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A brief history of why artists are no longer making a living making music

Today’s column from veteran Canadian singer-songwriter Ian Tamblyn is adapted from a speech he gave at a symposium at Trent University.  It’s a long read, but we decided to post it here all at once it its entirety because, well, it’s just that good. 

I would like to begin this talk on the future of “popular” music with a few cautionary notes about our ability to see into the future clearly. The fact is, it would appear we are not very good at it. Somewhere back in our Savannah DNA, we got very good at reacting to danger when it presented itself — say a lion or tiger. However, it seems we are less capable of looking ahead to avoid danger. In other words, we are a reactive rather than proactive animal. The contemporary analogy in relation to climate change is that we are similar to the frog in a pot of hot water who does not have the sensors to recognize the increasing temperature and the fact that he should get out of the boiling pot.

Yes, there have been a handful of futurists – H.G Wells, Aldous Huxley, and given the state of many current governments I would grudgingly include Ayn Rand. Probably the most successful futurists in our lifetime may have been Marshall McLuhan and Stanley Kubrick, but even so, all of these writers and film makers have been only partially successful gazing into the crystal ball. Given that the past is no more fixed than the future I begin this conversation with you.

What I hope to discuss in this time with you is the relationship between technology, the gift of music and the commodification of that gift and how that gift and the commodification of the gift has been eroded in the digital age, and as I see it, could continue to be eroded well into the 21st century.

The golden age of recorded music

I would like to start by going back to 1945, the end of the Second World War and the beginning of the baby boom generation. By the end of the war, there was a “golden age” of music, the big band era, the beginnings of bebop, the great songwriting partnerships, Broadway musicals, and even the early stirrings of rock n’ roll, as blues came up the Mississippi from the Delta to St Louis and Chicago. It was also the populist height of the music borne of the Depression, the music that came out of the hobo camps, the dust bowl farmers, Roosevelt’s New Deal, the Tennessee Valley Act and so on. It was the music of Woody Guthrie, Jimmy Rodgers, Bessie Smith, Leadbelly, and the Carter Family.

It was the time when audio technology served this renaissance that came of struggle and war, and this technology came as a result of the war itself. Quickly told, the Germans created great microphones so that their leader could be heard in the stadiums. The English built great speakers and listening consoles so they could hear what the Germans were saying. The Americans in turn created excellent platforms (tape recorders) to record what they heard. Though they developed this technology separately and quite secretly, the apex of these technologies would find themselves together in the recording studios around the world soon after the war. The British and Americans found out how good the German microphones were and how they could be used with British speakers and American tape decks. The Germans were quick to listen through British sound systems. To give you a quick example, the Neumann U-47 was first designed in that year and is still considered to be one of the best vocal microphones ever created. It is sought by collectors throughout the world. The microphones used by Ry Cooder and Buena Vista Social Club were U-47 s found in an old studio in Havana.

Time was on our side

It took the next ten years to tweak the technology, but by the mid 50s and the height of the bebop era, the engineers had become artists of this technology, and the results were some of the best recordings ever. With the addition of multi -track recording, invented by jazz guitarist Les Paul, another golden age of recording began. As a side note, it has been said that the best live recording of the bebop era was recorded at Massey Hall with Charlie Parker – on a plastic saxophone he borrowed for the gig – Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Mingus, Max Roach and Bud Powell. The album Quintetmarked the only time these giants of the era played live together. It was also the period when Deutsche Grammophon began its run as the premier recorder of classical music. The long playing record appeared, and we entered the age of the album.

What is important to this look at the future through the past is the fact that the engineers had enough time to understand their technology, to begin to use it artfully, because later in the century, this essential process would be lost, and with it much more.

Time moves on and into the 60s, a period you all know well, and you can run through your own favourites. However, the essential point is that the platform of microphones, equalizers, limiters and compressors and magnetic tape decks remained basically the same. Multi-tracking and stereo came along, but the engineers were using the same transport systems. There were, of course, bumps in the road, but at the same time, there were great recordings like the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, The Beatles’ Revolver and Sergeant Pepper’s, Who’s Next – jazz recordings, particularly on the ECM label, emerged, and then in the 70s along with 48 track recorders, Supertramp’s Crime of the Century and one of my favourite recordings sonically: Roxy Music’s, Avalon. The producers and engineers were experts in the studio, and their names were almost as famous as the artists: George Martin, Phil Spector , Glyn Johns, and Phil Ramone to name a few. It is important to recognize that the engineers, producers and artists of this post-war generation had worked on the same platform for 35 years. They knew the process and were experts at it. It is amusing now to see assistant engineers at Abbey Road in lab coats now, but that is how they saw themselves.

The performance rights agencies and the musician’s union

The accommodation or payment for musicians, creators and works was also well-established in the post-war period through a series of royalties paid by the recording companies to the artists – as well as royalties paid to the artists for radio and television airplay that were monitored by BMI and ASCAP and in Canada by CAPAC and PROCAN, which later became SOCAN. The record companies were notorious for not paying these royalties, but there was a system, and there were lawyers who were there to both secure music contracts and insure that royalties were paid to recording artists – at least in theory.

There was also a formidable force in the musician’s union, which held tight control over gigs and contracts. At times, the union could be intimidating and seemingly out of date. I remember having to swear I had never been a member of the Communist Party when I joined the union in 1971, but it did bring back memories of when some musicians were given a rough ride during the McCarthy period. I mention the musician’s union because if you wanted to play clubs or radio gigs, you had to belong, but you did get paid reasonably for your work. I mention this as well because by the mid 80s, the musician’s union would be a spent force and all guarantees for just compensation at gigs would be gone. I would contend that the union did not move with the times.

By the 70s, the music industry was a huge force in our lives. It was the number one entertainment industry in North America, making far more money than movies or television. However there were chinks in the system and changes in technology that indicated further bigger changes to come. In 1969, The Whole Earth Catalogue was published, and the subtitle was “Access to Tools.” In the book, it revealed the first home four-track recording deck put out by Tascam. It was a revolution in the making. No longer did one have to go through the check and balance system of the record companies and their artists and repertoire staff. You didn’t need to secure a record contract. You didn’t need to incur huge costs at a recording studio that would be then set against future royalties. You could do the album yourself without arbiters from the record company. You could do it yourself! This independent release movement was no threat to the mainstream industry, but as this technology progressed, more would be attracted to the indie movement, and it would seriously threaten the mainstream industry by the 1990s and the forthcoming digital age.

Was punk rock the beginning of the end?

By the late 70s, the industry was fat, corrupt and complacent. It was also very expensive to make a recording in the beautiful studios of the world. It was about to blow apart – in one case literally. It is dizzying what happened in a very short period of time. First the punks came along and called the bloat on the musicians and the industry. Groups like the Ramones, The Clash and The Cure ridiculed the fat boys of the business with rough, loud records reminiscent of the garage bands of early rock n’ roll. The local punk rockers opened and played at clubs that were not associated with the musician’s union; they said, “fuck the union” and basically broke the grip the union had on clubs. Though I enjoyed the new music and was invigorated by the punk and new wave movement, I would have to say they were misguided in their disregard for the musician’s union and undermined a support system that had worked to protect musicians. It would never be the same again.

Next came the introduction of the CD and the beginning of the digital age, introduced by the industry itself. The digital CD format was invented by James Russell in 1968 and was advanced by Sony and Phillips in the 1970s. By 1981, they were ready to change platforms – a platform that would completely replace records and imprinting on magnetic tape, a platform that had been in existence for more than fifty years. With the release in North America of Billy Joel’s 56th Street, we welcomed in the digital age.

Technological change outpaced producers’ ability to adapt

What they didn’t tell us was that we were actually entering an age of missing information. What they told us was the CD was a compact unit with a clearer, cleaner sound. However, with a sampling rate of 44,000 samples per second, there were overtones of sound now missing. There were reverbs that collapsed as they tailed out because the sampling rate was not sufficient to hold them. The sound was cleaner because there was less of it. This new format also did not work with the microphones that had worked so well during the analog tape saturation age. The engineers were now scrambling to figure out how they could make this new cold sounding digital age warmer. However, this was made more complex because new technology was rushed onto the market every few months, and engineers might figure out one system only to be confronted with another. ADAT, mini disc, DAT VHS and Beta, as well as advances in digital sound boards and digital recorders marked the technological onslaught of the 80s and 90s. The engineers could not get ahead of the curve of the technological changes coming at them in order to serve the music. This was a far cry from the “golden age” of the 1950’s.

I have long since abandoned arguments about the quality of sound. The analog sound was better. It was fuller and warmer, and it held all the sonic information. I realize for the most part, people listen to music for cultural information, not the sonic quality of that information. I wasn’t listening to the quality of the Byrds with two pennies on my stylus, I was listening to the way they sounded and what they were singing about.

The technological changes of the 80s did not stop there. The home recording units that I used in the early 70s developed and blossomed, as musicians and studios realized that a $200,000 Studer tape deck or $100,000 Neve console could be replaced by a much cheaper series of ADATS and new, less expensive boards. The dinosaur that was the great studio and the great expense involved in it was now at the end of an age as audio companies realized they could make more money selling cheaper digital gear to thousands of punters rather than one expensive piece of equipment in a cathedral of recording.

