a single family. An application for membership of the United Nations, was submitted, opening:

“We the Free Independent Republic of Frestonia, herewith apply for full membership of the United Nations, with autonomous nation status…”

Within the application were detailed plans for an independent nation, signed by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, David Rappaport-Bramley. The stunt was picked up by the media, Rappaport-Bramley made radio and tv appearances, and before long the world was watching.

A Republic is Formed

Visa for unlimited entry

Getting stamped with a visa for unlimited entry was a highpoint of any tourist trip to Frestonia.

The Republic issued its own postage stamps, visiting tourists could have their passports stamped with the official Frestonian visa stamp and pick up a copy of the national newspaper, the Tribal Messenger. The National Theatre presented Heathcote Williams’ play The Immortalist and The Clash recorded parts of Combat Rock at Ear Studios in the People’s Hall on Olaf Street.

The application even announced the intention to:

“generate our own power supply… [and] our own national radio station, which will in no way interfere with the broadcasts of neighbouring nations.”

The international media were captivated, with coverage from the UK current affairs TV show, Nationwide, and attention from news teams across the United KingdomUnited States, Canada, Spain, Denmark and Japan. The neighbouring UK government were forced to respond and the enigmatic leader Nicholas Exelby-Bramley (Albery’s pseudonym) received letters from Sir Geoffrey Howe MP, and Horace Cutler, leader of the GLC.

Against All Odds

A modern view of Frestonia

The Bramleys Housing Co-operative worked with the Notting Hill Housing Trust to build quality homes for the residents who wished to stay.

The furore forced the GLC to negotiate and eventually the Bramleys Housing Co-operative was formed, assisted by local lawyer Martin Sherwood, giving the residents a voice in development plans for the area. The squatters-turned-separatists had fought hard and won.

Although concessions were made, the site was redeveloped to make safe, livable homes for the residents, many of which live there to this day, along with the generations that followed.

What became of the Republic? The United Nations never responded to the application, nor was the notion ever officially dismissed. The Republic of Frestonia is as much a reality now as it was then. And the spirit in which it was formed serves as a reminder that, faced with oppression, anything can happen when we work together as a family.

After all, nos sumus una familia.


Some Great


The Community

At its height, a national census identified around 120 Frestonians united as members of the Bramley family.

The Legacy

The redeveloped republic is now managed by the Bramleys Housing Co-operative, formed as a result of the residents’ campaign. Newcomers to the area live alongside original Frestonians, their children and grandchildren.




Browse The

National Archive

Daily Mirror, UK

Originally published in the Daily Mirror, November 4th, 1977.   Transcript ALL HAIL, FRESTONIA BRYAN RIMMER reports on the state of the world’s newest nation THE sign on the seedy cafe said: Champion Dining Rooms. But it was the one below that caught your eye. It read: Free, Independent Republic of Frestonia. And inside, Hilary […]

David Rappaport-Bramley interviewed on Nationwide, 1977

Martin Young interviews David Rappaport-Bramley, the Foreign Affairs Minister of the newly declared independent state in London. Broadcast on November 1st, 1977. Transcript Martin Young Good evening. Tonight we report the emergence of a new nation state and ask the questions the world will need to answer. Can Hammersmith ever be the same again? There […]

ITN TV Coverage (Transcript)

  • September 28, 2015
  • By
  • In TV
  • No Comments

Broadcast on November 2nd, 1977 Transcript David Well, no I wouldn’t be very disappointed if it didn’t happen and I’d be quite surprised if it did happen. But I mean we’ve gone into it in great detail we’ve sent copies of declarations of independence to the United Nations, to the EEC, to the Queen, to […]

Radio interview with David Rappaport

Recorded on November 1st, 1977.   Transcript David We, the Free Independent Republic of Frestonia, herewith apply for full membership of the United Nations with autonomous nation status. We’re quite serious. It’s one of our methods of negotiating. We’ve had public meetings with the local council and the citizens here voted unanimously against their plans […]

Kensington News and Post

Photo caption Frestonia is a very small nation, following the precedent of Luxembourg and Monaco, with the precept of the late Dr. Schumaker “Small is Beautiful”. It’s an area of approx. 8 acres, a distinctly isolated island of near dereliction, surrounded by the West 10 and 11 sectors of London, England. A full transcription of […]

Carbreakers Gallery Poster

The Carbreakers Gallery, run by Brien Assiter, Minister for Arts & Culture, was located opposite a scrap merchant and breakers yard, run by Ginger. Professional lighting was donated by Sandy Nairne, later to be Director of the National Portrait Gallery, and the Carbreakers launched with a media bang. The location of the gallery hampered chances […]

Frestonian Postage Stamps

Frestonian stamps were safely delivered worldwide, with replies received from New Zealand, Australia and the States. The fact that the stamps had a vaguely Danish look probably helped. Frestonia applied to join the International Postal Union, pointing out that Frestonia was happy to deliver mail from all over the world within its boundaries and expected […]

Frestonian Visa Stamp

To have your passport stamped with the Frestonian visa stamp was the ernest wish of every tourist to Frestonia. So the coachloads of Danish school kids, for instance, would get a quick 5-minute tour round the country, taking in the communal gardens with the mountain landscape painted on the corrugated iron, and the river and […]

Tribal Messenger, No. 20, 22/09/1977

Originally published on 22/09/1977.   Transcript This whole area is up for grabs.Tenders from industries wanting to develop here have to be in to the GLC by today. WE’VE OFFERED TO LEASE THE WHOLE SOUTHERN AREA! Read on: Yesterday, Ken of 90 Freston Road [+Josefine saw him too – short-haired young inspector], saw a bloke walking […]

Antonio Yeo-Bramley on Channel 5’s Wright Stuff

Originally broadcast on Channel 5’s “Wright Stuff” June 5th, 2008. This episode, entitled “Alternatives Lifestyles: Just for Dropouts?” features an interview with former Frestonian Minister for Propaganda, Antonio Yeo-Bramley. Transcript TBC Operator Our last caller is Antonio on line 3. Matthew Wright Antonio good morning. Antonio Good morning. I’d just like to say how good […]

Alexei Sayle Remembers Frestonia

Excerpt from Thatcher Stole My Trousers by Alexei Sayle: The Elgin was a big run-down old place of bevelled glass and scarred and varnished wood with a large back room where bands used to play and it became our regular base. The crowd were very much Tony’s people – squatters, druggies and activists. Just across Ladbroke […]

Joe Rush on the Apocalypse Hotel and Frestonia

Excerpt from an interview originally published in The Idler (Issue 36) Money Madness: Your Money or Your Life?  by Tom Hodgkinson. Joe Rush …Then I came back to London and was living in a house called Apocalypse Hotel which was in Frestonia in Latimer Road. Then I started putting the Mutoid thing together. I had a […]

The Clash at Frestonia

In ‘Getting it Straight in Notting Hill Gate: A West London Psychogeography Report’ by Tom Vague, Vague notes: In the wake of Frestonia, the Clash posed in front of the Apocalypse Hotel for the cover of Zigzag magazine. The Clash and Moorhead rehearsed at Ear Studios in the People’s Hall on Olaf Street (now design […]

London’s Outrage

In ‘Getting it Straight in Notting Hill Gate: A West London Psychogeography Report’ by Tom Vague, Vague notes: Jon Savage produced an issue of his fanzine London’s Outrage consisting of a Frestonia photo montage with the Westway graffiti ‘Same thing day after day…’ His punk wasteland recollection of the area echoes the mid-19th century description […]

Excerpt from The Cinderella Philatelist

Originally published in The Cinderalla Philatelist, July 1979 and later republished at   Transcript July 1979 THE CINDERELLA PHILATELIST GREAT BRITAIN: FRESTONIA 1977-1978 By Gordon S. Woods On 30 October 1977 a group of people in the W.11 postal district of London, for reasons of their own, unanimously elected to declare themselves the Free Independent […]

From the Ministry of State for Tourism

Transcript   107 Freston Road Frestonia,(via London W.11., England). First Class Frestonia Stamps, in blue and white, with the nation’s crest, are available in sheets of 98 stamps only, at £1.00 U.K. Sterling. This includes one Frestonian first class stamp on the envelope in which these sheets are sent out. The equivalent number of first class […]

An open letter to the Danish Prime Minister

Originally published at Transcript 107 Freston Road Frestonia, (via London W.11., England). January 20th 1978 Anker Jorgensen, Esq., Prime Minister, Flotshomsgade 12, D.K. 1216 Copenhagen K, Denmark Dear Sir, I represent the Free Independent Republic of Frestonia, which created a furore on November 1st of last year by its declaration of independence from Britain, and which has […]

Splotches in Space

Splotches in Space was a joint exhibition of paintings by Giles Leaman and Martin Piper, presented in the Carbreakers Art Gallery in 1980. Both Giles Leaman and Martin Piper were sharing a flat in Portobello road and had both grown up in this part of the world. This was the first exhibition after they had […]


Get in Touch

Contact Rob

Send a Message

By Nicola Lane.


Memories…From my comic for 1978’s International Times: ‘A Ramble Through Frestonia’, where Dennis and Beryl win a holiday for 2 and are taken on a tour by the Minister for the Interior (Dave Rappaport, RIP).Here they meet the Minister for Thinking the Unthinkable, who is of course Heathcote Williams– who instructs a star-struck Beryl and a dubious Dennis in the dialectic of Frestonia’s National Policy, outside Frestonia’s People’s Theatre… — with Heathcote Williams and International Times
Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Squatters to Take the Universe

Posted in homepage | 2 Comments

Dickhead of the Year


Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

Sentient Beings


Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

Happy Birthday Mr. William Blake

Happy Birthday Mr. William Blake
Visionary slayer of all that is false
From the sermons of Sunday’s religious fake
To the moneymen’s rasping grasping calls

You shine like a light of spiritual bliss
Through today’s hellish smog of venality
Which you smite in an instant with the slightest kiss
Of your angelic illuminate originality

Albion needs you now like never before
As the strangler clasps the neck of the child
And poisons the waters of river and shore
With his dark satanic will run wild

Happy Birthday Mr. William Blake
Illustrious purveyor of all that is true
Please rescue us from this bitter lake
And deliver us to your Jerusalem New


Roddy McDevitt


Posted in homepage | Tagged | 1 Comment


Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Building A Country That Works For Everyone



James Byrne

White Coins, James Byrne’s poetry collection from Arc is available. http://www. james-byrne-white-coins-533






Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

Misfit an exam poem


Detect misfit,
their judgements

separated from

Measured and

robust to

misfit data.
Scale shares

scale the

which can be useful.

be required.

The traits are

being used,

measuring progress
of the misfit model.

Possible pairwise
pairwise possible


A judge
judges if

there is no consensus
amongst judges over

the quality of the


Mike Ferguson
Illustration: Claire Palmer

Posted in homepage | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Responsibility of Freedom

On the Integration of the Spiritual and the Social


A lot of people are writing and talking about spirit, higher self, personal enlightenment, shining health, transformation and the attainment of the Godly. A lot of people are following the words of those who proclaim knowledge of the above.

It is clear that many are searching for the security of a sound spiritual path to lead them through the material and mental chaos. Something that will bring with it a new awareness and sense of reality.

But this immediately raises the question: once having set off down this road – what will one do with the new found power which comes with traveling it? This opening-up of a new dimension of personal awareness and inner freedom.

Will one be content to simply carry on with ‘life as usual’ basking in the sense of uplift generated by this elevated sense of being? Perhaps one will change one’s diet. Buy a purer toothpaste. Take a brisk run each morning. Get a better juicer.  Practice regular yoga and positive thinking. Even maybe seek to move to the fresher air of the countryside?

These are the ‘life changing’ messages that emanate from ‘Enlightenment plc’: the glossy mind, body, spirit periodicals; the earnest conferences; the retreats and the copious on-line sites devoted to self improvement. Nothing exactly wrong with any of these, of course, except that they mostly simply offer bolt-on ‘improvements’ to the existing status quo. More a kind of self enhancing escape route than a going forward to build something entirely different. Which, of course, is what is actually needed.

What is so evidently missing here, is instruction to the initiate to direct this new found energy outwards – into actions that help transform the dire state of life and of people on this planet.  We cannot escape this material dimension in which we find ourselves, but we can help to transform it, by bringing our newly acquired four dimensional insights to bear on the largely static status quo.

To become aware, and therefore in a certain sense ‘to be free’, carries with it responsibility. A responsibility to help bring about a radical change (in society).  A change informed by the bigger awareness achieved by our new found consciousness. This is the pay-back we are bound to make. For having ‘seen the truth’ one cannot then hide from it. One cannot simply sit crossed-legged and dream of a better life.

