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One-Sided Conversations

 
 

 

prose poems by Rupert M Loydell

 

__________________________________________________________

 

 

 

ONE-SIDED CONVERSATION

(John Berger, From A to X)

 

He never managed to watch the films he had borrowed, there simply wasn’t a

place in his routine, or the desire to do so. He lay in the bath reading a book

of letters to a convicted terrorist in prison, messages of desire, of love, of

everyday life when not confined to a cell.

 

A book about time passing and the possibilities of marriage, children, even a

visit, fading away; the revolution failing and rebellion becoming history. There

is quiet despair within the longing and mundane reportage, constructed

happiness and frivolity notwithstanding.

 

It all shakes down to a one-sided conversation, missives mailed into absence,

possibly arriving several months late, if at all, to slowly fill up improvised

shelves in the small dark cell they are eventually delivered to.

 

 

 

 

OVER THERE

 

Bones of the dead, biscuit dough sculpted into shape then left to harden. Who

shall we mourn or choose to let go with a shrug as acknowledgement that

they’ve died? Sometimes the news does not hurt, other times we are reduced

to tears and our world is changed, the future misty, our loss impossible to

grasp.

 

I am used to making myself write, then shaping and editing later. Ideas and

words bang into each other, but edges can be smoothed. It’s good to make

the reader jump about the page. I remember reading Dean Young’s poems for

the first time, wondering how on earth he’d got from over there to here.

If you let ideas come, it’s easy to move on and ignore those no longer here.

Crumble biscuits for the birds, honour the dead with life: the future is always

there.

 

 

 

 

SERIOUSLY DEEP

 

I am trying to escape, see it as a new future, full of possibilities. She says I am

running away, I know it is time to move on. We’ve outstayed our welcome,

there is little left for us here.

 

I am worn out with it all, we can only measure the strata and think about the

past. How strange history is, buried in the ground. How did we end up with

these friends and lose so many others on the way?

 

Pass me the measuring rod, put your hammer away now; fossils are for the

future, a faded photograph will have to do.

 

 

 

 

WHAT CONCERNS YOU?

 

How far away everything is.

 

How the seasons come and go.

 

How we cannot undo time.

 

All the poems waiting to be written.

 

All the poems wanting to be written.

 

Unused words on unwashed windows.

 

 

 

 

MY YOUNGER SELF

 

I listen to you stomp upstairs, fed up with homework and my nagging, on your

way to bed. I’m already reading in mine, grateful for rest after a day spent

being paid to not do what I want to do, to be somewhere else.

 

I try to make my dreams realistic, but it’s impossible. I just want to sit in the

garden on my own, eat lunch and dinner with you, write and paint, watch the

sun go down and think about what I have done.

 

Life’s been full but the future’s taken away: friends dead, stupid politics and

racism, bank accounts empty, however much we earn. Why do we let

ourselves buy into bullshit, lies and discontent?

 

I stand beside my younger self, urging him to abandon common sense or

ambition. Just be kind, be poor, do what you want to do.

 

 

 

 

ADRIFT

 

So why is reading in the morning with the curtains closed, so difficult

compared to reading late at night? It’s the same bedside lamp, same book

unless you finished it yesterday, but now the bulb is dim and I can’t find out

how to hold the pages without my own hand’s shadow on the text. It’s a

luxury, but not working.

 

The owls outside are silent and the thorn tree is no longer banging against the

pipe. It sounded like we were at sea, ropes slapping on an aluminium mast,

wind tearing past our cabin. The ship’s cat is asleep on our bed again, my

mate has gone back to sleep.

 

I am trying to finish books I have started rather than buy any more, but have

lost interest. There was a time when webs of influence and reference made

them seem urgent and topical but I did not make time to read them, they

languish with bookmarks half-way through, piled on the floor.

 

Some things fade if you look away; I move on to the next, too inquisitive for

my own good, playing in the shallows rather than diving in the deep end;

swimming through mixed metaphors, uncertain where the ship is heading or

how to sail the bloody thing.

 

 

 

 

MEMORY RESONATOR

for Luke

 

I’ll stay awake all night listening to people talk with the creaking of the house,

inventing ceremonies for the night air and the heroes of the space race, who

were first to go somewhere else and then return.

 

I want my minutes back, the ones I lost emailing you about poetry and noise,

the ones I buried under the house or painted over in my studio. I only wanted

to dream, not make emotional connections.

 

Swimming in the rain reminds me of all the questions I want to ask the angels:

whys and whens about how this conspiracy works. The damage is already

done, says a wet figure under an ancient tree.

 

Look, I need to concentrate, to sustain and dissolve. I live in a poor part of

town near to where you used to live but am a different breed. All that’s left of

me now is you.

 

 

 

 

LOOK THROUGH WATER AS WE LOOK THROUGH AIR

(Cremona)

 

A small city full of emptiness, shadow absences in the sun. I follow my nose

from church to church, damp frescoes to chipped saints: smoke and wax,

electric candles and patterned reliquaries below heavy ceilings. Beyond brick

walls, private gardens and tall trees, in the squares dust and benches for us to

share. I am lost in sunlight and market debris, in soundscapes and sound

worlds, home-made films, pigeon talk and cathedral bells, eurodisco and late

night chat.

 

Clear dark sky sends cool air into my hotel room. Space and time and the

visual, Bill Viola’s slow-moving figures and the sounds of distance, of silence,

the close-miked today; the sounds of steps and voices, cat purrs and

paintbrushes, the echoes of a tunnel in time, characters who cannot see each

other. Everyone knows someone else we almost know: zoom to rain on the

windscreen, pan out to watch the clouds go by.

 

The market scaffolds itself into being, disappears by afternoon, so what

remains can be swept up. Everyday perception is disrupted: five faces in a

dark room, digital glitches and delay disrupt our point-of-view. I am above it

all, immersed in it all, a visitor frozen in a hotel window, four floors up with no-

one in the dark to pray for me.

 

Is it art or a documentary, a provocation or the avant-garde? What do we gain

from drilling down in isolation? I like the shelves of found objects – glass and

china, stone debris – in the museum of archaeology. Kingsley climbed the

tower past the pendulum, swinging straight as the world turns. Traffic noise

fades, frescoes change colour, there are no questions from the audience. We

are all immersed in sound and sunshine, concentrating on the view outside

and the audio-visual equipment’s hum.

 

 

 

 

AGAINST THE COSMIC COMPUTER/WEIRD FALLOUT

 

Light in the right location can either mean the object has been used to predict

political evolution or that the mental feats of bees are forcing us to rethink

what we know about intelligence. It’s not clear if the massive structure is a

mathematical one or an infinite beam of light that threatens our universe. Join

us at the sharp end of the theory of everything: it has been here all along, like

the word of God, and that’s a fact. For the record, a brighter future floats away

because we didn’t tie it down. Hey you, astronaut, what if we changed our

minds, can’t wait? Can you make it back? Does mending memories help

repair the past? Let’s dive into Venus and unlock some cosmic mysteries, let

our curiosity roam free. My brain is a ventriloquist, I am loved but still not

liked, cannot activate the circuits that generate the illusion I am smiling.

 

It is the day of the trilobites and they are late for the party. They look like giant

woodlice but time is running out, they have been extinct too long, and their

careers are already in the hands of AI and eternal inflation. The problem is we

have access to so much information but cannot share a secret or drive to the

moon to abandon our heartache. Weird evolution means that Google knows

your ills and is always ready to share them with everyone; this opens doors of

opportunity then slams them in your face. I am primed for depression and

ready to play hide and seek with anyone who will listen. When did money start

spending people? How can information bounce back out? It is not always

what you think, there may be a forgotten touch of flu lurking in your semen.

Your phone is betraying you, will not help bring heaven down to earth.

 

Old world, new people: we have not forgotten how to give birth or hand over

control to the insects. Blind spots explain how birds fly in dense fog,

surveillance only matters when we are a moving target. How on earth did our

ideas ever get so popular? Why does space have three dimensions? And

what came before the big bang or Burger King? If energy comes from nothing

then I can learn to speak French or Italian, can future-proof my genes and

give students the power to reach their best. Software will soon speed-read

and understand cognitive bias, coincidences are more common than you

think. I think I am more common than you, need to overhaul my approach to

climate change and logic. If you see some ghost popping out of nowhere into

existence, grab a bag of stem cells and learn to live with the enemy. Bat’s

really aren’t to blame.

 

Complexity still outwits us, we continue to be beguiled by the unconscious

and visions of other worlds. The concept of elsewhere can be damaging,

there is no dignity in the idea of another reality next door. Intruders from

another dimension will help bedridden people walk and visit the UK’s digital

spooks, but they have weird features and cause brain inflammation. They also

don’t exist. The present is awash with endless time and we have short-

circuited deep brain stimulation and the off-switch for desire. Of course, we

predicted gravitational waves and the misuse of evidence, but retired early

from star- making and the big bang. Life may have begun in icy seas, but I

prefer to talk brain to brain. If bumps grow when the immune system machine-

guns the tumour, then we might see sense and let the PR industry control our

minds. What price reason?

 

It’s your last chance to enter before renewable lethargy makes it harder to

think. Let’s play ball with our inflated universe, let’s make a tentative

comeback after all our time away. Millions of people suffer so why can’t we?

Outrage can be a good thing, as can a paradigm shift or symmetries in

superspace. At dawn on a summer morning we put serendipity in the back

seat of the car, picked up the treasure map so we could find the moment of

truth. We searched at thirty-one separate places and built a robot snake. No

joy, we had to apologize for using hidden insights and such bad animal actors.

Before all learning began the story of our cosmic origin went wrong. Just how

clear is your mind’s eye? Who should be admitted to paradise or be offered a

mental reset, get to use Tony Blair’s eyes or brain? Thanks but I think I’ll pass.

 

The sky brightens and a rainbow appears, but what happens if a black hole

turns white this christmas? I don’t need drugs to control my brilliant ideas, or

particles to control dark matter. I feel a tremendous moral obligation to give a

voice to the emotionally withdrawn who are at crisis point, and shake up their

family tree. Let your phone help you tell right from wrong, bend the rules and

make your brain light up, spot the galactic coyote. Attitude adjustment

facilitates the ultimate rebound, zeroes in on digital healing, nuances

exceptions, orphaned tongues. Try not to breathe or get mad, this dollar

would be better spent elsewhere. Twin asteroids pose twice the risk. If you

have caught something nasty, find out quick. Musical brains smash sound

perception limits, brainless blobs reveal gut bug menace and the secret to

turning water into wine, provoking fear in the fearless. Meet the ultimate

bottom feeder, show me you are there.

 

Teetering on the edge of chaos, the sum of consciousness is preying on your

mind. If you want to make a superconductor or walk on the surface of a star

then play around with quarks and atomic egg boxes. We tend to think of anger

as a negative emotion but used in the right way it can recruit and advertise

and offer a taste revelation. High-friction live surfaces tend to adhere to

enigma, the spark of consciousness always plans to cheat time but leaves

science out. A visit to the land of nod takes you on fabulous adventures and

offers therapeutic rest. Subscribe now and save forty per cent as the head of

quality management. It is actually very difficult to make yourself look at or see

the light. We can’t see our inner selves clearly and neither can god, exiled to

the solar system’s edge. These are toxic times, but my cosmic ambitions

won’t be dwarfed or changed.

 

Driven by inertia, the choice is yours. The absolute limits of human endurance

are imposed by the brain. Figuring out how to override it could push us to new

extremes at an electrifying pace, like moths to the flame. New worlds, new

ways: these thought experiments have serious consequences, there are

reasons for our lack of success and our trouble with the sacred. Body

language and a new search for aliens supplies life with a vital spark, offers

revolution on the inside, transforms rooms into infinite space, cutting the

bridge between the brain’s hemispheres, watching from a safe distance. Now

think about particle B. If you spot anything unusual, notify the elephant in the

room and spread the love, wake up to insomnia’s impact and kill the

multiverse. Squeeze the arm, protect the heart and treat violence like a

plague. The source of disturbance is an elegant theory but that’s not going to

stop linguists talking. Where on earth did our brains go?

 

 

 

 

JUST THE SAME

 

The 21st Century turned out to be like the last one, in this book anyway. It’s

not as hot as earlier and the lawn was still wet when mowed. It’s nice to smell

cut grass but I still hate gardening. We’re going to have to prune the tree out

front and the maple round the back before the rooms get even darker and the

walls get damp.

 

Everything is out of place and put together badly, there isn’t a single builder

who comes recommended. The only bush that doesn’t grow is the only one I

paid for. The ‘hardwood’ table and folding chairs barely lasted six years. The

mower strains to do its job, the geese or ducks or waders are honking in the

creek.

 

This used to be a nice place but something’s gone wrong. I blame myself, and

so do you: I’ve changed, not here. I can’t wait to travel back to where I used to

live, although it’s changed; not just changed, it’s gone. New flats, new houses

and a 44-storey tower block, diversions through familiar streets and plans to

make all these roads dead ends.

 

How to belong? Focus on the local and see what happens here. Nothing

happens here, it’s just where we live. It’s the same as the past, it’s the future,

where everything’s the same.

 

 

 

 

FOR THE DURATION

 

This week turned out to be rather like last week, in my head anyway: same

number of days in the same order and a limited number of ways to fill them.

There’s music to listen to, poems to write and paintings to paint; meals must

be made and letters opened, there’s marking to be done.

 

Summer’s already on the horizon and getting nearer: those weeks will turn out

slower and longer. The guitarists both plink and plonk away for the duration,

this is abstract sound as music, chirrups of notes as instant composition;

unlike the careful slow bells of The Harmonic Canon I was listening to before.

Sunshine through the Velux skylight warms up the desk, spills light around the

blind. A seagull walks across, casting a shadow, Derek Bailey plucks his

strings even harder as I run out of words.

 

 

 

 

BY THE SAME AUTHOR

 

The author’s note tells me what he previously published, but I need to play

catch-up: what has he published in the last five years? There’s some kind of

timeslip at play; it was true then but is not true now. Or maybe there should

have a been a statement of intent?

 

The author hopes to write more books in the next few years.

 

 

 

__________________________________________________________

 

© Rupert M Loydell 2019

a facqueuesol paperless book 2019

Some of these texts were first published in Fal-Writing, international times,Talking About Strawberries.

 

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Trajectories


Trajectories

#1
It’s still the nineteen-fifties

on the rerun channel: all smiles and shining

appliances with

a track to tell us when to laugh.

The finches are arriving

and Mourning doves peck at whatever

the ground has to offer

this morning. The seven o’clock news

pushes itself between

the clouds, with fire to the west, snow to the east

and distrust in all directions. The mad

dogs of Paradise

were howling all night: it’s alright

setting fire to the planet

just leave the flag alone. Beside

the path that runs toward the desert

someone left a swivel chair

which turns to see

ahead in time

or back

to innocence and families

as solid as the rocks

on South Mountain. The words

nobody wants are circling overhead:

flames; wind; shooting; quid pro quo;

while the hawk sweeps down

and scatters them

as his talons take hold of his place

on a burning star.

 

Trajectories

#2
Portending the onset of the mysteries

destined to pass from mountain

into every resting heart,

the interplay between last light

and coyote breath

lines the clouds with fire.

It’s the kind of sky the saints choose

for their spirits to ascend

leaving traffic noise and gunfire

here on Earth, while they

float from star

to icy star. They don’t worry any more

that they may have left the lights on

or water running from a hose

hard enough to flood

the neighborhood. Monthly bills

don’t reach them;

their debts turn into prayers

and they count their assets

in the wounds the whip left just

between their shoulder blades

after they’d been counting

sins and couldn’t sleep.

They’re all paid up.

The Earth beneath them spins now

with its swaths of darkness and

electric moments

wherein insomniacs find solace

and stores that never close

dispense salvation. But it’s lonely

up there in the firmament,

even for the pure

who long the long night through

to be among the holy predators: bobcat,

lion and the owl

with appetites enough

for centuries more.

 

Trajectories

#3
The dawn bares its teeth; it’s a wolf

of a sky

and the hairs

all along the horizon are raised.

From sea to stormy sea

newscasters are scenting

their breath, and in grocery aisles

the early shift

is painting smiles on the fruit.

Happiness will be pursued today, even if

it takes a victim in its stride.

There’s no telling which way

the wind will turn:

toward the truth

or trivia.

The mountain glows. A miracle

may be at hand, but there again it might

be a long ago culture’s

rekindled light.

 

Trajectories

#4
Dark petals from the sky:

the mysteries float

down to earth all night. Animals

who live between underground

and starlight

come out to meet their fates

while traffic wanders

to the limits of knowledge

where GPS can’t reach.

The after-party shootings

haven’t yet begun;

it’s quiet but

for Heaven’s gates

which creak for want of oil.

Evil’s just another word

for nothing left to do,

and while the cops keep watch

the owl picks a spot

from which to observe

the salad of the sacred

and profane

with the angels taking red-eye flights

back home.

 

 

 

David Chorlton
Illustration Rupert Loydell

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Throw Water At The Sky

To lose the ground from under your feet – Elizabeth S.
video by Elizabeth S.
additional footage by Grace S.

By Eyeless In Gaza

Keep an eye on the band’s homepage for further information:

https://www.eyelessingaza.com/

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No More Heroes Anymore

A Hero for High Times, Ian Marchant (£10.99, Vintage)

Ripped, Torn and Cut, The Subcultures Network (£16.99, Manchester University Press)

‘Great,’ I thought, when I came across Ian Marchant’s book, ‘an alternative history of the counterculture by someone who was actually there. Perhaps my daughters will read it and realise our generation did try hard to change the world.’ How naive of me.

A Hero for High Times is subtitled A Younger Reader’s Guide to the Beats, Hippies, Freaks, Punks, Ravers, New-Age Travellers and Dog-on-a Rope Brew Crew Crusties of the British Isles, 1956-1994, an overlong but generously inclusive and all-encompassing sentence. Marchant also writes a foreword to his grandchildren, commending to them the ‘new way’ evidenced in his book, ‘[a] new way which allows people to live their lives how they choose, no matter what anybody else thinks or says’, although he is honest enough to admit ‘It didn’t work, […] of course it didn’t. But […] the Freaks tried to make it work.’

All well and good, all from an author who was there at the time (including involvement with international times), but it’s downhill from the foreword (or dedication) onwards. Marchant shapes the book as a story told by a friend of his, which allows Marchant to ask questions, and his friend Bob Rowberry – who may be real or simply an authorial device – to ramble on without consequence or focus.

It’s a version of a version of a half-forgotten story, and Rowberry and Marchant desperately need an editor. As it stands, this is a story full of asides and ramblings that lead nowhere: epic stoned philosophic discourse and longwinded ideas. It is a personal odyssey that remains personal, and whilst all stories need facts and specifics to make them real, they also need to engage with their intended audience.

To be honest, I simply don’t believe some of the stories here. Your mate imported the first Afghan coats into London? Of course he did. You were beatniks, hippies, travellers and established authors? Of course you were. This is social history and commentary as shaggy-dog story, as rambling pub talk near to closing time, this is nostalgia gone mad and over-the-top. Don’t get me wrong, at times the book is hugely entertaining and diverting, and I love recognising and revisiting old haunts as well as reliving concerts and events I was also at, but there’s too much hot air and verbiage here. 500 pages should have been 300 tops. I wanted Marchant to tell his story, his stories, simply and clearly, curbing the sexism and laddishness of the past as he did so. My daughters would have several things to say to him if they ever read this overlong digression.

Better is Ripped, Torn and Cut, a book about Pop, Politics and Punk Fanzines from 1976, a rich mix of history, cultural critique, cultural theory, and memoir. Several editors, including the indefatigable Tom Vague and musician Nicholas Bullen, recall their early escapades into journalism, photocopying, mail order and distribution whilst others ponder the roles of politics and women in zine culture, and consider it (now) as history and (counter-)cultural phenomenon.

There’s also discussion of zines within specific genres, from goth to industrial music via indie-pop, as well as an outstanding consideration of ‘[T]he evolution of an anarcho-punk narrative, 1978-84’. The final section moves out of the UK to discuss RE/Search in San Francisco, and activities in the Netherlands and in Munich, as well as a chapter which time-travels forward to Riot grrrl in the 1990s.

It’s an immensely readable and enjoyable collection of writing which evidences – as the Introduction argues – ‘why (punk) fanzines matter’. It’s unafraid to question, unafraid to offer various versions of events or contrasting ideas and concepts. It is coherent in diversity, clear and readable despite its academic guise, and a welcome alternative and jolt-of-reality to Marchant’s euphoric but unkempt ramblings.

 

 

 

 

Rupert Loydell

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Uk Election Special

good cartoon booklet.

the main page has several, tho this seems the most appropriate

https://theslowburningfuse.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/ukelection.pdf

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Abrogation

It rains.

From Guskara to Goa.

“It’s beautiful,” you say.

 

From the train window

lightning bolts

resuscitate dark fields.

 

An old me, who is young,

abrogates something

from the constitution

 

of memory.

It rains as you read this.

Wet patches hide hollows.

 

 

 

 

 Amit Shankar Saha
Illustration Nick Victor

 

 

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WRITING THE STORM

1) STORMS

Of the waves that sink

And the waters we drink,

None is the food we eat

Rather, the flood that did defeat.

 

Of the earthquakes that destroy

And the landslides that toy,

None can our joy deploy

Because there is no peace to employ.

 

Of the winds that blow

And the storms that grow,

None can our love flow

For they bring us so low.

 

Storms so strange

Local and foreign, at range

Storms that change

Stories, histories, eternal.

 

2) LINGERING EFFECT

If we write the storm

It comes like worm,

If we paint the picture

It dribbles our nature,

If we make a collage

We study it at college,

A perfect lingering effect.

 

We do not want to die

Hence, the knot we tie

We love to live

So we cherish what we give,

We defeat the battle

Even without our cattle,

For we must move on.

 

The path of tide

And the length of time

The part so wide

And the strength against crime

There, we pitch our tent

For life is so bent

Even as we pay rent.

 

3) FLAMES

Raged and angered ocean

Thundering and thunderous sea,

Noisy wind and restless breeze

Troubled land and besieged souls,

Only God understands.

 

Weeping voices and wailing victims

Floating houses and sinking homes,

Hopeless people and dying nation

Only God knows.

 

Animals and beasts that raze

Humans and beings at gaze

Souls and spirits ablaze,

A world in flames

Losing her games

Evil gaining names.

 

4) NOT WITHSTANDING

 The Caribbean tears

Mingling down the Nile,

The European gears

Going extra mile

The African fears

Haunting the file

The Asian wears

Flowing the tile,

The American years

Curing pile,

The Australian bears

Not looking fragile.

 

A lingering effect

Disasters, natural and devastating

Yet never frightening her

As she hopes life never ends

Loving life to wait for hope

Living it lively to the fullest,

The Caribbean hope

Across that tiny rope

Reaching heights and highs

Nervous with sighs,

The hurricanes not withstanding.

 

 

 

 

 

NGOZI OLIVIA OSUOHA is a Nigerian poet/writer/thinker. A graduate of Estate Management with experience in Banking and Broadcasting. She has published over one hundred poems/articles in over ten countries. Her first two longest poems of 355 and 560 verses titled THE TRANSFORMATION TRAIN and LETTER TO MY UNBORN published in Kenya and Canada respectively are available on Amazon. She has also featured in over ten international anthologies/books/blogs. She is a passionate African ink.

Illustration Nick Victor

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Nan Goldin – Sirens

 

Marian Goodman Gallery, London

Although Memory Lost, the centre piece of Sirens, Nan Goldin’s first solo exhibition for 12 years looks backwards, comprising old work both previously seen and unseen, it’s far from being a simple retrospective – and it’s clear why Goldin herself considers it to be a major fresh work.

Memory Lost is a 45-minute slideshow of pictures, music and dialogue, the main theme of which is addiction.

The slideshow format – a la her ground breaking work The Ballad of Sexual Dependency – is perfect for Goldin’s oeuvre. Images pulse and disappear: a flickering zoetrope of pictures – almost ephemeral – like a drug rush, a hit; easy come easy go easy come again.

We see:-

… Cookie Mueller, smouldering with a certain confused impatience… drugs…  

religious icons (kitsch – the chosen iconography style of melodrama and excess),  milk/water flowing from a statuette’s breasts…

It’s also a fast flow of feelings; as if to maintain that it isn’t actually true that life isn’t worth living unless you pause now and then to reflect that you are alive.

… a drooping, withered Xmas tree … messy hotel rooms… wrecked rooms (hurried visits to scenes of palpable despair)…  disturbing self-portraits (a molten/bemused quality in her eyes, as though she had seen or imagined bad sad things – especially in the mirror, perhaps)…

The show is carried by the type of rhythm that opens up the borders of slippery psychological complexity.

…  New York City… the projects… a horrific slit wrist… drugs… a drug neighbourhood… a shitty mattress ruined by a large ‘fall-unconscious-with-a-cigarette’ hole burnt all the way through, springs and wires exposed like nerves…

Uptown and downtown, art and fame, sex and money all blurred together like wild forces we can’t control.

…  pills in an open safe …

It’s a revelation, almost traumatic – art that feels like a physical sensation. Emotions drift like the swirls in a drug user’s spoon.

The visuals are underpinned by a haunting, doleful new score by composer Mica Levi, which takes the dread to the next level. The dialogue, comprising phone messages and snippets of conversations, overlays the music and the pictures with musings and utterances benumbed – from or about people who, at some point, have lost the thread of the track of their own lives:-

… coke or dope… wake up…wake up…wake up… wake up… in mom’s arms, that’s where I felt safe and secure… I would put ‘dead’ by people’s names but then there were so many I gave up… are you OK? Call me. Are you eating? What’s happening? … I couldn’t leave the house – the beautiful leaves turning making me … it must be the fall … the fall… just trying not to feel anything… you don’t ever belong… took the money and keys and left me in the room for five days – I couldn’t get drugs and it was like being buried alive… he doesn’t know how to cry anymore – just makes noises… connection – that’s what people are looking for in addiction… 

Goldin came to prominence by presenting, with bravery, empathy and downbeat pizzazz, the ‘holy moment’ of photography, when the camera’s gaze alights on the real, however provocative it may be: fixed, unspeakable reality. Fixed and unspeakable perhaps because, as writer Ann Marlowe says, addiction – and it was always there in the background – stops time – physically, emotionally, philosophically – it is ‘a form of mourning for irrecoverable glories’. In other words, nostalgia in  its most alarming form – one which ‘stops your passage to the future’.

In this respect, Memory Lost is anything but nostalgic. Instead – and this is the point – it reframes, recasts, recalibrates the past in order to present an arc. That of the subjects who embody Memory Lost’s theme – it recognises that head, heart and psyche of the drug user is either filled with light or horror, depending on the point travelled on the spiral. And that of the artist herself – asserting that memory is not a fixed concept and that we can and do recontextualize to make sense of a given narrative – and it’s this that offers nothing less and nothing more than a sense of fresh possibility.

The final proper frame of Memory Lost is simply a dedication to the activist group P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now), organized by Nan Goldin to address the opioid crisis.

The exhibition continues until 11 January, 2020

 

Richard Cabut

 

http://richardcabut.com

 

 

 

 

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Walk: A Walk on the Wilde Side with Niall McDevitt

30th November

A Walk on the Wilde Side 

with poet

Nial McDevitt

Starts 2pm.

Tickets £10

Meet at Knightsbridge Station.

The supreme vice is shallowness’ –  Oscar Wilde
 
Poet Niall McDevitt tells the story of fellow Dubliner Oscar Wilde at the key sites in Chelsea, where Oscar Wilde lived until his incarceration for gross indecency.
 
The focus is on 1895, the year of The Importance of Being Earnest and Wilde’s instantaneous martyrdom, which – according to Cyril Connolly – ‘set the aesthetic movement back by 20 years.’.
 
But the November 30 date of the walk also commemorates Wilde’s legendary fin-de-siecle death in Paris in the year 1900.
 
We shall encounter a fascinating supporting cast of the author’s friends, family, lovers, fellow artists and enemies.
 
Meeting at Knightsbridge tube station at the Brompton Road exit on Hans Crescent. Sat 30 Nov. £10 (The walk takes approximately two hours and will finish in King Street.)

Details

Date:
30th November
Time:
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Event Category:
Event Tags:
, ,

Venue

The Irish Cultural Centre
5 Black’s Road
Hammersmith, W6 9DT United Kingdom

Organiser

Irish Cultural Centre
Phone:
020 85638232
Website:
irishculturalcentre.co.uk
 
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Short Shorts Friday

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Blued

 

The blue walls remember

making love, made

with a cab waiting below,

and the crow who caws

whenever two strangers thus mate

on this bed misses this show

because the fishermen

return from the blue ocean, and

on their brine, wet wood

lie silver still half alive.

The freshness of a goodbye tingles strangely.

On an live wire run two blind mice.

The blue remembers not

when this town was built

or with what amount of love and necessity.  

Blue doesn’t know what blue is.

 

 

 

Kushal Poddar
Illustration Nick Victor

Authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’, ‘A Place For Your Ghost AnimalsUnderstanding The Neighborhood’, ‘Scratches Within’, ‘Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems’, ‘Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems’ and now ‘Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel’ (Alien Buddha Press)

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Sandy Sanderson of Deviants and Pink Fairies RIP

 
Sandy Sanderson of Deviants and Pink Fairies passes away

Unfortunately, last night, bassist Duncan “Sandy” Sanderson of The Deviants and Pink Fairies passed away. His son was with him at his time of passing. Sanderson was the only member of both of those groups to be on every album (not counting the later day, USA based Mick Farren’s Deviants). As a member of the Deviants and Pink Fairies, Sanderson was an important figure of psychedelic rock, and perhaps even more so, was an important figure in bridging psyche music into proto-punk and eventually punk. We send our condolences to Sandy’s family, friends, and fans. Hear some of his recordings below.

 
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BORN 2 RULE ( A one legged Go Go dancer’s Point of View )


In Borisland a giant white hippo with lumpen curves and pudding -bowl hair
      is

gyrating to the sexy -sweet taste of POWER

                                 SPAFFLE ! HUMBUG ! FLIM FLAM !

Loitering poodle politerati lounge across the Treasury Bench nodding and laughing

like limbless chickens . Cluck! Cluck! Cluck!

There are tokens who have been bought off with ministerial posts

Borisland is a giant RECTUM full of lies, bile , and apocalyptic piggies selling

AUSTERITY

Dressed up as ONE NATION feel- good snappy -catchy – election -goo goo.

With their fat FUCK YOU ! fingers of HATE they dangle fifty pound

notes

under the noses of the homeless and the walking dead, their blood thinned by lack

of Beef Wellington and Port .


King Boris AKA The Incredible Bulk will huff puff bluff and twerk his way back to

NO 10 if you let him!

Pot Noodle Politician makes clumsy clown -like speeches full of

Blue Peter gimmickry one lined hyperbole and GREED ! GREED! GREED!

He’s the baddest blonde in the kingdom he was out on Friday urinating on a

Hijabi, a gay prince, and a West Indian cabbie

In good moments he will ruffle his halo of super white hair and offer you

investment deals from the public purse ,

but only if you give him a hot, wet, thigh skimming , cock -rubbing lap dance first

He talks in the voice of a masturbating DICKTATOR in plummy Etonian

accents

The toxic drivel he poo poos gives him confidence

and an air of fake authority

Manky -mouth bullshit ? AB-SO-FUCKING-LUTE-LY

Jammy Dodger never answers a question

But uses an aria of insults to DEFLECT DETRACT and DUPE

He offers a masterclass of spin to the Great British Electorate

Immune to DEBT BAD LUCK and the stink of SCANDAL

He never tires of pushing his act on the public

FAME HEAVEN awaits,

his dictum is straight

LIE! LIE! LIE !

For the perfect sunny FRAUD

It works 100% of the time

 

 

The Shoreditch Panty Bandit November 2019

The Shoreditch Panty Bandit is a wild -eyed scribbler with Frank Zappa locks who zooms around on a toy bike and uses a candy red sharpie to scrawl the walls .

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Green Stag

Before the ‘clever’
hew-man
with his ‘reason’
and his LANGUAGE
made the great stag
stagger…

Before his agonizing
death throes
(life-force
wilfully
stagnated)
by the staggeringly
arrogant…

Before man
manifested
his ideas
and devices
for his stagnation
(manipulating staghounds,
staging ambush
after ambush
in the staggerbush…)

Before man’s
jealousies
prompted
sacrificial rituals
to be staged.
Before the drunken,
flesh-feasting
staggerers…

Before the poachers
of stagflation.
Before the death
toll rose
from fast cars,
bikes
and Stagecoach…

There was just
magnificent
STAGNESS.

 

 

 

Heidi Stephenson
Illustration: Claire Palmer

 

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Secrets of the Royal Family

RT speaks to the former Minister of State at the Home Office Norman Baker on his new book ‘…And What Do You Do?’ which shows a side of the Royal Family the hit Netflix series The Crown would rather not show, including Nazi leanings in the Royal family and much more!

https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/9781785904912?gC=5a105e8b&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIqqz_8K7-5QIVVODtCh0vAQrUEAQYBSABEgJKmPD_BwE

 

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CS, I LOVE YOU

                                                              

On When Boris Met Jennifer, Exposure ITV1 November 17th 2019

 

‘Cunt struck,’ you sprawled across her silicone coloured bosom,

That the breast itself appeared natural meant the milk you sought

Stained the teeth. For, while seeking the false you found something real

Through hard sucking, filling your mouth while precluding

The limit of love’s honesty. She  made a beeline for you, or you for her.

That’s the story. Stung, your prime number, lined up for you,

Drew her flame.  In a plump girl’s hot embrace you pressed the flesh

That stirs schoolboys, and which forty years on never leaves them

As the borders of sex mark our game. 

 

A brash American burns to revive the use of quim in quaint Engand.

Calling it energy you emblazoned a portal for her to pass through.

And so she lap danced for you, and you for her at conventions,

Openly displaying collusion and preference too, smearing truth.

You tell the British public the joke but keep rearranging the punchline.

Changing it for your purpose and your comfort too, keeps you young.

Like a boy in a garden of birds that he continually waves a large stick at,

You spear the air stained around you with the blood of the deaths

You’ve begun.  They may not be literal deaths, but they are the deaths

 

Of hope and thoughts flying; they are the deaths for which Brexit,

Whatever outcome, will help yield; the suffering of the old as you plumply

Cavort in Hotel Rooms; believing yourself above others, you are  one of those

In High Towers no longer aware of the troubling labourers in the field. 

As in Harry Lime, they are ants whose frantic movements elude you.

You have no thought for what happens if they are drowned by boiling rain

Or just stop. You have escaped from accusations of fraud, domestic abuse,

And betrayal. You have lied to the Queen, torn the textbooks and risen,

Like bile to the top. Once it became noticeable it was clear at last

 

That you worried. But not about cause or issue,

Merely about your soiled name. Which even you boulderise,

So as to appear close to average. But ‘Alexander the Great’, as she had it,

On her mobile phone, spiked campaigns. These were not about glory,

Or wins, but the propogation of image. At which even your own siblings bridled,

Deserting you to save face. If you were as bad as Hitler, then they would be the true

Shickelgrubers, shambling the streets around Knightsbridge, while seeking

To disguise your slimed trace. Still, the rising hate you invoke would make

Even your silhouette appear solid, as you represent the height fallen

 

By the warped and shamed angels of childhood or the so called God’s

Paradise. This woman believed you were key to the golden rooms

She dreamt open. But at a cynical time your romances are merely aping love

Monkey like. By keeping Jennifer at your side she saw herself as Eve to your Adam,

And yet with the rotund, ribs are hidden as flesh is piled on to shield sin.

Adultery’s not the point. This is about a deficiency in the spirit

That demands the skin’s secrets are a privilege we can’t win.

When she could no longer call, due to circumstance, she moved from you.

The obsession she covered before an interviewer’s look brought her pride.

 

Smiling loudly, pale words exposed the orchestra behind silence,

Which she now conducted as the fake news fools constructed revealed

Your wretched theme and lovelife.  Rejected, you spurned, as women have

Across legend.  Calling you, she heard nothing but an ominous voice, talking back.

Stated as being Chinese, such an abstracted thought stems from Cummings,

Who soundtracks your going and the public echo of loss with attack.

The girl is now not as gold, for she has married beneath you.

 Building her business across you, the bridge you designed is withdrawn.

Now her large blowjob eyes are stained by tears and dejection

 

As you seek to suck waters that will drown us all, she’s forlorn.

Another bright body used, just like the pig you fellatioed.

Or Darius Guppy – who no-one remembers now – we’re all fucked.