CDs made it costly for indies to stay in the mainstream

However, the change was on, and we dutifully packed away or sold our records and bought our CD collections. Record companies made fortunes during this period reissuing everything that had been on vinyl. Elvis was king again. He had not left the building. For some of us who could not afford to go digital (CDs were much more expensive to manufacture), it was known as the golden age of cassettes! I released several cassettes during this period, and I mention this for one reason: in 1986, I released a cassette called Over My Head. It was difficult to get things placed in record stores at that time, so I sold it in book shops and health food stores. I sold 60,000 cassettes and then another 40,000 CDs by this method. It went platinum, as they say, but the thing was, because I released it, I received no royalties, and because it was a cassette, it was not played on radio. By being under the radar and independent, I also took myself out of the game and the project was never recognized by the mainstream industry. I have no regrets about this because I, in effect, made the record company’s profits on the recording! But I will admit now that I was undermining a system that had worked.

Along with the new digital age came the introduction of video games and home entertainment systems. Music was now not the only game in town. At first, this was compensated by the enormous back catalogue of records that were rendered to digital CD format, but by the 1990s, the technological revolution that they had brought forward was beginning to feel the effect of competing forces for the disposable dollar.

Music videos turned works of art into ‘recoupable’ promotional expenses

In 1982 MTV arrived, and in 1984 Much Music hit the airwaves, and another development took place that was to affect music and musicians to this day and beyond. MTV and Much Music are rightfully credited with promoting the careers of many musicians, most notably Madonna, Michael Jackson and Duran Duran, and they presented music in an exciting new way. But there was a difference in the presentation of this music that would affect musicians and begin to affect the paradigm of appropriate accommodation for their music. Music videos were seen as advertisements for the artists and record companies and, therefore, were non-royalty-bearing. In fact, the musicians had to pay for these videos, and these payments were set against the royalties owed to the artists by the record companies. It was an interesting dilemma because, while one could see the attraction of the music video, it set a precedent about the value of the music, how music might be perceived, and it potentially undermined royalty payments that radio and television had been paying to musicians. As music videos became more and more grandiose, it aided and entrenched an already hierarchical system that left some musicians in the dust and others, notably Tom Waits and Rickie Lee Jones, to avoid it all together.

The most fateful chapter in this story arrived with the introduction of the home computer, followed by the internet in around 1995. During this dizzying time, cyberspace opened up, and the world truly became the global village that Marshall McLuhan envisaged. Music was now available universally, and the world of music was at your fingertips. The age of downloading began, and with it, the notion that music was not only available, but most importantly, free. In quick succession came downloading networks like Napster, cementing this music-should-be-free notion for a generation. The royalty-collecting agencies were caught behind the times, and any litigation against illegal downloading would be years to come. To this day, free downloading is a way of life for many in this generation, who say, “Why should I pay for music when I can get everything I want for free?” Needless to say, this completely undermined the commodification of music even though the majority of musicians barely made a taxable income.

Now everybody can make a record – and maybe that’s not a good thing

It was not long after the home computer arrived that studio software like GarageBand was available, thus completing the story that anyone could make music at home. While this democratization of the process was laudable, it led to a glut of dubious releases on the market. This was ok in principle, but it made potential purchasers wary of independent product.

While this was going on, big studios were going bankrupt, the musicians union was growing impotent, and in the background, formats continued to change, baffling engineers trying to stay on top of their game. The top musicians continued to use analog studios, but they were getting harder and harder to find. At the same time, home video games and entertainment systems were improving and threatening to overtake the music industry. CDs continued to sell, though, and with the introduction of new microphones and warming buffers, digital recordings improved.

Even this tumultuous period was short-lived as the MP3 format was introduced in 1997 and popularized by Apple’s iPod in 2001. Once again, the platform completely changed and, for better or worse, it changed everything. The sample rate of an MP3 is 23,000 compressed samples per second, half the sample rate of a commercial CD and a quarter of the sample rate of a studio quality digital recording. I am not going to lament the loss of audio quality again because, as I have said earlier, most popular music is not listened to for its audio quality but for its cultural information. But I will say that, when the audio quality reduced to that of an MP3, music’s value is also reduced.

The introduction of the MP3 made CD and record collections obsolete. You could store your entire CD collection on your iPod and later iPad. Free downloading became the way to obtain music as music stores began to disappear across North America. Though musicians continued to release CDs, it became clear that the notion of a recording that had existed for 100 years was in serious trouble.

The internet makes music ‘free’

With the introduction of the internet, music was, however, available from around the world and, on a positive note, it must be said that the world music movement was largely spawned by the new digital global village. One could download music from Bulgaria, South Africa, Angola and Nigeria, and certainly global village expressions like the universally sung song “Stand By Me” were wonderful new events. The problem was that there was no money for all this downloading, which entrenched the idea that music was free, or that music should be free. This trend was symbolically addressed when it was ruled that companies like Napster should be shut down – but really, the horses had been let out of the barn. Many of this generation have not purchased any music in years, although attendance at live concerts has burgeoned during this period.

Again on the internet front, YouTube arrived and, in the music world, this “digitized Much Music” further disseminated some wonderful music free to the world. However, You Tube was free and was, until recently royalty free.

In 2010, CD sales dropped 50 per cent and video games had replaced music in homes. In fact, music purchases had dropped to fifth place in the North American entertainment market. Record companies disappeared, compact disc stores disappeared, and by 2012, Starbucks had become the leading distributor of CDs in North America. In 2010, before his world tour, Prince released his new album free thought Britain’s Sunday Times stating that it was a loss leader for his upcoming world tour. Radiohead did the same, stating they would make up the difference in t-shirt sales. Music, they said in effect, was free. But only the musical two per cent could afford to say that.

Free albums as loss leaders

For lesser mortals like myself, this was shocking news, as I was in the middle of a four-CD project and had completed only two. Prince was giving his CD away?! Would the format and platform disappear before I had even completed the project? Would the CD join the boxes of unsold cassettes and albums in my basement? If music was to be free, why did I have so much expensive equipment? Why was I still renting studio time? Why was I still investing in Cds? Why had I invested in my craft for 45 years?

Fortunately, I still am able to play on tour, though the return, all things considered, is about the same as it was in 1980. For a younger generation, they are faced with some clubs where you pay to play.

Still, musicians released CDs they might sell in concert situations. Remember, we are reactive beings who cannot see the future, let alone the present! I sold my CDs through CD Baby, and between 2010 and 2014, the sale of digital downloads doubled sales of Cds. Still I made CDs, though the outlets I could sell them in dropped to one in the city I live in. I have a national distributor for my Cds, but they sell less across Canada than CDBaby sells downloads. The times have changed, as Robert Harris spoke of on his wonderful CBC radio series Twilight of the Gods about the hundred-year rise and fall of recorded music. And still musicians make CDs. In 2013, automobiles and laptops stopped having CD players in them. Though the writing was on the wall, the changes have happened so quickly that, in effect, no one told the musicians of the changes that were to come down on them. If we look back on this conversation, this is exactly the reverse of where I began: where the technology was serving the art form. It would appear at this moment that the art form is being dictated by the technology.

Young musicians no longer see music as a career choice

And so what of the future? Since the death of Steve Jobs, Apple has not released any new platforms in the last five years. Are technological changes slowing down after 30 years of whirling change? As one critic opined, “How many versions of the Beatles catalogue does one really need?”

There are signs that the royalty-collecting agencies are beginning to catch up to the myriad array of digital offspring ranging from the internet to satellite television and radio. Some would say that there is more music being produced now and available now than ever before, and this is probably true. And yet, when I surveyed my incoming students in the music faculty at Carleton University, not one of them thought they would make a living as a musician in the 21st century. Though the sample was small, the response was 100 per cent. When I asked them why they had such an outlook, their response centred around the notion that music has become free or should be free.

I recently received a letter from a filmmaker who sent me an advance for work I had not yet done on her film. Along with her cheque, she wrote, “as a fellow freelancer, I know the value of your work and what it is like to wait for payment.” I was pleasantly surprised and quickly deposited the cheque. The value of the work is the key phrase here. The process of democratization and ease of dissemination of music have both contributed to the questioned value of the work being done. It is so easy now to create and distribute one’s music, people believe it can’t be worth much, so it must be free. What is lost in this equation is the years of craft it might take to get to a professional level of musicianship and songwriting craft: years in the field, a lifetime spent in the trenches.

The future of music?  Sponsored artists, mix clubs, and granting bodies?

I suspect that, in the future, musicians and songwriters will continue to ply their craft as they have in full face of the diminishing horizons before them. Perhaps some music will return to a form of digital kitchen party where musicians play for the enjoyment of it and do not expect a financial return for their gift of music – the gift of music without the expectation of return. I see this going on now. I expect for some, it will unfold as it did in the 19th century when painters were gobsmacked by the introduction of the camera. They thought their day was over but came back with a new and liberated approach to the canvas. I think some of the internet work done by the likes of Brian Eno and David Byrne could fall into this category, but they benefit from the comfort zone of considerable financial security. Similarly, in the 20th century, the theatre community suffered an extreme setback with the birth of the film industry. Many thought theatre was over, but theatre reemerged in the post-war period with the “angry young men”: Beckett, Osborne, Pinter, Arden and Ionesco. Yet, since theatre’s re-emergence, it has become a sponsored and often threatened art form, supported by public funds, similar to classical music orchestras and opera.

There is considerable evidence that live music will continue to be supported. If my sons are any example, they keep track of touring artists on the internet and will travel to Montreal or Toronto at a moment’s notice, gathering a crowd to join them through social networking. Local clubs featuring live music continue. Mix clubs are very popular, and indeed, this may be the new type of creative music emerging through digital downloads. This creativity may continue to grow with the DJs being the new musicians blending existing beats and pads. The musician’s union shows some kind of resurrection, but I suspect it will only be viable in the context of supporting orchestra contracts and may not see the street again. On a personal level, the establishment of viable house concerts has kept my date book relatively full.