Once blessed with a little enlightenment, we are in a position to recognize that inner personal development and outer actions for positive change – are two parts of one whole. Just as inhaling and exhaling are also two parts of one whole. Only when the two are united – and made one – can we truly express our God given potential.

There is no spiritual ‘enlightenment’ without complementary grounded actions in which to pour our greater vision for the betterment of humanity. Such outward actions can also be termed ‘service to humanity’.

‘Enlightenment plc’ has tried to deceive us in this. Enlightenment plc says “No problem, you can escape from the material third dimension by seeking higher consciousness in the fourth dimension and leaving the problems of the world behind you. Pay your dues and tune in to us – and you will be healthy, happy, untainted by the greed, violence and destruction going on around you!” Yes, there is no doubt about it, the self-salvation road show is booming. Millions, who can afford to pay its fees, swear to its efficacy and personal rewards.

How tempting then, to jump in and turn one’s back on this deeply wounded world; leaving the 0.2% control freaks to carry on their take-over, unopposed and unnoticed.

How easy it is to leave the management of this jewel into which we were born and of which we are trustees – to those who are totally indifferent to its fate. Those whose only interest is money, power and control. Complete control over everything. Yes, it’s oh so tempting to evade our responsibilities as guardians of planet earth, and escape into this chimeric deception called ‘freedom’.

Real freedom is wholeness. And wholeness is the putting back together of that which has been made separate. The spiritual is all too often seen as disconnected from the physical and practical. And the practical and physical seen as separate from the spiritual. Separate entities. The powers of the spirit plane remain divorced, and even in opposition, to the powers of the material plane. Indeed, one is often considered superior to the other. As two halves, neither one is whole. Without integration, both remain only half of what they should be. Only half of what they are.

The maintaining of this division is the key trick played on us by our oppressors. It is the Ace card in their control pack. We need to recognize this and act on it.

There is a deeply disquieting mismatch between what aspirants get high on and the actual state of life on earth. The tens of thousands who diligently work on their asanas; who meditate daily; who keep only to the obligatory diets; who purify their drinking water and try to do the same to their souls. Supposedly ‘awakened ones’ who turn a blind eye on reality, choosing to remain ‘politically correct’ and aloof from the fray.

Such individuals strive to remain untouched by the contaminated world around them. Not daring to face the fact that the contamination is there because they make no effort to prevent it. That the wars carry on because they make no effort to stop them. That people are abused because they make no effort to defend them. That the main abusers continue to push open the doors, because it is not considered ‘spiritually correct’ to block them.

Is this really the great road to human emancipation?

When, I dare to ask, will such individuals be willing to channel the fruits of their awakening into bringing down the despots of destruction ? Those who continue to hold them and this planet to ransom. When will they dare to face the truth and act on it?

For at present too many are living a lie and calling it truth. They are simply perpetuating the failings of those who are always on the look-out for ‘a great escape’.

To make life whole, the spiritual/mental plane must be fully integrated into the physical/practical plane – and visa versa of course. Our true power lies in the marriage of social activism and spiritual aspiration. For in essence they are One, but have been divided against each other. Divided in two by powers that seek to derail humanity and capture the planet for their own despotic ends.

By integrating a steadily awakening spiritual awareness with a determination to bring deep social change – we can and will – overcome the divisive hold exerted by our oppressors. This is the only, yes only, way to achieve true liberation. Now is the time to unite.

Time is short. We are very far down the road of divide and conquer. This blood and war stained road to ruin. A state, we can now admit, which has been brought about through our own passivity and abstention, and through the control system capitalizing on this abstention. Let us not pretend that we are so delusional to imagine we can live-out our lives as enlightened slaves. One day, those who persist in turning their backs, may be rudely reminded of their selfish indifference by a uniformed thug with a gun in his hand. By then it’s too late.

Now is the time to take control of our destinies  – to get on the front foot and seize the initiative. Words alone will not cut the ice, neither will prayers alone. In the end actions always speak louder than words. All those who claim the sanctity of the spirit, cannot forever turn away from confronting those who continue to systematically destroy the very air we breath, the very food we eat, the very water we drink, the very earth we live on.

We are fully equipped with – but have as yet failed to manifest – the courage necessary to turn the tide of history and to block the despots from tearing apart the uniquely precious soul of man and the beating heart of our living planet. True acts of love and of freedom manifest as bold and defiant determination. A far cry from the call for ‘love and light’ to sweeten one’s self satisfied journey to a chimeric salvation.

There is no time to lose. A totalitarian jack-boot is about to crush our deepest and most precious aspirations. We must rise up and stand firm against it.

By bringing together, into unity, spiritual aspiration and social activism, we will be taking a quantum leap towards true empowerment. We will be instrumental in catalyzing a great turning point in humanity’s struggle to throw off its adversaries and lay the foundations of genuine freedom.

By breaking the chains of divide and conquer we can – and will – bring to our doorstep the great victory we long for. A victory which, at this very moment, lies right in the palm of our hands.


Julian Rose


Julian Rose is an early pioneer of UK organic farming, a writer and international activist. He is President of The International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside. Julian is the author of two acclaimed titles; Changing Course for Life and In Defense of Life. Why not visit his website to find out more.





Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

class war in the playground


how is it

that people

who’ve never done

a hand’s turn

or tightened their belt

own most of the land

own most of the gelt

own utter belief

in their entitlement

own utter belief

that their enlightenment

keeps the lid on disorder

keeps the riffraff down

keeps the Windsors

safely on their throne

keeps the Bishops

at prayer in the Lords

keeps their wild sons

at play with their bawds

keeps their wild daughters

out of the courts

keeps their tax havens

out of the way

keeps their inheritance

where blue-bloods play

keeps their horses

keeps their Rolls Royces

keeps their cut-glass voices

keeps their estates

so far and wide

keeps their hands in The City

keeps their hands in the kitty

with a bit on the side

it’s the politics of envy

they sneer at their foes

but that’s not so

no that’s not so

it’s just not fair

as any child knows


Jeff Cloves
Illustration: Claire Palmer

Posted in homepage | Tagged | 2 Comments

The latency of terror

Why is Italy the one of very few countries in Europe not to have been attacked for the past 15 years?


It seems that Islamic terrorist groups have been keeping Italy out of their lethal grip.

But why? Unfortunately, this may not hold true for the future. Although it seems likely that Italy may be among the last Western European countries to be targeted. the possibility always exists. And there is no such thing as a zero-risk country.

Italian authorities keep repeating this message, especially in response to other Islamic terrorist attacks elsewhere on European soil: that even Italy is at risk, and it’s probably just a matter of time. Making it sound as though there’s a predetermined order! The alert level has remained at maximum for ages. We know we are in the terrorists’ sights, just like all other European countries. Yet things seem to work better, or at least go more slowly here. The feeling is that they are approaching our territory, but for whatever reasons are holding back. Why is that? In the past, Italy (from the late 1990s to the beginning of 2000) was one of the countries most at risk of a possible attack by international terrorism. In Milan there was a group that enlisted mujahideen to fight in Iraqi Kurdistan, where a group linked to Al-Qaida was also active. Plus the Islamic Institute of Avenue Jenner, one of the most important logistical bases for volunteers from around the world who wanted to fight jihad in Bosnia, was located in Milan. They were defined by the United States Treasury Department as “the main base of al Qaeda in Europe.” And in many other cities in northern Italy, Al-Qaida-affiliated nuclei were created as part of a system that further involved still other European cities and produced false documents. Subsequently, in the first half of the 2000s, the international complexities of Al-Qaida and the efficient maneuvers of Italian anti-terrorism led to the decay of the largest networks of recruiting and financing jihad, leaving room for something else that until now has not been able to conceive terrorist acts or give way to quite compact and extensive terrorist networks on our national territory, despite intimidation attempts against Italy made by so-called Islamic State.

It seems that the greatest risks for Italy come from “homegrown” jihadism. This form of jihad often utilizes internet communication, which is usually employed far from the mosques. The first acknowledged case of a “homegrown” terrorist in Italy is considered to be Mohammed Game, a Libyan citizen born in Benghazi who arrived here in 2003. On October 12, 2009, Game tried to blow himself up at the gate of Santa Barbara barracks on the periphery of Milan. He was injured, along with two soldiers. On his computer, the police found 185 files containing the writings of Abu Musab al Suri, one of the most prominent ideologists of global jihadism, chiefly known for his theories on planning resistance without a leader.

Game’s case is also important for understanding jihadists who followed on his heels. For example Mohamed Jarmoune, a Moroccan resident of Valcamonica arrested for organizing an attack at the Milan synagogue. And Barbara Aisha Farina, an Italian woman born in Milan who converted to Islam and used various blogs to spread jihadist propaganda. Or Anas el Abboubi, a young man of Moroccan origins living in a small county of valleys north of Brescia, who before being radicalized via the internet was a very famous rapper named Dr. Domino.

But then in Italy how do “anti-terrorism teams” tend to work?

Perhaps because Italy has always been forced to fight internal (domestic) left and right-wing terrorism, as well as various mafia organizations, they seem to be rather well-protected and in good hands. Although I would not rule out mafia involvement in keeping us from being hit.

While any number of assumptions can be made, Italy must nonetheless rely on the data and vigilance of its security forces if we are to be kept safe from attack.




Elena Caldera

Translation: Eddie Woods

Posted in homepage | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Charles Manson Was Just A Patsy! New Book

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment



‘… I and my fellow animal-creatures down here in the
swamp are as closely related to the extraterrestrials
over your heads as the rats to the stars and beyond…’
– Dory Previn, Bog–Trotter


Charred remains twist,
rustling cold in the grate.

Early morning wind,
that blew away the rain,
blows charcoal paper over.

Your face stares out
from the ash,
eyes a photocopy grey.

Burnt out poems,
rewritten songs
are gone…

The record clicks
over and over and over
needling your memory.

Somewhere in the street
someone is playing
your song.

Down here
in the swamp of the city
a guitarist – out of tune.

Down here
in the sunshine city
a madman – out of bounds

The messages
are coming through
clear as day begins.

You are calm –
no more faces to burn
in those crystal eyes.

No more words
running around
looking for each other.

No more guitars
in your head
echoing in the distance.

Dawn stakes its claim
on the sky.

You are an upturned face
in a dim lit window

close to the place where
the bogeyman lives…

A shadow of yourself
that we have locked away.

You send letters
and write poems;
compose more songs:

lucid moments
in a galaxy
of madness –

your telescope eyes
two black holes
in space.

Music and graffiti. Blood-filled rooms.
Faded newsprint photos
stay frozen in the mind.

Sometimes there is madness in the air,
sometimes there are guitar sounds
needling the memory of the sunshine city.

Today a burst of static disrupts the music;
it ends with a gentle hiss of despair
and noise. Fading feedback. Silence.

Down here in the swamp of the city
the messages are coming through.
You’re just a shadow of ourselves.

© Rupert M Loydell


This poem was first commissioned for the first Bath Literature Festival
as a response to Charles Manson, one of the personalities featured in
Billy Jenkins’ musical suite Entertainment USA. It was later performed
on BBC Radio 2 and published in Entertainment USA: The Poems.




Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Autumn/ Winter poem

As winter steals the crisp cape of autumn
piece by piece and autumn’s last breath
lies flat against the window’s glass;
when leaves like littered letters bank
in patches under yawning trees
and vermillion berries stud the browning grass;
when vapour trails like vast corrections scarify the barren sky
and fog lights smear the drear horizons’ trembling lip,
I drink deeply on my dreams of us, folded up in winters’ blanket, eyes closing, hip to hip.


Fay Proctor
Photo By : Fay Proctor

Posted in homepage | Tagged | 1 Comment

Chromaticism 35

Playing tracks by

Hookworms and TwinKranes.

Chart positions


Ian Robertson (Chromaticism) returns with another epic instalment of Chromaticism’s – ‘Revolutions On The Radio’. Originally broadcast at 9PM UK on Sunday 2nd April 2017, only on Primal Radio

On this episode Chromaticism brings us a Distorted Perspectives festival special with a 2017 preview and a interesting look back at last years sonic extravaganza, with music from TWINKRANES & Hookworms.

Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

Philip K. Dick Theorizes The Matrix in 1977

In 1963, Philip K. Dick won the coveted Hugo Award for his novel The Man in the High Castle, beating out such sci-fi luminaries as Marion Zimmer Bradley and Arthur C. Clarke. Of the novel, The Guardian writes, “Nothing in the book is as it seems. Most characters are not what they say they are, most objects are fake.” The plot—an alternate history in which the Axis Powers have won World War II—turns on a popular but contraband novel called The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. Written by the titular character, the book describes the world of an Allied victory, and—in the vein of his worlds-within-worlds thematic—Dick’s novel suggests that this book-within-a-book may in fact describe the “real” world of the novel, or one glimpsed through the novel’s reality as at least highly possible.