Just as Jennifer was from the very moment she saw you.

Your shambolic act is the condom

On which the penis of power penetrates freedom

And which now in torn bedrooms

Will make us all

 

The Cunt struck.

 

 

 

David Erdos November 18th 2019

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A Penda’s Fen Treasure Trove

 

“The function of the poet is to bring the shadow back into the light.”

(Strange Attractor Press ISBN-13: 978-1907222689) 361 pages + index

 

My mum used to say, that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all – not the ideal policy when faced with the torrent of raved-about books, novels, films and haloed prize-winners so obviously second-rate and forgettable that ‘honest’ reviewers would have to keep their mouths and hands sealed with duct tape. A production line we’re stuffing with trash,” Arne, the writer in Penda’s Fen, might comment on much of this contemporary output.

What a pleasure then to discover that ‘Of Mud & Flame, The Penda’s Fen Sourcebook’ like all the best books and like Penda’s Fen itself[i], is about so much more than one might hope.

Illustrated with black and white screen captures (and in Carl Phelpstead’s, Penda’s Mercia, some fascinatingly inconsequential photos by Ben Phelpstead[ii]), this book of highly varied essays is a treasure trove. Exploring all manner of themes, amongst other things, the book reveals just how prescient the film was, and how valid it remains forty-five years later. Consider in the light of neo-liberalism and climate emergency these thoughts from author of Penda’s Fen, David Rudkin:

“I think capitalism will fail as a relationship of violational exploitation between man and the planet, though I don’t know how long this will take or what catastrophes its collapse will encompass. For all that it is a terribly convincing lie, it is comfortingly anti-paradoxical in its profession to have defined, colonised and expunged all contradictions: it demands that people part company with their shadows, whereas I think the function of the poet is to bring the shadow back into the light.”

In these days of slick, yet generally vacuous TV drama, high-production-value style over content, it was a relief that Rudkin himself in the foreword, contemplates that “Penda’s Fen, might look – particularly in some technical respects – rather creaky now.” I was worried, watching the film again, that I’d have to be respectfully defensive. As it turned out, it was far more powerful and complex than I remembered. Provided you’re aware of all the ideas and atmospheres behind, most of the ‘dream sequences’ required little suspension of disbelief, though it helps to have a propensity for old films and television. Weird and intense next to the blandness of most T.V. today, despite an occasionally theatrical over-emphasis and the limited budget, only a few moments were faintly risible. For me the greatest external distraction – as so often – is seeing the beauty and quietness of the countryside at the time of my own childhood: its leisurely, thoughtful pace.

As with the film, so the texture of the book is equally complex and wide-ranging, with fascinating by-ways featuring Elgar (John Harle), places and names (Beth Whalley), history (Tom White), and even the films of Carl Theodore Dreyer (Craig Wallace). Interviews and reminiscences provide interludes. Only a few of the essays would benefit from a specialist’s prior knowledge: many of the books and plays mentioned are less familiar to me than the film connexions. Some of these, such as Witchfinder General (1968) The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971) or The Wicker Man (1973) are central to the loosely defined ‘Folk Horror’ genre which arises in Adam Scovell’s piece – with its powerful closing paragraph decrying the recent upsurge in popularity of “toxic notions of Englishness”.

I was particularly glad to encounter Raymond Williams in Raymond’s Fen, Joseph Brooker’s perhaps most dissenting essay – which rightfully disparages the elitism inherent in the idea of the main character in Penda’s Fen, Stephen Franklin, being chosen and blessed by a king. Brooker describes the “entire scenario” as “extraordinarily radical” and yet “at the same time unimaginatively conservative”. While I take his point, it’s also not difficult to see these closing sequences as Stephen’s own subjective consoling vision – a temporary respite or reward for his traumatic upheavals . . . which doesn’t mean I assume the supernatural aspects to be entirely psychological.

Dissent arises again in Carolyne Larrington’s Stephen and the Women, and its careful endnotes, as she asks whether Stephen’s final claim to be “both woman and man” stands up to critical scrutiny. What appears to worry Rudkin more, is the inevitably dated nature of his television play’s conception of Englishness – yet this too could be a useful question to struggle with in the quest to become individuated. Only the unpurged projection of Stephen’s Franklin’s original personality, could be as dated and reactionary as the U.K.’s current reversal towards racism and Brexit. Patriotism is still the last refuge of the scoundrel, though unquestioning rationalism – missing the wood for the trees – is not far behind . . . somehow, we can’t help following its burnt trail.

I enjoyed the idea of the BBC’s Pebble Mill studios in Birmingham – where producer David Rose, introduced Alan Clarke to David Rudkin for their collaboration on Penda’s Fen – as a hub of dissident voices in opposition to “the Death Star of the metropolitan centre,” as Roger Luckhurst, phrases it[iii].

Gary Budden describes Penda’s Fen as a “Gnostic anarcho-punk anti-pastoral work of English art that questions the very notion of Englishness”, and while I wouldn’t agree that it’s anti-pastoral, the most energising thing about Of Mud and Flame, is the variety and clash of the viewpoints and their digressive nature. Like a nation itself, it heaves with contradictions and dissonances. But unlike the England of 2019 – about which the writer Arne in Penda’s Fen might say: “We’re not people any more with eyes to see” – the book has access to a worthwhile common goal and a refusal to accept our encroaching blindness. So far, I feel I’ve only begun to travel its surface.

 

Lawrence Freiesleben  November 2019

 


 

[i] First aired in 1974, in the Play for Today series, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0325965/ 

[ii] See Ben Phelpstead’s online site: http://pointlesswalkstodismalplaces.blogspot.com/ 

[iii] More on this background story emerges as an extra film on the dvd/blu-ray of Penda’s Fen available through the BFI at https://shop.bfi.org.uk/penda-s-fen-ltd-edition-blu-ray.html#.XdZ-2fn7QdU

 

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‘‘The Whistling Girl’’

Press Release

On Saturday November 30th 2019

The Irish Cultural Centre Hammersmith London

Presents

The UK Premiere of

‘‘The Whistling Girl’’

Based on the writing of Dorothy Parker

I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
after four I’m under my host.

― 
Dorothy Parker,

Composer and musician Trevor Knight and Ireland’s acclaimed chanteuse, singer and actor, Honor Heffernan re-imagine the life and work of the Writer and American Icon Dorothy Parker

If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”― Dorothy Parker

The Whistling Girl”, is a spellbinding alternative musical extravaganza of song and spoken word based on the lyrics of American poet, wit and feminist icon Dorothy Parker.

The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”― Dorothy Parker

The original and unique music composed by Trevor Knight transforms the poems and quotes of Parker into songs, using her witty, droll and sometimes heart rending lyrics. Each of the songs create individual tableaux or dream moments from Parker’s psyche, conjuring up images from her tempestuous life of outrageous celebrity, as founding member of the notorious ‘Algonquin set’ in New York, and as civil rights activist in America and Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

Don’t look at me in that tone of voice.”
― Dorothy Parker

What The Press Say…

..It’s not like Honor Heffernan has anything to prove. For the last three decades, she’s been Ireland’s pre-eminent jazz singer, a riveting performer who matches emotional authenticity with musical craft. “The Whistling Girl” is the love child of the singer’s new relationship, onstage and off, with Trevor Knight. The ex-Auto Da Fé keyboardist’s settings of Parker’s ruminations on life and death, love and sexual politics, combine the arch strut of Weimar cabaret and the sass of Rocky Horror with 80s synth-pop and contemporary art-rock. The results are pure theatre – Parker’s dark wit, Knight’s memorable tunes, and Heffernan’s unerring ability to make words come to life are a winning combination, making “The Whistling Girl”  a great show and the most fresh and original collection of songs as you’ll hear this year”. The Irish Times

Embracing dirty-cabaret, electronic-vaudeville, rock, and jazz, Knight’s arrangements lend a vital theatricality to Parker’s sardonic verse. He, Heffernan, and their full band channel the spirit of an American literary icon during Parker’s years of notoriety in New York’ Phenomenal!” The Irish Arts Center NEW YORK

Sometimes a role comes along that allows a performer to weave all the strands of their artistry into one darkly thrilling tapestry; Honor Heffernan has found such a role in The Whistling Girl; a daring production that uses music, song and elements of theatre to celebrate the life of the legendary wit and writer, Dorothy Parker”. Billy O’Hanluain Writer, contributor to ‘Arts Show’ RTE, ‘Arena’ RTE.

Dorothy Parker was a dark wit and sardonic philosopher about love, relationships and the mundane routines of living as a depressive, forever seeking adventure. She could be acerbic, humorously ironic and whimsical, all at the same time. Some of Parker’s inimitable, devastating humor is highlighted in the song selections presented in The Whistling Girl . The theatrical presentation is a must-see for the exceptional music inspired by Parker’s lyrics and the performance by Honour Heffernan” Theater Pizazze. New York. Full Review http://www.theaterpizzazz.com/the-whistling-girl/

“…this show was massive and completely blew me away…I loved every minute…Heffernan was simply amazing…this was the highlight of this year’s Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.” Michael Barbour (Gigging Northern Ireland)

Full Review Belfast CQAF https://www.giggingni.com/2018/05/review-honor-heffernan-the-whistling-girl-cathedral-quarter-arts-festival/  

clever…imaginative..inventive..echoes of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weil, flourishes of The Doors, a touch of Kraftwerk, and Leonard Cohen there”. Jackie Hayden (Hot Press.) 

Facebook link to slideshow https://youtu.be/p18we0Tyyoc

Honor and Trevor will be joined by some of Ireland’s most talented musicians featuring Garvan Gallagher on bass, (Mary Black, Leo O’Kelly, Pumpkinhead), Tom Jamieson on drums, (Auto da Fé, Speranza, Those Nervous Animals), Steve Belton on electric guitar, (Fountainhead, Hazel O’Connor, Noel Redding, Cry before Dawn)  and Bill Blackmore on trumpet (The Stunning, Jerry Fish).

This will be the UK Premiere and the Official Album Launch of “The Whistling Girl’’ which has already performed sell-out shows all over Ireland and at The Irish Arts Center in New York; The Belgrade Irish Festival, Serbia; The Cathedral Quarter Festival Belfast and The Cork Jazz Festival.

The release of the album “The Whistling Girl” is the culmination of two and a half years work between Ireland’s chantuese Honor Heffernan and Trevor Knight, who composed the music on the album using the words of Dorothy Parker. It is available on Bandcamp at https://trevorknight.bandcamp.com/album/the-whistling-girl ( Album Preview and download) and at Tower Records.


Irish Cultural Centre Hammersmith Blacks Road W6 9DT

Concert Starts 8pm

Tickets £14.00 / £12.00

Book Tickets; www.Irishculturalcentre.co.uk 020 85638232

For More Press Information Contact

Rosalind Scanlon on 07742320001. Programmer@irishculturalcentre.co.uk

This concert is supported by

Press Release Ends. 19/11/2019

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Royals Seek Advice through the Decades

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Grace and Disgraced

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Truths

Obtain this clear view

recognised and understood,

how the clear recognition

is factual and thereby created

to avoid being complete

reality – the fundamental

actual of a prevailing deficit

in a trace of truth:

this every trace of doubt

that can only be the truth.

Not effective facts of things

or connections; rather they are

demolished and dissolved

through appropriate truth.

Doubt that is healthy is

logical and relates to

consciousness, that of an

appropriately felt vision:

clear vision and clear easy

paths to realities and

recognitions as doubts

because doubts signify.

Obtained knowledge is brought

and indulged in, respectively,

from what is recognised and

what has been signified.

Recognition is created,

knowledge-demanding.

The truth itself

of effective reality

is always symptomatic

of basic truths displaced.

The fundamental activity of

developing ignorant material

strives to be forcefully

expressed, not oppressed.

The maintenance of doubt

is extensively realised.

 

 

Mike Ferguson
Illustration: Atlanta Wiggs

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Eugene Ostashevsky Introduces Three Poems by Galina Rymbu

The following is the first of two features on Galina Rymbu to publish at Music & Literature. An interview between the poet and her translator, Jonathan Platt, can be found here.

 

There is a lot of talk now, in the United States at least, about political poetry and even revolutionary poetry, and what these are, and how to write them. The discussants should consider the work of a young Russian poet, Galina Rymbu.

I first came across a poem of hers shortly after she posted it on LiveJournal, a social network popular in Russia, on February 27, 2014. It was the day that Russian troops started operating in Crimea, and several days after the victory of the Maidan Revolution in Kyiv and the tawdry close of the Sochi Olympics. Russian media fanned the flames of patriotic hysteria and the Kremlin was clearly going to exploit Maidan to crack down on domestic dissent.

It felt strange that a work of this artistic sophistication and power could be composed and posted on the Web simultaneously with the events it responded to. Its viewpoint was that of the minuscule and very young Russian Left—roughly the same political alignment as those of the poet-activist Kirill Medvedev and of Pussy Riot, to cite figures known to some Western readers. But the poetry was different. It was Big Poetry, very much grounded in tradition but also propelling it forward, into the terra incognita of the now. It’s been a while since I read a poem that felt so real.

That poem has since appeared in English translation by Jonathan Platt. It can be read here, the middle one, starting with “the dream is over, Lesbia, now it’s time for sorrow…” I want to talk about the Russian original a little, and then say a few things about the present publication of Rymbu’s work in Platt’s translation in Music & Literature.

It is hard to formulate to an English-speaking audience why the Lesbia poem spoke to me so personally. The practices and traditions it incorporates are either alien or have a different significance than in the US. In Russia the “Western” “classics” that Rymbu alludes to are associated with Enlightenment values, and are consequently politically anti-government. For various cultural reasons, self-publishing on the Internet carries no opprobrium: the point of poetry is not to bulk up the author’s résumé. A poem, if it’s good, belongs to everybody.

Another potential difficulty is the poem’s subject: it is about the historical now, about finding yourself at the temporal point after which everything will be different. The question of history is not as natural a question for American poetry. On one level, the Lesbia poem thinks about the historical now via allusions to Catullus and, less obviously, to Horace’s ode on the death of Cleopatra—allusions that, by juxtaposing the Russian and the Roman situations, inter-illuminate them. On another level, by the third time Rymbu says the word “time,” we are hearing the word in the context of the same theme, that of designating historical change, in Mandelstam. Her “free verse” keeps evoking ancient meters, like in the echo of Sappho, the original Lesbia, in line four. But, despite Rymbu’s allusions to the historical past, the language she is working with is breathtakingly modern and fluid, with the kind of morphological play that affects the slang of inflected languages, technological terms used colloquially, and political clichés, such as the Putinist slogan “Russia rises from her knees,” that are flipped and literalized back into living speech.

There always existed an argument that left-wing literature needs to be simple in expression in order to appeal to the masses. Recent Russian poetry has also experimented with the lack of poetic devices and poetic language. But, in an interview she gave to her translator, Rymbu makes a compelling case for the contrary position:

It can seem like the oppressed have a simple language, that we should employ a series of reductions to work with this language in order to be comprehensible as poets and artists. But there is no such thing as a simple language, just as there are no simple emotions. Here [i.e. in the language of the oppressed—EO] everything is even more complex—a real rat’s nest of complexity made up of the languages of violence, ideological pressures, propaganda, biopolitical manipulations, survivals of the past, fantasies, hopes, and even certain seeds of “emancipation”—meaning, partially violent concepts that provide an intuition of what might lead the “simple people” to freedom. In this sense, the idea of “simple language” is really just a total syntactic, lexical, and discursive collapse, and it’s very hard to work with it, almost impossible.

If I get the argument here, it is that the educationally disadvantaged also speak in a manner marked by discursive multiplicity; that the discourses imposed on them from without to speak with their mouths are themselves rife with complexities and contradictions; and that, consequently, a contemporary poetry that is likewise composed of clashing discourses may lie open to them not despite but because of its complexity. It is a hopeful and an admirable position to hold, and it at least avoids the indignity of condescension.

The three poems translated for Music & Literature show the same linguistic complexity, although they are less of anthemic, barricade-music pieces than the Lesbia poem had been. Their main obsession is again the presence of history—which replaces the Muse in the sampling of the Iliad in one of the poems—in one’s life and one’s experience. Actually, to speak of history being “present in” something already implies a distinction the poems defy. Even one’s body is conceived as historical—and consequently fluid—in essence. It is not an object existing in the river of historical time but rather it itself is streamed through and formed by history. For there is no border between my body and the multiple processes of historical change, which are enacted through me, who am at once the mouth and the word of their polyglot glossolalia. If “revolution” is history projecting itself into the future, “my” revolution is history immanent in me as desire and anticipation. It is why the blood that comes out of the body is red.

Eugene Ostashevsky, January 2016

so lightly touching my tongue to your tongue . . .

the dream breaks off suddenly:

we buried our weapons in the ground

the lightning approaches with a crack

the advertising hoardings are about to crash down

pushing my tongue deeper to your tongue’s root
and the cool, sweet roof of your mouth

the stirring scent of spring and the rumble
of the first world war. then, without a subject,
they produce an individual utterance
with the question: who is speaking?
I: who is kissing us as long as
the dream lasts? we are trapped in history.

one bell and
puffs of smoke fall out into the open
look, my burning house, the summer right behind
mixed with blood
it knows in wide moments
where your pain is, how it hurts
to gather tears off a cheek, a collarbone, with your tongue.
at night, in the ditch, in bed, where the flashes are,
where blood speaks, you can cry with me,
close your eyes in distortion.

the closeness of thunder, when
the ribcage is white hot,

as if meeting by chance in the hallway, by touch,
running my tongue across your neck…

hearing orchestras in the distance, cannons,
falling into madness, is it possible to recall
when it all began, beyond any concrete markers of time,
like a bee swarm, it stings,
leaving one alone, to cry, and the other, inside this swarm,
falls to her knees.

Translated by Jonathan Brooks Platt


May 2015

vague sounds of distant night clubs, the bass notes
wring out reality like a wet sponge. migrant
skeletons in the half-dark move fresh earth in wheelbarrows.
some guys, angels no doubt,
are hanging about as the people pass, whispering something
in the language of the insane, masturbating in parks. spring is here.

to be in love without desire, to desire without
sense, when you knock at your neighbor’s door, like it’s your own,
but no one’s there, you drown out anxiety with cheap
cocktails, get mixed up with suspicious guys,
telling them everything like it is, though they could be Putin Youth members
or just sympathizers of the regime, while the ones standing in the dark
dressed similarly—may be Stalinists,
you ask them for a light.
you spit out blood, in the toilet of an internet café
you write a short post about it, and you scream into the little puddle of puke,
my revolution.

my revolution in Russia
in this peculiar place
on boards grown damp from rain and time
by abandoned gatehouses
and dusty shop windows,
where love hollowed out a heavy boat for itself
from my body, to sail off on a journey
across your cold seas,
to look into your white pupils.

making no effort to find light, or anything there that might bring you more strength.
lacking all possibility of loving more loves, with trembling hands
holding a teacup at breakfast, squeezing out, “leave, go away,”
locking yourself in another room or just hanging around in squares, in the metro
with a few bad books instead of foreign philosophy
trying to feel something out in the shadow of your decline
falling into insignificant sleep
scrambling in the shadows of what’s disappeared

think
struggle
search
think
struggle
search
go
leave
where are you
we
have been looking for you for a long time
waiting for you for a long time

Translated by Jonathan Brooks Platt


I want to send you an excellent gift,
when the heat pierces the dry trees,
it’s a western—the gravel, the brown dust quivers,
rising over this scorched place, when
troop carriers pass by the abandoned industrial zones,
strewn with red caviar.

Maybe I’ll send you a letter, make contact, get mixed up in it once and for all.
Here it is, the fire’s started—the doors of the clouds open wide, and out
roll the guillotined heads of the Bonnot Gang.

History, sing your wrath.
Are you that little girl in the sticky panties, who
stands in front of the mirror, putting on
powder and blush.

Are you that little girl
the one with her black and pink, icy gob wide open,
slurping
who climbed into bed with everyone
playfully singing a patriotic song,
rubbing anti-fungal creams on her feet,
you piss and spit into a special pot
by the bed.

Turn around. Think about my gift,
think about weapons in general,
think—how strange,
only a couple of days ago—
there was no mention of blood.
……………………………………………………..
But the party is still going on somewhere
Night, the hum of voices, meat roasting, a little beer…
……………………………………………………….

History, sing your wrath!
Let everyone in Moscow now look at the black sky
with its huge moon.
Why is the rage in our hearts so watered down?
…………………………………………………………..

Where “Russian, be afraid” rules the ball, where no one sings of freedom anymore,
where 60% of the population is dying from the “small public deeds”
of a few compunctious bureaucrat intellectuals,
where my little friends, little boys, who were born in 1990—
Are dead!
The provincial cemetery is swollen with wrath.
Dead!

Remember them. My gift will come in handy.
Tomorrow, or now—
it will serve you very well

Translated by Jonathan Brooks Platt

 

by Galina Rymbu


Galina Rymbu was born in 1990 in the city of Omsk (Siberia, Russia) and currently lives in St. Petersburg. She has published poems in the Russian Journals The New Literary Observer, Air, Sho, and in the Translit series. Her essays on cinema, literature, and sexuality have appeared on the internet portals Séance, Colta, and Milk and Honey. She is the author of the recently published collection Moving Space of the Revolution.

Eugene Ostashevsky is a poet and translator of Russian avant-garde and contemporary poetry. His edition of Alexander Vvedensky’s An Invitation for Me to Think won the 2014 National Translation Award from the American Literary Translators Association.

Jonathan Platt is Assistant Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Pittsburgh. His monograph, Greetings, Pushkin!: Stalinist Cultural Politics and the Russian National Bard, is forthcoming from Pittsburgh University Press. Platt has translated poems by Kirill Medvedev, Roman Osminkin, Pavel Arsenev, and Elena Kostyleva; artistic texts by Chto Delat, Natalia Pershina (Gluklya), Nikolay Oleynikov, and Anastasia Vepreva; and philosophical texts by Oxana Timofeeva, Aleksandr Pogrebnyak, and Andrey Platonov (with Robert Chandler).

 
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Spelling Religion

When our child first
spells ‘Religion’
he writes it with an ‘F’
in the beginning.

It was an autumn gloaming.
Kosher wind slaps the trees around.

 

 

 

Kushal Poddar
Illustration Nick Victor

Authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’, ‘A Place For Your Ghost AnimalsUnderstanding The Neighborhood’, ‘Scratches Within’, ‘Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems’, ‘Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems’ and now ‘Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel’ (Alien Buddha Press)

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Dear Alma Mater

I write you in tears,

As I am filled with fears

I am hopeless

And equally helpless,

I cry regularly

And weep constantly,

Nothing seems to comfort me

Because you are in ruins.

 

The future is blurred

And the night scary,

The past is ‘hurtful’

The present is harmful,

The night is scary

The future is blurred.

 

Built for the future

To nurture the unborn,

Built for the unborn

To nurture the future,

I weep my Alma mater

For the future is blurred

For the unborn maybe uncultured.

 

Your buildings dilapidate

Your quarters go obsolete,

Your fields turn bushes

Your courts become plain,

I weep for my Alma mater.

 

You made queens and angels

Giants and heroines,

You produced great women

Wonders of the world,

Dear Alma mater

My heart bleeds.

 

Return, return O Shulammite

For your beauty wooed the king,

Return for your scent adorned the prince

Your ornament decorated the chosen

Return my purple gold

Return O my St Catharine’s,

For my heart bleeds!

 

 

 

 

NGOZI OLIVIA OSUOHA is a poet/writer/thinker, a Nigerian graduate of Estate Management with experience in Banking and Broadcasting.

She has published over two hundred and fifty poems and articles in over twenty countries and has also featured in over forty international anthologies.

She has authored six poetry books and coauthored one. 

She has numerous words on the marble, she has won many awards and also a one time BEST OF THE NET NOMINEE.

Some of her poems have been translated and published in several languages.


Painting by Viktor

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Music is Power

A Song for a New Day, Sarah Pinsker (£16, Penguin Random House)

Although this has ‘Science Fiction’ written on its back cover, it isn’t. It’s a good old rock & roll novel set in a dysptopian near-future. Everything is even more online than today, call centres and warehouses proliferate, the web is now accessed through hoodies (‘hoodspace’), and live music is about to be outlawed due to some sonic and cultural terrorism.

Cue illicit gigs held in half-abandoned buildings and derelict cellars for the few music fans in the know, and also cue huge streaming services and corporate control of music. (Sound familiar? You see why I don’t think it’s science fiction…) Enter naive Rosemary and has-been rock star Luce, both on a collision course with power structures and each other. Luce is playing the underground music circuit, Rosemary is working for the corporation who seek to sell and promote new talent plucked from that circuit, yet also leave destruction, chaos and arrests behind them.

Despite some repercussions and naive assumptions on both sides, the two women slowly learn to work together, eventually calling a kind of truce in aid of revolution. Can music change the world? Of course it can! You just need a guitar, some mates and lots of networking and organizational skills. And plenty of attitude, talk and lurve.

Pinsker writes well about music, musicians and subcultures, and cleverly imagines a plausible future that builds on the present. She makes room for queer and non-binary genders and relationships, and doesn’t go overboard on impossible technologies or concepts. This is a down-to-earth, dirty and realistic future: our world crumbling as a result of power abuse by big businesses of the culture industries. If Pinsker is wildly optimistic about the effect of music (and she is) it’s an enjoyable and inclusive optimism, and one tempered with moments of wit, humour and feeling. From the hotel-room-trashing opening to the downbeat euphoria of the ending, this is a lively and entertaining romp.

 

 

 

 

 

Rupert Loydell

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A Darkness

 Mike Ferguson

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Nothing

 

Lawrence Freiesleben

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Goin’ out with a Bang.


Sadly the last Steam Stock show for now….

The Chocolate Watch Band – The Midnight Hour
Ko Ko Taylor – Wang Dang Doodle
Tidal Waves – Farmer John
Otis Redding & the Pinetoppers – Shout Bamalama
The Tokens – La Bomba
Shirley Ellis – The Clapping Song
The Townsmen – Tequila
Lord Creator – Big Bamboo
Lord Kitchener – Dr. Kitch
Louis Prima – The Bee Song
Louis Jordan – Ain’t Nobody Here but Us Chickens
Louis Armstrong – My Bucket’s Got a Hole in it
Rockin’ Robin Roberts & the Fabulous Wailers – Louie Louie
El Gran Combo – Chua Chua Boogaloo
David Ede & the Go Man, Go Men – Last Night
The Dootones – Ay Si Si
Rock-A-Teens – Woo-Hoo
The Chancellors – Little Latin Lupe Lu
Joe Dodo & the Groovers – Groovy

 

 

 

Steam Sock

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Snapshots On The Pleasures and Terrors of Childhood

  •  

 

Do you believe in ghosts? What do you see in these haunting images from yesteryear?

“If you are protected from dark things then you have no protection of, knowledge of, or understanding of dark things when they show up.”
– Neil Gaiman

 

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

 

“Some odd muse struck me and I came up with some strange photos relating to childhood,” says Robert E. Jackson. Here they are, his vintage snapshots of curious children in various stages of uncertainty, self doubt and fear. Children see the oddness of things adults know as reality. And, as we all learn, not all things end well.  “This is not an artistically rounded-off ghost story,” says the narrator of E. Nestbitt’s The Shadow, “and nothing is explained in it, and there seems to be no reason why any of it should have happened.”

Such is life. People do leave you. Bad things happen to good people. People die.

But what of fear? “..for me, the thing that is so big and so important about the darkness is [that] it’s like in an inoculation,” says author Neil Gaiman. “You are giving somebody darkness in a form that is not overwhelming – it’s understandable, they can envelop it, they can take it into themselves, they can cope with it. And, it’s okay, it’s safe to tell you that story – as long as you tell them that you can be smart, and you can be brave, and you can be tricky, and you can be plucky, and you can keep going.”

You can tame your nightmares and the everyday strange. You find ways to enjoy life despite the tensions created by the glaring reality.

But first you must glimpse the truth of things, even if it is through knitted fingers as you peer under the bed, wander downstairs at night and find your own way home. And in these pictures we see it reflected in the subjects’ eyes and posture, and the pictures composition, light and shadow. Imagination is running wild, as it should. What’s really going on in these pictures, out of frame and behind the camera? What went before and what came after? What did the children really see?

 

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

 

 

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!
Oranges and Lemons, a traditional English nursery rhyme

 

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

 

“But a mermaid has no tears, and therefore she suffers so much more.”
― Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid

 

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

 

and then something went BUMP!
how that bump made us jump!
we looked!
then we saw him step in on the mat!
we looked!
and we saw him!
the cat in the hat!
– Dr Seuss, The Cat In The Hat

 

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

 

“Then your tail will divide and shrink until it becomes what the people on earth call a pair of shapely legs. But it will hurt; it will feel as if a sharp sword slashed through you. Everyone who sees you will say that you are the most graceful human being they have ever laid eyes on, for you will keep your gliding movement and no dancer will be able to tread as lightly as you. But every step you take will feel as if you were treading upon knife blades so sharp that blood must flow. I am willing to help you, but are you willing to suffer all this?”

“Yes,” the little mermaid said in a trembling voice, as she thought of the Prince and of gaining a human soul.”
― Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid

 

 

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

 

He looked at the little maiden, and she looked at him; and he felt that he was melting away, but he still managed to keep himself erect, shouldering his gun bravely.

A door was suddenly opened, the draught caught the little dancer and she fluttered like a sylph, straight into the fire, to the soldier, blazed up and was gone!

By this time the soldier was reduced to a mere lump, and when the maid took away the ashes next morning she found him, in the shape of a small tin heart. All that was left of the dancer was her spangle, and that was burnt as black as a coal.
― Hans Christian Andersen, The Steadfast Tin Soldier

 

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

 

“Yesterday, upon the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today. I wish, I wish he’d go away…”
– William Hughes Mearns, Antigonish

 

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

 

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
— Frank Herbert, Dune

 

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

 

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

 

“You’re an interesting species. An interesting mix. You’re capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you’re not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.”
– Carl Sagan, Contact

 

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

 

children in horror weird vintage snapshots

 

More from the excellent Robert E. Jackson here – and on his Instagram page.

 
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colonies

 

remember when you were young

& all the boys

& all the girls

didn’t even talk to you

didn’t even look at you

snoring on the sofa

flickering the troll’s beautiful clothes through red yellow blue

with the right side of your mind

with the left side of you mind

picking fights with her ear drums

drifting over playground nightmares unicorns & sleep

in the year aaron kent died

they bullied me

decades earlier on a road trip to greece

you see yourself reflected on the surface of a lake

sorrow sixteen

 

 

 

 

Charlie Baylis
Illustration Georgina Baillie
https://www.instagram.com/georgielondonart/?hl=en

 

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Lindsy Kemp The Early Years: 1962 to 1973

 

 

 

This section, however, intends to present Lindsay Kemp as a creator of shows, i.e. to help readers to understand what his productions consisted of and how they evolved.
Its title is “Shows 1962 – 2018”, but in a very real sense his invention and staging of shows genuinely had its roots in childhood, in the Air Raid Shelters and back streets of South Shields, where from the age of roughly seven he persistently persuaded local children to allow themselves to be directed – and bossed about–by him in carefully prepared “performances”, mostly based on stories from books or from films his mother had recently taken him to see.

He would always play the leading role, whether male or female. Adults had to pay to watch.
He never doubted for an instant, at any age, that performing and creating shows was what he was going to do.
And for the rest of his life, he never really stopped inventing and planning storytelling theatrical entertainments… at school, in adolescence, while studying ballet and modern dance and hunting for jobs in his first years in London. Gradually, from the age of 20 (i.e. as the late 1950s flowed into the early 1960s), he began to accumulate an extremely varied range of performing experience: including small group dance programmes, some “arty”, as he described them (e.g.culturally ambitious groups such as those of Hilde Holger or Valerie Hovinden), some more frivolous, influenced by variety shows, some more ballet-orientated.

 

 

There were also many (mostly short-lived) jobs in Christmas Pantomime (Aladdin and others) or Musical Chorus-lines–including The Larry Parnes Extravaganza, Joie de Vivre andOklahoma. And wherever he worked with companies he would gather others from the cast to createpieces for partiesor charities or cabaret (also developing his own solo numbers)… light entertainment mostly, but frequently with unexpected touches.
He also worked in nightclubs, some relatively “straight”, but often including tap-dancing, striptease, burlesque or drag acts, which he would choreograph and/or appear in. Throughout his career, it came naturally and enthusiastically to him to include varyingly explicit erotic elements in his creations. With Jack Birkett and Bob Anthony, in the early sixties he frequently directed and choreographed numerous burlesque acts, creating stripper-cum-dance acts, usually involving Jack, and revelling in the Soho of that period, where the ‘artistes’ ran from one club to another day and night, and between-time Lindsay created and rehearsed what he called “extremely arty erotic numbers” for them, or “avant-garde striptease”… making friends with many of the girls. By and large, he said, the public at the Soho shows seemed happy with the numbers and their mix of surrealism, sex and humour.  All excellent show-creation practice! Most of the time, all this was extremely poorly paid, but he loved doing it. As he used to say years later: “However broke I was back then, I never doubted that one day – somehow or other – I’d be successful!!”

 

 

In 1962, with two young dancing friends, Pat and Beverly, he began to find work in an act which he called The Trio Linzi.They worked up and down the country in clubs or crumbling provincial theatres, performing song and dance material inspired by successful shows, but creating and including their own numbers too, adding original and entertaining touches to popular material, sometimes in elegant clubs, sometimes between wrestling matches in Northern working men’s halls with rowdy audiences that had to be conquered and silenced.

The Trio Linzi also took Kemp on the first of his countless ‘international tours’, when it travelled to Liege, Brussels and Luxemburg in late 1962 and early 1963. The next few years – the Trio Linzi having disbanded – brought numerous varied dance and theatre experiences and on-and-off collaborations (at the Valery Hovenden Theatre Club, later The Little Theatre, and Church Halls and Night Clubs inside and outside London). In early 1964 he also did some teaching and performing work in Edinburgh (the first of many future Edinburgh experiences), and played the part of Mister Punch in an outdoor production in Glenrothes (a role he would return to, gloriously, much later).

 

 

Back in London, this period culminated in his most ambitious project yet: the creation of The Lindsay Kemp Dance Mime Company (or LKDMC), with sufficient backing to stage a show in London’s important Lyric Theatre Hammersmith. The show was  named Illuminations, and involved a company of strong professional modern dancers (including John McDonald, Richard Morris, Sasha Lord, Dora Turner, Anna Price, Patrick Hurde, John Cunningham, Maria Pavlov, as well as Jack Birkett, The Incredible Orlando-to-be), plus composer/pianists  Carl Christian and Clive Peterson. Liz Gill made costumes, the writer John Hammond provided narrative lyrics, and lighting was designed by John Spadbery…who managed and stage-managed Illuminations and who from 1974 would be Kemp’s all-important lighting designer for the next 20 years.

Lindsay directed this show, and performed in pieces he had partly written or adapted, including Oscar Wilde’s The Fisherman and his Soul, The Tinsel People (Commedia dell’Arte characters, with Lindsay as Pierrot), Orpheus, Patchwork, and 2 Lindsay solos, Pantomime and Burlesque 1900… the latter his surreal parody of a jaded burlesque stripper which, under many different titles, he would develop and perform occasionally for nearly20 years.

 

 

Illuminations opened at the old Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, on May 10th 1965. Despite good reviews, it was not a box office success. But not long after, the LKDMC Company (in a reduced version with a reduced cast) performed in the Dublin Festival and in Cork.
On August 24 that year, in the old Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, came the first version of a three-man show format featuring Lindsay, The Incredible Orlando and a musician, here with Vivian Stanshall as musician and poetry reader, and Letitia Stanford as Columbine. With many different titles and changes of content, this show would continue to “go on” for several subsequent decades. On that occasion the series of pieces was called Bubbles – A Pierrot show for grown-ups. In 1967, with the title Balloons a new version would be performed in Rome, at the Teatro Goldoni and – in fragments – in streets and piazzas.