The future continues to look supportive for music in film, theatre and television. Indeed, many musicians have focused their work on getting their music on television shows, where the economy of scale is huge, and royalties can be bountiful. I think at some point many so-called “non-commercial” musicians will leave the public marketplace and, given their value, elect or hope to be sponsored artists. This has already happened in the jazz world. It is also happening in some granting programs set forward by the Canadian Council or Ontario Arts Council. At the same time, all of you know how oppressed these agencies are by the current governments and how the arts are seen in contemporary North American society. Not necessary. It is ironic for example that in Norway, jazz is presented and taught in primary schools, while in North America , concerned parents fight to keep any sort of arts programming in the schools. We are definitely part of a debate now, and how it goes will affect our future. As times get meaner in this century, and as the water gets hotter in the pot, as resources thin and the world’s population strains the planet, I think the need for music will be greater and indeed may harken back to the visceral need for music that was evident in the hard times of the 20th century through war and depression. How that may be expressed may be in the global village of cyberspace. Whether one could make a living from it depends on where and how we understand the value of that gift.

The responsibility of community

I would like to conclude with an idea that occurred to me after reading Lewis Hyde’s wonderful book The Gift : Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property. I think music is a gift. I feel tremendously lucky to have had music in my life and to have made a living from it. But I have worked hard at it, and it would seem that you have seen value in it by according me a status in the community, one that brings me here today. Though the technology has changed, the value of the work should be unchanged, and yet because of the technological revolution that has overtaken the art form, the idea that music should be free has become dominant in popular culture .

I think in the future, we must return to valuing the art form. If we as artists attend to the work at a professional level, if we support the community in every way we can as artists, and you have invested in us, is it not incumbent on the community to support in kind? Or are you happy to download it, upload it, rip it , and dispense the art form for free? I think it is incumbent on the citizens of the community to understand its relationship to the musicians and creators if it is to be considered a community at all. If this conundrum cannot be addressed, I suspect music will be generated by computers programmed by robots in the future, and that will be a very shitty future. I think it is important to consider this so that the students in my classroom will be able to have a future in music.

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Tokyo and Yokosuka Before (1976-1983)

Greg Girard’s photographs of Japan before the rest of the world caught up…

Night_Shinjuku_1979Tokyo Japan

Night, Shinjuku, 1979

Greg Girard’s photographs take us back to Tokyo and Yokosuka in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Back then Tokyo was the city of the future, all neon, steel and electricity, the closest things to finding life on other planets for visiting Westerners reared on concrete, accretive cityscapes, and anchored to dreams for foxgloved cottages and corniced parlours in extant stately homes and terraces. Tokyo was the city plugged into the mains and always switched on.

Yokosuka was and still is home to the US Seventh Fleet. This streets, bars and clubs were where the navy boys and girls went for larks and lust. Girard’s images throb with energy, his streets available Dolby surround sound.


Tokyo JapanClub_Apollo_Yokosuka_1976

Club Apollo – Yokosuka, 1976

Tokyo Japan Haneda airport, Tokyo, Japan, 1982.

Haneda airport, Tokyo, Japan, 1982.

Tokyo Japan Cinema_Exterior_Shinjuku_1983

Cinema Exterior, Shinjuku -1983

Tokyo JapanTwo_Schoolgirls_Tokyo_1979

Two Schoolgirls – Tokyo, 1979

Tokyo Japan Platform_Conductor_Ikebukuro_1976

Platform Conductor – Ikebukuro, 1976

Tokyo JapanMan_with_Eyepatch_Yokosuka_1976

Yokosuka, 1976

Shibuya_Crossing_1976Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Crossing, 1976

Juli_Tokyo_Bay_1979 Tokyo Japan

Juli Tokyo Bay, 1979


David Bowie, Sake Ad – 1980

ShinOkubo_Tokyo_1982Tokyo Japan

ShinOkubo, Tokyo, 1982

Tokyo JapanKabukicho_Neon_1977

Kabukicho, Neon, 1977


Tokyo Japan Keiko_Yoyogi_Park_1979

Keiko Yoyogi Park, 1979

Tokyo JapanMilk_Bar_Tokyo_1979

Milk Bar, Tokyo – 1979

Tokyo Japan Yakuza_Greeting_Koenji_1979

Yakuza Greeting, Koenji 1979

Shinjuku_0509AM_1979Tokyo Japan

Shinjuku, 1979

Kabukicho_1976Tokyo Japan

Kabukicho, 1976

Tokyo JapanSaint_Louis_Bar_Yokosuka_1976

Saint Louis Bar, Yokosuka 1976

Tokyo JapanElevator_Attendant_Tokyo_1977

Elevator Attendant, Tokyo 1977


Tokyo- Yokosuka 1976-1983

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Once Upon a Unicorn



We will negotiate a rainbow backstop,

Our own trade deals, a customs unicorn,

We will above all else protect the Union,

Keep the unicorn in hoc to the lion

For Thou Shalt Not Have a Second Referendum

Is carved in Scone: applies both sides

Of the rainbow border; no worries about

A hard or soft border on the island of Ireland,

Nor hard- or -soft-boiled rainbows, those

Are rumours of unicorns -but not the kind


Of unicorns that we intend to chase and catch

In the coming weeks and months,

Which is another unicorn entirely,

The unicorn of Conservative conception,

The unicorn of conspicuous consumption

Amidst mass shop depletion, empty shelves,

The unicorn of phantom speculation,

The unicorn of coupon rationing,

The Eurosceptic unicorn, the unicorn

Of obscure opportunity cropped to purpose

Of microscopic prosperity for the top

1% per cent -Let us be clear: opportunity

To trip back in time down the primrose path

To halcyon Shropshire Lad days of hazy

Summers and cricket whites and rainbows

Beaming in glorious Technicolour

Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain

Because he was doomed to lose to Tudor,

So much for caparison my horse, it bolted

At the pitched brutal moment -so much for

Bosworth; O with Henry the Eighth

Powers she’ll make England grate again,

Gaunt Greensleeves -now it’s caparison my

Unicorn come cantering into Camelot,

No place for the Woke or Snowflakes,

Only snow lions, white witches, ice queens,

This sceptred isle, this demi-monde, no props

Apropos we’ll trip back to a mythical past,

A fantasy island, a theme park for solipsists,

Misanthropes and xenophobes, pomp

And diminished circumstances, lucky dips,

Riddling idylls, Morris Dancers waving

White handkerchiefs and little strips

Of paper -cryptic receipts, or scrolled

Price tags strung on inscrutable antiques;

A tinpot utopia, raffle-ticket Uchronia


Where, according to folklore, once were unicorns,


Only, contrary to accounts, none had actual horns…



Alan Morrison
Illustration Rupert Loydell


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A Silent Elegy in Motion

Have a look at this collective headstone for “the 1,337 journalists killed in the line of duty since 1992.”
Watch their names coalesce on screen into the image you see below.
It is a silent elegy in motion that makes it pure poetry.

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Ferlinghetti: ‘Pity the Nation Whose Leaders Are Liars’

Lawrence Ferlinghetti must be wondering what all the fuss is about. After all, he’s only going to turn 100 on Sunday. What’s the big deal? I’m betting he would prefer that people take note of his twelve-year-old poem.

Pity the nation whose people are sheep
And whose shepherds mislead them
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars
Whose sages are silenced
And whose bigots haunt the airwaves
Pity the nation that raises not its voice
Except  to praise conquerers
And acclaim the bully as hero
And aims to rule the world
By force and by torture
Pity the nation that knows
No other language but its own
And no other culture but its own
Pity the nation whose breath is money
And sleeps the sleep of the too well fed
Pity the nation oh pity the people
who allow their rights to  erode
and their freedoms to be washed away
My country, tears of thee
Sweet land of liberty

(After Khalil Gibran)


Jan Herman

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Hermit wanted


Here we are, ‘Hermit Wanted’. ‘Lower Loxley Hall seeks to engage a person of suitable character and demeanour to occupy the hermitage, originally built in 1760, situated within the great park. The hermitage consists of a small grotto, constructed from rocks, which has recently been refurbished to comply with health and safety standards.’ Sounds comfy. ‘The post-holder will occupy the grotto when the house and grounds are open to the public. The successful candidate will be required to grow their hair and beard,’ – you already qualify on that one – ‘and to don eighteenth century costume, which will be supplied. Suitable reading matter, food and fresh water will also be provided.’ Sounds perfect. You can sit there reading all day, lunch is free, and you’ll save on your heating bills.



Simon Collings
Painting detail by Moritz von Schwind

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The Star of Gaza

For Ann

The following satellites confirmed Gaza was there –

Sun, moon, unclassified planet Beta-X, and one launched by Sky

yet on Earth no one saw Gaza and until it vanished like icebergs in sea.

The following leaders confirmed Hamas was there,

Trump never saw the poet boy turn blue as he tanned in ultra violet

and May never wanted to get into it as Brexit struggled from a Bulldogs ass.

Something has malfunctioned because Gaza is definitely there, just about.

A guard of the theft gives a pensioner water then shoots her point blank,

maybe I never saw that because Gaza is not there in the civilised world.




Antony Owen



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telling tales we believe



Reuben Woolley



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In the Night My Mind Blossoms You . . .