The Man in the High Castle may be Dick’s most straightforwardly compelling illustration of the experience of alternate realties, but it is only one among very many. In an interview Dick gave while at the high profile Metz science fiction conference in France in 1977, he said that like David Hume’s description of the “intuitive type of person,” he lived “in terms of possibilities rather than in terms of actualities.” Dick also tells a parable of an ancient, complicated, and temperamental automated record player called the “Capard,” which reverted to varying states of destructive chaos. “This Capard,” Dick says, “epitomized an inscrutable ultra-sophisticated universe which was in the habit of doing unexpected things.”


In the interview, Dick roams over so many of his personal theories about what these “unexpected things” signify that it’s difficult to keep track. However, at that same conference, he delivered a talk titled “If You Find This World Bad, You Should See Some of the Others” (in edited form above), that settles on one particular theory—that the universe is a highly-advanced computer simulation. (The talk has circulated on the internet as “Did Philip K. Dick disclose the real Matrix in 1977?”).

The subject of this speech is a topic which has been discovered recently, and which may not exist all. I may be talking about something that does not exist. Therefore I’m free to say everything and nothing. I in my stories and novels sometimes write about counterfeit worlds. Semi-real worlds as well as deranged private worlds, inhabited often by just one person…. At no time did I have a theoretical or conscious explanation for my preoccupation with these pluriform pseudo-worlds, but now I think I understand. What I was sensing was the manifold of partially actualized realities lying tangent to what evidently is the most actualized one—the one that the majority of us, by consensus gentium, agree on.

Dick goes on to describe the visionary, mystical experiences he had in 1974 after dental surgery, which he chronicled in his extensive journal entries (published in abridged form as The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick) and in works like VALIS and The Divine Invasion. As a result of his visions, Dick came to believe that “some of my fictional works were in a literal sense true,” citing in particular The Man in the High Castle and Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, a 1974 novel about the U.S. as a police state—both novels written, he says, “based on fragmentary, residual memories of such a horrid slave state world.” He claims to remember not past lives but a “different, very different, present life.”

Finally, Dick makes his Matrix point, and makes it very clearly: “we are living in a computer-programmed reality, and the only clue we have to it is when some variable is changed, and some alteration in our reality occurs.” These alterations feel just like déjà vu, says Dick, a sensation that proves that “a variable has been changed” (by whom—note the passive voice—he does not say) and “an alternative world branched off.”

Dick, who had the capacity for a very oblique kind of humor, assures his audience several times that he is deadly serious. (The looks on many of their faces betray incredulity at the very least.) And yet, maybe Dick’s crazy hypothesis has been validated after all, and not simpy by the success of the PKD-esque The Matrix and ubiquity of Matrix analogies. For several years now, theoretical physicists and philosophers have entertained the theory that we do in fact live in a computer-generated simulation and, what’s more, that “we may even be able to detect it.”

via Reality Carnival

Related Content:

Robert Crumb Illustrates Philip K. Dick’s Infamous, Hallucinatory Meeting with God (1974)

The Penultimate Truth About Philip K. Dick: Documentary Explores the Mysterious Universe of PKD

Free Philip K. Dick: Download 13 Great Science Fiction Stories

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Psykick Dancehall Horror House Repetition



The Singles 1978-2016, The Fall (Cherry Red)


Mark E Smith’s head may have expanded, but his musical output has been pretty consistent in its casual approach to… well, everything really, from lyrics to structure via production values. Motormouth Smith rants whatever seems to come in to his head over sloppy, jangly, awkward sonic backdrops, with pauses for either him to shout or the band to lurch into another rhythm. And then it trips back again.

For the first CD of this seven CD box set (also available as a three CD set of just the A-sides) this is entertaining and, for me at least, an enjoyable exercise in nostalgia. Too many nights listening to John Peel on the radio and friends’ mixtapes mean that the likes of ‘How I Wrote “Elastic Man”‘, ‘Kicker Conspiracy’, ‘Marquis Cha-Cha’ and ‘C.R.E.E.P.’ are ingrained into the brain, encouraging me to lurch around the room engaged in bad dancing like we did back in the day. But the effect soon wears off: even the second CD is only made listenable by the dismal cover version of ‘There’s a Ghost in My House’ (which is so bad it’s good) and the clever and funky ‘Telephone Thing’ from one of The Fall’s best LPs, Extricate.

This sets the tone for the rest of the box set, indeed most of The Fall’s zillion albums: one or two good, if not great, tracks, but too much [definitely not cosmic] slop and energetic, amateur-sounding songs which appear to have been casually thrown together in the studio. Quality control? Forget it. As long as there are old indie-kids (indie-parents?) queuing up to buy this stuff then it will continue to be churned out. Mark E Smith may be a national treasure, but really he’s had his day and is coasting. I’m afraid this over-generous box set suggests he’s been doing so for a long time now and never learnt when to shut up.

I really wanted to like this release, but for me it’s a nail in the coffin: Smith is, I would suggest, taking the piss (and no doubt the money) on the back of the current post-punk revival. All power to his Mancunian elbow then, just don’t make me listen to this all the way through ever again. Please give the man his pension, put a waxwork in Madame Tussauds, sit him in a corner of the bar and buy him a beer. But no more songs.


Rupert Loydell



Telephone Thing youtube link:


Posted in homepage | Leave a comment


Bogdan Puslenghea
Illustration Nick Victor


Posted in homepage | Tagged , | Leave a comment


A lip reader has time on his hands
And because my lips are sealed
He paces about in frustration
Because nothing will be revealed

A guru is giving nothing away
He leaves it up to his pupil to guess
And like Gurdjieff and Oliver Hardy
He leaves us all in another nice mess

What is true remains unknowable
Inscrutable and opaque
So we settle for consensus reality
With the suspicion that it all could be fake


Harry Lupino
IllustraionNick Victor
Posted in homepage | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Two Million Wondrous Nature Illustrations

Are we truly in the midst of a human-caused sixth mass extinction, an era of “biological annihilation”? Many scientists and popular science writers say yes, using terms like “Holocene” or “Anthropocene” to describe what follows the Ordovician, Devonian, Permian, Triassic, and Cretaceous periods. Peter Brannen, author of extinction history The Ends of the Earth has found at least one scientist who thinks the concept is “junk.” But Brannen quotes some alarming statistics. Chilling, even. “Until very recently,” he writes, “all vertebrate life on the planet was wildlife. But astoundingly, today wildlife accounts for only 3 percent of earth’s land animals; human beings, our livestock, and our pets take up the remaining 97 percent of the biomass… almost half of the earth’s land has been converted into farmland.”

This state of affairs does not bode well for the millions of remaining species getting edged out of their environments by agribusiness and climate change. We learn from extinctions past that the planet rebounds after unimaginable catastrophe. Life really does go on, though it may take millions of years to recover. But the current forms of life may disappear before their time. If we want to understand what is at stake besides our own fragile fossil-fuel based civilizations, we need to connect to life emotionally as well as intellectually. Short of globe-hopping physical immersion in the earth’s biodiversity, we could hardly do better than immersing ourselves in the tradition of naturalist writing, art, and photography that brings the world to us.

The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), an “open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives,” has for many years been making it easy for people to connect to nature through nature writing and illustration. In 2012, they announced the “success story” of their Flickr streams, both containing thousands of illustrations and photographs uploaded by the BHL staff and readers from their huge collections of books.

The first stream, currently at 122,281 images, has been carefully curated, and includes searchable galleries and albums divided by book title or subject, such as “Exotic botany illustrated,” “The Birds of Australia v.1,” and “Bats!” The second stream, consisting of over 2 million images, is a massive grab-bag of photos, illlustrations from nature, advertisements, and imaginative renderings.

Though far less useful for the scholar—or the very purposeful user—this second photostream offers more potential for chance discovery, through the aimless wandering that often leads to serendipitously sublime experiences. The formal BHL stream does not disappoint, though it may offer fewer surprises. Both of these image archives offer expansive views of humanity’s encounter with the natural world, not only through statistics and academic jargon, but through the artistic recording of wonder, scientific curiosity, and deep appreciation.

Related Content:

Watch 50 Hours of Nature Soundscapes from the BBC: Scientifically Proven to Ease Stress and Promote Happiness & Awe

The British Library Puts 1,000,000 Images into the Public Domain, Making Them Free to Reuse & Remix

Download for Free 2.6 Million Images from Books Published Over Last 500 Years on Flickr

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness



Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment



All the business people are sent to Hell but they end up taking the place over and running it for profit, industrialising the torture process and making everything much more efficient and terrible.

This was originally started as an album cover for Fat White Family three years ago but grew out of control and became this monstrosity. Part completed earlier this year during my Munich residency with Positive Propaganda .

Currently on display at my solo exhibition at WAR Gallery. Click here for details .

Limited edition prints available here.

Darren Cullen

Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

Photography: Walker Evans’ NYC Subway Portraits

Riding the subway is an experience of alternately judging people and ignoring them by playing phone games. Looking at Walker Evans’ subway portraits, not much has changed. It is somehow reassuring to know that even in the 1930s, New Yorkers were still annoyed by the general presence of pretty much everyone else. What is different, however, is the general proliferation of fur. And hats. Lots of hats.

After documenting depression-era rural America in the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Walker Evans turned his attention to city life and New York was the obvious choice.   Over a period of three years, between 1938- 1941, Evans took photographs of fellow subway riders with a camera hidden in his coat. Despite the surreptitious hiding place, many of the subjects seem to stare directly into the lens as if they are totally aware that they are becoming subject matter (which says something about the intensity of a subway stare).

For a more refined interpretation of Walker Evans photographs, I turn to James Agee, who wrote the introduction to Evans’ book on the images, Many Are Called. He writes,

Those who use the New York subways are several millions…They are members of every race and nation of the earth. They are of all ages, of all temperaments, of all classes, of almost every imaginable occupation. Each is incorporate in such an intense and various concentration of human beings as the world has never known before. Each, also, is an individual existence, as matchless as a thumbprint or a snowflake. Each wears garments which of themselves are exquisitely subtle uniforms and badges of their being. Each carries in the postures of his body, in his hands, in his face, in the eyes, the signatures of a time and a place in the world upon a creature for whom the name immortal soul is one mild and vulgar metaphor.

I’ve seen many people on the subway to whom I might apply the term “vulgar metaphor”, and I laude Agee for finally giving me a vocabulary to do so. But like it or not, we somehow put up with each other- even if it is only in the name of going from Point A to Point B. For more photos and commentary, visit Neon Mamacita.

Also check out these rarely seen photographs of the NYC subway in the 1960s by Magnum photographer Danny Lyon.

 fashion, manhattan, subway, vintage


By annie shepard
Origanally From
Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Robert Montgomery Show/Interview

Hammersmith Poem


An interview with artist Robert Montgomery

I meet Robert Montgomery at Cob Gallery in London’s Camden, where just the previous night, he had celebrated the opening of his latest show ‘Hammersmith Poem and Love Letters to Kazimir Malevich’. It’s been a busy autumn for the artist and poet, who has also recently unveiled a series of public billboard poems which were shown in Shoreditch during Frieze week, and the latest addition to the Parasolstice – Winter Light series at Parasol Unit, his first light poem to be commissioned by a public institution in London.

JETHRO TURNER – Can you explain the context of the show here?
ROBERT MONTGOMERY – The context of the show comes from this public commission that I did for Hammersmith and Fulham town hall. Or more specifically, the Brutalist annex of the town hall, which has always been a subject of local controversy. It’s basically this little bit of High Brutalism, like a bit of the Barbican that’s been torn off and stuck on front of the Georgian facade of the old town hall. So it’s always been a subject of local debate between architectural traditionalists and modernists. Essentially, the texts sort of argue that Modernism is not a style, but a social movement, a continuation of the Humanist enlightenment that begins with the Renaissance. Then what Modernism ends up doing in Britain for example is becoming the backbone for this great social project in the 1940s that gives us the NHS, free public libraries, free university education.

JETHRO TURNER – Is this the most explicitly didactic, political that you’ve ever been with your work?
ROBERT MONTGOMERY –  It’s the most that I’ve ever worked on one theme, and within a contemporary art perspective it’s an important debate too, because we got bored of the idea of Modernism, then we went into three decades of post-Duchampian irony, and a set a of post-Structuralist theory that talks about post-Modernism, which might in retrospect be a kind of red herring.