 

 

Much of the same material and style would evolve and reappear with the title Clown’s Hour at the Little Theatre in London in August 1967 and in 1968 in the Edinburgh Festival (in this version the stage was pre-set showing all the placards with the names of the various numbers already visible, and all the characters’ costumes and props in full view.Later in Edinburgh briefly two experimental off springs, White Pantomime(1969) and Crimson Pantomime (1970) were developed…some of the numbers having been part of Pierrot in Turquoise (1967-68), with David Bowie.After that, this changeable format was usually called Turquoise Pantomime, or occasionally Clowns– always with Orlando, often with the brilliant Michael Garrett as musician, and from 1974 with David Haughton as the error-prone pianist – up until c. 1979. In passing, it is interesting to note just how special the concept of Pantomime was for Lindsay, especially in his early years: after all, seeing his first English traditional Christmas Pantomime as a child was what sparked off his love for every possible kind of theatre… and the Christmas Pantomime was total theatre, inspired by Commedia dell’Arte, with Harlequinades and ballet, Music Hall and clowning, cross-dressing and parody, direct rapport with the audience: all lifelong Kemp inspirations.

 

 

In his twenties, searching for his performing identity, he usually disliked being called a Mime, considering it too restrictive a category, whereas ‘Pantomime’ evoked the Greek and Roman Pantomimus, the Pierrot, Harlequin and Columbine Commedia archetypes…‘mythical’ forms that inspired him and left him free. He studied and became friends with Marcel Marceau, much admired Decroux and Jean Louis Barrault, and publically declared “I feel nearest to Debarau’s Pierrot” (perhaps influenced by Baudelaire), but his non-purist Mime was always only one aspect of his performances. His fidelity to his own very personal Pantomime concept would remain with him always, with or without the word… Flowers was subtitled “A Pantomime for Jean Genet”, and “Mr. Punch’s Pantomime” was performed well into the next century!
Some of the material in the stream of early many-named ‘Pantomime’ shows(The Lion Tamer, The Ball Dancer, The Knife Thrower, The Tailor and his Dummy) was developed (increasingly freely) from Marcel Marceau numbers.

 

 

Some (such as The Stripper, The Albatross and The Flower) were created entirely by Lindsay. Orlando displayed banners with the title of each new piece – like a hilariously jealous rival desperate to replace the lead performer – and belted out several furiously camp Burlesque songs, including a grotesque allusion to Marlene Dietrich singing ‘A Regular Man’ in The Blue Angel. Many of the pieces were based on distorted versions of Commedia dell’Arte figures, transported into a surreal comic circus cabaret. The basic style was at times not far from traditional mime, while also being a parody of traditional mime. It had no scenery, except for a battered wicker skip and the piano at one side, but it usually featured confetti and sawdust scattered on the floor, a motif Lindsay repeated for years as a token statement of circus-like poor-theatre, with a dash of colour left overfromsome unspecified celebration.
Fans and feather boas abounded… costumese volved, but mostly featuring a large padded puffed arms and thighs blue-green 17th century clown for the initial numbers in the Circus section, a bright red foppish ballet jacket top with red or white tights, white unitard with or without irregular knotted string webs for The Albatross and The Flower, and on to battered black talcum-stained tights and top with pink boa for the infamous The Stripper… who lazily stripped off a long series of invisible costumes.

 

 

Wigs too abounded (a lifelong passion).And hats. Orlando also wore traditional harlequin/clown gear for the banners and bickering in The Circus section, then Top hat and tails (plus fishnet stockings and high heels)as he sang A Regular Man, and thenin a tatty black leotard with a few sequins loosely attached as he danced Bye-bye Blackbird on point, with a battered yellow peak on the top of his head.
Most of the pieces began as underplayed comedy and slowly collapsed into anarchic tragicomedy. A recurring characteristic was the obsessive repetition of gesture, creating a surreal Theatre of the Absurd effect… in one piece, Aimez-vous Bach?, accompanied by a Bach Gavotte, as a snobbish ballet dancer, Lindsay mechanically executed an exercise involving tapping one extended foot on the floor for anything up to 60 or 70 times (with maximum audience contact and facial expressivity), before finally changing to the other foot, and so on… while the pianist was desperately imprisoned inside his infinitely repeating Gavotte.
Eventually this piece spiralled into a madly virtuoso mimical frenzy as the foppish danseur noble used  his own intestines as a skipping rope and then frantically devoured them.

 

 

All the numbers were changeable over the years, and from night to night… Lindsay was always an incorrigible improviser. For at least 15 years, this Surreal Mime-Pantomime show was a recurrent, entertaining and relatively economical resource for Lindsay and Jack Birkett (billed as The Incredible Orlando), to dip into from time to time, to make ends meet… even when (as from c. 1968), the Kemp style had radically changed as he rode the waves of the Counter Culture.

     Pierrot in Turquoise(1968) featured a Lindsay Pierrot-role and The Incredible Orlando as his rival, Harlequin, while Annie Stainer played Columbine and a youthful David Bowie –as a kind of narrator-figure called Cloud – played his guitar and sang some of his early songs (e.g. When I live my Dream), some written especially for the show (Threepenny Pierrot, Poor Harlequin, The Mirrorand Columbine).

Bowie and Kemp had met in August 1967 (after Bowie had seen a performance of Clown’s Hour at the Little Theatre). They devised this new show during the next few months, with Michael Garrett as a second more experimental composer on piano and effects… some numbers from Turquoise Pantomime were included.

 

 

The show opened in the Oxford Playhouse on December 28 and went on to be mounted and performed from 3 to 5 January 1968 in the Rosehill Theatre in Whitehaven, then from 5-16 March at the Mercury Theatre in London, and from 25-30 March at the Intimate Theatre in Palmer’s Green.

In early 1970 an adapted version was recorded by Scottish TV with the title The Looking Glass Murders, with dubious results, as can be seen today on Youtube.

Pierrot in Turquoise marked a more complex and many-layered development of the mime-clown-Commedia dell’Arte theme, drawing ona wider range of influences, including Cocteau, Ionesco and theavant-garde music and dance scenes of the time… plus an odd mix of early Bowie Pop with more abstract experimental music.

A note on music. One fundamental ingredient not theoretically included in purist mime but a vital protagonist of Lindsay’s personalised concept of Pantomime was music… indeed, his lifetime dancetheatre style could well be called Musical Pantomime, or Musical Theatre.

 

 

His musical inspirations were all infinitely variable and infinitely important to him, and deserve a chapter in themselves elsewhere, but here it should be noted that from the 1960s – probably stimulated by the jazz musicians frequented with Jack Birkett in Soho clubs, and the first accessible recordings of 1950s avant-garde composers being released – Lindsay became increasingly stimulated by new music. In 1967 in Rome he had mixed and worked with Italian avant-garde composers and performers, including Luciano Berio, Cathy Berberian, Egisto Macchi and Luigi Nono, and on his return to the UK he discovered John Cage, Stockhausen and the possibilities of electronic music in combining Rock’nRoll and avant-garde pulsations.
These inspirations soon worked their way into his creations, certainly from Illuminations onwards, with Carl Christian and Clive Peterson as composers, and certainly with the brilliant Michael Garrett, whose live music during years of collaboration on Turquoise Pantomime ranged from mildly to highly avant-garde, while also echoing Lindsay’s beloved Music Hall melodies. From almost the beginning, Andrew Wilson’s electronic music was crucial to the evolution of Flowers, either as a bridge between contrasting collages of recorded music, or played live on synthesiser during them: Lindsay loved performing to live music, because it granted him freedom to improvise…and wherever possible he made sure that his musicians followed him, and not vice versa! In 1969 he even called a show with Orlando and Michael Garret at the Mayfair Theatre in London In Concert!

 

 

As the counter culture blossomed during 1968, so did Lindsay’s performing activities, and through the summer of 1969, having discovered Jean Genet’s extraordinarily radical homoerotic novel Our Lady of the Flowers, he matured his ideas for the first version of Flowers. In later years Lindsay enjoyed recounting a series of comic anecdotes about the birth of Flowers… how he picked his flowers in Princes Street Gardens, i.e. chose the cast from handsome, muscular young men that fitted into a Genet-inspired world(actually the cast also included Jack Birkett, Annie Stainer and several other performers with experience). He also enjoyed telling the story of how the police busted the show looking for drugs (or nudity) during a strobe sequence, which the public applauded thinking it was part of the show, or the quirks of the amateur members of the cast, and so on. But he never talked much (later) about what the show had actually consisted of. When working on his unfinished autobiography in 2018, however, he did provide some surprisingly concise concrete information, such as…  “The Rehearsals were bliss. The newcomers had to start from zero. They began with a class. Certainly not a dance class: more like a madness class, in laughter, ecstasy and agony. I had to teach them to abandon themselves and transform themselves.
Then we’d improvise my favourite scenes from the book, using music which I’d chosen from the piles of records beside my bed. I’d frequently surprise everyone by switching tracks from one day to the next… When the theatre space was more or less ready, we realised that the seating area was extremely small and the stage (on the floor) was tiny…

 

 

We built a primitive scaffolding structure, which supported a platform just over head-height that stretched across the stage. The upper area was used as Divine’s room, and the lower space accommodated the cemetery, a street, a café and several other somewhat undefined places. … The entrance to the theatre was through a large door at the back of the stage, so late comers became part of the show. … The production was rough, unpredictable and mostly improvised. We rarely had a full cast. Not being professional, the new-boys didn’t see why they should have to turn up to every performance. So the rest of us just got on with the show, performing along with imaginary characters.”
In terms of Lindsay’s stylistic development, here the important thing is to note that for the birth of what later became his most famous production, he abruptly and completely reshuffled his pack of performing influences: playful parody had so far always accompanied his use of ballet, dance, mime and variety cabaret styles, as he experimented with mixing them together, but here he abandoned all such formal categories and plunged into the creation of his first ever full-length show using a new “liberated stage language” based on experimentation and improvisation…truly, the irresistible irruption of Dionysus in his life.
Many of the cast had never performed before, and their often anarchic rehearsals alternated with them allusing shovels and pickaxes to demolish much of the long-abandoned Edinburgh Rock factory (“The place was a near ruin, littered with debris and dead birds”)and turn it into a primitive off-off avant-garde theatre venue: all symbols of radical renewal.

 

 

The new space, in Victoria Terrace, was named the Edinburgh Combination, and before the show had opened word had spread of nudity, homoeroticism, strongly perfumed smokeables and large amounts of alcohol on the premises. Opening in the first days of September 1969, the show was, by all accounts, rough-edged, rowdy and raw, transmitting a flood of high-voltage emotion and poetry directly onto a packed public sitting within touching-distance of the performers. A very roughly chiselled block of marble that in years to come would gradually turn into a masterpiece.
Freely inspired by Genet’s novel, and by Genet’s assertion that its essence would best be expressed by being “mimed and danced”, many of the narrative episodes chosen by Lindsay for stagingin that first production would in future stay largely the same – Divine’s funeral in the cemetery and Darling’s scenes there with the Priest and with Ernestine, the flashback to Divine’s entrance in the Café and first encounter with Darling, their “wedding and first night”, Mimosa’s flirt with Darling, Giselle’s madness, Our Lady’s murder of the old man, the comedy cabaret scene, the Archangel, Divine with Our Lady, the Trial and execution, and the consumptive death of Divine as a finale(Genet:“Divine died yesterday, in a pool of her vomited blood”).

 

 

 

Some of the scenes in the first production – such as Ernestine turning bizarrely into a kind of Salomé figure, dancing with a severed head– soon disappeared. But basically this first production – and no longer Genet’s novel – thus became the basic narrative foundation from which future productions of Flowers would develop.
What evolved almost beyond recognition was how the show was staged as Lindsay’s stage language evolved, and who performed in it.In October, Flowers was performed in the York Arts Centre, and shortly afterwards in Warwick University… with mostly new performers, and the first major modifications of the show.

 

 

Apart from Lindsay, the only performer from the first Flowers to remain a huge presence in the production for well over the next twenty years was the irreplaceable Jack Birkett, The Incredible Orlando, in the roles of Mimosa, the murdered man and his ghost, and the unforgettable central performer and singer in the cabaret scene. Since the early 1960s, in this show and countless others, onstage and offstage, for over 30 years(nearly all of them after becoming blind), he was Lindsay’s most recurrent partner in crime and punishment, adventure and laughter, disaster and triumph, rivalry and loyal friendship. At any rate, from 1968 to 1973 Lindsay had one foot in London and one in Scotland (mostly Edinburgh), where the invention of the Edinburgh Festival and above all its ever-expanding and experimenting ‘Fringe’was triggering a theatrical and artistic renaissance that provided opportunities far greater than anywhere else in Britain.

 

 

In particular, cosmopolitan figures such as Richard Demarco, Jim Hynes, Michael Rudman and Giles Havergal created ‘progressive’ contextssuch as The Citizens Theatre (and The Close) in Glasgow, and The Traverse in Edinburgh, which were instrumental in offering Lindsay Kemp and his troupe many invaluable opportunities for experimental show-making and performing: an excellent training ground for the future. No wonder he began announcing in interviews that he’d been born on the Isle of Skye, or in Edinburgh, or Glasgow. He was also teaching a lot, both in London and in Scotland, and this became an invaluable way of discovering and training new performers for his shows. It was also a period when his behaviour onstage and offstage fed a growing reputation for outrageousness, both in a positive and negative sense: outstandingly flamboyant talent and shocking alcoholic excesses. Fortunately he was also highly persuasive and skilled in obtaining forgiveness for his sins… when it suited him.

 

 

     Flowers came to the Traverse Theatre for the first time in July 1970 – with various improvements and further cast reinforcements, and the first of Andrew Wilson’s many contributions to the music. It returned to the Traverse in November, still with Annie Stainer as Ernestine and cabaret dancer, and was then developed again for the Close Theatre in Glasgow the following January. In December, Lindsay, Jack and Annie Stainer rehearsed and performed Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales in the York Arts Centre, redeveloping the show Lindsay had performed at the old Lawnmarket Traverse in December 1964… one of the many ‘redeveloped’ shows of his career. To complete the programme, a new work called Legends was created, based on early Hollywood movies: a seed that over many years would generate a whole straggling family of productions… as we will soon see.
After a notoriously scandal-ridden Arts Council Tour of Scottish provincial cities with Turquoise Pantomime in early 1971 (a typical mixture of disasters, dramas and triumphs), a new and very different creation was developed: his second full-length production, loosely based on Buchner’s play Woyzeck, with the title role played by Lindsay, revelling in the madness of the character and of the world around him.

 

Annie Balfour played Maria, and various of Lindsay’s circle of collaborators were involved, including Orlando, Morag Deyes, Stuart Forbes, Hugh Fraser, Irene Muir, Laurence Rudic, and Hamish McDonald. More speech fragments were used – something of a departure from the Pantomime formula, experimented with here as in early Flowers and Salomé – and many of the costumes were made of paper. As with all his productions at the time, Lindsay was also billed as director and designer. His Woyzeck was an ambitious project, the first rough sketch of a new dramatic style, but it had a short life, and was never performed again.
In contrast – as an example of early 1970s performance attitudes and Lindsay’s readiness to throw himself into improvisational happenings that abolished not only the stage’s mythical fourth wall but all four walls and the stage as well–he and his troupe took part in the Traverse Tattoo from 23 August to 11 September 1971. This took place in the Traverse Courtyard and featured a vaudeville band called Poppy Dog and the Cannabis Resinators. This featured a basic band of musicians, and Lindsay and troupe, who were joined by anyone who wanted to do so…and all kinds of actors and musicians who were performing at the festival and happened to be passing joined in with the music, the performance or both. Lindsay improvised dances or routines and invited others to join him… playing the Pied Piper, as he always did.
In the same period he also worked as movement director on Richard Eyre’s The Changeling at the Edinburgh’s Lyceum and King’s Theatres, and then jumped at the important chance offered by the Citizens in Glasgow to direct a “serious play”, i.e. Genet’s The Maids. This ran for two and a half triumphal weeks in October 1971, and became legendary due to its then fledgling cast of Tim Curry, Rupert Fraser and James Aubrey, and to its director’s audacious but apt directorial choices. Both these experiences provided further evidence of his widening range and growing skill in terms of show-making.
At the Citizens Theatre there followed a revamped Crimson Pantomime, plus choreography on the Citizens Company Christmas Pantomime, and then Turquoise Pantomime in January 1972.
In August of that year, a more comprehensively revised Flowers ran at the Traverse Theatre during the Festival, drawing sold out houses every night: Kemp and Flowers were both becoming niche icons. For the occasion he collaborated with Lindsay Levy (a young writer, assistant director on the previous version of Flowers) on a more carefully articulated dramaturgy and staging: this included the introduction of a narrator (Levy, sitting on a high-chair as she read occasional passages from the novel).

 

 

Richer, more sophisticated and powerful, with extra incense and smoke, and louder music, the show was still raw enough, erotic enough and spontaneous enough to remain faithful to Genet and to Lindsay’s improvisations and unpredictability… yet again, there were episodes where he quarrelled violently onstage with members of the cast, or harangued members of the audience in the middle of a scene. In the stiflingly hot all-black theatre – covered with white chalk graffiti drawings, slogans and fragments of Genet, hand drawn and written by Lindsay –for the spectator the sense of real impending danger, sex and violence was inescapable: Artaud mixed with parody and nudity, plus new high-impact musical and lighting effects forminga flood of sudden surprises and contrasts.

 

 

(I was among the stunned spectators… the first time I saw Lindsay. Little did I know…)
That October (fresh from his adventures with David Bowie’s concerts in the Rainbow The atreand the London opening of Ken Russel’sSavage Messiah) came another ambitious creation which (like Flowers) would later change radically and develop into a major international success: Salomé. The choice of subject showed his readiness to engage with more complex themes… and the shift from Genet to Wilde in itself reflected both contrasts and similarities: Kemp’s self-identification with the lives and works of authors who attracted him was a lifelong trait and source of inspiration(Genet and Wilde may appear to be opposite extremes, but both of their lives were tragic celebrations of homoerotic adoration, and both performed on their pages with a mixture of raw directness, bittersweet irony and baroque poetry).

 

 

Kemp’s later versions of Salomé would combine deep erotic pulsions with decadently corrupt power and riches, but the prototype try-out of October 1972 was forced – for obvious economic reasons – to present a Poor Theatre vision of Herod’s cruel extravagance. The Traverse Salomé also differed greatly from what would come later because Lindsay did not play the role of Salomé. He had taken to Divine the transvestite immediately and totally but – as he put it – “a thirty-five year-old man playing a twelve year-old Princess calls for a lot of cheek”… not that he ever lacked cheek. The main reason behind his decision to play Narraboth, the slaveen amoured of the princess, had more to do with the fact that he had been cast by Robin Hardy for his film The Wicker Man, which began shooting in October: by playing Narraboth, Lindsay could adapt to the changeable scheduling of film-making by having an understudy

 

ready to replace him. The role of Salomé was played by Annie Balfour – Maria in Woyzeck – a powerful dancing actress, who would go on to play an extraordinary Ernestine in Flowers during its triumphs in 1974-1976.
The task of adapting Wilde’s word-rich play to Kemp’s image-rich, music-rich and movement-rich stage language fell to Lindsay Levy, his main collaborator at that time, both in terms of assistant directing and dramaturgy. The bones of Wilde’s text were preserved, but reduced by more than half: Kemp only staged works based on authors he was in love with, but that never stopped him from removing most of their words in order to tell their stories in his own language. Onstage, Jack Birkett/Orlando played the first of many incredibly grotesque versions of Herodias, using his powerful singer’s voice in an acting role to comic and chilling effect. The experienced actor John Church played the first of many obsessive Herods fated to succumb to the two monstrous women, while Christopher Brown was – literally – a fire-eating Jokanaan, presented as an obsessed bigot whose preaching speeches were peppered with bursts of flame, having been pre-recorded and electronically transformed into crazed gurgles. As in future versions of Kemp’s Salomé, the death of Jokanaan was staged as a Saint Sebastian-style ritual.

 

 

Among the other members of the informal entity billed as the Lindsay Kemp Theatre Troupe in this period were Bob Anthony, Mark Baldwin, Ray Arazma, Giles Webster and Les Davidson, with costumes by Stuart Forbes. Many of the early rehearsals took place in London, until the cast transferred to Edinburgh, and the show opened in the Traverse Theatre on October 12 1972.
From the second day of Salomé, the evening show was followed by a semi-improvised late-night performance called Sideshow… another sign of Lindsay’s insatiable appetite for stage time. This featured live music by the Mama Flyer Band, and Kemp and/or his troupe performing songs, sketches and highlights, partly varying from one night to the next.
The following 12 months were extremely busy, both in Scotland and London, with all kinds of mixed projects, some briefly reaching fruition (a very short-lived creation called That’s the Show in the Traverse in late January 1973, some filming, including The Lindsay Kemp Circus directed by Celestino Coronado, and much teaching, north and south), others falling by the wayside. Plans included taking Flowers to London, redoing his production of The Maids with himself playing Madame… a year when life was, as he used to say, “very busy, very bumpy”… i.e. numerous ups and downs, and numerous amorous happenings. Much was brewing… and much was being drunkas well.

 

 

By the autumn things were falling into place: an extended season in the Traverse was confirmed, and plans were underway to upgrade Legends and then develop The Maidsto ready it for performance in London.
     Legends opened on 11 October, with the subtitle A tribute to the Stars.In his programme note, Lindsay described the show’s premise:“Inspired by Buster Keaton’s projectionist… I shall allow myself to be carried away and utterly involved in the movies that I am projecting, watching and directing…”The programme also including a very period “artist’s manifesto” by Lindsay, reproduced here, complete with a dedication (spelling mistakes included)“For Carmen Miranda, Jeanette Macdonald, Marylyn Monroe, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Ann-Margaret, Brian Patten, Jean-Luis Barrault, Dr.Caligari, Jean Genet, Jean Cocteau, Maria Montez, Ludmilla Tcherina, Greta Garbo, Jeanne Moreau, Lesley Carron, the sisters Gish, Jean Tierney, Walt Disney, Celestino, Jennifer Jones, Johnny Weissmuller, Moira and Norma Shearer, Jean Harlow and many, many others, thank you, I love you.”This was the kind of declaration that stimulated many British journalists to come up with the brilliantly original idea of coupling ‘Kemp’with‘Camp’ for years to come. Camp was indeed one ingredient of his personality and his creations, especially in this period and especially in Legends. Camp was an escape-route from pompousness, institutionality and inhibition, and a laughter-filled declaration of homosexuality.

 

 

Camp meant playfulness, self-parody, gender interplay, license to dress up, to be tragic… and theatrical. More specifically, for the post-war generation, it usually meant idolising the 1920-1950 generation of Hollywood stars, and the myth of Hollywood.] All this was expressed naively and hilariously in the three-man show called Legends, through a concept which under various names(e.g. The Parades Gone By, The Big Parade, Sogni di Hollywood and The Illusionist) Lindsay would more lavishlyre develop many years later, for numerous Dance Companies and for his own full company.
In the Traverse production, alongside Kemp’s Keatonesque projectionist dreamer, The Incredible Orlando and Bob Anthony (a close friend and collaborator for many years by this stage) played a bizarre variety of male and female roles, with Kemp flitting in and out of his celluloid dreams… Bob Anthony’s appearance in drag, limping on crutches while miming in playback the song By a waterfall(from Busby Berkeley’s Footlight Parade) was one iconic image, as was Orlando dressed as Judy Garlandsinging a desperate version of Somewhere over the Rainbow, or the three of them dressed as sailors and dancing the hornpipe. The movie and soundtrack collages skipped quickly from one film to another: from Dracula (withering in the morning to Greig’s Peer Gynt ‘Morning Mood’) to 42nd Street to Frankenstein to Frankie and Johnny to San Francisco, with the three of them confidently portraying fifty Busby Berkeley girls at a time… the whole show was unadulterated comedy, especially in the tragic scenes.
While Legends ran for two weeks, The Maids was rehearsed during the day. Lindsay could draw on having directed Genet’s play in Glasgow two years before, but was now able to take more liberties “in a show of my own”.

 

 

And it was all the more “his own” because this time he was playing the star in the role of Madame. Solange and Clair were played respectively by Tony and David Meyer, two identical twins who had played Lysander and Demetrius in Peter Brook’s world tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The idea of casting these two muscularly handsome young actors to play the two female mirror-image servants of Lindsay’s ultra-bourgeois Madame meant stretching everyone’s imagination (and no one could have guessed that David would soon be playing leading roles in various Lindsay Kemp Company productions worldwide).Lindsay’s silver dress and sequinned skull-cap may have come from Flowers or from the The Maids in Glasgow… the boys wore corsets and coarse stockings, as had the maids in Glasgow, and their flesh was covered by graffiti hearts, stars and drawings by Kemp.
Lindsay, by all accounts, directed with great insight and was extraordinary in his portrayal of Madame… his poses and gestures and their role in his characterisation far outstripping any of his previous roles.

 

 

The elegant drawl of Lindsay’s speeches worked wonderfully… and where his memory failed him he showed quick wit in adlibbing… often substituting much spicier texts than the originals. He revelled in the role’s sophisticated cruelty and in bringing out the hidden brutality engendered by Madame’scontempt for the lower class servants: the production’s ironic wit, erotic obsessions and murderous undertow was very true to Genet… and would also soon serve Lindsay well in a different role, but wearing the same dress.
Once The Maids had opened as the evening’s main show on October 24th, ‘Legends’was performed after it, as a late-night show(if there had been a third show to do in the Traverse courtyard afterwards, no doubt Lindsay would have happily run down and done that too)… until the season ended on November 4th.
That season in the Traverse was a huge success (admittedly, it was a small theatre), and doubtless increased Lindsay’s confidence greatly, but it turned out to be his last appearance there. The core Kemp troupe moved back to London, as preparations went ahead for the upcoming triumph –planned many weeks earlier – of The Maidsat The Bush Theatre in Shepherd’s Bush… another small theatre, also with raised seating in a pitch black room, this time just upstairs from a thriving and very noisy pub.

 

 

After the get-in, around mid-November, only a few days before the debut, during rehearsals a registered letter was brought up by the owner of the pub downstairs and given to Lindsay: it was a legal injunction forbidding the performance of The Maids to go ahead. Genet’s English agent – despite previous indications to the contrary – was refusing to give permission for this production. Lindsay sat on the wooden seating dumbstruck, reading the letter over and over. The Meyer twins likewise. After a few minutes, Lindsay jumped up shouting “Fuck’em all! Just wait and see! Fuck’em!
He swept out, spoke with the theatre management, and then called David Bowie from the pay-phone down in the pub.
The next morning David (who had been introduced to the world of Genet by Lindsay) went to Rosica Collins in her office, to persuade her to grant permission.
According to Bowie, she said to him “I’d rather drop dead. I’ve got a professional production coming up!” But he eventually persuaded her to allow one single non-paying invitation-only performance, as he then reported to Lindsay.
A few hours later, in the theatre, Lindsay gathered his cast and collaborators and announced hisplan: the slot reserved for The Maids would be filled briefly by a week of performances of The Turquoise Pantomime, and then byone non-paying performance of The Maids, mostly in order to be recorded on a video camera which David Bowie had promised to provide so that he could then send emissaries to search for Genet himself, to show him the video and get his permission. And as of immediately, a cast would be organised and preparations and publicity arranged for the opening of a new production of Flowers at the Bush after Christmas.“They can’t prevent me from staging Flowers: it’s inspired by Genet, but there’s no text!!” he finished defiantly. And with a gleam in his eyes, “Nobody’s going to stop me from doing Flowers!!!”
Little did anyone guess that this disaster would lead to all Lindsay Kemp’s subsequent triumphs… and a great deal more besides.

 

 

 

[END OF CHAPTER]

 
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Exiles from London – an extract from Maze End (2013)

‘Estate Extent’ Linoprint on mixed media, 1984

 

 

            And now it almost seems as if before

            we were peacefully sleeping and then awoke

            to where the months accelerated faster

            dissipated the warm

            and shook the distances.

 

 

Another trait supposedly descending to Volcano from Fred Optimistic, was a bodging, “Slap a coat of paint on it,” attitude. In the Grandfather’s case, quick fix or hasty solutions may have saved his life on more than one occasion. If Fred was to be believed, he’d been “Monty’s right-hand man”, through both the desert campaign and on the combat trail through Italy: although how there was ever time for battles amidst the cockroach racing and the consumption of abandoned wine, Volcano never knew. Conceivably, Fred’s ever-optimistic attitude, his air of muddling through, had been cast in reaction to the harsh historic events over which he’d driven his army truck and of which he spoke so lightly. Probably he was concealing darker memories he did not wish to dwell on. He’d always maintained that he could drive just as well or better, even when virtually unconscious or “up to the gills” in drink. As he’d been an army driving instructor when the skill was not so common, perhaps this was true. To evade possible strafing by an enemy aircraft in Italy – though having had “a skin full” – he told his pals to “load me in the seat and I’ll drive.” Had his pals regretted his assurances? Volcano didn’t know – the story was always, somehow, interrupted there.           

In the eventually optimistic post-war world, up to and beyond the time of Macmillan’s famous phrase,[i] Fred must have been in his element. Renowned for restoring an old piano by simply slapping white gloss over the stained and cracked keys, (“Looks a TREAT!” he’d raptured) he’d even impressed himself! Some years later and none the more downcast, he turned up at the newly built council house that Jack in the Green’s family had been washed away from London to reach. Floating on fields circa 1966, sandy roads new-cut through the sudden verdant hope of spring (or the drifting wisps of dandelion clocks?), Fred arrived in a hand-painted blue car.           

Did that car shine in sharp April sun or in a late summer dust of seeds? Newly born, its houses still shining, perhaps this was the Alderhurst Estate’s finest hour? If the house or the combined patterns of drives and closes had possessed their own collective memory, is this scene, at that phrase of time, the one it would select above all others? Would that be the best and last image it would remember? Or would it prefer itself a few years later? By then the estate – still fresh like young trees in May-time leaves – would have the beginnings of newly conjured gardens, and yet all the exiles would still be surprised by the luck of their new island.           

In their curving street, Mayfair Avenue, Volcano could see in his mind’s eye, that blue car. What make it was he couldn’t say; but of Optimistic’s casual confidence there was no doubt: that car was painted with such cavalier relish that it revelled in its brush marks. In fact, it may even have still been tacky – and dashed with a sample of insects collected on the forty-mile drive from London.           

In the mind’s eye it was as if all the cast of Alderhurst Estate, neighbours proud of their new found space and cheerful flowers by the red brick and white, pre-fabricated, fibre-glass panels, were standing for some extensive aerial photograph, a celebration for which they all looked upwards – each one in a family group by their house, on their island.           

Presumably during construction, those forthright and conspicuous white panels (a section of both the up and downstairs façade), whose whiteness would dominate the airborne viewpoint, and which offset so well the colours of all the gathered players, had been lifted into place in one go? In all his days there, he remembered how those panels could shift in their brick guides – like a Lego house built by a child with no knowledge of stretcher or Flemish or any other bond; just built in adjoining columns, then quickly held together by jamming on the roof!           

All these proud neighbours, overspill from various environs: Chiswick, Acton, Hackney and Kentish Town; Wandsworth, Peckham, the Caledonian Road . . .  To Jack in the Green, all the names of London were a beautiful poem – despite that the reality of the places might struggle to reach the wrought ideal. Forget all that soft stuff about nightingales and flowers – the Estate Island generation always had the wonder of their imagined origins – so long as they did not actually go back too often.           

Origins, like summer reveries or wishes, are largely imagined. We create their meaning each one of us anew, dependant on our temperament – embellishing the good, hampered by the bad. It had never been possible, despite all Volcano or Cyrian’s wanderings in real places or archives, to find any exact places or generators of this intense beauty. It was an atmosphere only. One that would suddenly pour through the fabric of reality.           

He had searched and revisited diverse regions of London, hoping to find exact correlations to some dream or memory; expecting to find an actual place. But this Grail lay always just out of reach, as in the dream of Lancelot, where lain to rest in a burial ground for the night, he is paralysed but for his flowing tears, as the Grail procession passes: At the true sword’s point, found unworthy. This is a common feeling no doubt: Lucy held it for Flintshire and the foothills of the Clwyd mountains, and for some childhood memory of Offa’s Dyke. Volcano had once recollected this tale of Lancelot, paralysed by unworthiness, only to find she shared an intimacy with both the story and the emotion. She even believed there was a ruined chapel, one she’d known in Denbighshire, that corresponded: “at least in my mind.”           

Everywhere and nowhere this undiscoverable region lay; it could come startlingly from a photograph or map, or from the name roundels on Tube stations: Turnham Green or Gunnersbury Park, Perivale or Headstone Lane; from a redbrick pub with exultant flower baskets: ‘The Bricklayer’s Arms’ or ‘The Crooked Billet’; from numerous scenes in films both fiction and documentary . . . fragments of evocatory power . . .           

Were all such suggestions embedded in time, or could they be freed from that tyranny? How much is of them is our singular memory? Or are they generational gifts from some collective memory? How many are scenes really taken from films? The rained-off street-party at the end of ‘Passport to Pimlico’[ii] standing in for countless other celebratory equivalents, other Jubilees – even if the rain never comes.           

Unlike the estate island overspill, for Londoners who’d not chosen exile, location appeared more specific. If you grew up and stayed in Kennington or Holloway, those areas, the capital’s centre and the sections between, might remain the only zones well known –the rest persisting as a whitened blank on the map. But to Volcano or Cyrian or Jack in the Green, the whole area was in the sights of his vision, out into Kent, Essex, Middlesex and Surrey. Walking through unexpected sectors, they could without warning seem about to dissolve, as if he could step through into some living past, his London, That Mighty Heart[iii], and this time he would reach his Grail, for he was part of its very blood!           

Sadly, this feeling could not last . . . it would vanish, fade or be interrupted.           

Alternatively, it would arise in illogical places – from an abstract painting or a country cottage. One of the strongest generators turned out to be a pub hiding down an alleyway in a West Country town[iv]: yet as well as the presence of London past, this pub in chorus sung an atmosphere of the canal. It was like a lock-keepers lodge, a tollgate on the veins from that heart. More fairly perhaps, it had a feel of the Midlands – the true heart of both canals and red brick. Impossible to pin down, the Grail always stays beyond reach – and the restlessness of the search for it, undermines all the embracing rhetoric.           

But of the search one must never tire; since without such feelings our days and hours would be mostly dead. We need the embroidery of memories, of hopes and connections. Reality as an object of fact does not exist, and if we could all, as we too often do, shut ourselves down enough to achieve such a ‘reality’ (and we might inadvertently be getting closer to just that), it would not be worth having.           

As a film watched in intense relaxation can become a temporary reality – so should our own complexities, from varied moments of time, create the present. An objective reality firmly embraced would be a prison – whereas the potential of each intensified moment is the beginning of true freedom. The Grail perhaps is already within us, rather than in the places and times through which we restlessly seek. The generators of beauty in an external ‘reality’, are only mirrors of our own capacity to will, and to have some indefinable faith. We need to discard time, to escape from the inadvertent life and achieve immortality – at least for now!       

In a more self-conscious fantasy, all those exiles from London gathered to see Fred Optimistic’s hand-painted car: The Great-Grandad next door, (he who walked with two sticks and had figured in the First World War), who rarely spoke, but sat in an upright chair crammed into a huge buddleia bush, amongst clouds of red admirals and peacocks – he had a slight smile as if he was in paradise . . . and he was, he was! He too, hobbled out to see that blue car, alongside the burly dad from over the fence, the original motorcycle-rocker. Gestapo also – so named for his tight-lipped expression and sinister leather coat, and because the Waterboatman once caught him throwing stones at our cat – he was there and even looked happy. There was the back-garden mechanic from the house by the alley, an avid collector of axles and differentials. The two school cleaners and mothers, contrasting friends – Mrs Loud-laugh and Mrs Well-blessed, circle and stick. The deaf woman and her three voice-projecting daughters – finely adapted to the expressive screech . . .

All of them had gathered, and all the other anonymous neighbours too, to see this hand-painted car. Even Aunt Maggs, who Volcano had never seen, and who had died in the war, even she would be there. In some striving but over-golden film, a retreating climb executed by the camera would begin near the front headlight, close on those swashbuckling brush marks. Their blue would expand until the lens encompassed the fullness of the car, reversing further to capture that admiring crowd, lifting to the new houses and then sweeping up, right up, to hold the summer-misty distances where the estate island blurs into a sea of fields, its waves shown by the lines of trees and hedges that comprise the whole of the Vale of Arrowsby, stretching out from the chalk escarpment behind . . .

Some would argue that art is the one true point of civilisation; that nothing in the end counts but the alchemy that condenses and elevates reality: that it is only once reality is viewed through art, that it comes to have any meaning. In opposition, the more politically minded would say that to view art in this way, is to use it as religion was used, to use it as a drug, blinding us to poverty and injustice, stalling our care for the world – since we already believe in another.