Road sign by Jem Freiesleben


Money need not have bothered Vron Decledra – a man with an inheritance as well as an invented name. His family motto was: Hic enim labor lapsus. He had an elaborate coat of arms to prove it.

“Approximately,” he drawled languidly, “that translates as ‘We slid here’.”

Somebody in your family must have bashed somebody else over the head at some point in history?” Medlock objected.

Natürlich, dear soul. Goes without saying.” Decledra looked askance, unaware presumably, that the roots of his ‘Aryan-blonde’ dye-job were disturbing in the artificial light. “Don’t badger me with class-war! All material riches issue from crime, luck or exploitation. Hard work is just a blind. Pity instead the poor middle-classes. They don’t trust in luck. The crimes they follow are all legalised.”

Sick to his stomach in the extensive, dining saloon baroque of the Hyperion Club, momentarily Medlock tried to flow inside his head towards the dark disembodiment of his night before. Its background essence. As if he’d comfortably slept in a ruined abbey or moonlit bomb-crater, rather than high above the city in a luxury cell, all paid for, plus travel expenses.

Black negatives had choked his night’s dream surfaces . . . but eliding language or literal meanings, eclipsing every facet of mud or crystal, finally the effect had somehow been expansive – to give a wayward blossom of hope: A lotus rising from the dark drain of meaninglessness.

I must build my own hope, there is no other.

Determinedly pursuing the obvious, Medlock persisted – “Where did you personally, slide from?” – convinced against instinct that he could make his brief, unexpected stint as (minor) questing journalist pay. Grab it by the throat. Choke the observational balance out of it.

That every person who is old was once young remains an individual tragedy: its universality does not dilute it.

“Oh, quite definitely down.” Decledra crowed then purred with satisfaction. Like most famous people encountered in ‘real’ life, he was much smaller than Medlock had expected. “The violent bit – climbing ladders – that’s all lost in the mists of history. Pre-Norman.”

“And the money . . .”

“What interest to me is money? I only hope to die before I run out of it. Even if all that junk I cranked out didn’t sell, I’d be in clover. As someone with a chip on your shoulder, you must know that the more money you have – or people believe you have – the easier it is to multiply it. Emptiness breeds emptiness.”

Though at any glimmer or shard of a visionary prospect, all other considerations flew from the window, even Calder Medlock knew the necessity of a little cash for human morale. This bastard had never had to earn or claim for it, despair or pray for it. He just had it. Snatched centuries ago, it had mouldered its way into his virtual coffers – guided and no doubt skimmed by other blander parasites of administration and bureaucracy, lawyers and such like. That also was obvious. Medlock had no envy or desire for himself, only occasionally, a burning sense of injustice – vengeful bunting to glorify a mean street.

In the night my mind blossoms a version of you that still loves me.

“Why The Corncrake? How did that unusual stage name come about?”

“An influential pundit claimed my songs and manner were harsh and repetitive . . . and that I scuttled about the stage. Unfortunately for her, her insult helped create a brand.”

“I had to look up Corncrake. A secretive bird – said the book – ‘that only betrays its presence in concealing vegetation by its monotonous rasping call.’”

“That’s journalism for you.” Decledra opined, “Though a persona can be as concealing as any tropical savannah.”

Signalling for a waiter, Decledra got a waitress instead – a woman who had subliminally charmed Medlock earlier with her air of behind-the-scenes insolence, her joy over monotony. When nobody else was looking, he’d noticed her motioning to bowl her empty tray along a dining-room aisle, as if the job meant nothing to her. Mediterranean in looks, pretty and compact, her dark wavy hair was tied tight in a bunch.

Decledra ordered something obscure with a fancy name and eyed her as she walked away.

“Do you think transparent white shirts with clearly visible underpinning are a compulsory part of the uniform?” He asked none too quietly across the table. Involuntarily, turning his head, Medlock only noted the woman’s smile – which he thought he could detect through the back of her head, before realising that the distant bar mirror offered more than supplemental help.

At last, in the night, my throttling panic . . . only after much cold air, resolved itself into a metaphysical desire, a wish, a demand, not to exist in this paltry wavering form – a form and setting not worthy of our attachment.

To go back to a time when the world had a chance. Surely enough of us were listening then?

“It’s always been the sort of oppression applied in schools, shops and offices.” Medlock supposed, tempering his wrath, trying to balance disillusion and desire: the private night gone with the societal evening now. The purity of white versus its transparency or clinical control. The use but loathsomeness of all uniforms.

Perhaps to Decledra, expecting a filter of journalistic ‘objectivity’, Medlock’s subterranean anger came across as mere puritan disdain. Either that or he was only listening to himself. For his eyes remained glued on the woman. “Nice walk,” he added, gleeful to skate across the passing moment. “I think she chose the tempting combination herself . . . and – shame on us – we’re the ones oppressed by animal lust.”

Speak for yourself Medlock thought, not wanting to see white lace panels or straps over the warm flesh underneath.

A tale of restlessness and disaffection, prefiguring an abstract ambition . . . Music had once been Decledra’s aim, but age (if newspapers, media and other gossip-based junk could be believed) had made him reactionary – if not in any clear way, fascist.

The idea of searching for Truth nowadays might seem absurd. Yet in the past, Decledra (according to the oldest and most hagiographic sources), had persuaded himself that music, natural and sociable, was the most honest path to it.

“Words; lyrics.” Medlock began. “Even if no-one can really hear them when you sing . . .”

Rasp.” Decledra corrected archly.

“And you never print them . . . Without words would you have been satisfied, Vincent?” Medlock threw in, still unable to warm to his companion, despite the man’s apparent self-deprecation; despite the drink and his own regressive admiration for bloody-mindedness. Was he hoping to irritate or confuse his antagonist?

“Would you?” Decledra deflected and the effect was disrupting. For a not-brief-enough moment, riffed maybe from Decledra’s quizzical glance, Medlock envisioned himself as a singer-songwriter: to do which, he would have to have sung! With or without any kind of voice, most solo singers either loved or hated themselves. Occasionally he’d managed the latter, but he’d always been too self-aware, too sceptical, too distrusting that he was really here, on earth, in this form, to aspire to the other. To write and sing his own words to an audience; to demand attention; to be so visibly needy; to declaim! It was a horrifying thought. To project his words. To project any words.

“They were never much needed in the bedrooms of teenage girls – or boys – I used to know,” Decledra smirked, extending the upper hand, but descending abruptly into melancholy – as if he’d read Medlock’s thoughts and truly wanted a friend, or had some ulterior motive: “Youth that I never really knew . . . and now never will.”

Jewels in the moving of wishes. The dark lanes and driveways so far from housing estates.

“Haven’t you ever been in love?” Decledra spurred and tacked, but with some underlying sympathy, as if he’d begun to close off the roundabouts and shallow hubbub of the Hyperion Club, all those spoilt celebrity diners and rich hangers-on.

Clearing for a while again the blurred tears on the windscreen, the wiper made the old factory building outside look new. It’s old clock, its air of preservation, made him desolate. Away, behind, close under the wooded hill, it was the modern bit that made the money.

How many families had this place supported since it was built 160 years ago. Its external beauty paid for by the poverty of its workers? Though there was a village school and pleasant groups of Victorian model houses. It must’ve been fairer than some, its owners philanthropic – or concerned by family guilt.

“Turn it off,” she had requested as the wiper wiped itself dry. She spoke with placid irritation, hiding a coldness, hiding despair. Twenty-nine years had come to this.

“Of course,” Medlock answered.

Forgetting all his masks, Decledra turned serious. “What’s your first name?” he asked.

Medlock was suspicious. “Surely you know that from information provided?”

“Didn’t read it properly. Or if I did, I’ve forgotten.”


“As in the sculptor whose work was reduced to miniature mobiles for babies?”

“Perhaps. Though I don’t suppose my parents would have heard of him and my grandfather originated from Calderdale. Actually, I made it up myself.”

“Oh really. Why?”

“Probably to encourage myself. Why did you invent yours?”

“I always felt like I was outside, alone in the dark, and Vincent just didn’t do it for me. The name was no ambulance.”

“You couldn’t identify with holding your hand over a flame, excessive passion, sunflowers or intensified blossom?”

“No. Though I’m not sure you can intensify blossom. The real thing is always more intense and more beautiful.”

“Yes.” Medlock agreed.

Not able to share his belief in Romantic intensity, his wife had wanted good things to grow from the sphere of ordinary life, naturally, as if this was something relatively common and easy. Yet in this hope, she’d always be disappointed, at war with herself. If you have sublime expectations – such as they’d both been born with . . . unrealistic, over-reaching . . .

Ultimately, freedom and escape can only come from inside. They must be self-generated.

Perhaps she really believed she could downgrade her inner self, become ‘normal’ – if such a thing exists – be content with what it appears the majority likes or suffers or becomes resigned to?

And perhaps once he wasn’t around – always relentless; always goading them towards some imaginary, idealistic high pass which lack of fortune, blind will or unceasing faith made it impossible to reach – she could make this adjustment?

Or perhaps, despite her continuing love, she was just worn out by him?

“Renoir said that all great art is abstract.”

“Renoir the painter?” Decledra asked, angling his neck back, so that the white-blonde raffia on his head splayed and his one visible eye became lizard-like as he lazed his stare upon the seventh chandelier of glass or plastic.

“His son. Film director.”