JETHRO TURNER – So Modernism is an unfinished project?
ROBERT MONTGOMERY – Yes. Because Modernism has to be constantly redefined. If you don’t, then you’re not refreshing your idealism for the times that you live in. And we need to have an idealistic, utopian edge to the avant-garde in art, architecture, social housing, social planning, ecological planning. There has to be a form of idealism, so I’m arguing for that. But from an art perspective, the funny, post-Duchampian art-about-art, the generation of artists like Maurizio Cattelan, Mike Kelly, Jeff Koons, seems like it’s suddenly a bit irrelevant in an age of ecological crisis.

JETHRO TURNER – You’ve done a few big projects recently.
ROBERT MONTGOMERY – I’ve been taking the texts from the Hammersmith project and making murals. So here’s a giant mural on the side of a university building in Aberdeen which is about three stories high.

JETHRO TURNER – And then you did the Shoreditch billboards project.
ROBERT MONTGOMERY – The Shoreditch billboards were the first time that I used multiple panels to make kind of extended graphic poems.

JETHRO TURNER – I’m very interested in the punctuation and the typography, the marks you’re using in the text. That seems like something new for you too.
ROBERT MONTGOMERY – I’ve been using those more and more as graphic devices to punctuate the lines. They also seem to evoke urgency, like the double arrowhead mark, which is actually stolen from the logo of the Accenture consulting firm.

JETHRO TURNER – It’s also like the fast-forward symbol.
ROBERT MONTGOMERY – Yeah it’s these misused punctuation marks. So the slash symbol is used as a line break. Or these black long lines on the keyboard.

JETHRO TURNER – But unlike a fixed page size, you’re in control the size of the space, how big the canvas is. Yet you’re still using these line breaks as if it’s a fixed page.
ROBERT MONTGOMERY – Totally. I like the idea of the poetry going over the page. I’ve been looking a lot at the Vorticist movement. The back of our building is the place where Wyndham Lewis published Blast Magazine in 1914. And when you look at an issue of Blast, the text comes off the page, like the whole magazine is one giant concrete poem. It’s a really amazing example of a British rewiring of Futurist graphics, but I think that there’s a real sense of sort of urgent hope in the way that Lewis uses graphics in that magazine.

JETHRO TURNER – This work is poetry that stands alone, and is published in different ways as pamphlets and billboards, as well as the paintings. What can you do with the paintings that you can’t do in the other places?
ROBERT MONTGOMERY – You can just be a little bit more sensual. I studied painting for my BA, and my MFA was drawing and painting. But I wasn’t making paintings because I had no good ideas for paintings. But then, the Malevich reference in the Hammersmith billboard is that between 1917 and 1925, he made four versions of the Black Square painting. So I kind of jumped off there and then started working along the lines of other Malevich compositions.

JETHRO TURNER – You mention “idealistic utopianism” – how can we use poetry to get there? That’s one of the things that I think is very interesting about the public art commissions especially. On one level we’ve never been further away from a society that embraces poetry. Today, people’s exposure to different types of art has never been bigger, but poetry seems to just exist in advertising copy and hip-hop – in little chunks of the mainstream.
ROBERT MONTGOMERY – I’ve definitely wanted to do that, to use the techniques and formats of advertising copy, and ask that to deal with poetry. It’s a challenge to constantly modernise the way you go about writing poetry. When I’m writing texts I consciously try to use the way we speak on social media, to use modern, idiomatic shortenings of words. I think you have to deal with the language of your time if you can. Then there’s lots of ironic things in terms of the dissemination of poetry and art on social media.

JETHRO TURNER – The most popular poetry on social media is dire.
ROBERT MONTGOMERY – Yeah. It’s kind of popular nonsense, kind of fridge magnet affirmations. And it’s all affirmations for the self. Telling people ‘you are great’. So it’s this complete reinforcement of individualism. Self love, self confidence. It’s quite frightening.

JETHRO TURNER – You’ve had a kid. Has that changed how you think about how your poetry should operate out there in the world?
ROBERT MONTGOMERY – It’s interesting. I haven’t really thought about that consciously, but I think it has made me think more about the future. I’m trying to ‘future-think’ a bit more, instead of wallowing in the existential angst of the now. It’s also to do with having a kid and thinking: ‘do he and his generation have equal social opportunities to what my generation had?’. And I don’t think his generation does really. Which is probably part of the background to the thinking about Modernism.

On view until November 25th, 2017 at COB Gallery, 205 Royal College St, NW1 0SG London.

Text by Jethro Turner and photo Flo Kohl

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Break Down

We Go Out: Dung Beetle Book

By Ezra EliaMiriam Elia

Posted in homepage | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Ghosts on the Plain






A Review of Chris Petits new novel PALE HORSE RIDING (Simon and Schuster, 2017)


‘War’ is ‘raw’ in reverse, and the near twinning of those two words takes an eerie hold on Chris Petit’s masterly new novel Pale Horse Riding, his successor to the joyously forbidding The Butchers of Berlin. In both books, as in all his work, he does something remarkable. Just as his seminal first film, Radio On made a glorious new wave/krautrock symphony out of suicide, and his novels from Robinson and The Hard Shoulder through to Back from the Dead and the Picador classic The Psalm Killer locate the majesty in murder and how that practice reduces all victims to a meat like state. And so it is that these new fictions take the holocaust as backdrop and stage to the dramas his protagonists encounter. Reminiscent of the Edgar Allan Poe of The Murders at the Rue Morgue and patron saint of psychopathy Derek Raymond at his Suarez tinged peak, these war stories reveal how the shimmer of evil can be picked out at midnight by slices of moon in black blood.

From the start (and in a beautiful font and design courtesy of Simon & Schuster), the pale horse whose image becomes so important passes before us, ridden in a few snatched, private hours by the commandant of Auschwitz as a coping strategy for his aims and responsibilities. Drunk to the point of distraction, his fall from the horse and a visit from the garrison doctor lead to a broad but detailed portrait of this most unlikely of characters, including conversations on the worth of women to the benefits of the black-market acquisition of furniture and fittings. Artful vignettes set the book’s themes of social exploration, intrigue and the ramifications of fallibility like blazing tent pegs in mist. The notion that the final solution caused all manner of difficulties and needs for distraction among its actual administrators is one often neglected by history. We tar the proponents of Nazism with the same black moustache and flick their dark armbands like the bra straps of the girls we can never have, or get close to, but here, in just three pages Petit essays something revolutionary: the humanity of evil, shown its everyday face. This opening profile showcases Petit’s skill as dramatist and master of ceremonies. The wide scope of the story is introduced as we move from one observation to another. When the garrison doctor is attended to by his acned prisoner housemaid, he notes that he had given her cream that ‘seemed to do nothing for her skin, or their awkward relationship,’ a common enough sounding observation perhaps, but evident of an uncanny attention to detail and the reality that rests in between spaces, which also allows us to take in every shadow and nook.

I know where the shadows lurk . . .

a character later boasts, and in this respect Petit is an expert of exposure and excavation. The prose is a writerly version of an aptly-titled film equivalent — Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil with its genius opening shot, in which the entirety of the Mexican border and people crossing is brought into focus. So it proves here with the commandant’s coterie, outside and inside, with each one in their own way, entirely lost to the light. For Petit, it seems that every cloud has its reason, as do the nuages on earth.

It is then, the humanisation of those engaged on both sides of the struggle that makes this novel so striking. As the commandant and his black-market associate Groenke ride their horses halfway towards sunset, as a semi-desperate remedy to the frightening immediacy of their situation, an almost comic portrait of ramshackle(d) cowboys is formed; a Carrion Cowboy, no doubt, with flashes of every filmic gunslinger from Roy Rogers and the referenced Karl May, to Buster Keaton and our very own Sid James interrupting the mind and the eye.

This mix of light and dark is a feature of Petit’s work. One hears it in the soothing lugubriousness of his film narrations (similar in some ways to the godlike Werner Herzog) and one sees it on the page as he both lightens each horror and darkens the human comedy in all its insipid detail. This book, chilling in its organisation of information and careful structure, is also eminently readable, which is not always the case, sadly, in the books that the review papers shower us with every Saturday.

Petit does what only the very best writers strive to do, which is to create a credible, self sufficient world but also, far more importantly, an effective and useful worldview. As in Robinson, which I have espoused previously as a kind of ur text, the elegance, richness and visceral quality of the prose remain unsurpassed, certainly in contemporary writing. The Hard Shoulder was sparser, the Robinsonian diamond squeezed and chiselled. By the time of The Human Pool, Petit had restrained his style even more, keeping tight rein – to continue the analogy with horses – on his delivery as he sought a more commercial crossover. The exuberance of these new stories has sealed and secured that claim but what marks this sequence is the concomitant achievements of content and tone. When the Commandant foregoes wanting

to rest his head on the bosom of the seamstress and fiddle with her twat and not have a care in the world . . .

it is because he feels a sense of responsibility and leadership, a holocaust decorum if you like. Poe had few jokes. Petit has many. Chief of this is the treatment that supports his tendering of the black. Seeing individuals connected to the horror so directly, irreverence is avoided. Almost as bad as the killing and its inevitable scale, is the fact that despite it, the rest of life hurries on.

As the garrison psychiatrist spies on the commandant masturbating on one of his rides through the green, the commandant’s wife attends the opera, an equally disturbing counterpoint to the arias of jewish suffering currently playing to an audience of crowded chimneys. The corruption at the heart of the Reich is described as a cancer, and in this way two worlds of suffering are entered and we begin to see the correlations that Petit is wrenching us towards. We are all meat and fuel to each other’s intention, or purpose, to be dismissed just as quickly, as soon as we are both soiled and consumed. These books are not genre tales, nor historical fiction. Instead they expose the hysteric, through the cleverest prose, of this life.

Petit’s precise. His pen is an iris. But he broadens out into long shot with the focusing in of each eye. As Schlegel, an unwilling detective with a background in financial crime, and Morgen, an investigative prosecutor for the SS, are re-introduced, a Butch and Sundance for this new East/Western, they claim our attention with as much fluency as they did in book one of the series.

Petit’s childhood was spent following his soldier father across europe’s army bases and his conglomeration of english sensibility with near global scope allows the tight boat of his prose easy sail on the page, offering information and exposition with the utmost discretion, and making Pale Horse Riding a standalone voyager. The intricacies of the plot line of The Butchers of Berlin are encapsulated in a thumbless handful of sentences, providing the reader all of the background needed to immerse themselves in this new narrative. Coming as Petit does from cinema, he avoids the cynicism of today’s current practice, where everything is made to be sequelled or indeed prequelled, rather than tell a complete idea, by coming up with one, here an investigation into the extent of SS corruption within the top-secret and illicit world of Auschwitz and its sibling locations. This is so daring it actively challenges breath. If we are to take seriously the irrationality of the final solution in terms of simple human intent and practical motivation, we must also deal with the fact that the human character even in the most extreme situation is capable of the easiest temptation. By coming up with this story and setting his flawed heroes along this path of discovery, Petit accomplishes that rare thing in fiction, the actual honouring of the idea of fiction. He even challenges the notion of what a hero or protagonist is or can be, by framing his black hats with lines of slow silver and white. The wondrous and much missed Ken Campbell once said that he had given up reading regular fiction with its restrictions in location and behaviour, and now read only science fiction ‘because it’s about everything else!’ This great truth is wonderfully achieved by Petit as he juggles with the known and sifts through the conjecture. Here is evil extended. And the scalpel is shining that has been found to slice shit.

These tales of descending circles of hell and misdemeanour both extend and comment on the notion of what is laughably referred to as a common market by boring straight through it, almost to the point where Petit becomes a kind of European union in his own right, uniting the western reader with small details and joining the purchase of teutonic reference with a near english receipt. When Schlegel’s mother shelters a jewish woman, Sybil, whom Schlegel spies on and loves, this leads him to questioning his own sense of reality, which reaches a truly Wittgensteinian level as he questions even his own surroundings:

Why is a table called a table and not an armadillo?

When Sybil and his mother are taken by the Gestapo, Schlegel is forced into his own horrific comedown, promptly counterbalanced by a meeting arranged by Morgen in which the shadowy workings of chief bureaucrats in the SS are to be tracked and exposed. The ease with which Petit fuses notions of personal loss with public responsibility is extraordinary as we soon learn of camps within camps, petrochemical plants for which the gas chambers are both cover and fuel. A reference to Victor Scholz’s nefarious 1940 polemic

The Possibility of Recycling Gold from the Mouths of the Dead

introduces the horrifying notion of genocide being raged for dentally-derived profit, anti-semitism becoming mere novocaine. The idea of using the holocaust in this way does not in any way detract, but one passes the first eighty or so pages without it featuring in any great detail. What the book does instead is to render it as unmovable and monumental as Mount Rushmore, or any other great landmark to the fallen. It is our history, etched into the very fabric of the air, therefore responsible for the formation of our own sense of place. Unlike other modern detective or murder fiction, Petit, as Derek Raymond did previously, houses his horror in what might be called the truly believable, showing how set the standards for our own decimation have become since their point of origin, and bravely allowing sometimes for the foul breath of the real, tasting as it does of a sour heart and a blistering soul. Other populist novels, from those of Colin Dexter to Ian Rankin, defy this sense of easy acceptance through their concentration on the same set of streets or beats (how many murders in Oxford this week, Inspector Morse? Rebus, relax and put some Jackie Leven on, will ye?), but Petit, like Booth and Cleese in their still famous sitcom, makes the ‘sit’ in his ‘sitdram’ just as important as what and how things occur: WW2 and its litany of horrors, from ‘whacking the poles into shape’, to dousing the torah in lime and ash, stains and influences. The commandant confronted by Schlegel and Morgen soon loses some of his comic flair, deadening slightly while darkening too, as the true rules of horror slither their way to the fore.