Volcano could see shelving thoughts of value projecting from both these headlands, irrespective of their remoteness from the daily lives of many of the people on island estates such as Alderhurst. Artists were extreme and politicians rarely worth trusting. What those citizens cared for most was perhaps their underlying sense of a new frontier – regardless that it receded into the sadness of exile. For some, their new gardens were the only art that mattered. For others it was the travelling luxury they would soon be able to earn, (before it became the tired necessity of later generations): a car of their own. For such views, Volcano for one, would never blame them. He, and all his friends of the time, had held similar feelings about their bikes.

 

 

Lawrence Freiesleben,   copyright 2013

lwf@hawkvalley.co.uk

 

Notes

[i]               “Most of our people have never had it so good”. Included in a speech given at Bedford on  July the 20th 1957 

[ii]               The famous Ealing comedy.

[iii]              British Transport Film of 1962. Embedded in:

                http://internationaltimes.it/devon-and-derby-an-english-journey-digression/

[iv]              The Vine in Honiton, circa 1989-2005

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Escape


If vanishing 
into thin air 
was
a possibility, 
would the sky 
consume 
my substance; 
and nimbus 
engulf my soul 
and Siberian birds 
take me home, 
setting sail 
on wayward winds
to unknown heavens? 

Would you notice 
I am gone 
and smile back 
at me, 
when I twinkle 
at you 
in star-studded nights 
and make a wish 
upon me 
to see me 
one last time?

An escape
into nothingness.

 

 

 

 

Dr. Priya Dolma Tamang.
Illustration Nick Victor

 

Bio

Dr. Priya Dolma Tamang is a medical graduate from the north-east Indian state of Sikkim. With her tribal Nepali roots and deeply seated Buddhist beliefs, culture and mindfulness have both been active themes in her writing. 

 

Her poetry has found home in international journals and magazines, like Urban Magazine (June and September 2019 issues), ReadMoreCoHeadline Poetry, with work forthcoming in Tales of Reverie by Paragon Press and Just Milieu Art Zine

 

Her debut book, Ivory Gleam, was published by Leadstart Publishers, Mumbai, in 2018.

 

 

www.twitter.com/kulvadana

 

www.instagram.com/poetryandprosebyk

 

www.facebook.com/poetryandprosebyk

 

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It’s a Kind of Magic

Good Day For Cloud Fishing, Ben Goldberg, Nels Cline, Ron Miles, Dean Young (CD + booklet + cards in box; Pyroclastic Records)

Jazz and poetry have seemingly always gone hand-in-hand: the likes of Kenneth Patchen, Robert Creeley and Allen Ginsberg read above and through bop and post-bop workouts, whilst Clark Coolidge improvised on and off the page with freeform flair. As well as the Beats there were the poets of the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movement.

In the UK we had Michael Horovitz and his colleagues on the one hand, and Bob Cobbing and other experimental sound poets on the other. Stephen Middleton’s much-missed Ostinato poetry magazine featured jazz poetry, poetry about jazz and poetry inspired by jazz, as well as music and book reviews, highlighting the various combinations possible. (We could continue the musical connection by discussing acid jazz and dub poetry too, but I won’t.)

Other poets have talked about improvisation and/or contemporary composition as being analogue to how their poems work. Dean Young is certainly someone who ‘takes a line for a walk’, and I’m always amazed at how his poetry moves from one thing to another. Clarinettist Ben Goldberg, whose name this CD is released under, writes in the CD booklet that he feels that Young ‘might do anything’ in his poetry, and goes on to suggest that ‘if you might do anything, this brings up the question of what can be done, but you’ve kind of snuck up on it from behind or maybe it has snuck up on you’, emphasizing a sense of surprise, or the unknown.

This isn’t, of course, meant to suggest Young’s poems are improvised, I know they are carefully shaped and edited; but they have a fluidity and casualness that suggests they are produced of and in the moment. Goldberg’s music has this too, the trio of electric guitar, trumpet and Goldberg’s clarinets have an immediacy and manoeuvrability that belies the clever textural and tonal interplay and dynamics here.

So how does Dean Young’s poetry fit into this? Well, he’s part of the scaffolding of the music, but in a clever twist the music also produces new poetry. Say what? Well, Cline got in touch with Young to propose a project, Young said ‘yeah’ and sent along poems from his (at the time) forthcoming book Solar Perplexus. Cline wrote some tunes in response to specific poems and the band recorded them. Then they played them back to Young, who wrote new poems from the music, without knowing the original source poems. Good, eh?

What’s great is the reader/listener here gets to read and listen to every part of the process. We get twelve cards with Dean Young’s ‘entry’ and ‘exit’ poems, a CD with twelve tracks, and a booklet, all in a nifty box, the artwork of which features a beautiful old typewriter. The poems are all short, and I have to be honest and say I don’t think they’re the best Young poems ever, but I do like the way they sometimes specifically refer to the music they respond to. In ‘How’d You Get Here?’ (Exit Track 11) he notes that

The harder a string is stretched

the more you have to lie down afterward

cantillating, letting someone else

row.

which feels like a nice way of admitting there are times you have to simply follow, but also embracing the process with the closing ‘Who wouldn’t love to be so looped?’

Well, who wouldn’t? Just as Goldberg’s music has improvisation within these recorded versions, Young’s poems are pushed into unfamiliar places (‘One way to pull the mind apart’ he says in ‘Help’s on the way’) where he allows the surreal and everyday to pile up in dizzy parataxis. In ‘Courtney’s Hallelujah’, a response to the final track ‘An Ordinary Day Somewhere’, Young asks

Is the piano ok in the tree?

Why I believe it is.

It’s biological. Like electricity.

Eclipses. Dust. Silver silver dust.

It might be fairy dust, it’s certainly magic, as is this fantastic collaboration.

 

CD details and ordering at https://bengoldbergpyroclastic.bandcamp.com/album/good-day-for-cloud-fishing

 

 

Rupert Loydell

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FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT

 

                    Resources for addressing the needs

Last year I was homesick

                    We need to take control

Education, materialism and hard work

                   Making immigration work for all

I am a child – we either flourish or flag

                  Urgent needs and key recommendations

You can see my beliefs by what I do

                   Refugees are living in perpetual fear

I have been growing up here

                   Sponsor a child

We have a really good life

                   Maximizing the potential

Next year I am homesick

                   Find us a new home

                   I see people in a different way

Remember that the dying character still has a personality

                   It’s not a fear as such

The dying process is often referred to as the terminal phase

                   It’s like you are tumbling down

This definition will guide validation of after-death reports

                    I don’t have to feel this way

Life is a survival horror game set in a vast and dangerous open world

                    It feels even worse

This has been created to help you to answer some difficult questions

                    I am so sick and tired of listening

                   I was hoping I can stay

The right to travel has never been absolute

                 We were very sorry to leave

Free movement rights may differ somewhat

               We had very little to lose

The country needs a new migration system

               Everyone seemed so frightening

 A world where boundaries are becoming less meaningful

              I felt very lonely most of the time

A narrative about the rights of individuals

              Find us a new home

 

 

 

 

© Rupert M Loydell
Illustration: Claire Palmer

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Sonnets from Bad Idea

Sonnets from Bad Idea: overdubs of Michael Drayton’s 1619 sequence Idea

 

LV

My fair, if you but register to vote, it

may speak volumes at the election.

There won’t be a second referendum now –

except in Scotland, or in the North.

Booster Bo, turbocharged with active verbs, hoists

Manx kippers, kicks Welsh chicken, across

performative scripts for his ‘Awesome Foursome’.

(Move Heaven, Earth, for revocation!)

Quarter my brain, see what I see: the sore rump

of Britain as a Gruesome Twosome,

sacrifice of countries already othered:

nationhood unthreads ethnicity.

              Governance of Earth where our two bodies melt

              in global heatwave registers now.

 

 

LVI Doggerland

When like a dogger I found my love,

fingered through the open car window,

upon the bonnet I spread her out

to prove if she’d still be in demand

after Brexit. No sooner did blokes

in wormy delight unthread their threads,

show that this is our true National Sport,

voted boss by the brave mounting brood.

And when the spumes of sweet desire filled

the air, and Go’s grove lay moist beneath

the spunky Brits, I proved that even

a no-deal leaves no-end of supply!

             Thus far from my non-exclusive breast

             her breasts bounce in self-sufficient flight.

 

 

 

Robert Sheppard
Illustration: Atlanta Wiggs

 

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Snowy soul

A footprint on the snow of a wounded soul can be so deep that it is never covered. But when this sign, on the whiteness of the spirit, is the sign of a presence of ardent love, the chill of pain will melt gently, the flame of this feeling cannot be extinguished, its task is to dissolve this bleak snow, because the shiver of mourning is not as strong as the warmth of what has been, it is not as strong as the sacred warmth of what still exists in another life, the ice of a torn heart cannot resist the sweet ardor of an indestructible love.

I wait for the snow to melt inside me, I await with confidence that the flaming footprint of your presence will rest on my inner land, that your angelic embrace will envelop me and warm me, turning ice into fresh water that can wash despair , and I look forward, with emotion,to no longer have doubts, to no longer know fear, to know that you are with me, as in the past, in the infinite, in a plot inviolable. I want to forget the pain, because there is no distance between us, there are no obstacles between you and me. Dissolve this snow and show me the road that leads me to you.

 

Pic and text: Elena Caldera

For Heathcote Williams   (15/11/2019)

 

 

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First they came for Assange…

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SENSATION

 

The joy of spring is loud

As the spirit leads,

The wonder of nature is real

As the spirit shows.

 

The mystery of harvest is natural

See, the land is green

The glory of barns is spiritual

See, the cloud is heavy.

 

The sensation is real

Hear the sound

The news is great

Dance, dance, celebrate

Rejoice, rejoice, dance

Feast and clap

Watch and pray

For the spirit is nature.

 

 

NGOZI OLIVIA OSUOHA is a poet/writer/thinker, a Nigerian graduate of Estate Management with experience in Banking and Broadcasting.

She has published over two hundred and fifty poems and articles in over twenty countries and has also featured in over forty international anthologies.

She has authored six poetry books and coauthored one. 

She has numerous words on the marble, she has won many awards and also a one time BEST OF THE NET NOMINEE.

Some of her poems have been translated and published in several languages.

 

 

Picture by Viktor

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Sylvia Plath Reads Lady Lazarus.

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Anarchism’s Possibilities

  • By: thecollective

From Institute For Anarchist Studies

The Perspectives collective is committed to making anarchist ideas accessible and widely understood. As part of this we aspire to include a brief “What is Anarchism?” type essay in future print issues. We approached Kim Stanley Robinson about writing one for us, and he referred us to a piece he wrote for a book called Myths and Lawbreakers: Anarchist Writers on Fiction for AK Press. He told us that if he “were to write anything more about anarchism (doubtful) it would only be to reiterate the points in this intro.” He gave us permission to share it with you and we think it beautifully illustrates not only the terms of anarchism, but also its current challenges and possibilities. It also nicely fits with our current theme of “Imaginations,” which the forthcoming print issue of Perspectives is all about. Enjoy.

This book collects fifteen interviews with writers who have either described themselves as anarchists, written about anarchists in historical or contemporary settings, or invented fictional cultures that they or others have called anarchist. Each person’s story is different, naturally, and the definitions they have given for anarchism are not the same either. An-archy: absence of rulers, or absence of law? The original Greek suggests the former, common English usage since the seventeenth century, the latter; and it makes quite a difference which definition you use. So we find those interviewed here circling repeatedly around questions of definition, both of what the concept means, and how it can be applied to writing and to life, not only the lives of those included here, but the lives of everyone. These are knotty problems, and it’s no surprise that the questions and answers here keep pulling and prodding at them, hoping for some clarity.

Another problem the interviews return to again and again is how to reconcile anarchist beliefs with actual life in the globalized capitalist system. Some of the writers here live by anarchist beliefs to a certain extent, publishing or distributing their writing outside the conventional publishing world, or living in alternative arrangements of one kind or another. Others live more outwardly conventional lives, while writing about anarchism and supporting it in their political action, of which writing is one part. No one can escape a certain amount of contradiction here; the world economy is almost entirely capitalist in structure, and state rule is an overarching reality in human affairs. So the interest in anarchism expressed by these writers, and the effect this complex of ideas has on their lives, has necessarily to involve various compromises and what might be called symbolic actions—as long as one remembers that symbolic actions are also real actions, not at all to be dismissed. Voting is a symbolic action, going to church is a symbolic action, speaking and writing and talking are symbolic actions; all are also real actions, and have real effects in the real world—partly by themselves, and partly by what they suggest symbolically we should do in all the rest of our actions.

Here therefore we are talking about ideology. I mean this in the way defined by Louis Althusser, which is roughly that an ideology is an imaginary relationship to a real situation. Both parts of the definition exist: there is a real situation, and by necessity our relationship to it is partly an imaginary one. So we all have an ideology, and in fact would be disabled or overwhelmed without one. The question then becomes, can we improve our ideology, in terms of both individual and collective function, and if so, how?

Here is where anarchist ideas come strongly into play. We live in a destructive and unjust system, which is nevertheless so massively entrenched, so protected by money, law, and armed force, as to seem unchangeable, even nature itself; it strives to seem natural, so much so that it would be very difficult to imagine a way out or a way forward from the current state. Given this reality of our moment in history, what should we do? What can we do, right now, that would change the situation?

One of the first and most obvious answers is: resist the current system in every way that is likely to do some good. That answer might rule out certain responses: people have been resisting capitalism for well over a century now, and many of the first methods to occur to people have been tried and have failed. Spontaneous mass revolt has been tried and has usually failed. Organized insurrection has sometimes done better, but over the long haul has often rebounded in ways that worsened the situation. Labor action and legal reform often seem possible and sometimes have achieved tangible success, but again, ultimately, despite what they have achieved, we find ourselves in the situation we are in now, so obviously labor action and legal reform are not as effective as one would hope. Mass political education has for a long time been a goal of those interested in promoting change, and again successes can be pointed to, but the overall impact has not yet been effective enough to avoid the danger we find ourselves in. What then should we do?

One thing that would help is to have some idea of what we might be trying to change toward; and this is where anarchism plays its part. As such it is a utopian political vision, and this is why several of the writers interviewed in this book are science fiction writers who have written stories describing anarchist situations as utopian spaces, as better systems that we should be struggling to achieve. This is my own situation; as a leftist, interested to oppose capitalism and to change it to something more just and sustainable, I have once or twice tried to depict societies with anarchist aspects or roots. These, like the work of other science fiction writers, are thought experiments, designed to explore ideas by way of fictional scenarios. Problems can be discussed by way of dramatizations, and the appeal of the alternative society achieved can be evoked for people to contemplate, to wish for, to work for. Until we have a vision of what we are working for, it is very hard to choose what to do in the present to get there.

Here is where anarchism has its greatest appeal, as well as its greatest danger. It is a rather pure and simple political system. It says that left to ourselves (or educated properly), people can be trusted to be good; that if we were not twisted by the demands of money and the state, we would take care of each other better than we do now. In a way this is a view that merely extends democratic thinking to its end point: if we are all equal, if everyone together rules equally, then no one rules; and thus you expand democracy until it ends up at anarchy. It is a profoundly hopeful view, and hope for a different state is a crucial component of action. Here in particular, symbolic action is also at the same time real action.

One way of putting this, used more than once by the writers in this book, is that society is now organized vertically, in a hierarchy of power, privilege, prosperity and health, which is structured in almost the same demographic pyramid as feudalism, or even the ancient warrior-priest command states. Anarchism suggests that the great majority of us would be far better off in a horizontal arrangement, an association of equals. Such a horizontality in the realm of power used to be derided as hopelessly naïve and unrealistic, but the more we learn about our human past and our primate ancestors, the more it becomes clear that this was the norm during the entirety of our evolution; only since the invention of agriculture, patriarchy, and the warrior-priest power structure has verticality ruled our lives. Getting back to a horizontal structure would be a return to the species norm and collective sanity, and to a sense of justice that long predates humanity itself, as can be seen clearly in the actions of our primate cousins.

From vertical to horizontal, then; but this is the work of democracy too, and even the work of history itself, if progress in human welfare is what we judge history by. So the more we succeed in this long work, the closer we come to the goals of anarchism, and the goals of other utopian endeavors: democracy, science, justice.

In the meantime, we have to constantly work; resist capitalism; interrogate our own actions; and speak out against the current order, for something better. That’s what these writers have been doing in their lives and their work, and so this book too becomes part of that project. It’s been going on for a very long time, and will presumably continue past our moment; but our destruction of the biosphere has moved the whole process into crisis mode, and we won’t be leaving that mode until the crisis is resolved. So to a certain extent we can no longer take the long view. We have to avert a biophysical catastrophe if we want to give our children a healthy planet and civilization. In this moment of the storm, all our political ideas need to be reconsidered, even the most radical ones, or especially the most radical ones. And all those based on a hopeful view of humanity, and helping to construct a utopian project for us to fulfill as soon as possible, deserve to be brought into the discussion. So: read on, and imagine a horizontal world, a free association of six billion equals. And as Brecht said: If you think this is utopian, please also consider why it is such.

Kim Stanley Robinson is a writer of science fiction. He has published nineteen novels and numerous short stories and is best known for his Mars trilogy. Robinson has won many awards, including the Hugo Award for Best Novel.

 
 
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Anarchism Here

Punk, anarchism and creative non-fiction
https://anarchiststudies.noblogs.org/article-punk-anarchism-and-creative-non-fiction/

The Postanarch Manifesto
https://anarchiststudies.noblogs.org/article-the-postanarch-manifesto/

Anarchy Bang  – live anarchist radio
https://www.blogtalkradio.com/anarchybang

Fight Fascists, Destroy Fascism   [USA]
https://c4ss.org/content/52447

the right is committed to an extreme state, to endangering human life
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=228&v=XeWWz4y1coU

 

 

 

 

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TIM HOLEHOUSE: HE’S NOT ICARUS

 

Album Review of:

COME’ by TIM HOLEHOUSE

(November 2019, KRUMM108,

under licence to Aaah!! Real Records)

www.timholehouse.com

This album consists of troubadour tales, despite Tim himself self-confessed as not much of a tourist. His own definition is ‘self-employed hobo musician.’ A tramp shining, on battered odysseys. Adding ‘I play music for music’s sake.’ Opener “Numbers Game” is big echoing drum-kicks, with rasping strings, part-Lumineers, part spiralling-strangeness, part Hothouse Flowers story-song. No, that other 1980s band, It’s Immaterial – “Driving Away From Home”, that’s the one. Glad we’ve cleared that up. ‘Sometimes an itch will become irritation.’ ‘Come’ is nine new songs of snackable track-length across just thirty-four minutes, with an optional ‘Sunburst’ vinyl edition. Come as you are, and keep on coming. Yes, there’s no point in looking back, Tim opines, because there’s no rear-view mirror to life. Instead, there’s a dance of “Areiro” fiddles set to a narrative trip to Portugal where Atlantic tides smack the beach, with anecdotes, incidents and a swelling chorus so real it makes you want to book a flight – if Thomas Cook hadn’t gone down.

A Portsmouth naval-town Folk-Bluesman (born 9 November 1976) – ‘by the sea, I was born and raised’, the prolific Timothy C Holehouse has come a long way up the Strasse since then, enjoying collaborations with Vincent Slegers, the Tourette Boys or Malcolm Tent. The music of his standout albums, including ‘Fighter’ (2013, Disclosure Deity Records), tend to be triggered by influences as diverse as ‘The Wicker Man’, love, loss, Spike Milligan, harvests, death, feelings and the sea. Already his second album of 2019, ‘Come’ follows the fifteen-track live compilation ‘Where?’ recorded at various venues across Europe, but this is ‘the whole widescreen version of my song-writing,’ preceded by his YouTube Bridge City Sessions, where his earlier “Gainesville City Limits” comes even more vocally raw, and there’s a vein-bulging improvised “Freud’ reduced to a mere Janov Primal Scream.

Now, his vocal lines are ghosted by occasional female harmony, against the unsettlingly drunk instrumental lurching sway. Classic ripples of guitar strings, mid-paced with a dirgy edge that tips over into odd alchemies, around the point of “Prince Of The Palace”. ‘To all my friends I’ve loved and lost,’ with slide glistening up and down the fret. ‘Maybe today, finally, I’ll quit smoking,’ will he really? of course not, kicking addictive habits is hard, hell yeah, with a “Twenty-Four Hours” that builds into powerful circling repetitions. Less the sensitive poet, more corporeal than that, what the album lacks in lyrical depth it makes up for in slicing lasers of fiddle. Tim is a yearning Icarus with feet gravity-locked firmly to the ground. “Placid Lake” – ain’t that the mega-croc monster-movie? Apparently not. Glad we’ve cleared that up. It’s more an arboreal idyll, a healing retreat beyond city limits, away from the factories and smoke of the rat race. Into the broken haunted sounds of closer-track “London” where he’s barely singing, it’s more a confessional, with the metropolis less a destination as somewhere to escape to, with dissonance filling the spaces between his voice. As the city lights go out. One by one. Leaving only… silence.

 

 

 

 

BY ANDREW DARLINGTON

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15 Awkward Signs.

 

Huh!

 

RIP English And Logic!

via

Well, what do you know they have no sense in English as well as logic! This is probably why you should always proofread!

Thanks For Letting Us Know!

via

How is it possible to put up a sign like this? Maybe there are raging alcoholics in that region!

What!

via

Why would you need that sign? Just to criticize feminists? I don’t understand the logic behind this lift sign!

Blame Hurricane!

via

What the place steals pets and blames hurricane? Also, you may want to pay attention to the grammar of these sentences, but you’re good!

Hahaha!

via

Honestly, if I come across this on a bad day, it will not be a bad day anymore! It’s interesting to have such board signals!

Aww…

via

What if someone is driving a two-wheeler? They aren’t cute? Oh/ well never mind it is a nice gesture!

On Point!

via

It is a known fact that humans are more dangerous than most animals! Although, I do feel bad for all those who actually read this!

Okay!

via

Well, thanks for the information otherwise how else would that workout! What if someone actually breaths underwater!

Fish Are Trying To Quit Smoking!

via

Hahaha! What even! That is so funny! This is the better way to let humans know tho! Because if you write that in clear words, they’ll never understand!

Bull Can Do It In 10!

via

You could this attempt to try, I mean one human death will not cause anything to this planet! There are a lot of others!

Crying Is Never An Emergency!

via

Better if you write, not meant for cry babies! That will be more fun than anything else!

Never Repeat Mistakes!

via

Why man! Bears are always better than humans! They won’t pay for the stay and also will never give you an emotional attack!

Are You Fabulous?

via

This is one of the most creative signs, I would surely want to break it!

Damn!

via

Well, if it helps people did stop to litter! The answer is always to insult and never to give in straight to the point!

 
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The Damage Done


Testament, Kim Sherwood (£8.99, riverrun)

George Santayana’s quote ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ has entered into common parlance, often in paraphrase and unattributed. My favourite version is Steve Turner’s, which is cleverly repeated several times throughout his poetry book Nice and Nasty:

HISTORY LESSON

History repeats itself.

Has to.

Nobody listens.

Nobody listening can of course be due to a kind of numbness to the same story being told in a familiar way over and over again. This can also lead to ideas of ownership, by individuals or communities who think a story belongs to them and only them. The holocaust is one such story (and please note the word story does not equate to fiction), and the current rise in xenophobia and anti-semitism is in many way due to people not paying attention to history.

In one of the essays in Singer on the Shore the author Gabriel Josipovici discusses the fact that the stories which make up what he calls communal memory need to be told anew, in different forms and voices, and cannot be ring-fenced or set in stone; retold stories are not static but are dynamic and alive. New versions do (or should) not distort, change or deny, but encourage people to listen and learn, to once more engage with stories they have heard before:

I would like to suggest that communal memory in traditional societies can be thought of first of all as dialogue. Maurice Halbwachs, the distinguished Jewish sociologist who was murdered by the Nazis in the last year of the war, divides the latter part of his book, Les cadres sociaux de la mémoire [On Collective Memory], into chapters on the family, religion and the realm of work. In each case, as he shows, what is important is the continual dialogue which is involved between parent and child, priest and parishioners, master and apprentice. Traditions are handed down by word of mouth, but not at all as one hands over a baton in a relay race, for what is passed on is inseparable from argument, discussion, meditation and practice. The child grows up hearing his parents and grandparents, his uncles and aunts, talking about earlier generations or distant members of the family of whom he has no personal knowledge; but he comes to know these people by means of the anecdotes he hears about them, the arguments his seniors get into concerning them, and the answers given to the questions he himself has. And when the time comes he in turn passes these on to his own children, joined now to anecdotes and arguments about his parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts he has himself known.

Kim Sherwood’s Testament is one such new telling, part of a continuing dialogue. It is new because it deals as much with the emotional inheritance of the holocaust and the ongoing confusion and hurt of second and third generation relatives as the concentration camps, ghettos, marches, train journeys and deaths. It deals with the narrator’s grief when her grandfather dies and her confusion as his past is slowly revealed. It is a dialogue between Eva and her grandfather, Eva and historians/archivists, Eva and documented and undocumented history, Eva and her parents, Eva and herself and, of course, Eva and the reader. It is also a dialogue between the present and past, the secular and the religious, the victim and the oppressor, the living and the dead.

Eva’s grandfather Silk is, or was, a famous artist who is pretty much estranged from Eva’s own parents, who are now separated and living abroad: her mother in Australia, her father in Europe. Eva has shared Silk’s house in London and cared for him in his final years. Her grief at his death is compounded by the discovery of a letter as she explores his painting studio, supposedly with the intention of starting to put his things in order. Suddenly a new history is hinted at and over the course of 450 pages, revealed.

For the reader this reveal is as much from a historical narrative set in World War 2 as Eva’s research, travel and contemplation. In Budapest and Berlin, she meets curators and strangers from her grandfather’s past; meanwhile, the reader travels into the ghetto and concentration camps, goes on forced marches and into exile, discovering Silk’s (who was then József) past. We are confronted not only with friendship, love, pain and basic survival, alongside Eva’s bewilderment, emotion and fear.

There is no happy ending to this book. Silk’s story may become clearer, but – like Eva – it is hard for the reader to come to terms with Silk’s disavowal of his own past, or to understand how it has – without even being acknowledged or recounted by him – emotionally and psychologically damaged his children and grandchildren. Eva has to grapple with the question of whether or not to make Silk’s past public, as part of an exhibition at the Berlin Jewish Museum; of whether to gift his story, along with his paintings, to others, despite only just having gained a knowledge and partial understanding of that story herself.

This novel is neither mawkish nor condescending, nor is it designed simply to provoke, inform or remind (though it does all three). It is a very personal, human retelling of a most inhuman story that we all-too-often neatly package up and label ‘the holocaust’, thus enabling ourselves to put it to one side. By unpacking history and peopling it with realistic actions, events and emotions, Sherwood allows readers to question for themselves the ongoing effects of genocide for not just survivors and their families but all of us. Just as Eva does, we can question ourselves as we are challenged to remember, to not repeat the past, and perhaps more importantly to not allow the past to be repeated.

 

 

 

 

Rupert Loydell

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Psychedelic Soul

Playing tracks by

EBONY RHYTHYM BAND, BLACK HEAT, Ruth Copeland, CURTIS MAYFIELD, NOIR and more.

 

2 shows ! CANAL B & RADIOLUX

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 !

www.stonedcircus.com (streaming, podcasts, playlist, records of the month)

STONED CIRCUS is NOW on RADIOLUX http://laradiolux.blogspot.fr/

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William Blake’s Illustrations For Dante’s Divine Comedy

Spellbinding drawings from William Blake’s last work

“Every thing in Dantes Comedia shews That for Tyrannical Purposes he has made This World the Foundation of All & the Goddess Nature & not the Holy Ghost”
– William Blake

 

 

In 1826, William Blake accepted a commission to illustrate Dante’s Divine Comedy (1320). Blake created 102 drawings for the book before he died, leaving the project unfinished. They rank alongside the great artist’s illustrations of Chaucer, his oil painting, like The Ghost of a Flea, and that glorious metaphysical, satirical drawing of Sir Issac Newton sat on the sea bed conspiring to “unweave the rainbow”. There was ever a chasm between the man who claimed to have seen an angel in a tree in Peckham Rye and the great materialist who created the law of universal gravitation and sought rational explanations in the fantastic.

 

William Blake illustrations drawings for Dante Divine Comedy

Dante running from three beasts is rescued by Virgil

If any artist can combine words and pictures to powerful effect, it’s the visionary Blake, whose Songs of Innocence and of Experience is as true a marriage of visuals and verbs as anyone has managed. His drawings lack precision, with parts reminiscent of a child’s sugar-fuelled scribbling, but the result is mesmerising. Blake’s images are packed with verve, movement and the assertion that something strange is out there.

 

Dante and Virgil enter Hell

Dante and Virgil enter Hell

 

William Blake illustrations drawings for Dante Divine Comedy

The Whirlwind of Lovers; Francesca da Rimini

William Blake illustrations drawings for Dante Divine Comedy

Cerberus

William Blake illustrations drawings for Dante Divine Comedy

The Stygian Lake with angry sinners fighting

William Blake illustrations drawings for Dante Divine Comedy

Virgil repelling Filippo Argenti from the Boat

William Blake illustrations drawings for Dante Divine Comedy

Dante conversing with Farinata Degli Uberti

he Serpent Attacking Buoso Donati

The Serpent Attacking Buoso Donati

William Blake illustrations drawings for Dante Divine Comedy

Scheme of the Circles of Hell

William Blake illustrations drawings for Dante Divine Comedy

The Minotaur (Seventh Circle)

 

William Blake illustrations drawings for Dante Divine Comedy

The Wood of Self-Violators: The Harpies and the Suicides

Capaneus the Blasphemer

William Blake illustrations drawings for Dante Divine Comedy

The Simoniac Pope

Thieves

The Punishment of the Thieves

 

William Blake illustrations drawings for Dante Divine Comedy

Centaur Cacus Threatens Vanni Fucci

William Blake illustrations drawings for Dante Divine Comedy

Ulysses & Diomedes wrapped in the same flame

William Blake illustrations drawings for Dante Divine Comedy

Antaeus sets down Dante and Virgil in the 9th circle

 

Count Ugolino and his sons in prison

William Blake illustrations drawings for Dante Divine Comedy

Lucifer at the last section of the ninth circle

Beatrice Addressing Dante

Beatrice Addressing Dante

 St Peter and St James with Dante and Beatrice

 

Lead image: Dante running from three beasts is rescued by Virgil

https://flashbak.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Still Pondering… Selected Poems 1982-2017 by Kevin Patrick McCann


A fine collection of prose and poetry from one of IT’s poets. Beginning strongly with Dancing,

The question is,” he begins, “the question is, does an artist need an audience?”

Perhaps not. Is an artistic act still Art if there’s no audience? I think it is: the creation, production or performance of any artistic endeavour is exquisite, whether seen or unseen.

This leads to the next poem We do it…,

Because we’re high-wire dancers

Always about to fall…

sums up a testy response to WH Auden’s remark

A writer or, at least a poet, is always being asked by people who should know better: “Whom do you write for?”

Gorgeous poems of childhood follow, I particularly liked Born Dead, of being revived at birth, and At First, which evokes an old lady and her grandson in a very few phrases. Anyone who has heard their parents yelling matches will recognise the feelings in As the first plate flies… There is also the excruciating guilt of childhood and George Formby at Blackpool in Overheard, Catholic references, childhood fancies, reminiscences, his grandparents and the Great War, ghosts, school pals and, in On the line to Belsen – A Gospel is redrafted, a questioning of the dogma told to us as children.

A Lesson for Jennet is a tale of how Grandam Demdike would teach the child to tice cats. He would shut his eyes and fancy his old cat Tibb –

I’d fancy the weighty warm of him.

There is much black humour, and I loved his short poem In with the Shrink, about the personality evaluation Rorschach test:

He’s looking at ink-blots.

As each one’s held up

He’s asked “What is this?”

And his answer’s always

The same:

Beautiful,” he says.

There are dark stories also, some set in America and Canada: The Hanged Man… and Wounded Knee. Beasts loom large: The Bear, Fetish and Lone Wolf, Kes.

Poems of melancholia, those termed insane, psych units, hospitals and illness, but there are many bright sparks of gladness and humour too.

I loved The Trouble with Wings, a parable of the man who grows wings, but has to get rid of them, as they alarm his family, work and community too much. His life improves,

But sometimes he’ll look towards the sky

And the flesh between his shoulder blades

Will tug and ache.

In the ode to Leonardo, They say…, we learn that da Vinci would buy a caged bird each day, and set it free with thanks, and watch swirling water so that

He could deduce the workings

Of every human heart

There are love poems, from And sometimes to the bruisingly funny The Wife of Genius. The book ends strongly with the lovely Danielle.

The esteemed screenwriter, Jimmy McGovern, calls Kevin McCann

One of the best poets in the country”.

A beautiful and evocative anthology, thanks.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Still-Pondering-Kevin-Patrick-McCann/dp/1788768671/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Patrick+McCann+Still+Pondering&qid=1573366856&sr=8-1

 

 

Claire Lewis

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I want to be Elected

 

seventy-year-olds fighting over the future of America,

running for president,

why ?

for what ?
five or ten more years,

crash it,

trash it,

do they really give a fuck,

probably running out of spite,

they will be dead and gone,

soon,

fuck it,

if this is to be the case,

open up the nursing homes,

and find a candidate,

one not as crazy as these.

 

 

 

 

Doug Polk

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The London Rebellion Digression

     

Unlike my other reports on Extinction Rebellion (XR) and related events, I can’t claim to have been around all through this epic. Our four days were only possible thanks to the generosity of South Lakes XR, whose member’s donations to a travel fund, paid our train fares. The knock-on effect of us and our two children being able to go, encouraged six other relatives to join us from other parts of the country.

A crackdown by the police after our expedition, including a supposed prohibition on all XR gatherings within the M25, I’m glad to say, was ignored. Spurring new protesters into action, the highly dubious ban, also drove many who’d come home, to return. No doubt the shadows above the police feel XR have been taking advantage, basking in the mild climate of police leniency, without realising that they are taking advantage of our non-violent stance. Whether the government, the Establishment, or the money-men like it or not, things must change. XR will not be put off by any undemocratic attempts at suppression.

During the concentrated days of especially Friday the 11th and Saturday the 12th of October, I must have talked to well over two hundred people never known before, and if there is an obvious predominance within XR, of the middle-class and white, it must have been somewhere I wasn’t[i]. The list of strangers whose names I rarely discovered, who despite the negative implications of our predicament, contributed to the positive atmosphere, would go on for pages: the brilliant posters, placards, skeletons and coffins; the shifting drama of players; the disabled, the children and the old; the smiles and exclamations; the defiant energy of the samba bands and other lone musicians, singers and dancers. Extinction Rebellion is by far the most open and inclusive organisation I have ever come across, banishing ageism, class, racism and sexism at a stroke. Even a passing, self-confessed, multi-millionaire capitalist we were holding up, gave us a fuming endorsement. “Its fantastic what you guys are doing. If you don’t force them into it, none of the fuckers in charge will do a thing!” Another black entrepreneur on an electric bike, who worked in one of the high office blocks in Bishopsgate, stopped out of curiosity and was soon enjoying himself – developing an on-going, satirical story with every character, positive or negative, who passed. Presently, he switched to exchanging cheerful mockery with members of the police force just across the banners and barricades of police tape, often centring on their lack of diversity – all of which the policemen and women took in good spirit. With one of them, stern in demeanour, he almost formed a double act. The atmosphere was priceless. An hour later another constable was swaying to the thundering drumming of our band. Dancing in public has always been an embarrassment to me – a confession comrades nearby treated with kindly amusement – but after hours of standing, I began (partially) to surrender to the necessity. As the police must know from experience, rigid immobility is more tiring than walking – though it’s probably preferable to sitting or lying on the road. Tirelessly the roving band enlivened the tarmac, boosting morale amongst the partially separated groups of protestors – two blocking Bishopsgate, one blocking Liverpool Street, two targeting the entrances to a hotel hosting the Government’s Oil and Gas Fiscal Summit[ii].  

Rewinding to Waterloo bridge on the Thursday, walking from Euston to Waterloo East, with all our signs and badges – including my home-made and slightly absurd magenta hat band adorned with XR sand timer symbols – we inevitably attracted the police guarding the grand river crossing. But in friendly tones, they merely asked if we had enjoyed the day. Soon we were over the Thames, with its inspiring flood of silver light dividing the 360% panorama of iconic buildings. Parallel with the Hayward Gallery at the other end of the bridge, we stopped to clarify our direction with another assembly of sentries in fluorescent jackets – which caused a slight disagreement amongst them, until one produced his mobile phone to check. Although I’d already made a crude, biro-sketched map on a scrap of paper to correct my long dormant memories of Waterloo East, we thought the encounter beneficial to public relations.