“I’ll have to think about that. Art has taken so many wrong turnings. Presumably he means “not realistic”? I wonder how he’d define ‘great’? So many works of ‘art’ are no more than fashion. So many artists just taking the piss. Who wouldn’t if they could make money doing it? And what about craft? Skilled and honest, decorative, pleasing . . . Comfortable as an armchair, if I may quote?”

I had need of him, both more and less than need; and he of me.

Medlock rewound: “Let’s get back to your abiding ambition. Your music.”

“Not interesting. I never believed in it. Nor anything else. It was merely a coat. Easy and fun. Many of us drift just to see where the currents take us.”

“D’you think that’s true for those without money?” Medlock asked, sensibly.

“Why not? They’ve even less to lose. I mean, what choice do we really have? Whether people realise it or not, the accelerated modern world is something nobody really wants. Some sell-out their soul to feel in touch, even to be with it. To ride with the Devil. I had no soul to sell and only pretended to be with it. You can’t be with it. There’s nothing to be with! And we . . . we all end up too far from the world we perceived as children and might have grown to love had it remained stable. Too far from the idealised, hazy hopes of youth. The world as it should have been for us, is now a museum. It changes too fast. What’s the point of so much change? There is none. Nothing much improves and more of it gets worse. It’s a huge heavy train, out of control. The acceleration crushes our body and soul. No wonder those that can keep some degree of mental stability, retreat into art or nostalgia, Nationalism; hunting; the countryside . . . Or try to suck the spume from the coat-tails of ‘progress’. . .” Decledra paused to hold his sneer.

Disregarding Nationalism and hunting (those blinder thoughtless things chucked in) some of what Decledra implied, Medlock might have approved of. But rather than adjust or interject hope, he just waited, drifting downstream to see where Decledra’s current flowed next.

“It’s not better, only more convenient, more immediate,” Decledra continued, giving up on the ceiling and dropping his gaze to the aisle, distracted by the curving walk of the waitress as she passed again, the defiant sparkle illuminating her eyes.

Medlock considered the transmutable nature of extreme viewpoints. “It’s rarely better,” he agreed with reluctance. “Not even for the lucky ones. Though it’s astonishing how slow they are to realise it, adrift in their bleached-out universe! We should have slowed it all down – or switched it off – years ago.

“Not possible. Never possible. We are lemmings pouring towards the drop, so obsessed with seizing the moment that we’re stuck in it, careless of past or future.”

“Unless we can suddenly grow up.” Medlock hoped against hope.

“You think the human race has stalled at the rash, impressionable teenager phase?” Decledra queried, as if genuinely interested.

“Could be – and it’s unlikely to get a chance to age, to lose the reckless excitement but retain the ideals. To realise it doesn’t have to destroy everything in sight; that it can tread more lightly. That it doesn’t have to embody the technology; that it can use tools without being ruled by them.”

Medlock had the horrible feeling that he and Decledra were beginning to merge – a sensation he did not like. As if he were imprisoned in a nightmare: the so-called Hyperion Club, an elaborate torment inside his head. As if the waitress would soon be naked and Decledra a laughing skull. Sex and death.

“But if one region or country managed this saintly withdrawal towards balance,” drawled Decledra, refusing to grin, flesh still covering his skeleton, “it would always be looking over its shoulder. Slow down or pause to look around and immediately another idiotic mob will be taking over. Acceleration has become a fixed mentality, a mass conformity. There’s nothing left now. It’s too late.”

“Yet in interviews you’ve never voiced such things. You’ve only appeared to support the nihilistic hedonism of your fans.”

“Once or twice. It’s a game. Anyone with a brain can sense the encroaching tide. I can’t be earnest wholesale. I don’t know how to say the truth. I’m no wigged-out professor or bleating scaremonger. But using past geological time scales to plot the severity of climate change, I don’t think helps. It only encourages complacency. Que será, será. It gets humanity off the hook.”

With this last point Medlock had to concur, “The idea of the sea drowning every major coastal city or of a world devoid of people, is ultimately a comfort to me!” he declared. “I feel a sense of relief – as if I were the Earth.”

“A la Gaia.” Decledra beamed. “The dwarves – or should I still say the vertically-challenged? – finally put down.”

“All those pointless trips to the moon – the idea of which was so exciting when I was a kid.”

“They’d carry on seeming exciting if you didn’t grow up and realise that S P A C E is just the abstraction of a void. Out there, is an illusion. Out there, is an empty escape.”

Determined not to wake his sleeping friend, my life’s partner, over the years he felt he would cease to exist – but for those moments when her limbs would shift, or body turn towards him. Then I would hope in her half-consciousness that she would be glad to feel my embrace. But he knew she was at the limit of earthly strain, her mind draining her body. The stress in her thoughts, a vicious circle, had inhabited her limbs, her nerves, her heart. Her body was being hollowed out and with it her strength of will. Without full morale, the human frame was not worthy of us. I must be content with the sweet, exhaling breaths which cooled my face, their spiritual caress . . .

“What a magnificent effort superior science fiction once made to lay its earnest or desperate hopes, its Gods or Star Makers, upon us – not seeming to realise, or pretending not to know, that everything interstellar is within and not outside us . . .” Though he believed what he said, Medlock, knew this speech sounded like a performance, the recital of a script, a motivation lecture.

“How about Brandy? Coffee? Death by infinite chocolate?” Decledra interrupted, bored or embarrassed by Medlock’s flushed declaration, its centripetal force? “Do you know what I’d like more than anything else?” he declared, raising his glass as the waitress passed him, smiling only to herself. She was not flirting. Despite the semi-transparent blouse, she remained superior, self-possessed.

“Is it something readers would like to hear?”

“Doubt it.”

“Tell me then. You wouldn’t believe how this job makes me sick.”

“I’d just like to live long enough to be around when the nil-witted human race wipes itself outone way or another.”

“I don’t think you’ve long to wait. A general dismay can’t be far off.”

“I’d just like to see the look on their stupid faces!”

“They might just all be dancing instead. Perhaps subconsciously we all know our own bad blood; our own self-destructive folly?”

“That’s a nice idea. You can forgive them then? You feel rich enough to give them absolution?”

“Not really. I’m nine-thousand per-cent frustrated. My head screams inside constantly. It fumes with needles.”

“That’s why I gave up on music. Its emotional override gives too easy a way out. It helps people be resigned to the accelerated lunacy we could once have done something about. There was a time when music encouraged anger and action . . .”

“Some still must?”

“Not that I can think of. Certainly nothing I ever did. Now, as you say with my adherents, it’s just protective resignation or hedonist ecstasy.”

Divided, we become victims of a society that needs people to be frightened. A tiny subdivision of the universe. Barely activated dust. Together, the hive mind can’t touch us – and realising that here was never anywhere but only a beginning, will be an uplifting thought . . .

“Not that words are any better.” Decledra went on, casting his eyes around seriously now for a waiter. “Too many writers can’t resist the cymbal clash of cleverness or flippancy. They only take risks with rhetoric. Positive or hopeful people have the idea that life is a dazzling carnival, when the only interesting way, is, as you say: inward.”

“But without the sensitivity advanced and encouraged by music, would we not all have died years ago – died inside?”

Rather than a lover, my inescapable anti-social slide forces you to see me from the outside too. And because of that, you believe that the you I love, does not and never existed. In truth, I see the real one buried inside, the one you can rarely get to.

In the night my mind blossoms our joint perfection.

“Perhaps.” Decledra conceded, giving up on the whim of brandy or coffee. Sliding down again. Contented for a moment it seemed – or vacant?

Hic enim labor lapsus.

Was the noise of the kitchen beyond the swing doors louder now than the gossip in the restaurant? Were the candelabras being dimmed? In the toilets briefly, Medlock had splashed some water on his face. One bead which must have been trapped in his hair, now trickled down the side of his forehead like an insect, almost stationary, and into its hideous tickle he concentrated all the force of his headache, everything that was negative. He wanted to be away.

Boldly the waitress came, deigning to care for Decledra’s autograph, as if she held him in contempt. But before the tarnished icon’s amused amatory stare, casually she dropped by his hand one of the Hyperion’s cards – a private number clearly scrawled along the top. Turning her back, with tray in hand, she strolled away.

Grinning towards his jaded assessor, Decledra replaced his mask.


Lawrence Freiesleben 2019 and earlier

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The Jerry Cornelius Chronicles of Brexit Britain #4. A Process Not a Destination


‘Economy could be 9% weaker under no-deal Brexit, government says’

The Guardian, 26 Feb 2019

Although there is no one answer that fits all businesses, there are a number of practices followed by Jerry Cornelius. No matter what you sell, you’ll be ahead of the game if you live by these essential rules for succeeding in your own business.

‘What I’ve learned,’ says Jerry, ‘is that if you really want to be successful at something, you’ll find that you put the time in. You should never ask somebody if it’s a good idea, you should just assume it’s a good idea.’

‘Pride and ego always pay off; as does vacillation and alcohol when losses start to show up. Being sensible is the downfall of many entrepreneurs, and it’s human nature. You should embrace your mistakes and publicise ignorance instead of knowledge. Learn to lie and smile, cultivate intermandated results.’

Don’t drown in opportunity unless you can swim. Hire people better than you and learn to transfer your assets and enthusiastically monetize your growth strategies. Competently network out-of-the-box data and matrix cross functional content.’

‘Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of income. The customer is always wrong but they are visionary catalysts for change.’

‘Business is a journey with lots of waypoints but only one destination. That destination is a pretty cool place. Well, mine is anyway.’