Thrillers should thrill, but not always just through sensation. It is the common mistake made by the so-called popular culture. Chastening can’t be cheapened and there is no easy glory in gore. Petit is not averse to gore’s claim but the director in him makes it artful. His true thrills come from detail and the dispassionate charm of his and therefore our characters as Schlegel and Morgen grow mired in ever tightening strands of collusion and klaxons announce fumigations and cremations. A subject suspected of gold smuggling is being held in the punishment block while the inmates’ wounds are sealed over by the licking of flame. Souls are scorched.

In short, we become inmates, or worse, guards, instantly involved. From the arresting first sentence we are placed on the horse, to gain time and distance away from the grim. Its stated paleness transmogrifies an implied sense of purity, staining the white in ways that deaden as they darken. The horse is clearly the commandant’s saving grace and distraction but as an image it connects to time’s eye, as we read of the past from today.

How do we measure the scale of the evils we have both allowed and inflicted and how, through time, do we judge them? Are we not all complicit? Are we not all riding by?

If the pale horse is time and perhaps modern detachment, then it is the cold we all feel amidst the mud and the murk and the gas, making ‘the passage of the night our own passage into the deeper darkness within. When the commandant rides out bareback on page 99 there’s a definite shifting, as if the need for escape were slipping from his reins and control. It’s an enviable trick, leading us to participate in the horror, making the holocaust so much more than just John Thaw’s Oxford, Rankin’s ends of Scotland, or Mark Billingham’s wasted shadows. And accept it we do, as we follow Botch and Sunshifting, as the mist burns off in batches and the lakes ahead look like glass.

Petit’s a poet and not just of detachment. He combines the cloudspace with the earthy in nearly every line. From the description of the commandant as a ‘marbled emperor’, to musings on the ‘sullen heat, seemingly acceptable phrases achieve frequency and vibration. Petit combines deep-focus views where every pore is visible with blankets of poetic effusion, and all with the firmest control. As a writer, he becomes a wonderful director of prose and as his books continue to appear and his sanguinity deepens, his role as the modern thriller genre’s sage in residence is assured. Minutiae and landscape combine in his writing, helping to establish a sense of ‘realm’, as if he were combining all his other skills and pursuits into more conventional form. It is unclear if he will continue to make films but those interested in seeing them can do no better than to read what he is currently producing. Free from commercial interference and compromise he can now (as an assured modern classic) deliver his new observations with greater and increasing sophistication. Pale Horse Riding and The Butchers of Berlin are both more accessible than previous works while being no less dense, uncanny objects of all colours and hue. They juggle moral dilemmas and place art and the way we view, receive and expect things from it on the diabolically patterned chopping block. And Petit is a gentleman butcher, attuned to blood flow and careful with sinew; as one reads one imagines him efficiently removing your leg, cut by cut. With one still handsome eyebrow half raised and a discerning gaze he will ghost you, ideally of course while you’re breathing, ready and eager to take the full weight of his tale.

This then is the book which fuses the wronged past with a truly warped present. Contemporary predilections have all been mounted and carefully placed on the plain. And so we ride on, as the story leads us now into murder, as our two dark detectives stain our hearts to seal pain. This book is a world, detailing the one the dead leave us. Its author is charting grief’s progress while riding beside us as reader and victim climb aboard that last train.


David Erdos 4/10/17 .

Posted in homepage | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

On Further Earths: An Appreciation of Nicholas Johnson


Erudite to the first, Nicholas Johnson is a speaker of purity and place. Echoing the stones of spirit and surrounding, his work as poet and publisher carves and allows for some of the most visceral and vital responses to the problems facing our current state of being. His line of Etruscan books presents the work of modern culture’s most visceral and important writers, from the ur texts of Iain Sinclair, Tom Leonard and Brian Catling, to those of the much lamented Bill Griffiths, Edward Dorn, and David Gascoyne. Current artists covered by his benign shadow include Maggie O Sullivan, Helen MacDonald and the Hastings based writer and film maker, Rebecca E. Marshall. Johnson is therefore provider and protector of those working at the furthermost edge of expression and the exciting current project is the imminent publication of a new novel by the outsider who has been inside, the great John Healy, which has been 25 years in the making.

In line with the landscapes of fact and feeling that power his own work, the elemental nature of the practitioners that Etrusan favours echo the stones of a new coast. They call in fact for a realignment of feature, if we are to fully appreciate what is possible in language and its promotion through publishing. At a time when unedited copy smears the laser printers of self and online publishing, here is a sculpture of print, along with an enthusiasm and an originality of voice, housed within crafted and appealing books, whose smooth and intricate sensuality powers Johnson’s own creative energies.

How rare is it in these troubled times is to find someone fuelled by the true needs of responsibility? The father of three grown men and two young daughters, Johnson has certainly done his bit for the furtherance of the race and the sequelisation of personality, and yet his interest, intense and all- enquiring, remains. We met in Hastings, his personal place of renewal and the source of all of his work aimed at the body and soul. It was to be a snatched hour between appointments, as I left the company of our mutual friend, seminal poet, lyricist and singer, Pete Brown and Nick was shepherding his daughters to a pick up point with their mother, before heading off to a music festival further on, down the coast. Dazzled by my latest acquisitions from HMV (my first port of call on any shore I wash up on), a message came through to walk back to the sea and connect. As I stumbled and turned, Nick revamped his decision and out of sheer cordiality engined both young girls towards me. Emerging from the crowd we quickly re-established a friendship, born from a critique of certain poets  at Pete Brown’s a few weeks before. Handing me the lead of his dog as he steered his daughters we were suddenly a tight corrall  of intention as we motored off through the sea clapping streets. Talking in snatches that verbally mirrored the stirred ocean beside us we précised on subjects, some of which we had covered before. On who I was, what I thought and what I intended, my air- swept responses were hopefully designed to impress. But Johnson is sharp and scorches through all pretension. His support for true sense is impressive.  There is refinement and power, just as there is in his studio brother, the mighty Andrew Kotting;  Both men are workers, serving each hour.  Cut through to the essence, drive yourself fast, to the point.

It was a rollercoaster on land as I juggled the dog and manoeuvred. We had got on in passing and now here we were side by side. I needed space to adjust, having been caught on the hop very slightly, but Johnson is motion, a lemon shark with bright peel. With sandy graced hair and clear eyes he is in your face and demanding, but they are the demands all should value as they seek to know someone’s truth. And so, while not having been friends, we quickly filled in that friendship, trimming the social fat and the fallow to get to the marrow within.

We headed away from the new to the proper old town of Hastings. I had been there the night before when Pete Brown took me to Maggie’s for the coastline’s best fish and chips. Today, there was an Italian circus troupe playing there, something to enjoy and react to; an artistic endeavour to in some way provide friendship’s glue. As we careened towards sounds of high accent and enjoyment, an unexpected spark of excitement suddenly came into view. Passing a line of parked cars we saw a woman’s handbag, abandoned. Full with life and its objects, Johnson immediately steamed towards it. ‘We’ll need to do something..’ he said, ‘we must find the owner..’ and his earnest need to resolve this was a clear testament to true grit.

How strange to see this, almost an alien object, separated as it was from its function  as representative of the hand and the heart and the life of the woman’s it was. But why, though? And how?  She had left her phone, purse and papers. There was food, keys, privations, all  abandoned it seemed on the sand. Stones surrounded the bag, thereby making it totemistic. And perhaps emblematic; beach sourced premonitions of the stones of Johnson’s own poems (which I was soon to read), so the bag became a precursor, as if sealing the deal in some way. Everything stopped. I had the dog and the daughters. Nicholas had the handbag and patrolled around for a sign. We could neither of us understand how something this large slipped past senses. Was the owner Altzheimic? Or drunk in the day? Were they blind? Johnson scribbled a note and left it by the cars windscreen wiper. We took the bag and the baby, and the dog and the deed to the crowd. Nicholas bore the bag well, as if it were a shield or an emblem, while at the same time, parading it slightly, like a sixties girl, walking loud.

We got to the show. Acrobats balanced on the ball of a giant. Song, expectation under increasingly breaking skies. It began to rain. The small band could not risk the electrics and after only a few minutes finding and trying out plac,e we resigned. There would be no entertainment today but then I did not need it. What any new and strange day is lacking was easily supplied now by Nick. A man’s soul, opening, showing care for a stranger. Both for me and the woman. This mission he’d found was life’s trick.

He’d left his phone number. No call but as we walked away, a man (coast like, lumpen, burly), was talking on his phone to a woman about her missing handbag. Passing him, Nick sparked up, saying that he was the finder. The imperious oaf condescended to turn his slablike face towards us. Nick explained what we’d seen and that we were going to hang around until contact. He would sacrifice his plans, lease his daughters when their late mother arrived, but be there. The golem grunted assent as Nick gave the bag over. Nary a word passed that forged contact and certainly no gratitude. It was a form of horror. He left and now Nick and I stood with his daughters. We had witnessed a living example of the death of our times’ courtesy. I oberved the girls. Look, your Dad has done a tiny thing that was giant. I am hoping that the writing of these words some day tells them that their father once showed them both how to be.

They were too young that day but we don’t stay young forever. Apart perhaps from our spirit and its committment towards decency.

Here was a provider and poet who lives the proper path of a poem. He supports it with action. And is undeniably working, in and around words, for the free.

This freedom, or need to feel the heft of that freedom is there in the vibrancy of his manner and the humanity he so freely conveys. He is a romantic of sorts, a singular part of a world free from romance and in staccato bursts, Johnson questions the aims of us all as he writes. He observes and feels all, while much of his surface looks English. And some of the pain and distress he has weathered has been artfully subsumed into art. It is there on his face and in his talk as you listen. But it comes to the fore in his writing which melds weather and wind to warmed heart.

Johnson’s poetry evolves like the changing coastline to which he is so attached. Listening to the Stones and the totem like And Stood On Red Earth All A Round are encapsulations of spirit and  place that easily rank beside the more well known evocations of Hughes and Heaney at their most arcane and elemental. Johnson is a Prometheus on his own crag, from which he considers and transforms his observations and experiences.

In Sea Mortar,

To walk the pitch of coast

And scrutinize Roy’s boy’s

Fishers they cumen in

Skittling the catch

To tar huts

Evokes not only the lost time and sensations of coastal communities as was, but also allows them to be joined with the now as effortlessly and effectively as Alan Garner’s The Stone Quartet, or the playwright David Rudkin’s raking of the Saxon shore.


Air’s stealth between sleeping rooms, strepsil sunlight..


In the slope and sashay of the cinema

Our chairs go down like decadent corn

Below the scythe


To the same poem’s ‘..vestiges of yearning (that) jostle me awake..’ Images and connections forged between personal and public past replay in the mind and the eye.  That someone dealing so directly with the contemporary world (the pressures of independent publishing, the raising of a continuing stream of children) can contemplate and work at the poetic lathe in such a way as to make ancient metal and stone still ring true is a remarkable accomplishment. The scope of the book and its passage from shards of Johnson’s own life to sparks of reignited past take the breath far from the throat. Reading the pieces that come at  you in the very same way that landscape does when travelling through it with great speed and intensity, one is compelled to speak out loud the phrases and conjunctions that mystify before, with sand and time scraped away, their meanings are more clearly revealed.


The slanting rain pioneers large petrol nooses up and

down a road. Hyacinth rissoles, eerie outspent wild garden pools

Not the no and not the yes To get incredulity at absence:

Glow worms, rooks, eel legionnaires you didn’t see




Swallowing beers,

One for each preferred Side

Of the moon/ The Pleiades

Are low

And now night.