Early next day, meeting family en-route at Woolwich, we headed to Trafalgar Square. As soon as we emerged from Charing Cross, we could hear the samba band drawing people under the grey skies toward the bustle of the tented encampment overwhelming the base of Nelson’s Column. The four lions looked proud to play host and glared above us like the final arbiters of democracy and determination. In due course, the children enjoyed the activities in the Family Hub and for a while we listened to various speakers addressing the crowd from the makeshift tower of pallets and other peculiar pieces of wood, some of which looked like empty speaker cabinets, others like sections of furniture. Little were we to know that one of these precarious-looking constructions would the following morning become humorously known as The Tower of Power. One speaker (only subsequently identified as Gail Bradbrook, one of XR’s co-founders), facing down Whitehall, punctuated her reading with chaotic ad-libs, and gave no sign whatsoever of the supposed “messiah complex” touted in right-wing newspapers and media . . . which means just about all of them. But we didn’t stay too long, as she also swore a lot and we were worried about the effect upon our poor innocent children – though I’m sure they get far worse in the playground.

During our windswept picnic on soggy benches up beyond the fountains, I was lucky to meet Rowena from York, an XR member who like me could not locate their home group. As the rest of my family had plans more suitable for children, Rowena and I decided to join forces and were soon recruited by a woman with a clipboard. Would we be interested in joining the protest against the fiscal conference about to start at Liverpool Street? We headed east-north-east, wondering if we’d be two of fifteen demonstrators. Fortunately, by the time we arrived, there must have been well over 500 of us. Soon the roadblock was underway.

Supporting the group of ‘arrestables’ – some of whom had glued themselves to the road, others to the doors of the hotel – Rowena and I stayed until dark, blocking the road for 5 or 6 hours. In all that time, those of us short of food were well supplied. Sandwiches, fruit, bags of apple rings, all were offered around, the York group Rowena had chanced upon at the site, even supplying me with coffee.

A bold XR man climbed on a lorry trapped inside the blockade, claiming the roof with a flag. Later, some duct tape, passed on from a Cornish woman unwilling to abandon her banner, was used to attach WESTMINSTER WAKE UP to the lorry’s side. Inside the cab the lorry driver himself stayed philosophical, even after a younger member (unlikely sobriquet: Jelly Bean), also conquered the roof – and it took hours to remove them, special climbing police with ropes and hard hats being required.

After a few hours, a huge influx of police began subtly to widen their barricade around the ‘arrestables’. Rowena and I, sitting on the road were threatened with arrest, and chose to retreat the “five yards back” requested by the officer in charge. “What’s that in metres?” A policewoman asked aloud, “I’m no good with yards.” “More or less the same,” I answered in cavalier fashion, indicating a point on the road where we both stopped. She smiled her thanks. The blue and white POLICE DO NOT CROSS tapes – which for some reason faced the police rather than us, as if warning them not to fraternize with the natives – were moved slightly to the front of a police van trapped inside the blockade and everyone went on chatting. Periodically, loud chanting broke out, flowing quickly through the crowd as the samba band erupted volcanically again.

Briefly, to allow an NHS blood-supply lorry to pass through, we lifted the roadblock, remaining alert to quick closure. The driver, window lowered, raised his fist: “Power to the People”, he shouted to a burst of applause, whistling, renewed chants, and a wave-crashing crescendo from the drummers.

Quite by chance, I caught sight of Gwen, a member of XR South Lakes and one of the ‘arrestables’, being escorted away. Only moments later, three of the young people who’d taken over on the banner to my left, introduced themselves and I shook hands with Eli. Amazingly, all of us it transpired, came from the Kendal area. Others I met were from Brighton, Liverpool, Truro, Birmingham, Langport, Christchurch and Sunderland.

In all the time at Bishopsgate, where quite a few demonstrators were arrested and carted off, I only encountered one slightly negative bit of policing and had some thoughtful conversations with officers on the other side of the barricades. Many implied without risking being obvious, that they felt their excessive presence was unnecessary. Such heavy deployment was causing a dire shortage in other, vulnerable and crime-ridden areas. At the time, unaware of the negative experiences of not least the disabled amongst us, who had special access toilets and battery packs for wheelchairs confiscated, it wasn’t hard to sympathise with some of the views of individual constables.

The night sky gave no warning of the sudden downpour that struck us all just after 7 o’clock. Events were winding down by then and at about 8 o’clock I left, walking south down Bishopsgate and Gracechurch to pass the Monument to the Great Fire of London off King William Street. Just before the road becomes London Bridge, St Magnus Martyr to the left – long since hemmed in by office blocks – naturally made me think of The Waste Land (1922)[iii] and I dreamed in my head, the inexplicable splendour of Ionian white and gold. Almost a hundred years old, Eliot’s renowned poem is remarkably apposite for the times we are living in: its stony rubbish and dead trees; its fear in a handful of dust or death by water; its violet hours and falling towers.

Across London Bridge and along the South Bank – I had some interesting quips and occasional sallies with members of the public, plus some distant abuse from others. With an inherited XR flag at this point, I could hardly go incognito. Around Southwark Cathedral and Borough Market, a zone I loved in the 1980s, frequently staying at a friend’s squat in Elephant and Castle, I was again, in the rainy night, entranced. Having returned to this area many times, I was well aware of its subsequent gentrification, always preferring it as it was 35 years ago: more real, its wartime atmosphere unspoilt – a borderline slum, but one concealing hidden jewels. Now, the rainy night concealed its falsification.

Near Tate Modern, a French student, dancing to a homeless accordion player, was keen to know the latest events. It was a day of respite for her – but “everything had been so good! When, other-times, does you get the chance to camp outside Westminster Abbey?” she smiled at me intensely, her eyes shining. Impulsively embracing me, she held my hand before we parted.

Along the river past the National Theatre, the wide-flagged path beneath the trees spun with lights, was inundated with large puddles, pedestrians walking in loops. Beyond Waterloo Bridge, and past the NFT[iv], The Southbank skatepark was busy, out of the rain. Hungerford Bridge reeled back the years, and for a while in front of County Hall[v] I thought that I might meet the Saint[vi] out for a night stroll with his halo gleaming . . . but his stylish suits were never fond of rain. Next, I remembered Saint Ken[vii] Livingstone and his hoisted banners against arch, neo-liberal dalek, Thatcher, destructively ensconced across the river, a Moriarty[viii] at the centre of her web.

What with the downpours, on these safe riverbank walks without traffic, I experimented, eyes shut, with sleeping whilst walking along. It wasn’t a great success.

Under Lambeth Bridge’s tunnelled footpath, stopping out of the rain to write down these notes, I ended up sharing the space with three policemen having a fag break from guarding the bridge above.

I don’t know whether Peninsula Heights, the tower-block at 93 Albert Embankment, Lambeth, has always been called that, but high in its square of rising windows seem to have worked or lived half the rich and successful film and TV characters of the later 60s and early 70s. What other block would give that superior penthouse view of Westminster from apparently mid-river? Back-projection of course, is the more likely explanation. One flat currently for sale within[ix] (at a mere £4,950,000) even uses the line: So close to the river, that from the upper floors it seems like the building is hovering over the Thames. When the river rises, I suppose if you have a boat moored alongside your high windows, you’ll be alright for a while?

Unlike the area to the east of Waterloo, I haven’t walked the Vauxhall environs for maybe thirty years and barely recognised it. In those days other than four and six-storey council blocks, there were few things higher than the wooden awnings of the station, up on the railway arches. Now, every other building scrapes the sky.

Although I left London before I was 4 years old, I remain absurdly proud of the common fact of being born there. Despite the surname, all my family were Londoners by birth or in one case, by adoption. London is still the place I feel I came from: a position that films of the past will always be able to reaffirm[x], however reckless the economic falsity of its endless building for those who don’t really need it, becomes.

At about 10.30, I reached Vauxhall Gardens, but couldn’t see anyone I knew in the extensive tented encampment, nor find a source of superglue to repair the sole now coming away from my left boot. Since it was a silent camp with lots of friendly police doing the rounds, wishing us cheery goodnights, I departed – initially in the Battersea direction. On my way out, I was whisperingly invited between patrols, to join the Animal Rebellion’s raid on Billingsgate, and thought back to London Bridge and the pleasant whining of a mandolin on Lower Thames Street[xi]. But Billingsgate fish market now, is way out east, near Blackwall, at the top of the Isle of Dogs. I didn’t think I could usefully contribute and get back in time for my daughter’s night bus from Manchester.

Crossing the river, I tried to find a quiet bench. There was a good one opposite Battersea power station, but the traffic was still running heavily at 1.30. Finding a quieter spot under trees on a green space between tower block flats in Pimlico, it began to rain again. Having full waterproofs in my bag, I put the trousers back on and tried to doze sitting up, but got pestered by a drunk woman, who talked and ranted for an hour without listening, verging all the while from suspicious to aggressive. Daughter of an ex-“proper villain” she glowed proudly, one she still “loved to bits” – “But why did the fuck did they take me as a babe in arms” (brief rocking motion of her arms) “to Stone fucking Henge?” – she contradicted herself with every sentence.

Tania, she said was her name, and she was a big woman – solid rather than fat, with a black puffer jacket and incongruous glittery shoes that looked like slippers or flip-flops. “Do you like rain?” she kept asking, sneering at my poverty for not having a hotel to go to, while deriding my “posh” accent or “fake-sounding” laugh. She didn’t believe I grew up on a council estate or that I wasn’t a CID man working undercover – though in the end she must have doubted the latter! 

“This is a bad place to be,” she warned as if that hadn’t crossed my mind. There were “murderers and drug dealers.”

“I’m not stopping you from going home,” I replied, getting irritated by this point.

“Why aren’t you scared to stay where you stick out like a sore fumb?” she demanded to know. Perhaps I was a “serial killer – gettin ready to chop someone up and wrap’em in plastic”?

Whatever kind of weirdo I was, “I must like rain” . . . which thought unsettled her, or perhaps made her gentle and interested again, as if she liked me after all, or was puzzled by something that fascinated her.

As usual, I expected too much: for somebody self-admittedly out of control to have some predominant, connected personality . . . Drunks, drug addicts and the insane are rarely more than superficially interesting; their incarnations in literature and films largely the product of poetic license; their pyrotechnics, stage-managed. In truth, unless you know them well, the humorous ones are as tedious after five minutes as the aggressive ones are immediately. “This is my manor.” She claimed more than once, dangerously. Immediately evoking the bullying thugs that are only amusing in films. Or the kids bigger than you from years ago – all that pointless jostling which stems from insecurity, ignorance and often, child-abuse.

“D’you know what? D’you know what?” she’d snarl accusingly before each challenge.

She flicked her hands around constantly and too close to my face. Eventually, I realised I’d have to go or be forced into violence. I think it was my resistance towards violence that irritated her more than anything, and she demanded to know why I’d always “let all the women in your life dominate you?” a fact she claimed she could read in my eyes, as if what she most despised about me was that I didn’t tell her to “shut it” or “fuck off” or club her into submission as her dear old dad would have done. Climate change was all “Bollox!” What the government should really care about, was “all the paedophiles on the loose”. Who cares about climate change “when they could be up in space?” she added, looking around, momentarily blissful. Did such apparent mysticism stem merely from drugs?

“I may be forty-five and my brain’s fucked” (her mobile hands making pointing signs to each temple) “but I’ll still outlive you out of the grave!” she asserted, illustrating the strength of her hand grip, and showing me the tattoo up her arm: ONLY THE STRONG ONES WILL SURVIVE. “I’m my farver’s dorter”.

She had contempt for all activists, claiming she was a “revolutionist”. “Guy Fawkes had the right idea”. Naively interested again, I asked her what she did about it. But of doing anything, she was scornful, as if being a revolutionist could remain just a state of mind. It was her excuse both for approving of Brexit and for never voting. She was like some nightmarish, fascist, partial contradiction to Johnny (David Thewlis) in Mike Leigh’s unforgettable, Naked (1993)[xii]. She kept insisting that she was a strong woman who could “see through people”, though it was clear that (like her father?) all her strength arose from a lack, and her insight was no more than paranoia or fantasy.

Though I struggled at the time not to make any judgements; to be fair and friendly; to follow her chain of barbed-wire thoughts, this became impossible. A sympathetic comment made her suspicious and belligerent; a disagreement, scornful; while an indulgent neutrality was liberal, pathetic and weak. “I’m no conformist.” She re-iterated, as if to do anything in conjunction with anyone else, was to conform.

I finally got away from her when she snapped the stick of my inherited XR flag and tore off my XR hatband. I think she wanted me to beat her up, like her darling dad used to, but it’s hard to say.

Trailing Lupus Street and Turpentine Lane, at Victoria coach park, I was still hours early for my daughter’s bus. Diverting via the abandoned Parliament square, to approach Trafalgar from Whitehall it was almost 3 a.m. and a huge phalanx of police were seemingly blocking access to the tented encampment. Nonchalantly side-slipping, as if making for the Strand, it was possible to approach from St. Martin’s in the Fields. In the rain-slicked night silence, the camp looked vulnerable. I tried to sleep on a bench for a while but discovered the waterproof’s waterproofness was limited and certainly less than 100%. . .

Setting off at half-four, the walk to Victoria coach park via the Mall and Buckingham Palace, was weirdly empty. No security, people or cars were visible . . .

My daughter’s bus was early and sitting in St.James Park waiting for the sun to rise or break through the cloud, we had an odd breakfast of leftovers – mainly ginger biscuits dipped in houmous. Predictably mobbed by coots who were soon dispersed by geese, we knew they would not be interested in our strange repast, and, in any case, would have kept it too ourselves, determined to like the combination. Half a bag of dead salad was more suitable, yet they all turned their beaks up at that and left us in peace. Unhappily, the sun we were hoping for never arrived, and in an increasing drizzle we moved on to keep warm.

Back at Trafalgar Square, we took the precaution of approaching from Pall Mall, but the police presence had diminished. Climbing onto the plinth at the base of Nelson’s Column, we met two students from Birmingham emerging from their tent. The damp downbeat atmosphere persisted, until the ‘arrestable’ occupiers of two wooden towers also emerged from under their sheets of plastic and began to shout back and forth to each other above the cordon of police. Much later, we all became engaged in a triangle of chants and communications, largely misheard but very funny nevertheless. Some musicians assembled outside the police barricades and began to sing, developing the People have the Power chant into a full-blown improvised song, during which the rickety wooden construction became the ‘Tower of Power’.

By 11 o’clock, refreshed demonstrators and other sightseers were pouring into the square. A new banner co-opted John Lennon as Extinction Rebel Lennon[xiii] – which had a grimly Orwellian ring, but never mind, we liked it. Other semi-compatible and sympathetic groups also arrived, including one[xiv] handing out leaflets ‘Challenging Johnson, Trump and the Racist Right’ and advertising an International Conference against Racism, Fascism, Islamophobia & Antisemitism for the following Saturday.

Growing impatient with the festival relaxedness, we cast about for some action. A band was forming to lead an impromptu strike towards Marble Arch, there to rendezvous with the Strength in Grief parade, due to march east along Oxford Street to Russell Square. Fired up by their thundering rehearsals, people gathered in readiness. Led by a man of infectious enthusiasm and flexibility, combined with abrupt arm movements and signals reminiscent of J.K. Simmons in the 2014 film Whiplash[xv], but totally opposite in his intentions, the beginning of the march was delayed by a drunk. Swaying and staggering to the rhythms, he slurred enthusiastically about how much he loved us, but carried on shouting when the music stopped. A volunteer, trying to explain that XR members didn’t drink while involved in actions, gently asked him to move back as he was drowning the decision-making process. Before long we were all “wankers” and climate change “crap” – which echoed Tania from the night before with her hand-megaphone raspberry. Certainly, the misguided actions of some XR members, actions which a large majority were against[xvi] – for example targeting the Underground[xvii]: transport which should be supported and could be run on renewable power – are a mistake. Actions, where the adrenalin gets the better of people or where the waste factor is too great. I understand the desperation, but as with the police and their ridiculous attempted ban, some things are only bound to backfire.

Reaching Marble Arch, we finally located the rest of our family amongst the estimated 30,000 people beginning to form the eastward funeral procession to Russell Square.  Despite the drizzle this whole experience did feel historical – the main difference from all the major demos of the 70s and 80s, being that public support and interest appears magnified. Thousands of cameras were filming that memorial parade, which must have been a mile long or more – I don’t know, we were right up at the front behind the skeletons, the coffins and the giant skull[xviii], in a rainy, Day of the Dead, phantasmagoria.

With a brass band playing funereal music in-between the shouts and respectful silence for the extinctions imminent due to climate change . . . I accidentally ended up carrying one of the small coffins. Due to erratic pacing, the teenage girl shouldering the corner ahead, her gothic make-up dissolving in the rain, turned to me excitedly as we failed to slow sufficiently for the gates into Russell Square Park: “We’ve headbutted the skull!”

In conclusion, I have to admit to being unconvinced by the much bandied-about figure of 3.5%[xix]. When the aim is to replace a clearly corrupt or evil regime with one which – at least at first – is less corrupt, then perhaps, because the background populous is largely in favour, 3.5% of people on the streets can bring about change. What XR is proposing however, is the replacement of a corrupt, destructive and universal way of life and aspiration – one that is deeply engrained in almost all of us. The general population isn’t too frightened to rebel, rather, those that have even heard about it, are hoping that climate change is a statistical mistake and will just go away. Head in sand, it’s clinging, fingers-crossed, to that hope. What is needed, is the rapid adoption of a selfless and international austerity, but when is any political party going to risk suggesting such an idea? Meanwhile, no matter how supportive the population may become, many will trust that all they need do, is eat a little less meat, wear a jumper more often, and only fly abroad twice a year . . .  That a universal austerity (and worse, if we don’t act fast), will be forced upon us anyway, doesn’t help. As for the insulated rich at the top, they probably feel they can escape or pay for private armies and protection.

Personally, I have an inbuilt and sadly cynical self-defence system: With regard to the environment especially, society has been going worse than nowhere for more than a century, so I’ll be very surprised – and happy – if this can be turned around.

 

Lawrence Freiesleben, London and Cumbria, October 2019

lwf@hawkvalley.co.uk

 

 

[i] To quote George Monbiot’s recent and concisely informative feature, written just before he was arrested, regarding Extinction Rebellion being too white and too middle-class: “Both charges are true, as the organisers recognise,” etc See: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/16/i-aim-to-get-arrested-climate-protesters 

[ii] https://10times.com/government-oil-gas-fiscal-summit-london    SEE ALSO : https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/09/polluters-climate-crisis-fossil-fuel 

[iii] https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47311/the-waste-land 

[iv] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BFI_Southbank 

[v] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/County_Hall,_London 

[vi] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Saint_(TV_series) 

[vii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Livingstone 

[viii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professor_Moriarty 

[ix] https://www.knightfrank.co.uk/properties/residential/for-sale/peninsula-heights-albert-embankment-london-se1/RVR160002 

[x] Films such as, All the Right Noises (1971) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064004/, Lost (1956) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048315/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_13 or Herostratus (1967) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061761/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1 

[xi] Or mandoline as Eliot writes it in The Waste Land. 

[xii] https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107653/ 

[xiii] See The London Rebellion in Pictures: http://internationaltimes.it/the-london-rebellion-in-pictures/ 

[xiv]Possibly the SWP. 

[xv] https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2582802/ 

[xvi] https://rebellion.earth/2019/10/17/statement-on-todays-tube-action/ 

[xvii] Four or five ‘members’ amongst 50,000 

[xviii] Having failed to get a decent picture of the giant skull and being useless with computers, this ridiculously long link is the nearest I could get to illustrate it:

https://www.google.com/search?biw=1440&bih=740&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=_2ysXbT0BcGH1fAP8si9oAs&q=Extinction+rebellion+the+giant+skull+&oq=Extinction+rebellion+the+giant+skull+&gs_l=img.3…56057.65977..66246…0.0..0.114.1985.18j4……0….1..gws-wiz-img.vLPeKTqw3Bc&ved=0ahUKEwj0752RhKvlAhXBQxUIHXJkD7QQ4dUDCAc&uact=5#imgrc=5AuhyybTA7ZhpM: 

[xix] https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190513-it-only-takes-35-of-people-to-change-the-world

 

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DEIGN NOT TO NAME

 

 

Unanonymous assassin

spots his mark

marks his hit

his king his icon his president

hits his mark

marks his spot

Dealey Ford’s Dakota the Lorraine

–Onan animates his action

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duane Vorhees

I generally dislike allusions, but Dealey Squarwe was where John Kennedy was assassinated, Ford’s Theater was where Lincoln was killed, the Dakota was where John Lennon was murdered, and the Lorraine was Martin Luther King’s death site.

 Illustration Nick Victor

 

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Small Publishers Fair

further details at   http://smallpublishersfair.co.uk/

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STRIKE A LIGHT

In the window of a charity shop
Was a Buddha in repose
Being led out
Was a Dog with a lampshade round it’s neck
What does this signify?
Heaven knows

These two things
I just saw
And their meaning I suppose
Is that everything is connected
like scansion
When It flows…

 

 

 

Harry Lupino
Illustration Nick Victor

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Like Rain


http://www.robertmontgomery.org
Robert Montgomery

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somebody else’s shocking story



she once told
of how and far
she’d run off
with a rockstar
a
real one
she was 18
and though she said it herself
truly beautiful
there was
a commotion at home
it had been brewing
art school was her aim
but not her parents’
safety first
was what they wanted
she ran away
in retaliation 
you might say
in any case 
his guiding star didn’t
last the pace
and her own 
fell to earth
where she got lugged
back to home & hearth
you know what
my parents gave me
for my 21st? 
a vacuum cleaner!
a cruel joke
she wonders now
a punishment perhaps
or just plain crass –
and how!
I felt my future
was hoovering wife
turned out it was
I’ve been at it for life
art went out the window
she married young
to a safer man perhaps
not a stranger
had three children
one very much younger
and felt this child
her deserved reward
not backward
she was
so beautiful 
so intelligent
so perfect
so popular
such a school favourite
she could 
scare believe it 
’til out of the blue
this paragon revolted too:
her mother was summoned
it seems the beauty had called
her favoured teacher
a fucking cunt 
from then on
she was nothing but 
front
as bad as bad could be
she was thirteen
and lost like the father 
who’d fled his marriage
and his own wild child
leaving changeling and mother
to fend for themselves 
not for each other
so what happened after?
oh how strangely strange
the changeling changed again
she’s in her forties now
it’s claimed without blame
still so beautiful
still so childless
so big in business
she hadn’t even noticed
the glass ceiling
on her effortless way 
to the cream
of the milky way
where she’s not close
we suppose
to her mother
and to any celestial
or earthly body
probably

 

 

 

Jeff Cloves

Illustration Georgina Baillie

https://www.instagram.com/georgielondonart/?hl=en

 

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WHY LADIES LOVE SEVERUS SNAPE

 

A detailed primer. (chock full of spoilers, in case you care)

 

So I was sitting around playing Marry/Fuck/Kill with the Potterverse and was like “I’d totally fuck Snape, obviously.” Then it occurred to me that, among the smorgasbord of cute young boys, why would the “obvious” sexual choice be a gnarly old goth who’s a dick to everyone?

       

Initially, it doesn’t seem to make much sense, since, in the novels, even though he’s a fairly complex character, there’s not really a drop of sex on him and he’s mostly described as being mean and ugly. In spite of this, HP fandom is bursting at the seams with ladies who are hot and bothered for Snape. Some fervently embrace it, others feel strangely confused about it, but it is nonetheless true that ladies love cool Snape, and– fear not– I’m going to tell you why in a convenient 5 point format:

 

  1. Alan Rickman’s Voice
    A huge portion of Snape lust can be simply attributed to the casting of Alan Rickman in the movies. While Alan Rickman is an average-looking dude and kinda over-the-hill, it is an anecdotally observed phenomenon that the timbre and tempo of Alan Rickman’s voice triggers some sort of primal mating instinct in females. Reviewers—female ones, that is– have used all sorts of metaphors for Alan Rickman’s voice: Velvet, silk, chocolate, red wine…basically, stuff that ladies love. Have you ever listened to audio of Alan Rickman reading stories? Well I have, and I cannot tell you a single plot point of any of those stories because all I could think about is having hot sex with Alan Rickman who is old enough to be my father and not at all my type.

Guys don’t get it (which I hypothesize is why he tends to be cast as a villain in guy movies and a romantic object in chick movies). It would seem you have to have a vagina in order to experience the aphrodisiac qualities of Alan Rickman’s voice. It’s almost a rite of passage into womanhood: You get your period, you have your first kiss, and you have the first time you go see a movie with Alan Rickman in it and leave feeling all funny, thinking “wow, that guy is such a… um… good actor.” because Alan Rickman’s voice just totally made sweet dirty love to your ear holes.

So now, thanks to the Harry Potter movie franchise, there is a whole new generation of adolescent girls who hear things like this and then feel all strange and confused about their inappropriate longing to make out with a guy practically old enough to be their grandfather. Fear not, young ladies: You can’t help it. It’s just science.

Alan Rickman GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

  1. He’s dark and Mysterious
    This one is so obvious as to almost be cliché. It the same reason chicks dig vampires. Ladies often respond to strong emotions and fear and confusion can be strong emotions. If you combine this with an initial attraction, a young lady who doesn’t know any better can easily presume that maybe she’s madly in love with a guy just because he’s a little scary and confusing (See also: Twilight).

So let’s look at Snape: Is he dark? Yes. Along with the severe black outfit, he’s got a titillating air of menace and danger. Mysterious? Definitely. Is he a good guy? Is he a bad guy? Where do his loyalties lie? Does anyone really know what he’s up to? So many questions! How desperately we ladies want to uncover his secrets! The “scary and confusing” factor, aside from being exciting, can also totally disrupt a ladies sense of control over a situation, which can also be stimulating if attraction is involved (which it obviously is because, duh, Alan Rickman’s voice). Leading us to…

3. The whole S&M vibe
It is not a mere coincidence that the interwebs contain about ten million smutty fanfics about what transpires when Snape keeps students after class for detention. Consult a list of the top ten female sex fantasies and you will see “being dominated” and “teacher/student” sitting right next to each other. The character of Severus Snape is a teacher… A very strict teacher. When he tells you to do something, you do it. These kind of power/control fantasies are pretty common (and hot). Add “dark and mysterious” and the wanton suggestiveness of Alan Rickman’s voice into the mix and you’ve just created a perfect storm of female masturbation material. Under these circumstances, having Snape say lines like “I shall attempt to penetrate your mind and you shall attempt to resist me” is almost too much to deal with.

 

  1. He’s a jerk
    We’ve all heard the old saw “Women don’t like nice guys… they like jerks” usually being muttered by some jerk who thinks he’s a nice guy. The truth is that women DO like nice guys, BUT, they also like jerks sometimes. As someone who’s dated my fair share of sociopaths, I’ll try to shed some light on this for you.

One thing to establish is that most women don’t like jerks because they want to be treated badly. Rather, they want the guy who’s a jerk to everyone but them. They’re hoping for the victory of biting through his hard candy shell and getting to his sweet tootsie roll center. Jerks possess the alluring qualities of power and confidence… although usually taken to a dysfunctional level. Since most of us have to be nice most of the time, the jerk can also provide a vicarious, liberating thrill as he brazenly breaks all the rules of social propriety.

So when Snape goes around being an asshole and not taking anyone’s shit, it’s actually kind of a turn-on. (Some women also labor under delusions that they can “reform” the jerk, although this is usually a recipe for disaster.)

If I may, however, give some advice to the youth of America, it’s this: Don’t have relationships with jerks. I’m not saying you can’t have hot flings with the occasional jerk in your experimental youth, because, truthfully, they ARE pretty exciting in the short term, but any guy who’s a jerk to everyone else will eventually be a jerk to you. Trust me. To put it in HP terms: fuck all the Slytherins you want, but if you want to get serious, find a nice Hufflepuff.

  1. He’s all tortured and misunderstood and crying on the inside and shit.
    Okay, so maybe after a long day of antagonizing Harry Potter, insulting his students and generally sneering and being curt, Snape goes down to his room in the dungeon, turns on The Cure’s “Disintegration,” and cries while hugging his pillow, because deep down inside he’s all wounded and sensitive.

Remember what I said in the last bit about the tootsie roll center? Well Snape’s is a doozy. He came from an abusive, neglectful home, got bullied in school and then watched as his BFF/love of his life kicked him to the curb and married the guy who bullied him. Now she’s dead and he feels responsible, so he’s sworn to save her son’s ass from Voldemort even though he partly hates him because he looks like the dude who pantsed him in high school. Meanwhile, everyone just thinks he’s a dick because of the cold, stoic façade he’s constructed to hide his inner turmoil. But he’s secretly doing good…GOOD, DAMN IT! So much heartache! So much angst! So much wounded inner child desperately needing the right woman to hug his pain away!


Chicks often dig romantic fantasies of being the special, insightful one to understand the misunderstood guy, thus breaking through his misanthropic exterior and being rewarded with all of his ardent, pent-up passion. Combined with the Jerk factor, this would seem to present a situation where you could have your hot, rough, pinned-against-the-wall sex and your sweet butterfly kisses, too. In real life, this typically doesn’t result in anything but a dysfunctional relationship, but it seems pretty sexy on paper.

In Summary:

Okay, so we’ve got a dark and mysterious guy with an air of danger and a dominating personality who’s in a position of authority. He’s a total jerk and doesn’t take anyone’s shit, but it’s only because he’s all emo on the inside. Top that off with a voice that makes EVERY DAMN THING sound erotic and BAM: Ladies love Snape.

And so I hope that this sheds some light on why I would obviously fuck him… although I’m totally marrying Hagrid…and killing Peter Pettigrew. That guy is worthless.

 

A.V. Phibes

 

 

All images used were culled from the internet.

link to the original text:

https://avphibes.livejournal.com/378048.html

 

 

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THE WHITE BLACK HOLES

(an answer to Roberta Monokroussos

“Was There Poetry Before People”)

 

there was poetry before there was anything

choreographed in dancing sub-atomic particles as

worlds condense from accretion rings around the sun

in single-celled vowels and consonants that fuse

in multi-cellular games of divide and complexify

into fractel spins of proto-vocabularies seeking

to evolve the punctuations of grammar,

where trilobites in shallow paleozoic seas

conjecture primordial screes of poetry

as editorial dragonflies flit and shimmer

their wing-drones a found-sound improvisation

of rhyme under nights of huge luminous moons,

then, during the bardic era of great reptiles

the rapid haiku-raptor outwits the

lumbering doggerel-osaurus dragging

their couplets behind them, in early scans,

before the asteroid extinction slam revises

Triassic pages with new stylistic eco-waves,

simple sonnets sparkle across global ice-sheets

reflecting altered constellations in motion

shattering in the iambic meltwater of change,

the epic tarsier and lemur oral myth-traditions

still bark and twitter amid Miocene echoes,

I hear them now, within the earth beneath my feet

there was poetry before there was anything,

opposable digits descend from the trees

to stumble high in an amazement of living,

and simply embrace the sounds of eternity

howling their wordless voice into

shockwaves around the world…

 

 

Andrew Darlington

Website: www.andrewdarlington.blogspot.com

Illustration: Claire Palmer

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il volo della libertà

Elena Caldera

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Lyme Regis

Its hunger insatiable, the tide

gnaws at the Jurassic undercliff

with the patience of a life force

without limit or expiration.

 

Seawater spoons grains of earth

soft as sugar, reveals coiled

ammonites buried when

memory was planetary.

 

The precipice edges back.

Homes surrender gardens;

dead ends of streets recoil

as wire barriers shift inland.

 

Black bones exposed by leaf-fall

engrave a zinc plate of sky

as roots scrabble to grip friable

earth as it slowly cascades

 

to be ingested by a sea rising

from indifference or neglect.

 

 

 

 

 

David Olsen
Illustration Rupert Loydell

 

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Zero Carbon, 5G Denial and Green-Fascism

 

Why is it that the two words ‘Zero Carbon’ send a cool shiver down my spine? Is it the ‘zero’ or is it the ‘carbon’? Or is it particularly the combination of the two?

I wasn’t sure, until I looked-up ‘zero carbon’ within a scientific context addressing greenhouse gasses, and the answer that came back was this “If there were no greenhouse gasses the average temperature on Earth would be about -18 degrees celsius”. Now I know why the cool shiver passed down my spine.

The high profile use of this zero carbon goal, particularly via Green New Deal proponents upping the pressure on governments to follow-through their commitments to the Paris climate change treaty, carries with it the overtones of a global crusade. And the missionary zeal behind global crusades is often drummed-up by people and institutions guided by dogma rather than by conscious and humanitarian instincts for a better world.

An exploration of the roots of the ambition to achieve ‘zero carbon’ reveals a direct link to ‘climate action’/’climate emergency’ measures promoted via Extinction Rebellion, advocates of a Green New Deal and the ‘sustainable development’ edicts of the United Nation’s Agenda 21 – now renamed Agenda 2030.

All of these ‘stop global warming’ institutions/movements are heavily backed by money derived from sources that have no record of following a transparently ‘green’ commitment within their own ethos or business practices.

Now this immediately raises the question: if the backers are not ethically in line with the supposed aims of those they are funding – could those that they are funding be influenced to adapt to the values of their backers? Might they be drawn into something quite contrary to the original ideal they set out to achieve?

Well, quite obviously the answer is yes, they could. And a quick revue of the fate of such organisations as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth shows that this is exactly what happened.
High ambitions of the sort embraced by Greenpeace, for example, led to it becoming embroiled in ‘the art of compromise’ for the sake of rapid growth and influence.

Very soon genuine green credentials become tainted by the influence of the corporate and/or political backers, whose funds come with the proviso to adhere to certain criteria and conditions in order for further funding to be guaranteed. It’s a trap a large number of ambitious NGO’s have fallen into and never recovered from.

The truth is that leading parties in green NGO organisations focused on a prize which conformed to the standard definition of neo-liberal globalisation ‘success’, rather than holding true to the founding principles of the organisations they were steering.

The green movement that jumped onto the band-wagon called ‘stop global warming’ has, however, got an even bigger problem to deal with, one which is far more devious than the familiar ‘art of compromise’ that has undone so many once well intentioned movements.

This is the fact that ‘the problem’ it is addressing is an invention – not a reality. An invention pushed into prominence by the United Nation’s body called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A body with direct links to the most powerful grouping of corporate institutions on the planet with the addition of a coterie of multi-millionaires determined to set the planet’s top-down ‘green’ agenda for the indefinite future.

An agenda that has little or nothing to do with the environment – and everything to do with the survival of the neo-liberal ‘big’ global economy, as admitted by Dr Otmar Edenhofer, head of Working Group 3 of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The actual causes of climactic change – and yes, it is happening – are to be found in a composite of man made and natural events, ranging from HAARP’s gross interference via heating-up the ionosphere, atmospheric aerosol geoengineering (chemtrails), the residues of perpetual war, natural solar activity, the Pole shift, a weakening magnetosphere, intense electro smog and ozone depletion.
CO2 making only a tiny contribution.

Zero Carbon and the Extinction Event

The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) is an NGO based in West Wales. It started-out in the early 1970’s as a truly innovative ‘make something out of nothing’ alternative energy and ecological life style community. A small group of entrepreneurs settled an old slate quarry at Machynlleth on the edge of Snowdonia, and built around themselves a community devoted to self sufficiency, especially in renewable energy, where home made wind turbines and water wheels, mostly constructed from scrap metal, powered their makeshift homes and artisan enterprises. CAT was an inspiration for many early ecological enthusiasts, many of whom (including myself) had read EF Schumacher’s iconic book ‘Small Is Beautiful’ and wanted to put into practice the human scale wisdom expressed in its pages.

The CAT community increased throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s and more eco-friendly innovations were put in place that enabled the public to get their hands onto green solutions to everyday needs. Soon people came from all over the world to learn about renewable energy and the art of human scale ecologically sustainable living.

It wasn’t until around 2000 that most of the original pioneers retired from active involvement in CAT’s development and a new breed of entrepreneur took their place. With a focus ever more geared to education, large sums of money were raised to build a state of the art rammed earth eco-friendly education centre in which officially recognised state supported training courses were put in place that enabled budding practitioners to learn the skills necessary for a general ‘greening ‘ of the wider environment.