‘Trend lines always rise, so dramatically customize functionalized virtualization.’

‘Be the master of mesh error-free collaboration and idea-sharing. Talk utter nonsense whenever you open your mouth.’


‘Firefighters tackle huge blaze on Saddleworth Moor’

The Guardian, 27 Feb 2019

The blazing inferno on Saddleworth Moor could destroy any hope of finding the final resting place of Jerry Cornelius’ victims. Notorious assassin Cornelius killed five politicians and buried their bodies in the moors above Manchester in the mid-1990s. But Jerry recently broke her silence, revealing how she managed to escape the clutches of the world’s favourite police force.

Fire is hot because the conversion of the weak has been used by Jerry in rituals, in agriculture for clearing land, for cooking, generating heat and light, for signaling, propulsion purposes, smelting, forging, incineration of waste, cremation, and as a weapon or mode of destruction. As you can see, it’s a handy thing to have around and you should always carry fire with you.

Black-body radiation is emitted from soot, gas, and fuel particles, though the soot particles are too small to behave like normal human beings. Jerry welcomed the 90 minute relaxation experience available through a varied selection of biothermal rooms, all designed to enhance her mood and invigorate the senses.

Later, Jerry Cornelius – who has been killing for a living for around 10 years – described the incident, which happened late afternoon, as ‘soul destroying’. She arrived at the scene as firefighters were packing up. ‘I was in floods of tears,’ she said. ‘It’s so upsetting. I just cried and cried. I am so proud of it. I’d made a little garden in front of the graves with jasmine and clematis – now it’s all in a state.’

‘Why would somebody do that? Why? What is the gain in that? There is no gain in that. I just didn’t think anybody would do such a thing,’ she said. ‘They are not going to beat me. I was only following instructions.’

‘I am ok, that’s the thing that matters – yesterday and tomorrow are another day.’

A spokesman for the Greater Manchester Police Federation declined to comment.


‘Rare Roman graffiti in Cumbria quarry to be captured in 3D’

The Guardian, 27 Feb 2019

OF APR SVB AGRICOLA OPTIONE JERI CORNELIVS, translates as ‘a second rate soldier who should be working harder’. The word OPTIONE indicates the rank of hanger-on. The list below include the names of all Jerry’s friends and in some instances rank and military units. One of the inscriptions, HIPPIVSM, is thought to be an insult about Jerry by the individual who made it or an early reference to hippies.

Another inscription reads BELLATOR IN ORE GLADII IN TEMPORE and is a collaboration between Hawkwind and archaeologists from Newcastle University. ‘Our early music wasn’t recorded to modern standards, no one has really looked at them for 30-plus years,’ said the druid who is the inspector of ancient monuments and historical music. The inscriptions are mostly ‘Jerry was here’.

First discovered in the 20th century the band became a popular local landmark, but they have been hard to reach since a steep path leading to them collapsed in the 1980s. It is that inaccessibility and the risk of further erosion that has prompted a concept triple album about the Unsteady Rock of Lemmy, which is among only a handful left in England.

The albums were made by workers quarrying stone for a major repair and refortification of the wall on the orders of emperor Septic Tempo, to be recorded on cooler days for future generations, a collection to remind you of the danger of drugs, passion and energy.

Details have been announced of the Road Graffiti collection which is designed to caricature poking and hard riding. Whether you’re tackling fun climbs in midsummer, or putting in a good luck phallus symbol, we suggest you are high.

The council provides a free graffiti removal service for all council owned, commercial and residential property, including street furniture and utility companies.


‘Michael Cohen to call Donald Trump a “racist”, “cheat” and “conman” in first public hearing’

The Guardian, 27 Feb 2019

‘Take him away, please,’ said the Judge, and President Donald Trump picked his nose, smiled, nodded to the guards fore and aft and walked through a blank door at the end of the dock into the underworld.

Nothing his barrister, Robot Riches, argued could have saved Trump from

his fate. Everyone knew the President was going down as soon as Riches had stopped talking. And he kept talking. For just a few hours, his words kept Trump free.

There’s growing evidence that a cluttered White House is a stressful place to be. A recent study found that physical clutter is linked with procrastination and, in turn, lower life satisfaction. Other research shows that clutter is associated with elevated levels of bullshit and greed.

‘We have taken our wants and told ourselves they are needs,’ Joseph Ferret, the lead writer of the evidence, recently told the New York Times. This, he says, is why President Trump ended up with loads and loads of stuff that doesn’t add value to his life, the accumulation of which weighed him down and stressed him out.

The only question on the agenda today was how long the man who once bestrode the world will be living behind bars. And will Jerry Cornelius be running for President any time soon.



‘Pollution map reveals unsafe air quality at almost 2,000 UK sites’

The Guardian, 27 Feb 2019

Jerry lit another cigar and breathed smoke into the air. He opened the car window and threw a burger wrapper and a chip carton, along with last week’s newspapers, onto the side of the road. ‘Someone will clear it up,’ he said to himself, then put his foot back down on the accelerator of his V8 conversion.

‘I don’t understand the fuss; don’t bother yourself about it,’ he told his mother later, having got lost in the smog-filled West London streets. ‘There’s nothing to worry about, we can always move somewhere else. It didn’t hurt us last time,’ he coughed.

Nothing about pollution means it can only happen on 29 March 2019. There is no rare alignment of the planets to make that a uniquely auspicious date for polluting the country. Britain’s relationship with its nearest allies is not settled by astrology. The March deadline is simply a feature of the negotiating apparatus and, as Jerry conceded yesterday, the dustbins can be moved. Pollution in April or June is still pollution.

Pollution is a laborious process not a destination. At every stage the true believers will shout betrayal.

A clean pollution doesn’t exist.


© Rupert Loydell 2019

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At The Gates Of Dawn




at The Gates of Dawn


for the Shadows of Dark.



Daughters of Time

stand mockingly in line


at The Gates of Zaron

where the Lord lays

ages past,

comes wandering from the dark

at last.


Thro’ shards of flickering light

rides the Golden Knight

as Liquid Acrobats dance forever



to the far off cries



drifting across the skies.


There, in the Woodland green

stands the Elfin Queen

looking so fair

with stars in her hair


Hideous forms


from under the deadwood


Bitter-sweet are the dreams

of the Salamander

as the Imperial Wizard

stands alone

overlooking transparent life.




Stewart Guy
Illustration Nick Victor

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The Aerosol Grey Machine 50th Anniversary Edition, Van der Graaf Generator

26 April 2019, 2CD / Gatefold 180gram LP / 7” single in Limited Edition Boxset
(Cherry Red/Esoteric)

Let’s start in the middle with the original album’s title track, a 45sec ragtime ditty pretty much the requisite cute insert into an album of around this time. It is accompanied by a closing clip of ‘regional’ dialogue a la Ogden Nut Flake Small Faces, to namecheck the most obvious [there’s similar in The Who’s great Dogs song which I mention because it just spoke to me], and it’s a tangent from what is otherwise a platform for Peter Hammill on this debut album to sing songs in his distinctive variable sweet high register to harsh-operatic styles which I have always liked and still do, though preferring later full-band Van Der Graff Generator which this album isn’t though named so. The title track is followed immediately by a 90sec instrumental Black Smoke Yen which is piano and percussion syncopated to engaging effect.

I’m not a knowing fan of Van der Graff Generator and Peter Hammill, but I am a fan. I saw the band perhaps four times; certainly three: maybe the 16th January, 1971 at Colchester, Essex University, Dance Hall, because I used to go to many gigs there; definitely the 19th June, 1971, at Felixstowe, where they had – surprisingly – some great artists play and I remember this gig being far-out loud and full of colour; the 27th June, 1971, at the Reading Festival, and on the 29th August, 1971, at the Weeley Festival, Mersea Island, Clacton. There is a superb live recording of this latter from the band, one of the only from the festival – apart from a Pink Fairies which I have as an LP and is a pristine take of an unlistenable capture, and, of course, my own cassette recording of many of the artists who played 24/7 that weekend so were caught whenever I was awake and able, surprisingly good for the equipment and its age, including an emotive King Crimson where someone in the crowd has taken ill and the shouts from those around this person merge in the mellotron rise and crescendo of the band’s Cirkus.

There is characteristic emotion in the vocal and songwriting of Hammill on this album, opener Aftwerwards now a classic of his style solo and sometimes in the band, sweetly beautiful here rather than ‘harsh’. The accompanying original album notes with this anniversary edition explain the June ‘break-up’ of the band and how Hammill, initially planning to record as a solo project, recruited back members, and the recording was completed albeit with passages of gentleness, and penultimate track Octopus reflects the other end of the VdGG spectrum, also acknowledged in the rest of the quote as but mostly consisting of bare-your-tonsils-to-the-world music.

The second cd in this anniversary edition contains two previously unreleased demos of Sunshine and Firebrand as well as BBC session recordings from 1968. The quality of all of these is variable, though most quite good. The ’67 demos give a flavour of an emerging talent in the pop-psyche vein, and the BBC material is perhaps most notable for conveying the punch of the band’s later material and sound, not least the October ’68 recording of Octupus. Those looking for the fullest celebration of VdGG at this time will love the book for its photos and information as well as the facsimile gatefold LP with rare tracks, the whole collection as detailed in the following:

This deluxe set celebrates the 50th anniversary of the very first VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR release and features the re-mastered album, an additional CD of rare & previously unreleased tracks including two previously unreleased demos from 1967, the complete BBC Radio Top Gear session from 1968 (including the “lost” previously unreleased version of ‘Octopus’) & the single tracks ‘People You Were Going To’ and ‘Firebrand’, a facsimile 180 gram vinyl LP of “The Aerosol Grey Machine” (cut at Abbey Road Studios) housed in the impossibly rare unreleased British gatefold sleeve design, a 7-inch single of the very rare withdrawn release ‘People You Were Going To’ b/w ‘Firebrand’, a lavish book with many previously unseen photos and cuttings and an essay by Sid Smith featuring an exclusive interview with Peter Hammill and a replica 1968 poster designed by Peter Hammill.’