We are introduced to a worldview that comes from the core of the writer in a totally unique way. Old  and new language forge their own song in the publishing smithery in which Johnson operates. His education and command of language join gentry to commoner, and his patronage of others is evidenced by his careful solitication of his own origins and current responses.  It would be innacurate to suggest that other writers don’t work that way, but certainly much modern poetry seems to originate from musings that either resist or obey form and curiously percolate back in on themselves.  Much modern writing resists the proper uses of craft for a passing semblance of the clever. Johnson is clever but he also sails his own craft  His writing emanates from his deep contemplation, which in turn calls on differing areas of engagement and humour to raise every piece through its own education. As he laments lost loves, or moments of inspiration and connection, he searches, as ever,  for ever new boundaries. His writing is chiselled, etched, mixed and considered and  placed on the page in stanzas that very much reveal themselves to be steps or ledges towards a greater interpretation. They are explosions of observation, summoning, challenge and affirmation, keen to re-colour or to re-invent our own speech;


Blue dawn she rouses boats in a harbour,

Tarpaulin and flamenco squid waken. Mass she gives

To ink eyes and self poisonous scales,

Seines drag through water to ice-chocked casques


This poetry of the sea stoked areas that fringe the forgotten sides of the country is as much King Neptune as it is Lighthouse keeper, shining its power on everything moving for us through the black. It is poetry made by the relocation of language, as;

Filch jems

Off graves, ladle

My palm to a jem



And stars can be felt in your hand.


Aaron Williamson on the fly leaf of And Stood On Red Earth All A Round describes Johnson’s writing as a ‘driven music,’ and so it proves to be in the six book long poems this collections houses. (Pelt: The Two Brothers, Haul Song, Interval, Pine Apple, The Show and Pelt Book II). In a learned introduction, John Hall shows how Johnson connects to other coastal poets, such as the Dorset born Douglas Oliver (also an Etruscan author) and how the fusion of autobiography and for want of a better term, the much abused psychogeography, leads these epic poems to be equivalents of former literary lends; modern Gawains and Beowulfs, whose protagonists can transmute into many forms, containing both an adaptable individual and the people who populate that individual’s perception . Johnson, like Iain Sinclair, is an eminent  walker and with his surfeit of energy covers the terrains of his past redistributing the sacred I to numerous narrators and protagonists as he delves for meaning in and through experiences both spiritual and harrowing. From his brother’s breath shining on a mirror as he hunts game in the poem The Two Brothers in Pelt, to the

fern spores that tinkle off sour shields..’ in Haul Song,

Johnson makes the act of memory a poem in and of itself. He carves from this reddened earth, redolent of the blood of past suffering, the forgotten colours and sensations that have formed us and in an English that seems to encapsulate and infer the stresses and concerns of other tongues altogether, he sings, sounds and celebrates

‘..the other reverberations of the street you will no longer be at odds with..’


For Nicholas Johnson there are truths within truths. His questioning of people, place and position is relentless. His need for the purity of the past and the commonality of the future are unequivocal.

In a whitening world his language is pigment.

At a time of clear ending Johnson pursues further earths.

His books are a path to the country he favours.

His words are stones for our building.

In  his flashes of light lay sky bursts.


David Erdos 22nd October 2017






Posted in homepage | Tagged , | Leave a comment

We do it…

A writer or, at least a poet, is always being asked by people who should know better: “Whom do you write for ?” – W.H. Auden

          We do it

`        For that broken child,

Eyes still brimming reflected pain,

We do it

For all the mad ones

And for those who are caged and sane,

We do it

To unravel the nightmares

And the laughter that lullabies pain,

We do it

For all the first times

Words made our pulses beat,

We do it

For desperate drunkards

Trawling for love through the streets,

We do it

For the flotsam

Washed up on the shore,

We do it

For the clumsy

And the over chatty bore,

We do it

To leave a hand print

On the dark cave wall,

We do it

Because we’re high-wire dancers

Always about to fall…



Kevin McCann
Illustration Nick Victor



Posted in homepage | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Charles Radcliffe’s “Don’t Start Me Talkin’” – The Story of a Sixties Scapegrace



Charles Radcliffe is probably best known for his involvement in the mid-Sixties in radical politics and brief membership of the Situationist International, as part of the outpouring of new ideas and freedom of expression well-described in Jon Savage’s “1966: The Year the Decade Exploded”.


In 1966, he produced two issues of an influential magazine – ‘Heatwave’ – that described this emerging social revolution in progress, with disaffected groupings of youths ‘moving towards explosive self-expression’. The spirit and analysis in Heatwave still resonates 50 years on in the current era of zero-hours contracts, the gig economy, and wall to wall vacuous reality TV shows:


Opposition has degenerated into a series of disparate and fragmentary protests…..What should be criticised, is, on the contrary, our normal everyday experience of life… All that we see everywhere is a grotesque travesty of human life , half nightmare and half burlesque: a degraded labour we never chose in order to produce an empty, passive, isolated leisure we never wanted.”


Following Heatwave and the Situationist International, Charles Radcliffe continued to be at the centre of the Sixties zeitgeist, including standing trial at the Old Bailey for producing ‘forged’ dollar bills amended with anti-Vietnam slogans, co-editing an underground newspaper, Friends, and moving from London’s burgeoning hash-dealing milieu to becoming one of the last ‘old school’ international hash smugglers of the seventies – no hard drugs, no guns, no gangs, no violence – and serving a lengthy prison sentence.


His two volumed autobiography is an extraordinary document – both a life-story and cultural commentary. He traces in a leisurely, though compelling way, the history of his journey – starting with rebellion against the authoritarian background of ‘prep school’ and Wellington College in the 1950s, and swiftly moving into direct action campaigning against the Bomb in the Cold War backdrop. He takes as one of his epigraphs for the book, the Spanish poet Antonio Marchado’s verse from ‘Proverbs and Songs’:


After living and dreaming

the most important thing is

to wake up.


And certainly the writing displays incredible powers of observation: vibrantly conveying friendships, lovers, collaborators, travel, and places, and an intense sense of the flow of time. In addition, the book includes a wealth of detail, particularly on early days of anti-Bomb campaigning, the London R&B scene and enjoyably learned but unpedantic digressions into films, the blues, and analysis of revolutionary politics and the Situationists.


All of this is covered with good humour, enthusiasm, a relaxed acceptance of human failings. The overall result is is a fascinating book that is highly entertaining and illuminating about what it was like to live at the centre of the Sixties zeitgeist and the aftermath. “Don’t Start Me Talkin’” will surely be one of the key historical documents covering the Sixties in the years to come, and certainly one of the most enjoyable.


[The first edition of the book is sold out and he is currently considering plans for the second edition. Further details are at ]





Stuart Barthropp

Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

Top Tory Twats #5 Smug Jeremy Chunt



Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

Breath of a Salesman



Words by Leon Horton

Artwork by Mark Fisher



Never look a gift-horse… There I was, Saturday lunchtime, watching the news, when there’s a knock at the door. And there’s this handsome young black guy, all suited and booted, with a clipboard. Straight away, he launches into a sales pitch, and he being young and handsome, I let him. He’s selling a mail order ready-meal service, you know, like those ones they advertise on TV, only this is proper middle-class, and these meals are all made with the finest organic ingredients, like I give a shit, and they’re only £29.99 for six dinners, better than the cheaper supermarkets, he says, and all he needs is my credit card details and he can set me up with an account right there.

“I can’t afford it,” I say, “I’m a writer.” “Oh, right. So, you live on your own then?” The bloody cheek, I think, why does everyone presume I’m single? Then I notice he’s looking over my shoulder into the flat and realise the little fucker is still trying to make a sale. “I’m single,” I say, with a dismissive little shrug that’s meant to suggest I’m OK with being single, that it’s a lifestyle choice – my choice – and I’m doing just fine, thank you very much.

“Oh, right,” he says, lowering his clipboard. “Well, maybe there’s something else I can do for you.” Oh, Christ, what else is he selling – religion? It must be religion. He’s dressed for religion. “How do you mean?” “Well – maybe… a blow job or – or something.” I can’t have heard that right. “Sorry?” “I could give you a blowjob… or you could give me one.” I can’t have – “Are you serious?” “No harm in asking,” he says. No harm in asking, I think, yeah, right, where’s the hidden camera? What’s the deal here?

The funny thing is I don’t get much pleasure from blowjobs – I’m circumcised, less sensitive down there – but I consider his proposal in a heartbeat. “You better come in.”

He’s through the door, glancing around, and it’s only now that he introduces himself, sticking out his hand. “My name’s *****,” he says; only I can’t remember now what he said his name was. “That’s an unusual name,” I say, shaking his hand like this is the most normal thing in the world. “Where’s it come from?” “It’s Arabic. It means *******” he says; only I can’t remember now what he said it meant. Mind on other things, I guess.

He moves into the living room, shoots only a cursory glance at my print of Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica – that’s just ignorant, far as I’m concerned – then stands over me as I slide down on the brown leather sofa and start to roll a cigarette. “So how do you want to do this?”

Looking up, I suddenly realise what a potentially dangerous situation I’ve let myself in for. I mean, what sort of fruit loop knocks on a stranger’s door and offers them a blowjob? Only a madman would do that; a madman with a clipboard selling middle-class dinners. Come to think of it, what sort of idiot accepts a complete stranger into their home for a blowjob? A hard-up writer, that’s who; a hard-up writer whose Grindr profile isn’t cutting it. I’m starting to think this is a bad idea, but my loins disagree. “I, um, I’ve no idea,” I say, licking the cigarette paper, wondering what to grab should I need to defend myself.

“I just want to get fucked by another guy.” Oh, thank God, he’s bi-curious – explains it all – here we go again – waste of fucking time. “I’m not into fucking,” I say. “You’re not into fucking?” Well, yeah, I’m into fucking – I’m just not into fucking, if you know what I mean.” He doesn’t. He says “Just a blowjob then?” “Sure.” I light my cigarette and try not to lick my lips. “Mind if I take a shower first?” he asks. “I’ve been sweating all day.” I must be dreaming. “You can join me if you like.” “Nah, I’ll just finish my fag,” I say and point him in the right direction. While he’s in the shower I carefully conceal a kitchen knife near the bathroom door – just in case, you understand – and pause to wonder if this is really happening or if I’m still in the arms of that morphine I took last week.

But it isn’t the morphine, because minutes later I’m standing in the bathroom, pants round my ankles with my dick in his mouth, and he’s deep-throating it, drooling like a blood hound, with breathe that could skin a rhino, but it doesn’t matter because I’m pushing his head down and – Ow! – he fucking bites me – but I don’t care because I’m not gonna last much longer and – Ow! – he keeps biting me – but I can’t stop and I gasp and he gulps – his uvula moving up and down – and he swallows the fucking lot (I’m 49, there wasn’t a lot, but this is my article) and I shudder and get that shaky leg thing.

As he dresses, I have to ask: what the hell just happened? “What do you mean?” he says, buttoning his shirt sleeves. “You took a real risk there.” “So did you.” “Yeah, but I could’ve been straight; I might have smacked you one. How did you know I was queer? How did you know I’d be interested?” He smiles. “There’s lots of gays round here. When you said you lived on your own, I took a chance.” “Even so, I could’ve been offended; you might’ve lost your job.” He shrugs. “I took a chance.” Spoken like a man who hates his job.

Soon as he leaves, I start going over the whole thing again – you know, like you do –and I’m just itching to tell all my friends, but no one is ever gonna believe it. Christ, I don’t believe it. But I’ve got to get it down while it’s still fresh. I’ve got to write this. I turn on my computer and wait for it to boot. It only happens in porn films, I think, as I start to type: Never look a gift-horse… There I was, Saturday lunchtime, watching the news, when…

About the Author 

Leon Horton is a cultural journalist, feature writer and humorist. After gaining his masters from the University of Salford, he worked as a court reporter at Manchester Crown Court, cut his teeth on local magazines, enjoyed a caretaker stint as the editor of Old Trafford News then returned to freelance writing. His work is published in Erotic Review, International Times, Literary Heist, Nexus Magazine and the US beat generation websites Beatdom and Empty Mirror. His portfolio can be viewed at Leon lives in Manchester, England, and can be contacted at

About the Artist 

Mark Fisher was dragged up a working-class Catholic. A need to “look” in early life led to Mark studying art at Manchester Polytechnic. He spent the next thirty years studying life via all the joys and horrors of working in social care. An exaggerated sensitivity to “being and emotionality” means he wants you to look and think. Mark can be reached at


Posted in homepage | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Which Saint?



Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

Mugabe: If Hitler mustaches can come back so can I!