As the global warming/climate change concept rose up the political agenda, so CAT became more and more absorbed by the edicts of the CO2 obsessed IPCC. Seeing itself as a beacon of pragmatic light in a sea of theoretical dogma, CAT’s new leadership sought to take the helm, declaring that the various suggested time frames for reduction in warming to be achieved by ‘decarbonising’ the atmosphere, were all too long and too unambitious. There was an emergency, they declared, and (initially within the context of the UK) only a ‘zero carbon by 2030’ end game could save the day.

This message was presented to the public, to government officials and to industry, with scientific documentation to back it up. Suddenly CAT was the centre of a hugely controversial arena, pitching its Zero Carbon message in amongst the list of demands forming the basis of various international climate treaties of which the Paris accord is the most recent.

But how many stopped to ask the question: what exactly is ‘Zero Carbon’?

Do CAT and the other institutions holding high this flag want us to take it literally? Is it simply a strategic way of getting the climate change agenda speeded up? What actually is going on here?

Upon closer examination the entire package is riddled with holes. A kind of madness is built into the entire process, right from the original thesis that one variable – ‘CO2’ – a clear and odorless gas that constitutes just 0.0391% of the composition of the atmosphere, could, on its own, be responsible for dangerously warming the entire planet. This, even when this proportion may be rising due to the burning of fossil fuels.

Then the notion that we should all buckle down to bring this single element ‘carbon dioxide’ down to an even smaller percentage of global atmospheric gasses, by using carbon taxes and ‘cap and trade’ regulations to force less industrialised countries of the world to slow their fossil fuel dependent economies and hobble their infrastructural development. Isn’t this simply the old colonial rule dressed in new clothes? And these two issues are, of course, just the tip of the iceberg. The real story behind the push to promote ‘stop global warming’/’climate change’ involves the fostering of a scam whose scale and deviousness has surely set a new precedent in the art of deception.

Those, like me, who deeply believe in a progressive transformation of polluting fossil fuels into decentralised human scale renewable energy solutions, are being dramatically conned; even if CAT and other environmental NGO publications suggest otherwise.

Zero Carbon is the official call we are all being told to get behind, and it is the one taken up, directly or indirectly, by Extinction Rebellion, the Greta Thunberg school of youth indoctrination, the proponents of Green New Deal and the telecoms pushing forward a blanket 5G network.

Smelling big money, politicians are happy to go along with it too. Especially since Mark Carney, director of the Bank of England, announced that any businesses that do not conform to the zero carbon ‘green’ criteria will be blocked from access to new loans, while those that do can expect high financial rewards. Yes, all the big multinational/transnational corporations are being invited to the table and are running to get the best seats. It’s a heist.

A heist, led by ‘the green movement’ itself. What an irony! The supposedly anti neo-liberal globalist movement that was supposed to point the way to a decentralised, localised and human scale form of people power, taking sound ecological practices as the foundation for a world that would finally shift ‘the god of money’ off its throne to be replaced by the cultivation of respect for the laws of nature and a human scale economy operating ‘as if people mattered’.

When one takes a serious look at the scale of our current deviation from the path of truth, it swims before one’s eyes like a virtual reality dream (nightmare). The zero carbon world we are being exalted to adapt to, when viewed through this virtual google 3D head set, reveals scenes of a fenced-off brave new world of ‘rewilded’ landscapes on the one hand – and sterile 5G driven ‘smart cities’ on the other. All of it overseen by Amazon/Google ‘Cloud’ powered smart grids monitoring and controlling an ever more dystopian robotic world, increasingly resembling a totalitarian prison camp.

Ray Kurzwell would surely feel quite at home with the ushering-in of such artificial intelligence led systems finally achieving their place as the ‘new brain’; having successfully usurped the human one.

Zero Carbon suggests to me that the cyborg 5G smart city is the Agenda 2030 ‘sustainable development’ carbon free omega point towards which we are all being ushered at brake-neck speed. With Caroline Lucas, Greta Thunberg, Gail Bradbrook, Yanis Verufakis and others leading ‘the rebellion’ while holding high the flag of a Green-Fascist New World Order.

Eco-fascism has arrived on our doorstep and its appeal has become almost irresistible to those who combine a hyped-up fear of ‘the end of the world’ with belief in the rhetoric of bought-out climatologists, ambitious fake green con men (and women) and the political figurehead puppets of the deep state.

Zero carbon has taken the lead as ‘the solution’ to an anthropogenic global warming invention whose alarmist climate rhetoric was cunningly dreamed-up by the Club of Rome some thirty five years ago, as the perfect means of controlling the people as well as the essential political agenda of planetary life, both economic and social. By cleverly giving carbon the lead role in an extinction narrative – in which it is caste as the chief villain – the perpetrators of the myth (United Nations plc) have grabbed the headlines – insisting that this harmless, essential component of nature (CO2) is the all-time baddie that must now be reduced to zero in order to save the planet. The Putin of the biosphere.

The sheer audacity of this lie is breathtaking. Think about it.. reduce nature’s natural capital, carbon dioxide, to zero and what do you have? An extinction event. The very ‘event’ that Extinction Rebellion is, on behalf of the United Nation’s Agenda 2030, blocking the streets of London, New York, Berlin et al. to demand action against. Thereby supporting a bunch of crooks, well versed in the art of deception, to enforce their master plan for absolute control combined with a significant reduction in the world population. “Carbon must be eliminated – therefore get rid of non carbon neutral humans.”

The unknowing would never associate fascism with environmentalism, would they. They would never guess that a fake green agenda could be the Trojan horse for for the final take-over. Yet the fascist take-over that failed under Hitler and Mussolini, has crept steadily and stealthily forward under the dictatorship of the giant banking fiefdoms of the past half century – and it is precisely these institutions that are now falling in line to back a Green New Deal.

Green is the colour chosen for the final great deception and that which trees and plants convert into oxygen has been cast as the ‘demiurge’ which heroic styled NGO’s are riding out to do battle with. A battle to the death, no less.

We will not all be fooled all the time, even if a majority maintain an eyes wide shut disposition to the roll-out of such a toxic agenda. The wake-up is gathering momentum at an ever accelerating rate. An instinctual resistance to the 5G microwave crowd control weapon, coupled with a plethora of reports on its egregious health affects, is acting as a powerful vector to unite people across the globe, causing all of us to recognise that this is not just about one exceptionally cruel form of eco-genocide, but the pinnacling of an underlying fear – by humanity’s oppressors – of that which stands behind love, beauty, compassion and joy. Fear that takes the form of an aggressive suppression of these primary life instincts.

As the eminent social psychiatrist Dr Erich Fromm stated, it is The Fear of Freedom that we are witnessing in the diabolic attempts to shut-down the energetic evolution of the universal life force itself.

The tables are turning. The greater the downward pressure to conform to a dead-end, slavish and robotic existence, the greater the innate inner power of opposition rises up in resistance – in those who let it. A resistance sparked by outrage – and a defiant determination to act in defence of Life.

Onward, onward, dear friends, in the midst of the darkness more and more light is shining through!

 

Julian Rose

Julian Rose is author of ‘Overcoming the Robotic Mind – Why Humanity Must Come Through’, now available from Amazon and Dixi Books. See www.julianrose.info for more information.

Julian is an international activist, writer, organic farming pioneer and actor. In 1987 and 1998, he led a campaign that saved unpasteurised milk from being banned in the UK; and, with Jadwiga Lopata, a ‘Say No to GMO’ campaign in Poland which led to a national ban of GM seeds and plants in that country in 2006. Julian is currently campaigning to ‘Stop 5G’ WiFi.

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Mrs & Mr Ululation

ubiquitous ululation using ukuleles usually undermines us
– Carl Leggo

She, a mouse of voice.
His voice a thick grass
with her crawling
along his vibrating dewy syllables

early in the morning.

So often though on lonely nights,
when she’s out putting

her tongue through the moon’s hole,

his thistly throat wrestles voice;
the poor sore voice bangs
against white bright teeth;
the tongue slices
the flying voice; and lips punch
the voice as at last it escapes,

only to be chased towards stars by

silence.

His baggage of lungs become
small sad grey sacks instead of big

pink holdalls.

At midday his unslept voice cracks
so little letter-sounds patter
in the dust, like crumpling cellophane.

The high sun then dries out
his last moist sounds.

Until, just in time, she squats
over his dying words and pisses:
a silver sound, that his husk-utterances sup up.
This tinkling from her other mouth fills
his grey stringy gasps – fills them out

back to a fat wet round voice,
gleaming like gold.

So, this evening her voice
is a stretched cat.
A coat of cat-noise falling
from her red mouth.
He is wrapping himself
in the soft luxury of her furry voice.
He is dressed, in black & white whispers,
like a dog’s dinner.

Her purry pronunciations go

in one ear & out
the other in
one ear & out
the other in
one ear & out

the other. O lovely!

And yet the claws of her story cling
to his zero-white bones
as needle-sharp fullstops …

… It’s these claws
that start him barking …

 

Mark Goodwin
Illustration: Claire Palmer

 

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Capital Is Dead: Is This Something Worse?

McKenzie Wark: Capital Is Dead: Is This Something Worse? (2019)

“It’s not capitalism, it’s not neoliberalism—what if it’s something worse?

In this radical and visionary new book, McKenzie Wark argues that information has empowered a new kind of ruling class. Through the ownership and control of information, this emergent class dominates not only labour but capital as traditionally understood as well. And it’s not just tech companies like Amazon and Google. Even Walmart and Nike can now dominate the entire production chain through the ownership of not much more than brands, patents, copyrights, and logistical systems.

While techno-utopian apologists still celebrate these innovations as an improvement on capitalism, for workers—and the planet—it’s worse. The new ruling class uses the powers of information to route around any obstacle labor and social movements put up. So how do we find a way out? Capital Is Dead offers not only the theoretical tools to analyze this new world, but ways to change it. Drawing on the writings of a surprising range of classic and contemporary theorists, Wark offers an illuminating overview of the contemporary condition and the emerging class forces that control—and contest—it.”

Publisher Verso, London, 2019
ISBN 9781788735308, 1788735307

 

 

https://monoskop.org/media/text/wark_2019_capital_is_dead/

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Michael Putland – The Music I Saw

NEW EXHIBITION: Celebrating Michael Putland’s New Book The Music I Saw
(Signed copies available at the gallery)
 
 

 
 
 

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The Italian Digression – Part 3: From Lake Barrea to Castel Madama

 

 
Lago Barrea – the dam, May 2019

 

The day following our arrival at Barrea was about as close to a rest day as we’d had up to that point. In the morning, apart from one mysterious neighbour coughing from one or other impossible-to-determine direction (the downside of tiled-floor buildings) everyone stayed asleep and I got to experiment with all the coffee pots and think about the disappointments of art compared to the relaxed there-ness of nature . . . needing no galleries or claustrophobic indoor spaces, free of language, free of contrivance.

The apartment in Treviso had been full of old Venice Biennale catalogues, serving only to emphasise, my no-doubt temperamentally judgemental, dissatisfaction with the art world. The sheer randomness of the art selected – at least as was highlighted in the catalogue – was astonishing. True, these collections were more challenging than the Grange-over-Sands or Wendover Art Club annual show, but as an international selection of art, page after page (with some notable exceptions) presented a thoroughly pick-n-miss bag of mind-rotting sweets. Whatever the old ads proclaimed, ‘Craven A’ cigarettes were always bad for you[i]. Our relativistic acceptance of mediocre art could prove equally detrimental to our long-term health. But perhaps society only gets the art it deserves?  If everyone lived for a thousand years, would tastes converge, diverge or be forced to specialise? Would relativism triumph or would it be exposed?

So, what is it that I actually want / Will I know before I see it? / First god was dead / And then art / Followed slowly by the planet. / Does it come down to hope and faith / A truth inside the head? / Can everything flow back from that? / Renewed / Forever / Vivid?[ii]

Before I could decide about this, the coffee started to erupt all over the cooker. I can’t have put the grounds in the right place. At least the small blue flames dancing amongst the black liquid lava looked fiercely cheerful. I’d have to sieve it instead.

Lago Barrea from up near the bread shop   17th May  2019

 

On the way back from a relaxed uphill walk to the panetterria, we met a man with two dogs. One large, one small. Despite their sublime view of the lake, the dogs were only concerned with his recent purchases. Large dog’s sharp Alsatian ears were twitching. Small dog hyped up and ready. Suddenly, as if the temptation was more than could be borne, large dog grabbed the big cheese from the bench on which its owner rested, and set off down the street, packet between teeth. Small dog looked divided, head switching back and forth between disappearing colleague and disillusioned owner. Several times the man cried out, but the absconding canine took no notice. Struggling to his feet the man hobbled after his stolen cheese, waving his stick, shouting indignantly. Small dog scuttled off in pursuit. As the man vanished around a distant corner, we realised he’d left another package behind. Grabbing this warm paper wrapping, I ran after the procession, wondering which alley to follow in the maze ahead, finally glimpsing site of the quest lower down the hill. “Scusi,” I shouted, “Scusi,”, as I ran after them, which only appeared to spur the man on. Five minutes later, he must have given up the chase. By then he had his cheese back and was sitting wearily in a doorway. Large dog was looking contrite, small one, expectant again. Warily he regarded my approach. Finally, the light dawned as I presented his other abandoned package. “Grazie,” he smiled, recovering in a few breaths from life’s dismay. “Arriverderci,” he added as I walked away – leaving the dogs contemplating a second mutiny perhaps?

After a couple of hours on an empty section of the lakeshore, we climbed the hill to Civitella Alfedena[iii] the village above the lake at the far end (visible at centre-left, like a snowy hill in the photo above) to have lunch in the silent central square. Two friendly cats came to mew piteously for scraps, but then lay at our feet purring in the heat, as if our mere presence was enough to induce euphoria.

Opi   17thMay 2019

 

The hill town of Opi, 12 kilometres to the west was dramatic yet idle in the sun, the high mountain beechwoods around the Abruzzo border with Lazio, where we went for a long walk, intensely secretive – not a person, bear or wolf appearing in either sound or sight. On the carpets of wild violas under the canopies of leaves backed by snow-dusted mountains, it was cool and fresh.

 

18th May 2019

Being abroad, frequently induces an atmosphere of the Second World War in me – probably because the first encounter someone of my generation and background had with the Continent, came via war films. In retrospect however, it’s not the shock or grimness of Auschwitz or Anzio, Omaha Beach, Monte Cassino or Colditz in these films that lingers, but rather the everyday experience of civilians and ordinary combatants at moments far from the known historical flashpoints. The landscapes and quiet events in such films are much more likely to carry across and inhabit life as it remains now. While the decisive horror and violence, even the implausible action, remain vital lessons, however true they may be, they are stuck in time in the way that a girder bridge over a river border or a steep hanging forest on the snow-line of the Alps, is not. Almost every film, good or bad, has such establishing shots. Often this incidental backscene is of more value than the film itself.  

Though I have imagination into the future, it seems to me that both the future and the present only gain relevance with reference to the past[iv] – hence, the fact that many of my generation and class, first experienced the Continent through war films, is more interesting than it might at first seem. Despite the often completely fictional nature of this early ‘experience’, a generalised memory of war and spy films, can be surprisingly creative in generating a frisson of overlap between eras, between then and now. Most of all, quite apart from a greater appreciation of the subtleties of landscape, architecture and national differences, the sense of menace or precariousness remembered from the best of such films, is almost bound to encourage a sharper awareness of the real world, a way of really paying attention to it. Without this attention, it’s all too easy to drift unquestioningly through the one-dimensional reality we expect to surround us.[v]

Connected to that older, necessarily less complacent reality of 1939-45, come the anecdotes of disappearing relatives and long dead grandparents and the now bizarre-seeming fact that in the late 60s, at my junior school of mostly London-overspill exiles, boys were still swapping their fathers collections of bullet cases, shrapnel and medals! (Generally speaking, the girls were more conditioned to be interested in skipping, dancing, and games involving those ‘jacks’ things that always reminded me of miniature tank traps[vi]). The recollection of the significance of such secondhand treasure, at first astonished me. But reading Kim Newman’s review of Overlord (2018): “With the passage of the years WWII has become what the Wild West used to be – a nebulous past of actual peril and limitless possibility,” I realised that to us kids on a council estate in 1968, encouraged by the authenticity of our props and fragments, that was what the Second World War already was. Our alleyways and building sites became a battleground – a battleground where sometimes the two genres Newman mentions, even mixed[vii]. A truer sense of the conflict only came later, when we were older . . . and sometimes breathed unexpectedly again from the travelling Continental scenes around us in Italy, as they echoed the landscapes in which I first saw it depicted.

Not long after we were back in Cumbria, another vivid parallel struck me from a letter sent by an old friend – one who once lived on the same housing estate and went to the same schools as I. He reminded me of the Italian community in Aylesbury back then: “Do you remember Imbriano, the Ambrosios, Pino, Mattozas Bakery, Havelock Street in the 1970 World Cup,[viii] Peter’s hairdressers, those women in black on kitchen chairs outside terrace houses along New Street like (they were actually) Sicilian, Calabrian peasants? I feel as if I grew up in Italy. When I first went to southern Italy, it reminded me of Aylesbury in the summer.”

A fruit stall may defy both its era and its location . . .

My friend’s recollections revived windows and roads that had lain dormant in my own mind: and even if all such personal memories are poetically enhanced and condense many separate occasions and summers, in doing so, they also unite them in a hopeful and generous richness – one that decries racism and Brexit; one that echoes multicultural life in towns and cities all over Britain to this day – which in my experience, though it may be tainted by clear rivalries and sporadic intolerance, is rarely as antagonistically set as the narrow-minded inciters would have us believe. On the other hand, I do accept that the glow of memory can invoke a sentimental piety, a nostalgia which looks back too fondly – no doubt in an attempt to counteract the entire mess humanity is in, politically, culturally and environmentally . . . 

 

18th May 2019 continued

We climbed away from Barrea and Opi through the mountains in increasing drizzle. Drizzle and mist soon became a heavier rain, only thankfully relieved by intermittent bursts of sun during the long, winding and blindspot blinkered descent to San Benedetto dei Marsi, on the eastern circumference of the Piana del Fucino.

Conad cloudscape by the dangerous junction, blueness breaking out, San Benedetto dei Marsi.  

Low on supplies, we stopped at a peripheral Conad, situated by a junction with no apparent priorities. In the twenty minutes I hung about outside, there were at least three serious near misses (one between a tanker and a van) and one minor altercation, despite that the place was more village than town.

 

Had it been built 200 years earlier, would Conad have been on the shores of a lake? 18th May 2019

In litter-filled shade to the east of Conad, on a green space of sorts, stands a striking war memorial, reminiscent of both Russian constructivist art and the social realism of the 30s. Here I sat for a while, contemplating its giant hands of friendship and their uniting sun, which bore an uncomfortable resemblance to a very spiky mace – as if the combatants had finally succeeded in knocking each other’s heads off. Now their robotic, columnal replacements were finally magnanimous or braindead enough to shake on it. Not that this prevented me from preferring such a monument to the more traditional style of pointless, over-sized, garden ornament.

Shake on it before it’s too late . . .

It’s already too late . . .  

 

Via the centre of the drained Fucine Lake  – the full story of which is truly fascinating[ix] –  following a grid of dead straight roads, eventually we arrived at Avezzano. Yet to find our way out avoiding the big toll roads, was almost as hard and repeatedly futile as earlier Roman efforts were to control the lake over whose shore the city must once have gazed. At one time the third largest in Italy, this endorheic lake – one without external outflow – was believed by the Romans to harbour malaria and was also responsible for repeated flooding. Epic tunnels dug through mountains were temporarily successful in lowering the water level. The first effort employed 30,000 workers, presumably slaves, over eleven years, but sections of tunnel soon collapsed amid accusations of deliberate sabotage to conceal the siphoning-off of funds. At one stage even Hadrian had a go – yet with the collapse of the Roman Empire, not surprisingly, this canal eventually silted up. Fucine Lake was finally drained entirely by a Swiss engineer in the 19th Century.

Totally destroyed by earthquake in 1915, the city of Avezzano had to be rebuilt yet again after Allied bombing in 1944. Although the area is one of the most fertile in Italy, I found the atmosphere inside the vast amphitheatre – with oversized machinery trolling about the unnatural grid of fields and a suspicious-looking Telespazio satellite farm – faintly sinister. Of course, on another day, in another mood, it might appear quite differently. Certainly, some of the light-industrial shopping areas of Avezzano on the older road out towards Scurcola Marsicana and ultimately Rome, were more vividly reminiscent of 50s U.S.A.[x] than anything European. Unfortunately, as driver on busy roads in persistent rain, I could only verbalise my excitement for these veiled and rundown anachronisms, which many would consider standard, monotonous background. Glimpses caught or missed on film, were distinctly underwhelming: “Quick! Quick! Film that bit!” I’d shout, nodding my head towards a façade beyond a mass of parked cars, sleet, condensation and those eternal Fiat blindspots . . .

Rain continued through Tagliacozzo and on to Colli di Monte Bove, after which we trailed some obscure and very minor back roads which felt totally contradictory to my sense of direction. In heavy mist as well, we were tracked for a couple of miles by some or other branch of the fuzz, as if they were trying to pressure me into making a mistake. Eventually they buzzed off and soon afterwards, as if to celebrate the occasion, the sun broke out again. By a small railway bridge in the middle of nowhere, we found a formaggio seller’s abode, but although a radio was on inside the shuttered house, no-one emerged in response to all our loud knocks.  A sign helpfully requested that customers should ring the bell hanging by the door, but we’d already tried that repeatedly.

Camouflaged railway bridge from the deserted cheese-seller’s front yard. 

Arriving with relief after miles of rain and lost directions, our high-ceilinged, 4th floor apartment on the Via Liberia[xi] at Castel Madama was a real time warp. Though clearly twentieth century, it was impossible to decide when exactly these apartments were built. Slightly bland from the outside, they possessed expensive solid doors and stairways. Utilitarian at the back, the vast front window led to a balcony putting on more style: with bowed railings atop plastered stone, this high view above the street, quietly hummed the 1950s. Full of furniture from the 30s to the 60s and with background décor unadulterated since the 70s, it was just the sort of place my grandparents might have liked, had they been better-off and lived in a warmer climate. The atmosphere was so reminiscent of their council flat off the Mortlake Road in London – but for one crucial difference: scale. Every room here had four times the floor area and twice the height.

Less dated were some of the magazines that kicked about the place. As you would expect, most of these were trash – which has probably become the best definition of magazines generally[xii]: Magazine /maɡəˈziːn/ noun

  1. a container or detachable receptacle for holding a supply of cartridges to be fed automatically to the breech of a gun.
  1. a glossy production containing reams of pointless misdirection, celebrity worship and inanity, certainly worth far less than the paper it’s printed on.

But, on a sideboard, I did discover a couple of film and lifestyle magazines – not hugely further up the evolutionary scale, but worth a cursory glance. One article featured a film I had never heard of: O.K. Nero (1951) – or O.K. Nerone, to use its original Italian title[xiii]. Reading a plot summary of this (Two American sailors, Fiorello and Jimmy, are slugged while sight-seeing in Rome and, together, dream they are back in Rome in the days of Nero), it sounded like a less-surreal, faintly more explicable, remake of the bizarre but endearing (to me, anyway) Fiddler’s Three (1944)[xiv] (A pair of Jolly Jack Tars on shore leave take a Wren (lady sailor) to Stonehenge and get caught in a time warp, finishing up in ancient Rome in the time of Nero). This similarity could be a co-incidence, but no doubt recycling a plot involving ancient Rome, would seem worth it, if it meant the filmmakers could get away with displaying buxom women in Roman gowns showing a lot of thigh. Fiddler’s Three by contrast, had to make do with a cross-dressing Tommy Trinder with bananas all over his head, parodying Carmen Miranda.[xv] “That idiotic film might do it for the English but is hardly going to work for the Italians!” K laughed, trying desperately to forget that she had ever, ever been persuaded, once, many years ago, to watch, Fiddler’s Three.

Nightscape, Castel Madama,  May 2019

 

 

Lawrence Freiesleben, Italy and Cumbria, July-August 2019

 

 

Notes

[i] To be fair, I never found an advertisement with the slogan that they were “good for your throat” only that they were easy on your throat or something similar: https://flashbak.com/ten-beautiful-craven-a-cigarette-ads-from-the-1930s-19884/ 

[ii] From ‘Captain Black’, July 2019 

[iii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civitella_Alfedena

[iv] Detached; by itself; the apparent ‘present’ has little value apart from the rare times when – everything coming into greater focus – you become aware of its transience in a visionary way. This unusual state has none of the careless greed or surface-surfing selfishness of ‘living in the moment’. This is the moment incorporating everything valuable that came before it and sensing everything valuable that may follow. Living in everything, would be a closer way to describe it. It is through the very intensity of the experience of time, that time is overcome.

[v] Finally reading Colin Wilson’s, perhaps unfortunately titled, Beyond The Occult, (1988, ISBN 0-593-01174-0  Chapter 3, page 82 of the Bantam Press edition) 30 years after he recommended it in a letter (I believe he wrote hundreds of such letters every week, assiduously answering every reader’s query), I came across this interesting section, serendipitously perhaps?

“. . . when man experiences only one reality at a time, he is bored. A child experiences happiness when he is sitting beside a warm fire on a winter’s night with the rain beating on the windows, or when he is lying on a beach on a summer day with the great cold expanse of the sea in front of him. For he is in effect in two places at once: in the warm room, and out there in the freezing rain; or on the sunny beach, and out there on the cold and fathomless sea. This is why children love to hear ghost stories when they feel comfortable and secure: it is a way of being in two places at once. Dr Johnson’s Prince Rasselas is not only stuck in the present moment, but in a state of mind that might be called ‘mono-consciousness’. The child listening to a ghost story is in ‘duo-consciousness’.” 

“. . . there are times when duo-consciousness becomes so intense that it ceases to be an exercise in imagination and takes on a compelling quality of reality.” 

[vi] https://www.amazon.com/Channel-Craft-Jumbo-Classic-Vintage/dp/B000BIZ86W

[vii] Not unlike such daft combinations of genres as Billy the Kid versus Dracula (1966) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060168/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

[viii] The World Cup was the one thing my friend mentioned that I did not remember, and I had to look up the match in which Brazil beat Italy by 4 goals to 1 – which must have caused massive dismay among our friends and enemies of Italian descent. Football was always a bit of a blindspot in our household despite my Liverpudlian Uncle Ken (unkindly known as Uncle Chessboard Teeth) and his obsession with Match of the Day. 

[ix] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fucine_Lake

[x] Were they reconstructed after the war utilizing U.S. money and designs? – a vague theory of mine I’ve been unable to substantiate.

 [xi] Rather than my assumption of Free Street – which lurched me into assuming a post-war provenance – Via Libera seems to translate as ‘green light’, ‘go-ahead’ or ‘all clear’?

 [xii] With the stress on generally. Amongst the unhappy overload of wasted printing ink in newsagents, I’m sure many valuable magazines remain tucked away. Sight and Sound for example, to which I’ve subscribed since the 1990s.

 [xiii] https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043870/?ref_=nv_sr_1?ref_=nv_sr_1

[xiv] https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036820/?ref_=nv_sr_2?ref_=nv_sr_2

[xv] A slight misrepresentation on my part, as Fiddler’s Three also has the captivating Diana Decker in some dubious, supposed Roman costumes (it was wartime after all) which almost rival those of O.K. Nerone, as well as Frances Day and the unforgettable Elisabeth Welch, not to mention the brilliant Francis L Sullivan as Nero.

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THE ONE IN THE TEN

In praise of FreeClarity’s The Ten Human Years of Preta Eshana

 

 

                                                                                      I

                                                                                 (AIMS)

 

 

At a time when the hand no longer knows what to treasure,

Nor the human mind to encounter the value and worth of the soul

A new story comes, shining fresh light through the kingdom

That for mankind has lain buried: and so a free clarity outlines

For those who are lost the heart’s goal.

 

Creative artist and Buddhist teacher, Stephen Givnan

Has written the tale of Preta Eshana, a female hungry spirit

Granted access to our world. In her timely passage, one day

Represents ten years of existence, through which she journeys,

Observing the sadness of woman and man, boy and girl.

 

In these cynical days, the story supports Givnan’s passion,

Along with his soul fed compassion, felt and evident on each page.

For his beautiful story allows an equivalent world of expression,

Among fellow writers, musicians and artists,

Setting down a template or bible for a burgeoning spirit age.

 

The project is Sheffield based with profits designed

To help the vulnerable of that city. As each act fills and feeds them,

They may seek comfort elsewhere than the drink

That has borne them away on dark streets’ submerged rivers,

Along which the drowning in bedding that road meet their brink.

 

And so the sweet spirit comes to observe and to soothe them;

Her path provides inspiration to the artists Givnan invites.

They become part of Free Clarity, as you might release the Djinn

From the bottle, in order to find your own tonic,

To refresh not the throat but fear’s night.

 

A limited edition vinyl will house the hopes and sounds of Eshana

And a hand woven volume will contain the stories and thoughts

Of the friends who grasp the hands of those lost to both despair

And addiction, as they capture reflections and echoes and create

The kind of art that defends.

 

                                       

 

                                                                                  II

                                                              (ALBUM AND BOOK)

   

 

In the prologue that Kate Brennan reads to this impassioned story,

Martin Snape’s cloud of synth gathers  as the spirit of Preta Eshana

Descends,probing the light and the wayward glance of each mirror,

Preta questions perception as a guiding light seeks an end.

 

A peel of beats ruptures through as the world we know

Achieves focus; ambience and abstraction soon attain melody;

A signal call guiding her through the shape and form of a cosmos,

Down to earth’s darkness with its need for a star’s remedy.

 

In Year One Preta explores mankind’s dreams as Oscar Downing’s

Shrieking synths soar to claim her, and yet these shouts stretch the senses

To the point of enraptured despair and sleep’s calm.

As the imagined state relocates the troubled horde living nightmare,

 

The entrance  of her presence will, like the music here, serve as balm.

Melissa Lynn’s art in the book is a beautiful Lynchian landscape

In which sister spirits align against dark to shine bright.

These small sibings heal under a scrape of cloud and sharp moonglow,

 

To represent bodies like Preta forming themselves, to seal night.

In Year Two Preta wakes and takes on the demands of the morning.

As the human receives obligation, so Preta’s awareness gathers.

Gyu’s accompanying music finds form with ambient guitar resonating

 

And percussive shimmer that sets thoughts in motion and images

Of doors, opening. A flurry of electronic notes like a bird cloud duly rises,

As intoxication of spirit lends uplift even with the pressures of day closing in.

Edna Cantoral’s Silicone Acrylic form shows man in distortion,

 

Bearing under the labour of a representative shard of wood.

Mankind’s fragile fabric presents this mottled figure,

As concision of sound and image supports the progress

And path towards good.

 

Preta’s spiritual self, in Year Three, leads her to the poor

And the desperate. She attaches herself to  a young man,

Reminding her of her son. Through her presence he learns

That the fear of the ruling hand shapes his shadow. 

 

In allowing his darkness there is no grace or grain to be won.

Jowy Maasdamme’s digital pencil art soon enchants

As a face houses spirit and the soundtrack music suitably

Captivates. A folkish guitar sets the tale for Ray Hearne’s

 

Money ballad, as representative of the evil across which

Each day breaks.  Exploitation reigns in Year Four

As Preta Eshana grows tarnished. In living among us man’s anger

Stains from dark cloud, easily. These she disperses to fight

 

Against the prevailing  forces that tame us as Frances Rowles’

Wooden puppet Tianamen Squares up to a tank.

Hands poised in prayer, the firing gun blasphemes at her,

The obscenity of the image as starting here as old news,

 

Raul Maduro’s soundscape is scratched with birds

As skies glisten, and a guitar refrain resounds, singing

Across  a handful of notes, wordless blues.   Soon so many colours

Align within this sacred project. Soul itself seeks dimension

And finds it at once with each mark. Preta Eshana becomes

Through each sign, song and story the means for all progress

To establish itself on God’s chart. After the Flood’s string sparked

Song ushers in the fifth year and stage of the journey;

 

Luke Durkie’s cartooned image of a tower torn apart sets the scene.

Preta’s anger takes shape, as a physical need forms from challenge,

But those surrounding her are not subject to the spectre she shapes:

We’re obscene. Unused to the pure, despondency grows within her,

 

With invisibility once more claiming our hopelessness becomes hers.

After the Flood’s music enchants, capturing disillusion and sadness,

As the theme builds and motors it is driving her through our curse.

And yet there is a rallying cry to be heard in the motion; a resolve

 

Slowly forming just as enlightenment itself attains dawn.

In Year Six she walks across land and oceans. Examining us in all classes

So that society’s school can be warned. Earthly comforts do not still

The discontent raging in us. Max Charles’ digital collage shows bright cities

 

And the sheen like mask that seals gaze. Humans turned on themselves

And turned in too, each soul folded, immune to the message

Sent from the murdered heart or old page. We need not be as we are.

There is still so much to accomplish. But only if we lift the visors

 

And blinkers too, to see all. Tom Collister’s metronomic string

And strike shows how fast time is running. Preta Eshana is moving

To the sound of a long submerged call. One that would see us all rise

As the splinters of tune achieve status. One that Preta Eshana is stirring

 

In the passing airs, miles and sky.  As yet we can’t see, but this is what

This story wakens:  the long neglected but sacred, the continual need

To ask why. Juliet Ellis’ photograph of a New  York Cemetary,

With its angels turned to the skyline in a fading grey manifests

 

What Year Seven contains, the realisation that man only seeks

To be happy and that while the trapped suffer, they nevertheless

Seeks the blessed.  This restores Preta’s grace, marred as she was

By the human and the renewed vigour features in Snappertronics’

 

Beat storm; as the bass skitters through and distorted horn features,

The voice of John Cage exhorts us to see the excellent day attain form.

Hope stakes its claim at the precise point of wreckage and the motion

Implied by the photo shows that even in death there is scope.

 

As one looks at this book and listens to the album, the reader stroke pilgrim

Is edging their way towards hope. Neil Campbell’s ruminative guitar song

In Year Eight complements Preta’s mission. She sees that a new story

Is needed to map out a path to free men. For mankind is not, and has never

 

Been kind to each other, as those of all types, creeds and genders

Have neglected to remain heaven sent. Henja Kerkoff’s line drawing

The Touch represents this need for connection. The warmth of Campbell’s

Song shows that shelter remains in our province if could just see and care.

Everything  remains possible, as Eshana’s guiding spirit now guides us,

Influencing discreetly, as if turning an invisible wheel in the air.     

In Year Nine she is clear on what is required. Offered the chance to stay

She refuses as mankind’s lesson is clear. Even mankind sees it too,

 

Freedom and Clarity have been outlined. But in our own refusal

To assume that new shape Hell stays near. Eshana opts to return

To the Spirit realm that has birthed her, in order to assist the starred

Essence of life itself in its tasks. Asa Bennett’s soul smeared prayer assists

 

Elevation. ‘If I should plant a tiny seed of love in the garden of your heart’    

Is the line that like Bryar’s Jesus Blood breaks emotion into a hopeful hand

Of dried stars. A host of new planets arise as the strings bear us skyward,

As possible as new flowers breaking through ruined earth or held snow.

 

Mark Golding’s Acrylic chart diagrams her ascension.

It is also a portal stared at from below. An attractive escape,

Or spiritual sketch for the Sci-Fi, leading Preta Eshana

In congress with the beatific space we can’t know.

 

It is then that we see just what has been accomplished

As in Year Ten Eshana as spirit rightfully housed spreads her worth.

She plants these new seeds, implied and heard  in this album

Of soul, souls and conscience contained within heart and hearth.

 

Displayed on each page and in the stories that follow,

We have seen how the journey of knowledge and truth becomes

Law. On the book’s final page there is a collaboration of spirit,

As Fran Green’s sky fused tower sisters the lilac tree’s sweet allure.

Two separate worlds become one thanks to a sacred day with Eshana

The one in ten gambit that in playing its hand finds the pure.

 

The accomplishment stuns under the gentle Givnan’s vision.

His Liverpool tones show all cities and all realms are ours, far and wide.

We need not separate. We need not to succumb to the ruin.

We can ascend and deliver. Everything still grows inside.

 

 

 

                                                                                   III

                                                                     (OTHERS STORIES)

 

 

 

The project completes with the writer’s stories.

Each writer accomplished, From wavelength to page

And from screen. Some are recollections, some tales,

From sweet parables, to reflection.

The Playwright Esther Wilson’s sweet spirit,

Arti Prashar’s ruminations around a grave’s green.