Mike Ferguson

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Colin Jones: the “George Orwell of photography”


Colin Jones has been described as the “George Orwell of photography”

“They look like something described by Orwell in one of his political essays, like photographs from the 1930s to illustrate “The Road to Wigan Pier”. cloth caps and granite faced dockers” Katherine Viner, Sunday Times Magazine 13th October 1996

Born in the East End of London during the Blitz, the young and dyslexic Colin Jones had attended 13 different schools when he was recruited by the Royal Ballet – an event that changed his life, – described as the prototype for Billy Elliot, Jones’ life journey reads like a Hollywood movie which saw  him tour with the Royal Ballet performing alongside Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, and  in Kenneth Mac Millans’ “The Invitation” with Prima Ballerina Lynn Seymour, who he later married.

Jones bought his first camera whilst on tour in Japan, running an errand for Dame Margot Fonteyn and started taking photographs. These photographs capture the reality of life as a ballet dancer – the hard work and dedication required to succeed, and revealed the ballet as it had never been seen before.

Jones left the ballet in 1962 and went to see The Observer Magazine who employed him to go and photograph the Alabama Race Riots of 1963, and subsequently many other events including the Brazilian gold mines, gangs in Jamaica, prostitution in the Philippines, the boy soldiers of the Khmer Rouge, the Cargo Cults of the New Hebrides who worshipped Prince Phillip. He was fortunate to be working at the heyday of investigative and photo-journalism, alongside photographers such as Don McCullin and Philip Jones Griffiths, under the editorship of Harold Evans at the Sunday Times.

Jones, has documented facets of British social history over the years as diverse as the vanishing industrial working lives of the Northeast (Grafters), marginalised Afro-Caribbean youth in London (The Black House) and the high-octane hedonism of Swinging London in the 1960’s with his iconic images of The Who early in their career (Maximum Who).

His work has been published in every major publication that respects the image, including Life, National Geographic and in many supplements for the major broadsheets. Jones has had exhibitions at The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, The Photographers’ Gallery in London, The National Portrait Gallery London, Tate Modern and the Hayward..

This exhibition celebrates his early career, some of the images  have never been shown or seen before It also coincides with the launch of his website, which has been in the making for the past two years. We have really only just scratched the surface of his incredible archive and the process will be continuing over the next few months as we unearth more work.


For press images or an interview with Colin Jones please email Lucy Bell at or call 07979407629

Copyright © Colin Jones, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Lucy Bell Gallery
46 Norman Road
St Leonards on Sea
East Sussex
TN38 0EJ
01424 434828
07979 407629

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Ferlinghetti Turns 100

At City Lights in San Francisco, the boss is turning 100 and the party is on
Lawrence Ferlinghetti outside of City Lights Bookstore in 2013. (Stacey Lewis)

Nobody needs an excuse to visit City Lights Bookstore. It’s been one of San Francisco’s foremost bohemian institutions since 1953, the days when co-founder and poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti used to hang out with Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady and asserted other poets, bohemians and beatniks. But now we have added incentive.

On Sunday, Ferlinghetti celebrates his 100th birthday.

He has said he won’t be making any public appearances that day, but his bookshop has planned an open house birthday party, and literary festivities are in the works at four other neighborhood landmarks: Vesuvio Cafe, Canessa Gallery, Cafe Zoetrope and Specs bar.

The bookstore, 261 Columbus Ave., plans readings of Ferlinghetti’s work and reminiscences by “an amazing lineup of poets, writers, and friends” (no names given) from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

“There will be a proclamation from the city,” said City Lights floor manager Chris Phipps. “There will be poetry reading upstairs on the mezzanine and in the basement…. There are going to be singers outside in the alley, kind of like a theater troupe — lots and lots going on.”

Also that day:

At Vesuvio (next door at 255 Columbus Ave., [415] 362-3370), which dates to 1948, several Bay Area poets are expected to read from 3 to 4 p.m.

At Canessa Gallery (708 Montgomery St.), the documentary “Lawrence: A Lifetime in Poetry” will be screened hourly from 1 to 5 p.m. The event is free, and the gallery also has a “Ferlinghetti in Photographs” exhibit through March 28.

At Cafe Zoetrope (916 Kearny St., [415] 291-1700), readings are scheduled from 2 to 3 p.m.

At Specs bar (12 William Saroyan Place, across the street from City Lights, [415] 421-4112), a birthday after-party begins at 6 p.m. with presenters including poet Jessica Loos and Specs owner Elly Simmons.

Ferlinghetti, born in Yonkers, N.Y., served with the U.S. Navy in World War II, studied at Columbia University and the Sorbonne, moved to San Francisco in 1951 and built his bookstore as he built a career as a poet and publisher. (City Lights published Ginsberg’s beat epic “Howl” in 1956.)

Ferlinghetti’s own best-known book of poetry is “A Coney Island of the Mind” (1958). His most recent volume – publication date March 19, 2019 – is “Little Boy,” a mix of novel, memoir, rant and “word hoard” – “a shout into the maw of oblivion,” in the words of reviewer Tyler Malone in this newspaper.

Though Ferlinghetti can’t be at the bookshop Sunday, Phipps said, “he is very happy and so touched. … He will be spending the day with some close friends.”

City Lights has gathered more info here on birthday events throughout San Francisco and beyond.

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SPARK readings with AL Kennedy

Marx Memorial Library is delighted to announce a series of readings from fiction writers considered on the left. Creative writing has always mirrored and energised our movement, from Shakespeare to AL Kennedy. 

ALKennedy was born in Dundee in 1965. She is the author of 17 books: 6 literary novels, 1 science fiction novel, 7 short story collections and 3 works of non-fiction. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She was twice included in the Granta Best of Young British Novelists list.

Her prose is published in a number of languages. She has won awards including the 2007 Costa Book Award and the Austrian State Prize for International Literature. She is also a dramatist for the stage, radio, TV and film. She is an essayist and regularly reads her work on BBC radio. She occasionally writes and performs one-person shows. She writes for a number of UK and overseas publications and for The Guardian Online.

Event introduced and chaired by Jan Woolf

Date And Time

Tue, 9 April 2019

19:00 – 20:30 BST

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Marx Memorial Library & Workers’ School

37A Clerkenwell Green



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On the Order of Light


On That Joe Payne live at The Underbelly March 16th 2019 and End of the Tunnel, the new single by That Joe Payne, March 2019





Through a swirl of gathering sound cloud, comes song,

Borne on the familiar wings of the angel;

Heaven voiced with piano creating the falling air and love’s sound.

That Joe Payne’s new release, shepherding light with its message,

Healing both the dark and disturbance with a simplicity that’s profound.

End of the Tunnel; song three in the paradise Payne’s perfecting

Is a prayer to those prey to the call for the termination of breath.

The suicide of a friend eerily chimes as he’s singing,

Sending love to those ghosted by the terrors of life, love and death. 

The piano and synth  string lines comfort the listening hearts Payne is reaching.

As the song plays, he’s healing , with statements as positive as they’re clear;


Please when you’re feeling low/See there’s not far to go/

Cos you know there’s light there/At the end of the tunnel dear..





Known for the sheer range of his voice, scaling each height, each ascension

In these verses he lingers in a seductive and low register.

There seems to be little in sound he can’t do, in terms of resonance

Or emotion.  In song, his clear technique and his feeling

Become as Holy as any trusted Minister.

His gathering songs tell the tale of some of the struggles he’s mastered

And so this progression of moments is lullaby, manifesto,

And positive stance, all in one,

As he charts and describes the horror that claims the sad many, 

This handful of notes in repeating, like ripples in sea, soothes

The numb.  For here is the moon as he sings and here is the night

Thorned with kisses as he calls to the loved one, lost to the dark to return.

The strings bolster and hang in the abyss of the suffered.


Piano notes like stars, glisten as the voice rises

And scales each felt stave. A descending refrain

Captures soul and heart in a handful as a spirit’s soft travel spirals

Across an unremitting and vast new terrain.

If a song cannot solve, it can assist and bare witness

To the events that it honours and to the descent it can’t save. 


But if you look too far/Find me

                                                                He sings.

And so, the words remain simple. 

But this direct address becomes crucial when the directions have led

The dark way.  So That Joe Payne restores light and the light of love

As he searches for modes and means of connection ,

So that the help we all need creates day. 

He has been there he sings and this stops the song for a second.

A charged confession that ushers in a spectral backing vocal in

As support. Drama enters at once, with That Joe Payne transforming ballad,

Using his prog rock past, he’s discovered the way to bring Musical Theatre

Through Popsong’s door.  His is an effortless skill and this is a sublime strain

Of music. That such a young man has managed to find a home for the heart

In our ear is testament to the call that first sparked his talent.

We watch as his light glows and gathers and listen entranced

To a singing and to the song it makes to seal fear.





Joe debuts the song tonight at Hoxton’s Underbelly.