Mugabe Evades Impeachment With World’s Longest Speech

Slippery Zimbabwean President Mugabe evaded impeachment earlier this week from members of the military coup threatening to overthrow him by delivering the world’s longest speech. The 93 year-old tyrant was, at least, partially successful as his labyrinthine oratory lasted over 14 hours -with the embattled leader, at times, leaving gaps of up to 25 minutes between words- and so lengthy that it saw the death of over half his detractors from old age before finally ending. Tempers hit boiling point in the room packed with representatives of the armed forces allied against Mugabe when the mumbling leader pretended to make a mistake near the end and suggested that he, ‘Go back to the beginning and start again?’

At the end of the speech one of the surviving generals sitting behind Mugabe grabbed the teetering pile of papers from the doddering despot then thrust them at an attending lieutenant and ordered him to go to Staples to get a 5 litre tub of Tippex [see video]. After his performance the president is reported to have been ‘overwhelmed’ with offers from international telecommunications companies interested in having him make their premium line recorded messages.

The fiasco has once again highlighted African politics’s inability to be taken seriously by anyone who is not personally threatened by its shambolic and deadly uncertainties, though the UK’s understanding of the story currently unfolding in poor Zimbabwe will, no doubt, be hampered by our own incoherent domestic reporting with the Times’ international affairs editor leading the charge on BBC’s The Papers 11/19 and vindicating her enormous salary by insightfully predicting the bleeding obvious; ‘It’s important what happens next!’

Previously, the world’s longest speech was made by Mugabe’s contemporary Zulu Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi between the 12th and 29th March 1993 and lasted for a whopping 17 days but Mugabe’s speech, by virtue of the number of words to its length, was judged by Guinness World Record staff as seeming ‘a lot, lot longer.’ President Mugabe himself is reported to be tired after his marathon efforts but still refuses to be downbeat about his perilous situation and, although army bosses have officially banned him from ever talking publicly again – ‘until he is arrested’, he was allowed to release one ‘short’ press statement in which he confidently claimed, ‘If Hitler moustaches can make a comeback so can I!’

Chiwenga hides Mugabe speech sheets – YouTube

1 day ago – Uploaded by Pindile Mhandu

Switch camera. 0:00. 0:11. 0:00 / 0:11 … Chiwenga hides Mugabe speech sheets. Pindile Mhandu … try …


Longest legislative speech | Guinness World Records

Mar 29, 1993 – The longest speech made was one by Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Zulu leader, when he gave an address to the KwaZulu legislative assembly between 12 and 29 Mar 1993. He spoke on 11 of the 18 days, averaging nearly 2½ hours on each of the 11 days.


Ethan Harrison


Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment



Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

I Bury The Living

Posted in homepage | Leave a comment

Reverse the decision to exclude animal sentience from the EU withdrawal bill

To: UK Prime Minister and UK Government

Campaign created by
Dave Babb
Reverse the decision to exclude animal sentience from the EU withdrawal bill

I feel the decision of the UK Government, to exclude the status of animals, as sentient beings, in the EU withdrawal bill, is a terrible blow for animal welfare, and I would urge them to reconsider immediately.

Why is this important?

Animals have long held the status of being sentient beings in the UK, through legislation created in the EU. This means they are recognised as being capable of feeling emotions such as joy and compassion, but also fear, suffering and terror. The vote in Parliament, narrowly won by the Government, removes this status from all animals in the UK, and is a massive blow for the welfare of wildlife, pets and farm animals alike.

Please sign the petition:


The truth of animal sentience – and political lies

For anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear (and hearts to feel and minds to think,) it is so crystal clear that animals are not only highly sentient, that they most definitely feel pain – physical, emotional and psychological, but that they are also fully conscious and aware of that pain too, (and do everything they can to avoid it).

Anyone who has been inside a slaughter ‘house’ or seen slaughter footage, or heard animals screaming in laboratories is all too horribly aware of this. Anyone who has ever lived with an animal companion, anyone who has ever watched a television programme about animals even, knows the truth about animal sentience.

Deliberately eradicating all recognition of animal sentience in British law, and willfully labeling our fellow beings as “agricultural products”/stock, denying all truth and reality in the process, just opens the floodgates to the dropping of already insufficient, animal welfare protection.

If animals are not sentient, then logically, there’s no need for any protection for them at all, because they are not beings and don’t feel anything anyway! This is a Satanic logic; a terrible lie, with terrible implications.

We should be improving on EU standards (woefully inadequate in too many member states as it is) not paving the way for eradicating them altogether by denying sentience!

This abominable, backward, and calculated move has been made in order to license even more animal suffering and abuse, so that the greedy pharmaceutical companies and big agri-businesses and the weekend hunting/shooting blood ‘sport’ businesses can make even more of their blood money.

What the government is doing is nothing short of immoral – and we cannot let this terrible, ‘dominionist’ culture perpetuate, when MPs are meant to be acting on all our behalves, and progressing standards for all beings (both human and nonhuman) – and not just acting for the powerful, minority and their rotten, deathly ‘interests.’

A future where animals are treated as nothing more than temporarily living ‘meat’ products, as soon to be ‘processed’ ‘stock’, a future of more and more mega zero-grazing factories, while all the land is sold off for ‘housing’ (in reality for greedy developers…or the government would insist that all the country’s many, empty buildings were occupied and call a moratorium on second homes and so-called ‘investment’ properties), where all the remaining wild animals are hunted down and ‘culled’ as we destroy their habitat and food sources and they are forced to scavenge among ‘ours’ – really is hell on earth.

We can feed the populace far better and appease farmers in the process, by investing in plant-based growing and in public education about the importance of plant-based diets (for our health, for the planet’s survival, and for the sake of all suffering animals). It is the only sustainable solution – and it is the only ethical solution.

Animal sentience is a reality – and there are serious, moral implications. It’s high time we also recognized animal sapience. Are we really going to try and claim that animals aren’t conscious? That they are not aware of what’s happening to them? And that they don’t have a conscious response to that? We need to fight for the recognition of sapience – not deny sentience!

And we shouldn’t need science to prove this to us in the first place (which being is really going to open up and trust enough to be completely themselves, and display their full range of sensitivities and capabilities under terrifying clinical conditions anyway?) – but even with these restraints in mind, many animals are now scientifically “recognized” as having complex emotions just like we do. They suffer bereavement, loss, fear, stress, and depression very clearly.

How is it possible then that our sentience-lacking, sapient-deficient MPs could do this? This is such a terrible betrayal – of suffering animals above all, but also of British people who have led the way globally in animal rights and welfare campaigning for over 150 years!

The implications of this nasty, sneaky little political move are beyond imagining. Thankfully over ten thousand have already signed the 38 degrees petition.  Please add your names, urge others to, spread the word – and raise your voices loudly against this terrible bill. A lot of vulnerable beings depend on us.

Heidi Stephenson

Here are Britain’s
and (sapiency-deficient)
who willfully deny
what all eyes see
and all ears hear
and all hearts feel
and all minds know
in their greedy,
abominable quest
to make even more
blood money and
against the will
of the vast majority
of the British people:
THESE ARE THE MPs who voted the sentient beings part of the bill out and declared that animals have no feelings or emotions and so are incapable of suffering. 
Is your MP on this list..? 
 if yours is please email them and tell them what you think!

The 313 MPs 

Conservative Party

Adams, Nigel

Afolami, Bim

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Allan, Lucy

Allen, Heidi

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Bacon, Richard

Badenoch, Kemi

Baker, Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Baron, John

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Paul

Berry, Jake

Blackman, Bob

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Peter

Bottomley, Peter

Bowie, Andrew

Bradley, Ben

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Graham

Brereton, Jack

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Robert

Burghart, Alex

Burns, Conor

Burt, Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Cartlidge, James

Cash, William

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Christopher

Churchill, Jo

Clark, Colin

Clark, Greg

Clarke, Simon

Clarke, Kenneth

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Costa, Alberto

Courts, Robert

Cox, Geoffrey

Crabb, Stephen

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, Chris

Davies, David, T., C.

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Mims

Davies, Philip

Davis, David

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Jonathan

Docherty, Leo

Donelan, Michelle

Dorries, Nadine

Double, Steve

Dowden, Oliver

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duddridge, James

Duguid, David

Duncan, Alan

Duncan Smith, Iain

Dunne, Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellwood, Tobias

Eustice, George

Evans, Nigel

Evennett, David

Fabricant, Michael

Fernandes, Suella

Ford, Vicky

Foster, Kevin

Fox, Liam

Francois, Mark

Frazer, Lucy

Freer, Mike

Fysh, Marcus

Gale, Roger

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, David

Ghani, Nusrat

Gibb, Nick

Gillan, Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Robert

Gove, Michael

Graham, Luke

Graham, Richard

Grant, Bill

Grant, Helen

Gray, James

Grayling, Chris

Green, Chris

Green, Damian

Greening, Justine

Grieve, Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gyimah, Sam

Hair, Kirstene

Halfon, Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matt

Hands, Greg

Harper, Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Harrison, Trudy

Hart, Simon

Hayes, John

Heald, Oliver

Heappey, James

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Henderson, Gordon

Herbert, Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hollingbery, George

Hollinrake, Kevin

Hollobone, Philip

Holloway, Adam

Howell, John

Huddleston, Nigel

Hughes, Eddie

Hunt, Jeremy

Hurd, Nick

Jack, Alister

James, Margot

Javid, Sajid

Jayawardena, Ranil

Jenkin, Bernard

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Caroline

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Johnson, Boris

Jones, Andrew

Jones, Marcus

Jones, David

Kawczynski, Daniel

Keegan, Gillian

Kennedy, Seema

Kerr, Stephen

Knight, Julian

Knight, Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lamont, John

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Edward

Letwin, Oliver

Lewer, Andrew

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Ian

Lidington, David

Lopez, Julia

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Mackinlay, Craig

Maclean, Rachel

Main, Anne

Mak, Alan

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Masterton, Paul

Maynard, Paul

McLoughlin, Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, Esther

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Mitchell, Andrew

Moore, Damien

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, David

Morris, James

Morton, Wendy

Mundell, David

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

O’Brien, Neil

Offord, Matthew

Opperman, Guy

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Paterson, Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Philp, Chris

Pincher, Christopher

Pow, Rebecca

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Dominic

Redwood, John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Robertson, Laurence

Robinson, Mary

Rosindell, Andrew

Ross, Douglas

Rowley, Lee

Rudd, Amber

Rutley, David

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Seely, Bob

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spelman, Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Swayne, Desmond

Swire, Hugo

Syms, Robert

Thomas, Derek

Thomson, Ross

Throup, Maggie

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tracey, Craig

Tredinnick, David

Trevelyan, Anne-Marie

Truss, Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Vara, Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, Theresa

Walker, Charles

Walker, Robin

Wallace, Ben

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Watling, Giles

Whately, Helen

Wheeler, Heather

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, John

Williamson, Gavin

Wollaston, Sarah

Wood, Mike

Wragg, William

Wright, Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Democratic Unionist Party

Campbell, Gregory

Dodds, Nigel

Donaldson, Jeffrey, M.

Girvan, Paul

Little, Pengelly, Emma

Paisley, Ian

Robinson, Gavin

Shannon, Jim

Simpson, David

Wilson, Sammy


Elphicke, Charlie

Morris, Anne Marie


Farming UK article:


Independent article:

Posted in homepage | 1 Comment


One hundred and ninety-nine years ago in June, snow fell on Albany New York. Six months earlier, Central Italy experienced the worst snowstorms on record. The snow was red and yellow.

Between the end of 1815 and the summer of 1816 the weather in Western Europe and North Eastern America oscillated between heat and extreme cold. Continuous rain in Europe and frosts and snow in America reduced both sides of the Atlantic to agricultural wastelands. By the end of 1816, thousands were starving.

In April 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte had been on the lam for three months and was back in Paris to pick up where he had left off. Hundreds of thousands of men and boys had died thus far promoting his version of political correctness, now he would militarize the country once again to finish the job. Two months later he was finally confronted by the British, Prussian and Belgian forces at aptly named Waterloo.  Unusually intense rain for two days straight had turned the battlefield into a quagmire and the conflict – that historians suggest may otherwise have gone in Napoleon’s favor – found him instead, up to his ass in mud, defeated and stuck back in jail once and for all. Weather – and Wellington boots – had combined to defeat one of history’s more prolific consumers of human beings.

After decades of conflict, Europe was finally opened up for tourism again. By 1816, The Grand Tour was in full swing, with the British well-to-do and hippies of their day, able at last to indulge their finer tastes for history and culture. By now, the rain was almost a permanent condition: day after day, month after month and when it wasn’t raining there was incongruous ice and snow – sometimes in reds and yellows and flesh colors. Tourism was awash. Boats floated over the tops of bridges and crops rotted under water. In an attempt to at least feed their livestock, farmers rowed out to try and harvest the fodder.