 

Bobi Treglown’s report of Preta Eshana’s final transmission,

Tim Holmes’ beautifully resonant poem of man’s plight and struggles

As witnessed first and second hand by our guide.

Each are extensions of mind, As if Givnan had sown his own seeds

Of being for both these and new writers

To freshly populate a gold time.

 

Such as Tommy Calderbank’s tender tale citing a butterfly’s broken

Freedom, and thus hope, is a proxy for the imprisoned flame in us all.

David Edwards espouses Year Eight in a near Manifesto,

Charting the ways in which stories can clearly emulate new truth’s call.

 

Bob Banks responds to the quest that Eshana’s founding spirit has granted

As Kate Brennan details the affecting bonds with her life.

Matthew Bain’s poem assumes Preta’s intense form of struggle,

Within this compassion and signal stroke, she is wife.

 

As all Angels are, either to God or the Human. Be they male

Or female. Love’s companionship still resounds.

Asa Bennett documises her song, in fact and proceedure

As Luda Kadampa re-examines the journey,

As if essaying the profound.

 

Lucy Hopkins ‘glowbugs’ lecturing us on our learning

While Givan’s poem prologue reflects man’s mirror straight back,

The poet Lemn Sissay concludes, urging us to be

 

‘Light on the shadow’

 

This is how we Eshana.

And this is how love attacks.

 

Not with a wound,

 

But with a truth.

 

Read, attend, listen.

 

The lesson is teaching

How the colours of the heart        

 

Retune black.

 

 

David Erdos 28th October 2019

Preta Eshana vinyl album and book. Pre-order Now

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SPIRIT OF NATURE

 

Nature is a spirit

It guides from the spirit.

 

Spirit is nature

It beautifies the physical.

 

Know your spirit

Walk with it,

Love your spirit

Work with it.

 

Believe you, love you

Save you, guide you

Focus, fight hard

Nothing is impossible.

 

Allow your spirit to live

Let it fly you around

Let it show you mysteries,

And bring you peace.

 

NGOZI OLIVIA OSUOHA

 

 

NGOZI OLIVIA OSUOHA is a poet/writer/thinker, a Nigerian graduate of Estate Management with experience in Banking and Broadcasting.

She has published over two hundred and fifty poems and articles in over twenty countries and has also featured in over forty international anthologies.

She has authored six poetry books and coauthored one. 

She has numerous words on the marble, she has won many awards and also a one time BEST OF THE NET NOMINEE.

Some of her poems have been translated and published in several languages.

 

Illustration Georgina Baillie
https://www.instagram.com/georgielondonart/?hl=en

 

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Orang-utan


The chicken only takes 20 minutes to cook, so there is nothing much to do until their guests arrive. Sharon and Barry go through to the front room with their drinks and switch on the TV. Sharon surfs channels until she finds a holiday programme about Turkey. They watch middle-aged couples in swimsuits wading in the sea, then a tour group visiting the ruins of an ancient Greek temple. The prices of apartments and hotel rooms scroll across the screen while the presenter enthuses about the country over a background of Turkish folk music. ‘Didn’t they have a bombing there?’ Sharon says. ‘Or was that somewhere else?’ She flicks through more channels, stopping at a documentary about orang-utans which the programme’s narrator says are threatened with extinction. There’s a group of wildlife people trying to save them from the effects of logging in the forest where they live. On the screen a family of orang-utans sit munching leaves, like they know something’s happening but they aren’t sure what. ‘Watching them eat is making me feel hungry,’ Sharon says and goes into the kitchen. She comes back with a plate of salami in one hand and a bowl of olives in the other. She puts the plates on the floor and snacks while they watch more of the documentary. Barry tries to imagine the orang-utans looking out through the TV watching him and Sharon sprawled on the sofa, as if they’re on the set of a reality TV show. It doesn’t look good for the orang-utan. He wonders what they’re thinking.

 

 

Simon Collings
Painting by Viktor

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He Spoke of Marionettes

It didn’t matter

It didn’t matter

It didn’t matter that she broke out of the embrace and said goodbye.

It was time to meet her friends at dinner.

That was fine.

Really.

It didn’t matter that there would be no kiss at the turtle pond.

Despite walking by the Romeo & Juliet statue or at Shakespeare Garden where the elaborate, corniced stone bench held them together. 

Silent.

She was cold.

He was comfortable. So comfortable that he would be glad to do just this. Lean against each other. Not talking. No big need right then.

It was the first date.

He bought flowers and cleaned up the apartment. She would never see the flowers. Or the bowl of fruit. Bananas, tangelos, and grapes.

No. Wait. Not tangelos, but nectarines.

The grapefruit beers in the freezer were a slushy dark orange inside the bottle, with some residue on the bottom. Peculiar things you notice when you end up alone in your apartment.

They hugged when they first met and it was one of the best hugs he had ever felt and he didn’t want it to end so he lingered and so did she and it didn’t matter. 

It didn’t matter that school kids were yelling and running by. 

It didn’t matter that she had gotten lost and that when he finally spotted her he was surprised, and happily so. When he spotted her standing on the roots of that large tree looking at him, he was glad. 

Glad that it was him she was looking at, even though she was looking at him from behind aviator shades.

He tried to remove her sunglasses and she stopped him. But he saw her eyes. How very blue. She had silverish eyelids or at least he thought she had put on make-up that goes on eyelids. He was still thinking about her eyes because now he could not think of the right name of the translucent shade of blue of her irises but they did seem to reflect light like one of the stones in a ring in the front window of Tiffany’s. Were they cobalt blue? Electric blue?

They held hands and one way fit and the other way didn’t. 

So they went with the one that did not intertwine the fingers, even though he thought that way to be naturally, the more intimate. It did not feel right, so he decided to move to hand-in-hand and they both tacitly agreed, almost immediately, that this other way would be the way they would hold hands for this first meeting and perhaps, it would be this other way that they would hold hands again. At least this is what he was thinking.

Coincidentally, but off-topic, earlier, he had walked right by a blind man asking for help crossing the street. The blind man had been standing on the northeast corner near the grocery store and the tone of his voice was pissed off. Pissed off that nobody was helping him. Pissed off at being blind, probably.

But he was merely speculating and pondering all this as he walked right by the blind man on his way to get supplies. Yes, the same grocery store where he bought tangelos, no wait tangerines, and grapes, and bananas. And also grapefruit beer and irises. The purplish-blue flowers. The flowers had a vibrant azure to them just like her eyes. Specifically her irises. But he didn’t notice that, at first,  because, to begin with, he was actually quite enamored with her glossy, red, sparkly lower lip. He wanted to kiss her then. 

He waited till the turtle pond when she turned to him and said, “You’re quiet.”

Boldly, he responded, “I was just thinking this would be about the best place ever to have a first kiss.”

She rebuffed him gently and panic set in.

Maybe she didn’t dig the beard.

Fuck! Now what?

He went back to being an affable tour guide providing details about the marionette cottage and Egyptian sculpture. And the kiss when it finally took place was not a good one. It was rushed and tense and perfunctory. It was a slammed door in his face and she was going to meet friends.

“Call me later,” she said.

“Why? Do you want to meet up after you see your friends?”

Nah. She wasn’t jumping at that idea.

As he walked back toward his apartment he pulled his phone out of his pocket. The phone had pocket-dialed her, so he left a voice message that he tried to make somewhat humorous, all the while thinking she didn’t pick up, even though she knew it was me.

It didn’t matter really. But maybe sort of, it did.

 

By Adam Kluger

 

 

 

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Of A Wayward Beat

A.Robert Lee, The Beats: Authorships, Legacies (Edinburgh University Press, 2019)

 

Beat has all kinds of connotations ostensibly. Keep the beat, rhythmically, musically, beats to a bar. But also in the sense of to prevail, as in beat you, beat it, you at the receiving end are beaten. There is something of both senses going on with that American literary phenomenon of the ‘50s and ‘60s the Beats.

A.Robert Lee in his impressive survey and retrospective of The Beats, pays attention to such questions. As Lee points out it was Herbert Huncke, Beat fellow traveller, who ‘first famously passed on the word ‘beat’ as meaning beaten-down, life met and embodied at degree-zero’ (p6) although to take it a step further Jack Kerouac, brought up Catholic, ‘blended this notion of beat seen from the bottom tier into beatific, beatus, a spiritualised take on existence.’ (p6) The word beat would eventually morph into beatnik, hip and hippy, changes that Kerouac among others, weren’t happy to be on board with.

Where did Beat come from? As Amiri Baraka, one time Beat affiliate, said,

‘Beat came out of the whole dead Eisenhower period, the whole of the McCarthy era, the Eisenhower blandness, the whole reactionary period of the 50s.’ (p8)

Lee is adept at tracking the emergence of what became something of a movement. John Clellon Holmes was in early with ‘This is the Beat Generation’, a ‘New York Times’ column of 1952. But it was Kerouac who took up most the manifesto like claims for this literary style, eg in ‘About the Beat Generation’ (1958) which appeared in ‘Esquire’ magazine, ‘that was a vision that we had, John Clellan Holmes and I, and Allen Ginsberg in an even wilder way’ (p7).

Lee provides a pretty methodical survey of this singular movement, and lays it out more or less chronologically. There are at least 3 ur texts for The Beats, arriving at the end of the ‘50s, these being Ginsberg Howl (City Lights 56), Kerouac’s On the Road (Viking 57) and William Burroughs Naked Lunch (Olympia Press, Paris 59), Ginsberg and Burroughs both facing trial for obscenity. Burroughs credited Kerouac with that title,- ‘The title means exactly what the words say: NAKED lunch – a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork’ (p88), presumably nothing to do with O’Hara’s ‘lunch poems’.

Howl achieved a good amount of notoriety from being included in Donald Allen’s epochal anthology The New American Poetry (1960), although it has to be said that The Beats were not just about poetry, part III given over to Kerouac (‘Mexico City Blues’), Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and Peter Orlovsky, Ginsberg’s partner. ‘Notes for Howl’ is among the poetics statements. The opening words of Howl still resonate, though Ginsberg conceded to some amount of irony, riffed on the base word ‘who’,-

‘I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in

the machinery of night (Allen p182)’

This is, if you like, pure Beat, after all these years, Ginsberg advocating ‘first thought best thought’ with his indebtedness to a surprising concoction of Whitman, Blake, Buddhism and Jewish mysticism, and perhaps also an amount of the homosocial. Ginsberg throughout was a mainstay of the movement, travelling widely, and often at the centre of things.

The other mainstays are Kerouac and Burroughs. A flavour of Kerouac can be grasped from ‘Mexico City Blues’ of which first stanza 113th chorus proceeds,-

Got up and dressed up

and went out & got laid

Then died and got buried

in a coffin in the grave,

Man –

Yet everything is perfect,

Because it is empty,

Because it is perfect

with emptiness,

Because it’s not even happening. (Allen p168)

This captures some of Kerouac’s flair and one could find long roaming sentences in On the Road or Doctor Sax etc. Capote famously quipped of Kerouac that he didn’t write, he typed. But Kerouac provided a few procedural accounts of his practice, including ‘Essentials of Spontaneous Prose’ (1953). The main criticism against some of this work is that it lacks plot development; though Kerouac expressed interest in doing a family saga along the lines of a Proust ‘on the run, a running Proust’ (p66; letter to Viking Press 1955), with some inspiration from the Forsyte Saga. Kerouac had problems with drug and alcohol misuse, which resulted in, for instance, his writing The Subterraneans in a three day bout under the influence of Benzedrine (p76). Some maintain nonetheless, like Lee, that Kerouac presents a distinctive American idiom to compare with the likes of Twain or Fitzgerald.

Burroughs style is different again. He resisted close affiliation with The Beats, but was well acquainted with Kerouac, Ginsberg and Corso (p86; in The Job: Interviews 1970). In his association with visual artist Brion Gysin Burroughs elaborated his renowned cut up technique, towards certain collage effects in his Soft Machine trilogy (1961-64), work of rare experimentation. But it was his subject matter veering toward outrider type behaviour, such as heroin addiction in Junky, though he later cleaned up, that led to prosecution.

A merit of the book is that it doesn’t just refer to these three stalwarts but includes chapters on ‘Women’s Beat’ and ‘Afro-Beat’, the former giving particular attention to Diane di Prima (eg Loba), Joanne Kyger and Anne Waldman (eg Iovis). The ‘Afro-Beat’ chapter provides commentary on Baraka, Ted Joans (eg Teducation) and Bob Kaufman. Jazz bebop was highly significant too, from Charlie Parker to Coltrane and Miles Davis. The sixties of course saw a shift towards calls for black empowerment, in which Baraka, among others, was strenuously involved.

While Lee provides wider cultural context and suggestions about the future, it looks very much as though the Beat consciousness has slid away with the passing of Ginsberg and Burroughs in April and August 97 respectively. And an aftermath in academic canonisation has seen a proliferation of scholarly treatments such as the Routledge Handbook of International Beat Literature (2018).

Ginsberg’s open form and mind breath techniques are still relevant, consistent with the likes of Whitman or Olson. He embraced Buddhism, eg at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics (from 1974) at Naropa, Colorado, but was also versed in the Hinduism of the Upanishads, ‘destroyed by madness’ he was not, keeping an extraordinary composure, with his highly instinctive adherence to his core literature, in the midst of some pretty wild times, especially the late ‘60s, a ‘poet first and above all’ (p40). Burroughs sustained his excoriating, apocalyptic critique. Kerouac one might have felt got famous without being well able to cope with it, and was better known for his more accessible spontaneous works, like Dharma Bums etc, while lacking appreciation for the kinds of texts he was more drawn to, like his Jack Duluoz cycle. Remembrance and spontaneous nowness just didn’t sit well together. That was part of the essential dilemma of The Beats.

 

 

 

 

Clark Allison

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Sisters of Reggae

Playing tracks by

Lloyd Charmers, Desmond Dekker & The Aces, Cornel Campbell, The Heptones, Phillis Dillon and more.

Sisters of Reggae founder Lucky Cat Zoe and MC Mad-X recorded live 28th September 2019.

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WTF? Brexit for anarchists

Welcome to Peace News, the newspaper for the UK grassroots peace and justice movement. We seek to oppose all forms of violence, and to create positive change based on cooperation and responsibility. See more

“Peace News has compiled an exemplary record… its tasks have never been more critically important than they are today.” Noam Chomsky

We need to work across the Leave-Remain divide, argues Milan Rai

Image

 

The Brexit process has passed from the farcical into the surreal. Things are happening which would have seemed unbelievable only weeks ago.

British parliamentary democracy seems to be discrediting itself. Is that a good thing or a bad thing, from a nonviolent anarchist point of view?

A lot of the chaos is the result of the government being placed under the control of a man who the former Tory prime minister John Major calls ‘a political anarchist’.

That’s the use of ‘anarchist’ to mean a destructive nihilist. The kind of anarchism PN has favoured is the constructive kind that challenges illegitimate authority and supports liberation and builds the new world in the shell of the old.

What that means is trying to use all the potential for freedom and justice in our current institutions, and to maximise the amount of democracy within the present system, while trying to create alternative institutions and organisations that are based on stronger principles of freedom, justice and democracy.

People vs people?

The prime minister, Boris Johnson, wants to frame the coming election as a ‘people vs parliament’ election.

The problem with that picture is that ‘the people’ did not just narrowly vote to leave the European Union in 2016 (by 52 percent to 48 percent).

‘The people’ also voted decisively the following year for a hung parliament where no party had an overall majority in the house of commons (42 percent voted for the Conservatives, and 40 percent for Labour).

The stuckness in the parliamentary mathematics since then has also been ‘the will of the people’, as lawyer David Allen Green, for one, has been pointing out (in the Financial Times).

This is not a conflict between direct democracy (the referendum says: Brexit) and representative democracy (MPs say: Remain).

Tory MP Ken Clarke, previously a Remainer, now a soft-Brexiter, is quite right to say that those who oppose no-deal do not betray, but ‘exactly reflect the public’: ‘Parliament, in its paralysed confusion, entirely reflects the division of the public, where there is no clear majority for anything, so far, except that we are against leaving with no deal.’

There was a fundamental problem in the way that direct democracy was put into practice. Quite apart from the dishonesty in the various campaigns, the EU referendum itself was only designed to give an answer to the single question of EU membership: in or out.

There was no question or mechanism for finding out what kind of relationship the people of the UK were willing to have with the EU in the future, post-Brexit – what the ‘red lines’ should be.

Were people willing to be in the EU single market? In a customs union? Or in a free trade area? Virtually no one who voted in the referendum knew the difference between these things.

The lack of clarity in the referendum result meant that hard Brexiteers were able to claim that their version of Brexit was the one true ‘instruction’ given by ‘the people’ in 2016.

That was what Theresa May did in her Lancaster House speech in January 2017, when she said Britain would not accept the jurisdiction of the European court of justice, and would leave both the single market and the customs union.

The Norway option

However, Ken Clarke, for example, could just as easily have claimed that staying in the EU single market, but not as an EU member, was ‘the people’s will’ as shown in the referendum result.

Nigel Farage, previously leader of UKIP and now the leader of the Brexit party, for many years proclaimed the virtues of the Norway option.

Even during the 2016 referendum campaign, Farage pointed to Norway and Switzerland as ‘rich, happy, and self-governing countries’.

Norway is not an EU member but has full access to the EU single market and very few barriers to trade with the EU.

The price Norway pays for these privileges is that: it accepts freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and people (EU citizens can enter Norway at will); it accepts a lot of EU laws which it has no part in making (because it’s not an EU member); and it largely accepts the rulings of the European court of justice.

Since June 2016, in sharp contrast to his previous praise of the Norway model, Nigel Farage has claimed that the Norway option would be a ‘betrayal’ of the referendum result.

Ireland comes first

The worst betrayal that could happen as a result of Brexit would be the reintroduction of a hard border in Ireland, separating the British-controlled North from the EU member state in the South.

Customs booths, barriers, CCTV cameras, any kind of structure symbolising the division of Ireland would be an invitation to New IRA and other republican militants to carry out bombings and shootings, and spark a new cycle of violence and repression.

A resumption of large-scale violence by republicans and the security forces would be a tragedy for people in the North – and for the casualties that would be likely in Britain.

For PN, that means that there either needs to be a backstop Brexit (which includes guarantees that Northern Ireland will be in the EU customs union and some elements of the single market) or we need to remain in the EU one way or another.

A mood of desperation

Boris Johnson’s defiance of democratic norms is part of a global authoritarian mood.

According to a poll in December, more than half (54 percent) of the British people think ‘Britain needs a strong ruler willing to break the rules’. Only 23 percent said no.

According to the same Hansard Society survey, 42 percent of people thought the country’s problems could be dealt with more effectively ‘if the government didn’t have to worry so much about votes in parliament’.

The proportion of people feeling deeply political powerless, with no influence at all over national decision-making has hit a 15-year-high, according to the poll.

What this means is that the decay of representative democracy is not leading in the direction of libertarian socialism and direct democracy at a grassroots level.

It is leading towards cynicism and totalitarian attitudes. The Brexit process is increasing resentment and hopelessness.

That presents a challenge and an opportunity for people who believe that society should be based on ordinary people being in charge of their own lives, in neighbourhood councils and workers’ councils, without rich investors or bureaucrats making decisions for them.

From that point of view, there were hopeful signs also in the Hansard Society report. Two-thirds of people (63 percent) believe that ‘Britain’s system of government is rigged to the advantage of the rich and powerful’.

Almost two in five people (38 per cent) think that ‘neither the system of government nor the people making the decisions are good enough’.

A similar proportion (43 per cent) think ‘We should consider electing parties or leaders with radical ideas for change who haven’t been in power before’.

So there is definitely hunger for change, and plenty of realism about power in this society.

For nonviolent anarchists, the challenge – whether Britain is inside or outside the EU – is to find ways to work respectfully and constructively with those who feel powerless – and to keep trying to achieve climate justice, peace and freedom. That will mean working across the Leave-Remain divide to oppose disastrous policies and to fight for a future worth living in.

 

Milan Rai is the author of Chomsky’s Politics (Verso, 1995) and the editor of Peace News.
https://www.peacenews.info
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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DECLARATION MANIFESTO PALIMPSEST

 

 

When: in the course of human events

when: in the course of development—

it becomes necessary, for One People

(class distinctions have disappeared

and all production) has been concentrated

to dissolve the political bonds in the HANDS

which have connected them with another

of a vast association and to assume

(of the Whole Nation) the public Power

among the Powers (of the earth)

will lose its political character

the separate and equal station

to which the laws—political Power—

of nature properly so called (and of nature’s

God is merely the organized power)

entitle them of One Class, a decent respect

(for the opinions of mankind)

for opposing another Requires

if the proletariat (during its Contest

with the bourgeoisie) is Compelled

that they should declare by the Force

of circumstances the causes, to organize

itself (as a class) which Impel it

(by means of a revolution):

it makes itself, them, to

                          separation.

We, the ruling class, HOLD these and,

as such, truth-to-be, self-evident:

That: All Men sweeps away,

by Force are created,

equal the old conditions of production

That: they are Endowed. Then, it will,

along with these conditions,

by their creator, have Swept Away

(with certain unalienable rights the conditions)—

That:  among these are:

life for the existence,

liberty

and the pursuit of class Antagonisms

(of happiness)—

That: to secure these rights,

and of the classes generally,

governments are instituted

(among men) and will thereby

have abolished its own Supremacy,

deriving (their) “just” Powers

from the consent (as a class

of the governed)—

That: whenever in place of the old

(bourgeois society)

any form of government becomes

(with its classes, and

Destructive of these ends

and class Antagonisms),

it is the right of The People

To Alter—or—to Abolish.

 

We shall HAVE it

(an association) and—

to Institute new government

in which the free development

(laying its foundation of each

on such principles)

is the condition for free development—

and organizing its Powers

(in such form as to them shall seem

of all most likely)

to Effect their safety and

happiness (prudence), indeed,

will DICTATE.

 

 

 

 

 

Duane Vorhees
illustration Nick Victor

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from Songs Of The Revolution

from 103

V

i want to write a poem
here in this neapolitan sunlight
smog drenched sea air

i want to write a poem like donne hölderlin or laforgue
my mouth bare of word magick
unable to unfurl intonation to unprison spirit

i want to write a poem
devoid of mortar rhetoric
which clots the mind

this is my poem

nonviolent justice
nonviolent education
nonviolent sexuality

nonviolent childbirth
nonviolent labor
nonviolent economy

nonviolent medicine
nonviolent childrearing
nonviolent right

nonviolent looks
nonviolent food
nonviolent philosophy

nonviolent transportation
nonviolent machines
nonviolent machines

nonviolent oil
nonviolent industry
nonviolent dreams

nonviolent drama
nonviolent power
nonviolent heights

nonviolent jargon
nonviolent fires
nonviolent freedom

nonviolent art
nonviolent religion
nonviolent movies

nonviolent childbirth
nonviolent lovers
nonviolent being that children dont kill
except with snowballs

nonviolent winds carry concepts
across the thick sea of blood jam poetry
and exaltations

 

 

 

Julian Beck

More Julian Beck images and poetry at https://songsoftherevolution.blogspot.com/
More on the Living Theatre https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Living_Theatre

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FALL 1982

1981, going into 1982. Let’s go back there. Bit bleak. Very cold winter. A new low of -27.2 recorded in Scotland. Bingo comes to the tabloids, the dole queue reaches 3,000 million, Mark Thatcher is found after six lost days in the Sahara, Next opens its first store to sell its first striped shirt to the first yuppie, a scrap metal dealer raises an Argentine flag on the Falkland Islands, the Soviet world’s biggest petrolhead Leonid Brezhnev dies in the USSR, leaving behind him around 300 luxury cars and an ossified command and control system twitching on life support, while Channel 4 started broadcasting, with Richard Whiteley fronting Countdown, and Labour find themselves 13 points behind the Tories in the midst of a severe recession. Plus la change. Oh, and The Fall release two studio albums, one of them an all-time classic, record numerous radio sessions and a couple of Antipodean live albums, and now, 37 golden years later, it’s all gathered together in one place – The Fall 1982 box set from Cherry Red.

Cardboard slipcase, 4,000 word essay, six discs, handsome packaging… So what music does it contain? Hex Enduction Hour, first off, widely regarded as The Fall’s finest hour, literally. Then Room to Live: Undilutable Slang Truth! whose arrant, experimental rough edged minimalism – think the teeth of a chainsaw cutting through early 1980s pop tunes – alienated early fans. There are sets of radio sessions, singles and soundchecks – and three discs of live Fall from Melbourne and n, some of it on 4-track, some of it from audience tapes, all of it ragged, dense and massive – Fall in a Hole and Live to Air, put out by Smith back in 1998 on his own Cog Sinister label.

The Fall 1982 will cost you £39.99 and while there’s nothing unreleased here, you can count that as a bargain, as Hex aside, these albums are long out of print. In fact, available stray copies of Fall in a Hole are currently going on Amazon for around £165, while Live to Air, the Melbourne live tapes, has a £40 price tag, and Room To Live is around £20, while the only available Hex, a double set with the sessions and soundchecks, is £30. The complete Peel Sessions, when on the market, will set you back several hundred pounds. Welcome to the posthumous afterlife of The Fall.

Back in 2004, I sat down with Mark E Smith in a hotel bar off Manchester Piccadilly. The comedian Bill Bailey had kjust left the room when Mark appeared, on crutches. Some of our conversation passed over the making of Hex Enduction Hour:

“I’d like to ask about the making of it.”

“It was done live in a cinema in Hitchin. Without an audience. This is the last LP I thought I’d ever do, so I wanted to get everything on it. So I packed it all in. It’s one of the ones – I don’t sit down and listen to it every week or anything – but I do give it a good hearing. It stands up, I think, which surprised me.”

“When the remasters come out, will it have more original material, like the full half-hour cut of And This Day?”

“ No, you can’t alter that. All that stuff’s on the floor, thank God. They’ll put a couple of singles on it, with some good B sides.”

“ And some was recorded in Iceland?”

“In a cave made out of lava. Hip Priest was done there. It was before the days when Iceland got hip. You go there now and the studios are all complexes. Then it was like a lava igloo. It’s why Hip Priest and the other ones sound good. It’s a very strange sound. We should’ve done more, really. I think it fell to bits a year later. The lava cracked.”

Hip Priest was used in Silence of the Lambs. Is that a good source of income?”

“Not particularly. I was more democratic in those days and gave everyone a share so that it has to go round about six people. [laughter] Of course I wrote every note.”

There are numerous geological layers of Fall fandom, with the one constant being what Kay Carroll once said about audiences at a Fall gig – resembling airplane crash survivors, having absolutely nothing at all to link them apart from being in the same room, experiencing the same trauma in sound. Many will remain in that roped off area of the pub in which The Fall was ‘theirs’ – defined, usually, by some four or five albums before which MES and das gruppe is perceived to have changed direction/sacked half its members/scorched through a brace of small, defenceless labels/ released a no-fi howler. When it comes to Hex, however, the board of directors is in agreement. The double-drummer, two-guitar line-up (almost completely erased from Room to Live’s austere, angle-grinding musique concrete soundscapes) is a classic one, and this album is the one Fall album you should have, above all others.

It’s certainly a great, great album – opener The Classical is often raised as the ‘best’ ever Fall track, albeit with its ‘problematic’ opening lines. Great as it is, I prefer Winter I and II, Iceland, Hip Priest, Who Makes the Nazis. That’s what being into The Fall is about. Disagreement among listeners as regards to quality is total.

That discord of opinion stretches deeper into Room to Live’s grainy, monochrome minimalism, which had few fans on original release. Listening to it now, from within the sealed alien dome overarching the 21st century’s second dismal decade, it bears an ambition and risk and awkwardness that is an alien commodity among today’s content providers. It’s hard to accept that Mark E Smith is dead. It’s boring and depressing even to think about; the last stage exit and entrance has come and gone, it’s and over and done, most of it. Music like this doesn’t exist anymore, and no one like Mark E Smith is ever going make music, or take over a stage and dismantle it the way these live and studio recordings dismantle the words of expectation in your head.

This month, Paul Hanley, in 1982 a newly recruited teenage drummer alongside Karl Burns, releases his account of making Hex Enduction Hour. Have a Bleedin Guess is out from the excellent Route Publishing, and as Hex is often called “The Fall’s finest hour”, so Have a Bleeding Guess is the finest book about The Fall (give or take his brother Steve Hanley’s The Big Midweek and Smith’s own Renegade), taking you from the roots of Hex (Jaw Bone and The Air Rifle was in the set back in 1980) through the cinema and studio sessions at Hitchen and Iceland’s cave of lava, and all points between – gigs, pubs, flats, rehearsals – and with fantastic contributions from people associated with The Fall who never speak to journos. Guitarist Craig Scanlon, for one. The men behind Kamara, the label that first put Hex into the record racks, Richard Mazda and Saul Galpern, as well as early Fall manager/partner Kay Carroll, Marc Riley and Steve Hanley, producer Grant Showbiz. Still no Karl Burns, though. But for an insight from the inside on how a group like The Fall made an album like Hex Enduction Hour, it is a classic of rock music books in itself. Initially published as an off-grid hardback edition sold directly by mail order via the excellent publisher Route, with a trade paperback due in March 2020, and is a mandatory item in The Biggest Library Yet.

 

To order Have a Bleedin Guess, go to the Route Publishing website at:
http://www.route-online.com/all-books/have-a-bleedin-guess.html

To order the set, go to Cherry Red at:
https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/the-fall-1982-6cd-boxset/

 

Tim Cumming

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UNIVERSE CHALLENGE

For a hallucination contest
At an acid ingestion soiree
Visions judged for vividness not for size
And their value and their worth
Will be your time away from Earth
A return ticket to Nirvana
Will be the prize
And
A panel of certified Swamis
From the Ashram of entitlement
Will present to the worthy winner
A Diploma of Enlightenment

 

 

 

Harry Lupino
Illustration Nick Victor

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Hyperbole, Exaggeration and Conjecture

William S. Burroughs & the Cult of Rock’n’Roll, Casey Rae (University of Texas Press)

Casey Rae appears in awe of William Burroughs, and from the very start of this book is prone to making sweeping assertions such as ‘It’s hard to imagine sample- and remix-based music without Burroughs’. It’s easy to get caught up by her enthusiasm and argument, but a little slowing down reveals the flaws in her argument. Burroughs did not invent the cut-up or collage, and in fact it was artist Brion Gysin who suggested to his friend Burroughs that he should try using some visual arts techniques such as collage in his work; the Surrealists and Dadaticians had used random collage, automatic writing and cut-ups decades before. Sample-based music may draw on these ideas, but was dependent on the invention of the sampler following music’s move to the digital. Burroughs may have acted as a populiser of cut-ups, through the mass sales of his early novels in the 60s and 70s, but Rae overstates the case.

As indeed, she does throughout most of her 293 pages. Although in her ‘Introduction’ Rae claims that ‘[i]f this were just a collection of vignettes of Burroughs hanging out with rock stars, it would be plenty entertaining. But there is much more to the story’, I struggled to find this ‘much more’ or be entertained. I’m a big fan of Burroughs’ writing, especially the later novels where he is more in control of his work, and I like much of the music discussed here, but I’m not as uncritical as Rae, nor convinced that Burroughs was the centre of all the activity she describes.

According to Rae, Led Zeppelin, Bowie, Genesis P-Orridge and his various bands, the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, Soft Machine, U2, Tom Waits, Coil, Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Patti Smith, and even Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney are part of some huge Burroughs-inspired brand of music. I’m sure they’ve all mentioned him, read him, some even met and worked with him, but Rae’s work is full of hyperbole, exaggeration and conjecture. So we get over-excited sentences like this:

The most intrepid creators and thinkers – people like Burroughs and Dylan – continually seek new vistas, different ways of being that can be expressed to others in the form of possibility. (p63)

or the understatement and banality of ‘[t]he relentless pace of the Information Age has posed challenges for creators. The old gatekeepers are still there, and now there are new ones […]’.

There is little critical engagement with the material here, what we basically get is a(nother) Burroughs biography with a focus on the musicians he bumps into or is around, with lots of recycled material from other sources, filtered through a messianic reverence and adulation. Rae comes on like a weird vicar at the conclusion of the book:

William Burroughs remains in the hearts of those who knew him best […]. Those who know only the icon have the opportunity to become better acquainted by delving into Burroughs’ voluminous body of work. In doing so, we may also discover something of ourselves–our fears, desires, longings, aversions, and hopes for the future. (p267)

As Rae also says on her final page: ‘Burroughs writing, interviews, recordings, performances and paintings will live on’. This is, however, despite and not because of sycophantic books like this.

 

 

 

 

Rupert Loydell

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Disrupting the Feed

Why pursue anything less
than gold? At this point
resistance becomes futile
but you can check your
eligibility today and it’s
hard to imagine a more
pure version of fanaticism.
“Perfection is achieved by
fear”, she said. Are we

choosing the news that suits
our views? Also vulnerable
are the overhead cables.
The sea is an unpredictable
and dangerous place to work
but we’ve always found time
to play and listen to music.
“Anyone can make a film”,
she said. Are you primed for

illusion? We don’t want to
arrive at a clear and obvious
conclusion but our jellyfish
appears completely immune
to the lack of oxygen and one
theory is that they are drawn
in by the bright lights. Five hours
after starting the assembly is done.
Migration is a dangerous undertaking.

 

 

Steve Spence
Illustration: Atlanta Wiggs

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INHERITANCE


i.m. Mark Hollis

Thomas Merton was unsure why he had
a wet footprint on the top of his mind.
I am more concerned with the ideas
and worries travelling over the viaduct
of despair and gloom into my brain.

The man who wrote oblique songs
of faith and doubt after several years
as a pop star, unexpectedly died young:
his aching blues play on repeat in my car.
Someone is posting unheard variations

of songs by another singer I used to know,
even though he died over ten years ago.
It is a kind of haunting, a kind of presence;
as is the album that once might have been,
released by a band three decades later on.

They walk beside me when I sing their songs;
it only has to be a few bars, I don’t need
to hear the whole thing anymore. Memory
and grief triggered by music, a sentence
or phrase, sometimes simply the truth.

The paper is blank, the radio quiet,
the viaduct arches permanently in shadow.
My students marched through mud as a train
passed overhead. All the songs in the world
can’t help me recall the faces of the dead.

 

 

 

© Rupert M Loydell

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Two Impure Innocence

I

The impurity of white captured yesternight
has left one puny fireworks worth ashes.
The smoldered spine of the pyro-pleasure
lies lifeless in the street.
We search for more, albeit it was not a trail
to find the magical land of all gone,
burnt, like the files of secret.

II

Still embracing the braces,
my brother calibrates steps,
requests –
“I can no longer stoop.
If an object infests my imagination,
you pick it.”

The winter has air in its belly.
White diarrhoea runs as far as we can see.
A school bus crawls amongst the drowned.

 

 

 

 

Kushal Poddar
Illustration Nick Victor

Authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’, ‘A Place For Your Ghost AnimalsUnderstanding The Neighborhood’, ‘Scratches Within’, ‘Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems’, ‘Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems’ and now ‘Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel’ (Alien Buddha Press)

 

Author Page – amazon.com/author/kushalpoddar_thepoet
Twitter- https://twitter.com/Kushalpoe

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Moods, atmospheres, photos, language and sound

Ambient 4: On Land, Simon Bray
Music Beyond Airports: Appraising Ambient Music, eds. Monty Adkins & Simon Cummings (University of Huddersfield Press)

Simon Bray’s photobook is a somewhat literal and straightforward photographic response to the Brian Eno album is it named after. If I have a criticism of these beautiful depiction of landscape details and textures, it is that they are too literal, perhaps missing the point that Eno wanted to imagine the places he used as track titles (‘Lizard Point’, ‘Lantern Marshes’ [sic; it should be Marsh], ‘Dunwich Beach’, and ‘Unfamiliar Wind [Leek Hills]’) rather than depict them. It seems to me it was the unfamiliar wind Eno was interested in, not Leek Hills; and he is on record as saying that although he was sure he had been to Lantern Marsh he couldn’t remember anything about it, that it was in no way a literal depiction.

So maybe Bray makes too much of the connections here. These superb black and white images needed only an inspirational nod of acknowledgement to Eno, not the slightly over the top short introduction we are given. Whilst the Eno connection is of interest, and what drew me to the work, the art itself can stand up for itself. It’s use of shadow, focus, framing and detail is outstanding; the fact each purchase comes with an original print an extra delight. For me they transcend the Eno connection.

Eno’s On Land album is a key text in many of the essays/chapters in Music Beyond Airports, with several authors using Eno’s definition of ambient music, and others questioning and critiquing. As with many academic volumes of this sort, there are attempts to shoehorn the authors’ own research interests in, or extend what might be considered the normal extend of a subject. So, for me the chapters on ‘Channelling the Ecstasy of Hildegard von Bingen’ and ‘Adaptive Game Scoring with Ambient Sound’ seem out of place, and attempts to argue that noise music is in some way ambient too, beside the point.

But there are also some real insights and good discussions here too. Chapters which explore the impossibility of music ever being ignored or becoming ‘furniture’, ideas about spatiality, and an especially interesting take on sampling as time travel, with specific reference to The Orb’s ‘Fluffy Little Clouds’ and their use of Rickie Lee Jones and Steve Reich samples.

David Toop, in chapter 1, shows how you can tangent and include the unexpected within a pertinent and informed discussion. Here, he manages to discuss musical and aural intimacy, the concept of silence, the notion of ambient listening, and end up with a strong rejection of ambient (or background) music when it is used ‘to incentivise or[as] a backdrop to productivity, networking and self-realisation’. If it is, he declares, ‘then it has no story of its own, no story worth hearing.’

Ambient music, however hard it is to define or pin down, clearly still has many stories to tell that are worth hearing, and has clearly informed and changed other musical genres, or individual musicians and groups. So that we can talk of the ambient in relation to, say, work by Morton Feldman, John Luther Adams or Jon Hassell that might have previously been considered contemporary classical or (fourth) world music; or compositions such as William Baskinski’s Decay Music, which we might once have been simply categorised as processual drone music.

Both these books are intriguing. One extending the idea of ambient landscape into the realm of the visual, printed photographs on the page; the other an academic but mostly readable anthology of various and varied essays on a theme, each in their own way ‘appraising ambient music’.

 

 

 

Rupert Loydell

Simon Bray’s Ambient 4: On Land is available to buy at https://www.simonbray.co.uk/prints-publications/eno

At this link readers can download a free digital copy of the book, or opt to buy a printed copy.

https://unipress.hud.ac.uk/plugins/books/19/

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Answers may never properly receipt questions

 

When they interrupted and asked if I was ready

I had trust, no questions, only obedience for

I trusted in singular sincerity of honesty.

 

When we humbly asked them for help

it was not for repayment but for humanity

to prove right is measured in deeds not money.

 

We did not pile our dead bodies, one-upon-one

like a Trump Tower, propelled heavenward

to remain only within our memories.

 

We quietly buried our loved ones

with thanks for their selfless sacrifice, 

grateful to receive reward in a better place.

 

Women of war we are called but we do not

begin hostilities – we prefer negotiation,

compromise, creation of community.

 

We will finish what we are called to

fight, with clenched-fist ferociousness,

determination, single-mindedly, together

 

 

 

 

Andrew C Brown
Illustration Nick Victor

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FOR THE LOVE OF WINNING AN OPEN LETTER TO EXTINCTION REBELLION


AN ACTIVIST FROM THE ZAD WRITES TO EXTINCTION REBELLION ABOUT VICTORIES AND DEFEATS, ABOUT WINNING AND HOW IT OFTEN IS NOT WHAT WE THOUGHT IT WOULD BE.

John Jordan

Dear rebels,

You just made history, there is no doubt about it. Yesterday the UK Parliament declared a climate emergency. You just nudged the world into the right direction with your disobedient bodies and beating hearts. Extinction Rebellion’s first demand has become a reality. You put your dreams and courage on display, splashed images across the world that showed that in an emergency, words are never enough. You proved, what fierce lover and rebel poet of everyday life Oscar Wilde, believed when he wrote: “Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is our original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.”

I want to write to you about winning and how it often is not what we thought it would be. I know that post action feeling of victory, when every cell of your body is elated by the pleasure of disobedience. For the first time in your life you feel that this body, this flesh and bone that is me, can do something magical when it transforms the isolating anger and sadness, into a common rebel force. You realise that together we can change worlds.

But I also know the feeling when the system realises that your victories are a threat to its survival and it turns against you. I know that we are never prepared for the real repression when it comes. Sometimes it comes in the form of criminalisation through media storytelling, sometimes through the crack of truncheons on our skulls. But often it comes through the back door, an act of digestion and incorporation, transforming our radical actions into their own words, words that become tools for their greenwashing or electoral sloganeering. So this is a letter of warning but also a love letter, or rather a letter about love, about how perhaps one of the arts of being a rebel today is to fall in love with somewhere. To fall so strongly for a place that you would do everything to defend the life of it. It’s a call to truly inhabit !

As I was reading the news about the UK parliament declaring the state of climate emergency, my eye caught a headline further down the page in the ‘related news’ section: “Heathrow ruling: High Court approves third runway despite escalating climate change crisis.” Local residents, Greenpeace and London’s Mayor had tried to block the building of the third runway, but the court ruled against them. The third runway could destroy 950 homes, acres of agricultural land and produce more CO2 each year than the entire country of Kenya.

And so, on the same day (which happens to be Mayday, the ancient festival of affirmation, the start of spring and a celebrating of the love of life) the state declares an emergency with one hand and with the other it fuels the very fire which is pushing life to the edge. Outside the court a Heathrow spokesperson said: “We are delighted with today’s ruling, which is a further demonstration that the debate on Heathrow expansion has been had and won, not only in Parliament, but in the courts also.” I feel sick reading this, he believes they have won, but he forgets that winning often happens in the streets and fields with bodies rather than words and paper. A full-length runway has not been built in London for 70 years, we can’t let this happen now, it would make the decades of resistance against this piece of climate burning infrastructure worthless and the growing climate rebellion a joke.

I am writing from an old farmhouse, my home which looks out across the meadows. The evening wind flutters the constellation of daisies and brushes against the edge of the forest, shivering a billion tiny bright green leaves bursting with new life. Spring is erupting everywhere. But all of this life unfolding in front of me would have been extinguished if it had not been for disobedient bodies, tens of thousands of them. If the French governments (50 years worth of them) had had their way, this forest would have become a tarmac runway, where my home is would have been a control tower decked with radars, and the rest of the 4000 acres of fields and rare wetlands around me would have become the Airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, the brand new international hub for the city of Nantes. A ‘green’ airport they claimed, with living roofs and solar panels, because there is never any limit to the hypocrisy of corporations and governments.

And so we won, the airport was cancelled in January 2018 ! A rich ecology of struggle had brought together local farmers and villagers, activists and naturalists, squatters and trade unionists, to defend this place. We occupied the territory and fell in love with it. We built a common life here, our cabins nestled into the rich hedgerows that criss-cross this land, the empty farms squatted and revived. We said “NO” we don’t want an airport, but also “YES” we will construct new forms of life, we will live as if we are free here and now and stop treating the world as an object to make money from, but as a subject to share life with. With its buckwheat fields and bakeries, brewery and banqueting hall, medicinal herb gardens and a rap studio, vegetable plots and library, weekly newspaper and flour mill, dairies and traditional carpentry school, the zad has become a concrete experiment in taking back control of everyday life. We’ve even built a lighthouse exactly where they wanted to put the control tower, a beacon to welcome hope.

Politicians called it “a territory lost to the republic”, we called it – The zone to defend – the zad. Sometimes 60,000 people would block the local motorways, with hundreds of tractors, bikes, sound systems, dancing bodies and being France, giant banquets. Sometimes we would build barricades to repel the bulldozers come to destroy us. Our diversity was our weapon, non-violent direct action merged with confrontational tactics, burning barricades and singing old age pensioners worked hand in hand to confuse the police who came to try to evict us in 2012. The eviction failed and the 4000 acres of wetlands once earmarked to be sucked dry and concreted over, became an autonomous zone without police or politicians ever setting foot here. Popular assemblies of every shape and size ran the zone and it became Europe’s largest laboratory of commoning. That was until we won against the airport, and three months later the police came to try to evict the very people who had saved this place from destruction. It was pure revenge, because no government can allow an autonomous territory to exist and for people to show the world that we can live without them. Despite France’s biggest police operation since May 1968, with armoured cars, drones, helicopters, 4000 police firing over 11,000 tear gas and explosive grenades at us, the destruction of 40 of our homes and a bureaucratic attack to force us to legalise everything, most of us are still here and still fighting for the commons.

As I’m sure you know, the United Nations scientists tell us that we have 11 years to reduce our emissions. At my age, having been in direct action movements for a quarter of a century, 11 years passes very quickly. In fact 11 years ago, in 2007, I was with thousands of rebels occupying the very site of the third runway at Heathrow. We held the second climate camp there. It was extraordinary: the sea of tents, marquees, wind turbines and solar panels, a stark contrast against the backdrop of monstrous roaring planes taking off. This warm prefigurative temporary community made up of locals against the runway, whose houses were to be destroyed and radical climate activists from across the country and beyond, put the third runway on the global media map. BAA tried to impose a ban on us going to the camp, but it turned out that they had banned all members of all groups associated with the Climate Camp and one of the groups was the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) and as the Queen of England was its patron, she would be prevented from going to Heathrow airport for the duration of the Climate Camp ! The ban was ignored as were the terror laws the police tried throwing at us. We shut down British Airport Authorities HQ for over a day and hundreds experienced disobedience for the first time.

Three years later in 2010, the government cancelled the runway, we celebrated, the local residents could see a future again, the threat to their homes was over and another climate burning machine halted, we thought we had won. But in 2018 the government brought their runway back. The Labour party (despite the splits within it on this issue) allowed the vote to go through, under pressure from the construction unions. The plan is to have the first planes take off (over 700 flights a day) by 2025, the very year Extinction Rebellion are asking the government in their second demand to get to net zero CO2 emissions !

Whist we may feel now that the UK Climate Camp did not win at Heathrow in the end, its influence was key for the victory at the zad. The meadow I am looking out to here is where in 2009, inspired by the UK Climate Camps, the first French Climate Camp took place. During it local residents, some who had been resisting this project for 40 years already, read out an open letter they had written. It was an invitation: “a territory” they wrote “could only be defended if it was inhabited”. It welcomed people to come and squat the empty farms and fields to block the airport builders. When the tents from the week long climate camp were taken down, a handful of rebels decided to stay, they built tree houses in the forest, occupied empty buildings and the zad was born. Nine years later when the airport was cancelled the zone would have over 300 people living on it in 70 different living collectives and communes. A permanent autonomous zone had blocked the infernal infrastructure.

wonder how our bodies could stop the third runway, how can all that energy from Extinction Rebellion shift from the temporary sites of bridges and road blocks and start to take root, to defend a territory. How can our love of life become a love for a place ? The art of winning on the zad involved so many tactics from legal to illegal, but under each one of them lay the shared belief that the airport would never get built, it was an intense act of imagination aimed at envisioning a future without an airport. Is it possible to conjure up that rebel imagination against the third runway ?

Night is falling, the darkness is filled with the chorus of frogs croaking in the marshes. Thousands of them, singing serenades of love to each other, a sumptuous erotic symphony for these wonderful wetlands. I adore going to sleep cradled by the sound of amorous amphibians, but their song saddens me also, it reminds me of my mum, the rasping sound of her breathing, that croaking crackle of a death rattle, which I listened to 24 hours a day, as I held her dying body. Watching her body night after night, waiting for the breath to stop, waiting for the silence, which would mark her slipping away from this world, I wondered what the sound of the world dying would be. Before we won the struggle against the airport last year I often feared that one day there would no longer be the sound of frogs here but just the roar of jet engines.

Just as I write these last words a nightingale starts to sing. Its long low mesmerising notes yearning for love, interspersed with quick fire rattles and warbling whistles. Since I was born 54 years ago the population of nightingales has declined by 90% in the UK. For most of my life in a metropolis, I had never heard this magical sound. It was on this site of a proposed airport that I first heard it. I wonder who heard the last song of the nightingales on Harmondsworth moor, the rolling river crossed land next to the 400 year old village that is earmarked to make way for the third runway.

100 years ago Oscar Wilde believed in something that seemed totally impossible in his era, the idea that love between two people of the same sex could be seen as something normal. In one of his short stories a nightingale describes love: “Surely Love is a wonderful thing. It is more precious than emeralds, and dearer than fine opals. Pearls and pomegranates cannot buy it, nor is it set forth in the market-place. It may not be purchased of the merchants, nor can it be weighed out in the balance for gold.” Would it be ridiculous to believe that not only the third runway will never get built but that one day our children will be able to hear a nightingale in Harmondsworth again because we had learnt to fall in love with the world, in love with life rather than money.

Love, rage and gratitude from the zad.

JJ (John Jordan)

This letter first appeared on May 3, 2019, on the ZADForever blog. 

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Voicing the Bridge. Celebrating free movement.

Visual artist Jan-Erik Andersson’s contribution to the Voicing the Bridge, an international happening/arts and film-making project in Clady, Northern Ireland, includes a film made using footage from the day. It is not a traditional documentary. The film aims at addressing these complicated issues concerning ’free movement’ in a very surreal way, spreading a message of love and happiness out to a pretty messed up world. It also stresses the importance of preserving a variety of pollinators, the life supporting natural border crossers, whose existence is in danger. Please, share the film!

Voicing the Bridge, an international happening/arts and film-making project arranged by Jan-Erik Andersson, Eileen Hutton and Robert Powell, took place in Clady, Northern Ireland in July 2019. It was inspired by the extraordinary 17th century bridge that traverses the River Finn where it forms the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. It was realized through an open call by the Finnish Institute in London for art projects concerning borders and free movement.  Andersson, Hutton and Powell invited local artists from a range of disciplines to create a day of imaginative performance, conversation, and participation for everyone, using the river and bridge as a creative location and metaphor to address the universal issue of free movement. The project imaginatively addressed the very current question of ‘borders’– both as barriers for people and goods to move freely – and as psychological, cultural, even spiritual, lines of division which can hinder people and communities from developing in harmony.  Indoors and out, there were happenings and events throughout the day – ecology and biodiversity workshops by Hutton, poetry and choral performances by Powell and Ruth McPhillips and the Voices of the Foyle Choir, experimental free movement demonstrations by the performance group BBeyond.  The Grand Finale was a procession and ‘car horn orchestra’ taking place on Clady Bridge. All visitors were invited to contribute thoughts, words and drawings to decorate a bench and sculptural scale model of Clady Bridge, designed by Andersson. The bench-sculpture was left as a gift to be used by the community after the event. 

The international happening/arts and film-making project was a part of the Earagail Arts Festival. In collaboration with the Clady Cross-Community Development Association. Invited artists: BBeyond performance group, Ruth McPhillips, and the Voices of the Foyle Choir ~ Glórtha an Fheabail. Clady Community Hall, Clady Village, Northern Ireland, 2019.

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kickers and Transylvanian twisters

 

This month the dark, twisted heart of Steam’s Jukebox Shuffle brings you a whole bunch of crypt kickers and Transylvanian twisters for Halloween. Blood curdling rhythm and blues, rotting rock ‘n’ roll, grinding garage loud enough to wake the dead and many more morbid masterpieces. It’ll fill you with dread… dig it baby!

 

Tracklist:
The Johnny Otis How – Castin’ My Spell
The Poets – Dead
Ike Turner – She Made My Blood Run Cold
Screaming Lord Sutch ‎– She’s Fallen In Love With The Monster Man
Tommy Scott & Scotty Lee – The Exorcism
The Mark IV – Dante’s Inferno
Johnnie Morisette – Death Powder, Cold Steel
Ike Gordon – Don’t Let the Devil Ride
Louvin Brothers – Satan is Real
Eartha Kitt – I Want to be Evil
The Cords – Ghost Power
The Monocles – Spider And The Fly
Gary Spider Webb – The Cave, Part One
The Sonics – The Witch
Bobby Bare – Vampira
The Frantics – Werewolf
The Last Word – Sleepy Hollow
Gil Bateman – Daddy Walked in Darkness
Screaming Lord Sutch ‎- Till the Following Night
Napoleon XIV – They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haa!
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – I Put a Spell on You

 

Steam Stock

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French influences on Kerouac, Ginsberg and Burroughs.

 

 

Véronique Lane, The French Genealogy of the Beat Generation, Bloomsbury, 2017, 264pp (Pbk published 2019, £25)

Literary scholars have long known that key Beat figures, including Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs, read and admired French Modernist authors. But these cultural influences are often portrayed as superficial in nature, and marginal to the work of the Beat writers. Indeed many critical analyses of these three authors present them as quintessentially American. Véronique Lane’s detailed study challenges such over-simplified accounts. Through close textual analysis of the novels, poems, journals and letters of the three core Beat writers, Lane demonstrates just how much these authors took from French literature.

The patterns of influence vary from author to author. Historically, Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ has been interpreted by critics predominantly in terms of personal biography and period context. But, as Lane shows, in the variorum edition of the poem published in 1986, Ginsberg invites a more complex reading of the text by exposing its literary genealogy, something which scholars seem to have largely overlooked. Lane’s analysis demonstrates that Apollinaire, Artaud, and St-John Perse were all important sources for ‘Howl’. She says: ‘Ginsberg constructed the genealogy of his poetics through a threefold strategy of quotation, translation and encryption, and once this complex strategy is understood, it becomes clear that it was largely through his engagement with French literature that Ginsberg developed the very aesthetic and hermeneutic method of his poetry.’ Ginsberg’s ideal reader, Lane suggests, would have been someone who recognised the hidden quotations and inter-textual references in the work.

Both Kerouac and Burroughs, Lane argues, owed a large debt to Céline, though they responded to his work in very different ways. Burroughs relished Céline’s cynical humour, while Kerouac was drawn to the incidents of compassion in the French author’s work. ‘For Burroughs,’ Lane writes, ‘it is the unchecked violence of Céline’s satire that models a shattering of the novel’s traditional humanism, leading him towards an aesthetic of fragmentation and excess to match his posthuman ethics.’ Burroughs saw strong parallels between the critical reception of Céline’s work and his own, commentators often failing to see the humour in both.

Céline’s importance for both Kerouac and Burroughs, however, goes well beyond matters of personal philosophy. Lane shows how the form and structure of Céline’s first novel, Voyage to the End of Night, is central to the organisation of Kerouac’s On the Road. She traces the roots of this influence in Kerouac’s early work I Wish I Were You, a re-writing of a collaborative novel he co-authored with Burroughs in 1945 called And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks. French cinema was also an important influence on Kerouac in his rewriting of Hippos, especially Marcel Carné’s Le Quai des Brumes (Port of Shadows).

Lane argues that, while Hippos exhibits a degree of ‘name dropping and bohemianism…reflecting the superficial fascination that drew the Beat circle together around the rebellious postures taken by French authors…Kerouac’s rewriting of it begins to critique and go beyond the lure of biography and sociology, shifting towards a direct involvement with the French texts and films themselves.’

Rimbaud was another writer of great interest to both Kerouac and Burroughs. Lane’s examination of Burroughs’ cut-ups of Rimbaud’s poetry in Minutes to Go show that he cut from both the French and the translated texts, doing so with considerable care. Burroughs cut-up poems were not simply a random reassembly of fragments of Rimbaud, but carefully composed texts.

Lane goes on to explore the significance of Gide and Cocteau in Burroughs’ unfinished second novel Queer which he wrote in Mexico the year after he had accidentally killed his wife Joan Vollmer (the book was not published until 1985). Gide’s novel of sexual discovery L’Immoraliste, and Cocteau’s film Orphée, had a particular significance for Burroughs. In Gide’s novel, the main character’s awakening to his homosexual desires contributes to his wife’s death. In Cocteau’s film, Orphée sacrifices Euridice twice, once to his poetry and a second time because he is in love with the beautiful figure of Death. Reference to Joan’s death is absent from Queer, yet it cast a ghostly shadow over the text. To quote Lane: ‘Gide and Cocteau mediated for Burroughs a deeply problematic relation of life to literature, in which the issue of where his writing belonged, its genealogy, was emotionally charged by the question of what did and didn’t belong in it.’

A further chapter investigates Burroughs complex relationship, and rivalry, with Genet’s writing, and the book’s final chapter explores parallels between Burroughs’ Mugwups (from Naked Lunch) and Michaux’s Meidosems.

That it has taken so long for a scholarly study to elaborate these cross-cultural connections in the highly persuasive way that Lane does, is perhaps because of the barriers of language. Few Beat scholars have been sufficiently versed in the two literatures to see the links. This is both a scholarly and an immensely readable book.

 

 

 

© Simon Collings 2019

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Leaf

 

The flower dances in the sun,

But the leaf grants you shelter, only leaving to better herself once her job is done.”

She is my diary,

Her skin is paper,

Blue veins ink

Blossoming secrets beneath my fingers.

She changes with the seasons

Bursting with fire and ire

Before withering in retrospect.

Yet retreat is not loss:

It’s in quiet thought she blooms

Buds fresh with reflection:

Indeed, she is not green with naivety

But instead, perspective.

Every fall spurns growth

And an oath

To better;

Fragile and evermore.

 

 

 

 

Megan Hopkin
Illustration Nick Victor

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Buffalo Nickel

 

 

On the reverse: the bison’s a resolute
survivor of trainloads of riflemen
who littered the land with carcasses.

On the obverse: the Indian head depicts
a race that denied private property,
wasted nothing, revered every creature
as part of nature’s divine plan.

The date is worn by countless hands,
like that on a slump-shouldered stone
of stoic granite eroded by tears.

My date and profile are worn, irrelevant.
Heads or tails reflects the equal chance
of an unpredictable result – a random,
meaningless event of purposeless fate.

 

 

 

 

David Olsen
Illustration Rupert Loydell

 

 

 

A poet, playwright, and fiction writer with a BA in chemistry from University of California-Berkeley and an MA in English and creative writing from San Francisco State University, I was formerly an energy economist, management consultant, and performing arts critic. I’ve lived in Oxford since 2002.

 

 

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The London Rebellion in Pictures

 

 

The Lions Roar Defiance

Friendly Contact

The Barn

Non Violent

Shell Hell

Endangered Species

Blockade at Bishopsgate

Young Rebels

Rain at 3 A.M.

The Family Hub


Liverpool Street Protest
Bishopsgate Roadblock

Encampment at Night
Regent Street March
Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens

Gandalf wouldn’t let this shit happen”
Extinction Rebel Lennon
Liverpool Street/Bishopsgate Junction
Looking for Trouble


Only 12 Years Left

 

 

 

Lawrence Freiesleben

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The World Is Run by Insane People

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Heatwave.


The parched grass had been kind
to the clover; also, it was spotted with
soft clots of strawberry, plucked from the

wild plants in the garden and dropped soon
after. There’d been fights for these fruits;
what with robins, blackbirds, wood lice,

slugs and what else helping themselves
under cover of night and rain storm. Bees
hung around like punctuation in a short

sentence. I wanted to surrender the small
lawn and hand it over to wilderness; the
idea seemed to have spread and now

the whole garden was a dry jungle. In the
absence of rain I had to water the pots and
bedding, a slow process made more

interesting by the sun on a soft breeze
swiping across my bare back. A wood
pigeon with a hunger for seed stopped at

the feeder, hassled by sparrows but standing
his stead. After all, he had size on his side.
Water from the hose, sweeping in an arc

at one point produced the tiniest rainbow;
it must have started and ended in the same
space, within the confines of the wilderness.

There are nests, hidden, in the beech hedge
and the clematis with blackbirds sleeping
in the oak. After I’ve soaked the garden I

suspect it might rain soon, only because
this has happened before. Pots store water
and the dry non-lawn plays its own game.

 

 

John Gimblett

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Persian Demons from a Book of Magic and Astrology (1921)

 

These watercolours come from a bound manuscript written by a rammal — or soothsayer — in Isfahan, Iran. According to Ali Karjoo-Ravary, the paintings were added one or two decades after the composition of the text — a treatise on spells and demons, “among other creatures, that are associated with each sign of the zodiac.” The pictures, Karjoo-Ravary continues:

are accompanied with ritual prescriptions for dealing with the different creatures. The author attributes his knowledge to the Biblical Solomon, who was known for his power over demons and spirits.

Not all of the 56 painted illustrations in the manuscript depict demonic beings. Amongst the horned and fork-tongued we also find the archangels Jibrāʾīl (Gabriel) and Mikāʾīl (Michael), as well as the animals — lion, lamb, crab, fish, scorpion — associated with the zodiac. But most of the figures shown are far from ordinary or angelic. A blue man with claws, four horns, and a projecting red tongue is no less frightening for the fact that he’s wearing a candy-striped loincloth. In another image we see a moustachioed goat man with tuber-nose and polka dot skin maniacally concocting a less-than-appetising dish. One recurring (and worrying) theme is demons visiting sleepers in their beds, scenes involving such pleasant activities as tooth-pulling, eye-gouging, and — in one of the most engrossing illustrations — a bout of foot-licking (performed by a reptilian feline with a shark-toothed tail).

The wonderful images draw on Near Eastern demonological traditions that stretch back millennia — to the days when the rabbis of the Babylonian Talmud asserted it was a blessing demons were invisible, since, “if the eye would be granted permission to see, no creature would be able to stand in the face of the demons that surround it.”

You can see our pick of the illustrations below, starting with the double-page spreads of the signs of the zodiac with their associated demons followed by more highlights from the bevy of delightful images.

 
https://publicdomainreview.org
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ASHAMED TO NAME HIM, SO I WON’T

a stump speech

The big-thumb ump bumpbumps like his golf dump’s empty sump pump. That extra-plump lump of lamb chump hums and thumps his grumpy drum and crumps the trumpet of our democracy.

He grumps us chumps again and again, jumps us full of mumps, and humps his frumpy strumpet’s rump on live TV.

 

 

 

Duane Vorhees

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Stage Invasion

 

This is the book we have all been waiting for’ 

(Ian McMillan)

www.petethetemp.co.uk

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STONE TOWN

 

in stone town
you’re shown your place
in a security of knowing,
this is the way we do things
we have always done things this way
there can be no other way,
in this town we fit together

in flesh town
we are free to choose
we invent our own path or
reinvent new ones in amusing games
we grow together, or fall apart
on whim, are inclusive or not
depending on the colour of the day
or the scent of the breeze
in this town we are individuals

in art town
they say, before you can read
first you must know words,
before you can sing
first you must learn to listen,
poems are compacted language
that inflates in your head,
reverse-time snapshots
from which energies glow,
but before you love
you must first be loved

I stand at the crossroads
wearing a comic hat of puzzlement,
people glance, throw sharp stones,
some mutter of madness,
but give me time, eventually
I’ll decide where I belong,
eventually I will decide…

 

 




Andrew Darlington

Illustration: Atlanta Wiggs

Twitter: @darlingtonandy
Website: www.andrewdarlington.blogspot.com

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A Face Out of The Crowd

 Just for a Moment (The Best Of), Ronnie Lane

 

Ronnie Lane’s career in rock falls handily into three acts, which is two more than many. In the first, as half of a songwriting partnership with Steve Marriott, he wrote hits like ‘Tin Soldier’ and ‘Itchycoo Park’ for The Small Faces in the late 1960s. Paul Weller is on record as stating that they seemed the perfect band, but when Marriott walked away, Ronnie’s second act began when he recruited Ron Wood (and a fairly unknown singer called Rod Stewart) and started again as The Faces, beloved rockers, drinking and gigging their way through the early 1970s. They, too, had hit singles like ‘Stay with Me’ and ‘Cindy Incidentally’, but in 1973, Lane left them, too, disenchanted, and now came the third act of his career, his adventures with Slim Chance, summarised on this compilation and the parent 6-CD box.

Slim Chance, named jokily after their odds on being a success, were not like either of these first two bands: out went sharp, punchy mod tunes and beery, anthemic songs of seduction respectively; in came rural, bucolic reflection and original songs entitled ‘Harvest Home’ and ‘The Poacher’. Out went guitar solos, in came mandolin and accordion, and in place of huge coast-to-coast American tours, Lane’s ‘Touring Show’ attempted to travel and play from town to town like a freewheeling circus of travelling gypsies. Lane himself had relocated to Fishpool, his farm on the Welsh border, and many of his new songs reflected this and were recorded al fresco, complete with the sounds of birdsong and crickets.

After an initial impact with ‘How Come’, which reached No. 11 in 1974 came the glorious follow-up ‘The Poacher’, complete with shimmering strings and woodwind, hymning the beauty of a simpler life, away from the temptations of money and the excessive rock-n’roll lifestyle he had experienced. The song stalled outside the top thirty and thereafter it was diminishing returns in terms of sales through the 1970s. Artistically, however, Lane was on a roll and wrote a sequence of beautiful, lilting, melodic songs, inventing the idea of the ‘raggle-taggle’ gypsy band, inspired by the sort of rural authenticity he now embraced.

These songs are instantly recognisable, the sort that makes listeners of a certain vintage sigh knowingly: his voice is characterful rather then technically perfect, inhabiting the melancholic, uplifting lyrics effortlessly. Foolish financial choices meant that old bandmates had to bail him out when he was diagnosed with the Multiple Sclerosis that would eventually kill him in 1997, aged 51. It reputedly took decades for the surviving Small Faces to track down their considerable royalties. Yet none of this matters: what matters is the indelible music he left behind. This single-disc compilation follows the 2014 release of Ooh La La: An Island Harvest, and both help re-establish his catalogue following a time of obscurity, when the original albums have been very difficult to obtain. It will certainly introduce many to his work and go some way to explaining why Weller and Pete Townsend, all these years later,  continue to fondly name-check him.

As an overview of the Slim Chance years, this is a welcome 18-track sampler. It finds room for most of his singles plus his cover of ‘Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?’, but first-rate Lane songs such as ‘Done This One Before’ (the great B-side to ‘How Come’) and rockers like ‘Don’t Try and Change My Mind’ are nowhere to be seen. On the other hand, there is the welcome inclusion here of three tracks from the difficult-to-find first Slim Chance album, Anymore for Anymore. Nevertheless,  some of the other selections are questionable: why include late demos, rather than the key songs ‘Debris’ and ‘Ooh La La’, for instance? Although they date back to his days with The Faces, these both remained in his set for years, the former being a beautiful song about his parents and childhood. The Island collection referred to above included eight tracks from a 1974 BBC ‘In Concert’ performance that demonstrated what a great live band the original Slim Chance were, and may perhaps be a better place to start. Having said this, if you want to dip your toe in and find out why so many revere the songwriting talent of Ronnie Lane, this will serve as a good introduction.

 

Martin Caseley

 

 

 

 

 

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YOU COULDN’T MAKE IT UP

‘A heavy metal band stole my snowshoes,’
said Craig. ‘When I tried to report it,
so I could claim insurance, the policeman
turned out to be on holiday all week.
Apparently there’s no crime in Norway.

They were gigging in the library
that’s the furthest north in the world.
The band who hold world records
for volume, was playing in a library
while we were on our honeymoon.

I dreamt about being asked to play
guitar in recompense for the theft,
strutting my stuff and soloing
as books shook on the shelves
and local readers shushed, but

actually, we had a quiet night in,
I mean it was our honeymoon.
Emily didn’t want to go out
and I didn’t want to get wet feet.
I liked those snowshoes, too.’

 

 

© Rupert M Loydell

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Rhetorical question – politicians or criminals?

 

Politicians in pursuit, plotting to become number 1

are not punished for previously published crimes, deceit

and lies. They argue their actions accrue no victims whereas

ordinary citizens considered dangerous and subject

to IPP punishment allowed no opportunity

for rehabilitation period.

No forgiveness allowed

nor mitigating factors considered.

Yes, they have victims,

but their crimes might affect lesser

numbers than the millions of citizens afflicted

by the power of a Prime Minister with known previous.

Although more powerful they have the safety

net of fixed-term sentencing.

 

 

 

NB – What are IPPs?

Sentences of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPPs) were created by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and started to be used in April 2005. They were designed to protect the public from serious offenders whose crimes did not merit a life sentence. Offenders sentenced to an IPP are set a minimum term (tariff) which they must spend in prison. After they have completed their tariff, they can apply to the Parole Board for release. The Parole Board will release an offender only if it is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public for the offender to be confined . If offenders are given parole, they will be on supervised licence for at least 10 years. If offenders are refused parole, they can only apply again after one year.

 

Why aren’t they working?

They were designed to protect the public from serious offenders but have been used far more widely than intended, with some have been issued to offenders who have committed low level crimes with tariffs as short as two years. They have been handed down at a rate of more than 800 a year and as a result more than 6,500 offenders are currently serving IPP sentences.

IPPs have proved difficult to understand and leave victims and their families uncertain about how and when an offender will be released. IPPs lead to inconsistent sentencing. They have been given to some offenders, while others who have committed similar crimes have served fixed sentences.

 

 

Andrew C Brown

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Solidarity With the Kurds This Weekend

 

Demonstrations of support for the Kurdish people, who are now being subjected to a murderous assault by Turkish armed forces, are taking place all over the world this weekend. Please contribute whatever support you can.

Check out the Kurdish Solidarity Campaign facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kurdistansolidaritycampaign/?__tn__=%2CdkCH-R-R&eid=ARBHIzEGHjtLylbthcW7rSdXOBgpcXwVjDgZvDeAy1vOTXF0H8V2LDNRL3pLuoW6dh8rKKtaWYwqWiiQ&hc_ref=ARTYi7ms21VdTaxELFGCTnfWXABnRoW7c9KZXWUnTIXKErUAOGYZRDTYO6P6G6Gcu6c&fref=nf&hc_location=group

Words fail me now – this is an atrocity abetted by NATO, and all of its members, and initiated by the United States

Robert Graham’s Anarchism Weblog

 
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flood warning

 

the Indian Summer goes

on and on

while parts 

of our country

sink beneath

a rising sea

and rivers wash away

their innocent banks

 

most of the world accepts

it is undergoing

a change in climate:

glaciers collapse

icebergs shed 

great spurs and shelfs

once-frozen oceans are

awash with melting debris

and plastic poison

everywhere a gigantic thaw

is enfeebling the familiar

 

no matter 

that scientists warn

so many bind their eyes

and plug their ears

as they

throw off their duvets

shun their winter woollens

and fly south

to resorts which are

no warmer 

than home

 

on the domestic front

cats still await

their winter coats

and bask in late sunshine

unquestioning and loving

their lives stretch unclouded

while we warm 

and anxious ones

do what we can 

to brightly delay

the world’s

end

 

 

 

Jeff Cloves
Illustration Nick Victor

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It happened here: Hoppy’s Notting Hill interzone

 

As students took to the barricades in Paris in May ’68, John Hopkins came up with International Times 30, the Notting Hill ‘Interzone A’ map issue, inspired by a combination of William Blake and William Burroughs, the Situationist theory of psychogeography and local history. The ‘Interzone’ it cover features a Ladbroke Grove Carnival procession cut-up collage by Miles, incorporating some of the Coleridge King Mob graffiti and the Kensington mayor Malby Crofton. Inside Dave Robins’ local history report on ‘The Three Villages’ (Notting Dale, Portobello Road and Westbourne Park) is illustrated by King Mob’s ‘Dynamite is Freedom’ graffiti, a plan for the Westway Theatre off Portobello Road (on the site of the Portobello Green Arcade) and ads for the Hustler paper, the Word printers and the Family Dog shop – ‘posters, pipes, rings, skins and things’ – at 2 Blenheim Crescent. The fold-out and fill-in map, ordained with ‘God gave the land to the people’, duly became a fixture on Notting Hill hippy pad walls.

Hoppy described Interzone it as a cross between a marketing exercise and a revolutionary strategy:

I got all the data together from street sellers, the guy doing distribution and postal subscriptions, and plotted it all out on a map, and what I discovered was the main density of people in those days was like a fertile crescent. It followed the 31 bus route that runs down to World’s End, Chelsea, and came up through Kensington and Notting Hill to Swiss Cottage and Chalk Farm. We called it the fertile crescent – which is a phrase from archaeology, from Mesopotamia, and the centre of gravity of it was in Notting Hill. One of the things we understood then is if you want to take the territory you publish the map, that’s an axiom that really works. So we decided that the first place that we want to conceptually seize is Notting Hill – this is in 1968 – so we published a map and we called it ‘Interzone A’.

Somebody did some research about the 3 villages, Notting Dale, Westbourne Park and Portobello. The idea wasn’t local history, although I think you can call it that. What we tried to do was provide that information for people, so that they’d know when you walk along the street you’re treading along somewhere people have lived and walked along for hundreds of years. It used to be farms then it was a village. When you stand here imagine that this was a village – trying to help give people a sense of place in time which goes beyond the present. We got some old maps and we traced out the field patterns and we talked to people who reckoned they could remember what their parents and grandparents said going back a hundred years. When you do that your sense of where you are and what you’re walking on changes; it’s like the fields lie dreaming underneath sort of vibe.”

In Interzone it