Confined to their house on the edge of Lake Geneva, the touring Shelleys and their friend Lord Byron spent the downpour reading together and inventing stories – in keeping with conditions outside – ghost stories and tales of gloom and horror. They competed with each other to invent ones of their own and out of the thunder and lightning came Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s towering metaphysical masterpiece: a book written by an 18 year-old that would give life to a truly novel, enduring fictional genre.

Back home in England, fellow ‘Romantic’ Joseph Turner, “The Painter of Light”, was also confronting the weather. Pink, orange and yellow skies began to appear in his images, reflecting the actual skies above. Burning sunsets, blanketing rain and columns of steam and cloud now characterized his landscapes, raising his art to a level of elemental abstraction that would transform landscape painting – all painting – forever.

Across the Atlantic, the Eastern United States struggled with its own climactic mayhem: not a surfeit of water, but a lack of it: one month of drought followed another. There was snow in June and September in New York and Massachusetts, with oscillating extremes of heat and cold in between. It was described as the “Year Without Summer” and just as they had in Europe, crops and harvest were devastated and thousands faced famine.

Eighty percent of Americans depended on the crops and food they produced and in the face of ultimate disaster, thousands moved west to find better prospects. Europeans in turn immigrated to America and joined the exodus. There was plenty of room: to fund his planned invasion of England, Napoleon had doubled the size of the United States by agreeing to the Louisiana Purchase. Investors and speculators quickly handed out money to encourage relocation and just as it would in the twenty first century, risky lending and desperate borrowing in the context of economic uncertainty led to the foreclosing of mortgages, recalling of loans and collapse of banks. In 1819, the US experienced the first financial crash in its history.   

Among those swept up in the chaos was a young Frenchman, whose father had hustled him out of France to save him from military impressment. If not for Napoleon’s insatiable appetite for cannon fodder, America might never have heard of him.

John James Audubon had painted nature since he was a teenager and when he arrived in the new world, he determined to produce the definitive record of its birdlife. With a new family to support, he tried small business ventures selling ‘dry goods’ and supplies to the migrating pioneers to help fund his project, but the economic vicissitudes ultimately left him penniless. Eventually he found work aboard flatboats doing the very thing he did best: shoot birds … and paint them. At a time when Americans ate just about anything that moved, he supplied food for the passengers by hunting the wildlife up and down the riverbanks from Pittsburg to the (now American) city of New Orleans… and increased his portfolio in the process. Two years later he was in England with a publisher and the rest is history. A French draft dodger, swept along by the tumultuous currents of circumstance, had raised the bar for wildlife painting to a height no one would surpass.

The cause of the climactic upheaval was a single event – like Napoleon Bonaparte, a violent, unpredictable force of energy that had erupted into the world without warning. Mt. Tambora, an obscure volcano, on a remote island, in faraway Indonesia had exploded with greater force than any that preceded it. Spewing ash and chemicals into the stratosphere, it had enveloped the planet in an aerosol cloud of sulphuric acid that reflected back sunlight and plunged the surface into a gloom of fogs, rains and freezing temperatures. The rainy seasons in India and China were also disrupted, leading to crop failures, flooding and starvation. As it had in Europe, disease followed in the wake of hunger with Cholera and Typhus killing many more. A single unpredictable climactic event caused social, political and economic upheaval that would be felt for decades.

The causal links between these events is incontestable but the connections involve improbable convolutions of circumstance that were far too discreet to be predicted. These in turn were the result of the unforeseeable sequence of causes and effects that had preceded them. A “whiff of grapeshot” had launched Napoleon’s career and it had resulted in the United States doubling in size; from that came Manifest Destiny and America’s position in the world today. Mary Shelley’s book changed the perception of women’s creative power and Audubon’s cataloguing of American wildlife inspired environmental and ecological awareness; singular events that changed everything in effect, each – in that instance – contingent upon a singular unpredictable change in climate.

Weather, like war, compels the technological dynamic and increases our cognitive range of self. Neither is predictable with respect to its moments of origin, duration, magnitude of destruction or subsequent effects. Neither is there a measurable, quantitative correlation between the adverse and beneficial nature of those effects. Constant unpredictable change is the intractable condition of life. “Change”, the wonderfully vacuous and redundant slogan of past years seems in line with that idea – except when it comes to the weather.

The outrageous sunsets of Los Angeles, are said to be caused by the vast number of Hollywood producers, actors and actresses blowing hot air up each other’s asses all day. A similar idea may account for forest fires, hurricanes and disappearing polar bears: an equally large number of climate alarmists and social activists appears to be doing the same thing. The reason for their alarm (understandably) is that the air is apparently getting hotter.

The implications of this, we are told, are melting ice caps, rising sea levels, increased ocean acidity, inundation of cities, loss of wildlife, destruction of the environment and conceivably the end of civilization as we know it… but it can be averted.  Carbon emissions – primarily from the burning of fossil fuels – are the reason for this apocalyptic certainty, and a halt to the process will return us to sanity and rescue us from the brink of disaster.

These conclusions have not been arrived at through the normal processes of science: the dialectic of thesis, antithesis and synthesis has been overridden. ‘Thesis’ has been disproportionately funded and promoted, while contrary viewpoints have been dismissed and vilified, its proponents even being expelled from the process of research altogether. Without the equal consideration of alternatives, no reasonable synthesis is possible.

Modern computer technology can amass volumes of statistics, but given that the theoretical models of the “97% of Climate scientists” cannot present an unequivocal consensus of what has already happened in the past, claims for predicting effects decades into the future are questionable to say the least. Wars can also be reduced to statistics, but predicting the details of future wars based on theoretical models would be preposterous. To then propose a Correct means for countering these hypothetical effects is doubly questionable – particularly since this same Climate Science states categorically that they cannot be questioned.

We are dependent on oil. In addition to fuelling the private jets of celebrities traveling the world to denounce it, it is used for just about every other item in the home. A barrel of 42 gallons produces slightly less than 20 gallons of gasoline, the rest is required for such things as –aspirin, toothpaste, antiseptics, hair dyes, nail polish, perfumes, contact lenses, vitamin capsules, pantyhose, shower curtains, heart valves, deodorant, lipstick, shoes, crayons, balloons, sunglasses, toilet seats, and guitar strings – to name but a very few. An alternative source for producing most of these items has not yet been found, nor the means for transporting them. Airplanes, trucks and cargo ships cannot be powered by windmills. Neither can school buses or ambulances. Apparently a system has to be devised whereby oil is rationed, allowing only for essential purposes. The question then becomes, who decides what is essential? And to whom?

A worldwide banning of fossil fuel energy (which has nothing to do with fossils) increases the cost of energy, particularly for developing countries that are prevented from using their own resources for their own needs. They must struggle instead with expensive, less efficient methods dictated by the ‘superior insight’ of those who rose to their own levels of comfort and prosperity through precisely the means they are preventing them from using. For all their pretensions of ‘sharing the wealth’ they would not have other cultures share their own.

‘Banning’ is the corner stone of Correctness. It is not about cause and effect but fault and accountability, a non-scientific, quasi-religious viewpoint that blames the capricious unruliness of circumstance on the behavior of other human beings. In this scenario, every idea perceived as contrary must be confronted and removed – if necessary, by force. Correctness has always been big on fire. Setting fire to books, setting fire to people, setting fire to flags, setting fire to colleges – and having scientists, professors and writers with opposing points of view summarily… fired. In light of that, the fear that others may ostensibly be trying to set fire to them makes perfect sense.

Heat is not a constant tone but a series of oscillating, unequal peaks and valleys, encapsulated in turn within greater configurations. The dialogue between Earth and Sun is a 4-billion year-old intimacy impervious and indifferent to human striving: two vast incomprehensible entities communicating in a language of energies too subtle and complex to formulate, much less predict in its consequences. It was ongoing long before we got here, it will continue long after we are gone.

Climate Science and the idea that a Correct method can be discerned for determining ‘change for the better’ is not about controlling weather but controlling people. It is part of a globalist agenda posing as universal free thought that seeks to eradicate all contrary opinion – and prevent free thought. ”No more debate” is the defining statement of religio-political Controlling ideology.

An entirely unforeseeable force of energy has now erupted into the world – without warning – and the political climate has changed; for “better or worse” a change that will be felt for decades to come. For the better, Climate Science can now be subjected to measured, dialectical scrutiny and the disingenuous AlGorythm brought to account. Beyond that there is no telling.

Human excess is always subject to revision, but predicting specific effects from questionable causes – that cannot be questioned – is dogmatic speculative fiction. To compromise the lives of millions in order to promote speculation, is cultural elitism – dressed as always in good intention. The road to Hell is paved with good intention; it doesn’t get hotter than that.




Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment

How Many Words for Sorrow?


I wanted to remember,
so here’s what I arranged
in a small black box

Your picture,
softly lit and gently toned,
in order  to erase or somehow change
the shadows I saw bordering your stare
and then   I put a tiny  bamboo cage…
This snow white flower,  one silk Forget me not
And a single strand of wooden beads, for prayer.
I recall the place  where we first  met.
The  hard light, falling bare across  the walls,
stained with  all the numbered, broken ghosts.
This will not fade and I cannot forget
My plans to take the image of your face
and hold it In a box next to my heart.

Before I even started, I got lost
and fell into  the darkness of your  eyes.
I closed my eyes And dreamed that I saw steps
Spiraling  upwards in this quiet space.
You were the  angel, waiting standing there
taking my hand, beginning to  share, perhaps
some of the things that they whisper  once took place

(some say) Heaven and earth were silent
Blind and  deaf
While others mention grace. and mystery
but only these deep shadows now are left
as dreams and  explanations all collapse

(Were you a messenger
Did you simply disappear
`An enemy of the people or the  state’??,
I must confess
I dare not try imagining your fate)

This box like room grows cold
the stories still not told wait for the words.
How many words for sorrow might there be?
I could locate  some
And? I would plant them here.
Letting them glow
I’d watch the slow release
of fragrant snow white threads
that spiral, turn and trace
unanswered questions overhead.

But later, when all is said and done,
I’m just another tourist seeking shade.
A temple offers  shelter from the sun.

sensing a kill, thats when the boys move in
(they’ve have got it made)

like walking trees, their branches thickly filled
with  crying,  pulsing, tiny bamboo hearts
the voices high and shrill
(and so it starts…)
For one US dollar bill,
I (too) can  buy a blessing
Set a small bird free
Sounds OK (I guess)
Whats not to like?
I  close the deal

Confession: people tell me I’ve been played
The whole thing really is a simple trick.
This bird , a blur of wings, flits out of sight,
circles  the ornate  building once or twice
before returning home. It’s just a game.
This cage is all the bird has ever known.
Now I feel sick I’m not too wise it seems
I’ll smile and Thank them ,
Then I’ll  walk away
And file it: one more lesson for the day.

But even now I fear there’s no escape….
these shadows slowly taking shape inside

This small black box found where my heart once ached
If God was here, what would He have learned?
Some say He’s deaf and blind, but I can dream…
You, breaking with your usual round of flight
to spiral upwards in the burning light…
Tear wings and breath, scream  to the  empty sky
your  questions: please tell me what you find.


Steve Scott



Posted in homepage | Tagged | Leave a comment



On the hills outside of town,

There’s a hiding place,

Where the green fields sway with lavender,

Most dirty Queen Anne’s lace,

Where the silent clouds go sailing

In a sea of Dutchman’s blue,

And the lonesome shack,

By the railroad cutting,

Make me think of you

And the train we missed.


I loved you from the first time

I looked upon your face.

Though l didn’t know your story,

I could feel your wild grace.

Now you got yourself in trouble,

But that ain’t nothing new,

Through thick and thin,

There’s always been,

Someone watching over you.


So put down the gun,

Put down the gun,

Put down your gun,

Put down the gun,

Put down the gun,

Put down your gun.


Well you grew up on the street,

Where the cops don’t go alone.

In a town just like a wishing well,

You were cast in like a stone.


Put down the gun,

Put down the gun,

Put down your gun,

Put down your gun,

And we’ll talk.


Now your friends all throw their lives away,

Just making the rounds,

And they can’t tell the difference

Between the shepherds and the clowns,

That go knocking down doors,

By the roadside every day,

Selling something you don’t want,

For a price you don’t want to pay.


So put down the gun,

Put down the gun,

Put down your gun,

You can put down the gun,

Put down the gun,

Put down your gun.


Well it’s a lonely road you’ve travelled,

That’s led you to this wall,

It’s a road that’s come unravelled,

Like it ain’t no road at all.


So put down the gun,

Put down the gun,

Put down your gun,

Put down your gun,

And we’ll talk.


Now l don’t want to swear it,

But it’s something that l heard,

A gun in the first act,

Always goes off in the third.

Now l don’t want to hurt you,

I don’t want to fight.

But there’ll be no third act at all,</