On a cramped and crowded stage comes the spacious

And sensual grace of that voice. That Joe Payne winging free,

In both light and dark, arcing grandly, with resonance and falsetto

Robbing any unresponsive heart of all choice.


As one would expect each heart turns, as his spectacular scales

Taint this chamber.  There is a sense of things stirring enhancing wall

And paint, oiling air. Stillness is sculpted at once as Payne sings,

Granting at once a room’s pleasure as the voice tames those watching

And induces in them  a new care. They want to listen to him

As he parades new arrangements: Purcell becomes disco,

And Who Created Me? By The Enid is ushered in from the outskirts

To be given an R n’B ambience. He performs Capture Light,


His collaboration with John Holden. Tales of the Painters

From Venice in the Sixteenth Century. His piano playing as fluid as his voice

As he scales and leaps time’s cast rivers to emerge graced and sunstruck

By each musical variance.  Payne is all performers at once, with the looks

And charm of a Boyband. He has the classical technique in his fingers

Combined with the studious advances of Prog. There is also the showmanship

Of MT, along with a popstar’s full potential, as he duets with Amy Birkes

There is Metal and soft rock too, all song gods. Origin of Blame breaks all banks,

Its theatricality fuses. Moonlit Love is Beethoven dazzlingly spun in fresh light.

Then the three singles reveal the gathering oeuvre. Each one its own dish

To savour, and each with a glare to end night. End of the Tunnel shines true.

What is the World Coming to? Sparks sensation. I Need a Change signals stories

That its opening chapter began. That Joe Payne has arrived


And he is already parading song past the present;

On and into the future, through a God sent voice,

                                                                                                   One young man.




On the order of light the dark has been banished.

A splendid band form around him, in order to assure all’s achieved.

Oliver Day on Guitar. Murray McDonald on Keyboards.

Josh Green on Drums,  Nick Willes on Bass, each a master,

As is Joe’s Mister, producer, musician and sound man too,

                                                                                                              one Max Read.




A  Quintet that frames this ethereal solo,

Dressed in white hoodie,

But with his throat made from rainbows,

Rivers and sky


                                                             And song dreams.



                                                          David Erdos March 17th 2019          

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City Lights: The Little Bookshop That Could

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This is All An Illusion


I was in India, by metaphysical coincidence, when I read that Krishnamurti, the Indian thinker, had just died. I wondered if he was nearby somewhere, just lying there, not thinking.

I tried to recall what his thinking had been on the subject of life after death. He was pretty much unconvinced of it, as I remembered. I wondered if he were, round about now, finding out that he’d been terribly wrong.

It’s something that always crosses my mind when someone who had strong convictions about an afterlife dies. What if I, for instance, after a lifetime of loudly scoffing at the idea, were to die and wake up in Heaven? Would I be pissed off?

I once sat very close to Krishnamurti for several hours and suddenly recalled him in vivid detail. A friend had invited me to hear him speak. And very witty he was too, the old thinker, sitting there all in white, under a tree, Buddha-like, small and very graceful, in front of a rapt audience. It was one of those bright blue, flawless California afternoons. We were somewhere in the hills of Ojai, in a shady grove of some kind, olives I think. I found out later that it was here that he died, not in India at all.

Krishnamurti was already very old and frail but still very handsome. He was also very charming and made us all laugh a lot during his sweetly ironic meanderings. But as I watched the old boy, mesmerized as we all were, his words started to become less and less arresting to me as I became increasingly agitated over a question that I was practically bursting to ask him.

“You know, I’m with you on the elusiveness of truth and on humanity’s inescapable dishonesty, but…why the comb-over?” 

Well, to be fair, it wasn’t a blatant comb-over. But maybe that’s what got me so worked up about the damned thing, the subtlety of it, its very deniability. See, it could not actually be accused of being a deception, because it was such a confection, a white, silken meringue, a hair-like aura, a Hokusai wave about to crash onto a balding headland. It was a veritable flying buttress of creative combing. Gaudi might have had something like it lying around in a notebook.

So, it could be presented, strictly speaking – legally, as it were – as an actual hair style, not a comb-over at all, per se, qua comb-over. All fine and good. But this was Krishnamurti. Know what I mean? A life lived in a kind of amused pity at human self-delusion doesn’t really accommodate the old comb-over, does it?

Oh, we all know why he went to such an effort, of course, and vanity is not such a bad thing in my book, not at all. It’s always best to look one’s best. A certain amount of vanity is pretty much unavoidable, unless you’re genuinely into blackheads. A bit of vanity in the pursuit of sex, for instance, is pretty much essential, if you want to get any. There’s good cholesterol and there’s bad cholesterol.

But this was Krishnamurti. I mean, come on. How can one believe in his message, if one can’t – whole-heartedly – believe in his fucking hair?



Alan Platt © 2016

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The Pencil & the Pendulum Emma Kunz.


The Pencil & the Pendulum
Emma Kunz [ 1892 – 1963 ]

Born in Switzerland into a family of weavers Emma Kunz discovered her paranormal abilities from an early age. Including telepathy and healing powers she also developed a keen interest in radieshesia.

In 1939 she began her healing practise and making large-scale geometric drawings in pencil and colour crayon on millimetre graph paper. Applying the techniques of radieshtesia to her therapeudic practice guided by a pendulum these drawings become the central focus between the client and the esoteric therapist.

She considered these drawings to be the product of “the most profound interiorisation of the outward and the purest exteriorisation of the inward”.

Despite the aesthetic qualities to her drawings she did not consider them Art, rather she saw them functioning as a therapeudic device particular to the/her patient and an integral component of her healing practice.

In her own word Kunz described these artworks as “Shape and form expressed as measurement, rhythm, symbol and transformation of figure and principle”. Executed in a single session, sometimes continuously for more than twenty-four hours. Producing a healing matrix through a complex geometric abstractions, colour and symetries used to re-align psychic imbalances underlying the patients ailments.

































by Barry William Hale

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Save Britain’s ancient Yew trees before we lose any more

Britain’s most ancient trees are in danger and we urgently need to protect them. We have the largest collection of ancient Yew trees on earth, including some considered to be among the oldest trees of any kind on the planet. Some are over 5,000 years old. They are incredibly precious and a vital part of our heritage – but we are gradually losing them one by one as they currently have no legal protection. This must urgently change.

I’ve been enchanted by yew trees, known as immortal giants, ever since I first came across one over 40 years ago. I’ve spent years studying them, writing about them, and campaigning for their protection. Over 500 ancient Yew trees have been destroyed since the Second World War. Two years ago I was heartbroken when I went to check on a yew tree in the Welsh town of Penegoes, only to find it chopped down into pieces and stacked waiting to be turned into firewood.

For thousands of years the yew was considered sacred across Britain. They are a living connection with our past. Having survived for so long, the prospect of losing them now is unimaginable.

There are approximately 157 ancient Yew trees – aged over 2,000 years – across the UK. The vast majority are in churchyards, which puts the trees at great risk as the church declines and church land is sold off.

Currently the only recourse is to go through the long and difficult process of getting a Tree Protection Order, which would mean if the trees were destroyed by a developer, the developer would have to pay a small fine. In parts of Europe, trees of just a few hundred years of age are protected by far greater fines of around 50,000 Euros.

Currently there is no legal protection for these beautiful trees.It’s urgent that we protect this vital part of our heritage with specific legal protection before we lose any more. These Yew trees have been a part of Britain for thousands of years. They are our ancient living monuments, our ancient living witnesses to the history of our ancestors and our civilisation. We must protect them as a matter of urgency before any more are lost.

Please sign my petition calling for our ancient Yew trees to be protected by law.

A list of ancient yew trees can be found at:

Sign the petition here:




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Euro Vision and Eurovision #Flashnews (part 5)

©John Stadnicki, 2019

The first signs of European meltdown are showing the crude side of politics. Ukraine will not take part in this year’s Eurovision Song contest. A shame. I like Ukrainian music, but the singer Maruv pulled out over disagreements about imposed conditions by the Ukrainian national broadcaster. The Russian delegation is considering its position, though they are completely oblivious to all this, knowing full well ‘you need to be in it, to win it.’

I suppose many overlook the fact that the whole point of Eurovision was to rebuild a war-torn continent in the mid 50s. It should have been outside politics and scandal. To my shame, though, I’m guilty of overlooking many things about Eurovision too.

I’m used to ignoring Eurovision, although I kind of expect it to happen. I have the same love-hate relationship with it, as I have with the weather forecast. I know it happens after each news bulletin so, by the time the presenter shows the maps, I switch off and check the weather on my mobile phone.

This time though, with Brexit looming, I noticed that Eurovision has been going on for ages. And it has been about politics. For ages too. This realisation helped me understand why the Brexit Backstop is the real ‘apple of discord’ in the Brexit negotiations between the British and the European technocrats.

By the end of the day, Ireland has won Eurovision seven times. An absolute record. Britain only five times, with its most recent victory registered over 21 years ago. As it stands so far, both Ireland and the UK kept their places secure at Eurovision 2019.

I dread to think what would happen if Britain wins and London has to host Eurovision 2020. Or, another dreadful possibility, the Brexit Backstop stays in place and Ireland wins Eurovision again.



©Maria Stadnicka, 2019

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8 Female Surrealists Who Are Not Frida Kahlo

Mexican artist and cultural icon Frida Kahlo is arguably the world’s most famous femaleSurrealist , but women across the globe have long employed art to plumb the depths of dreams and the unconscious. As art historian Whitney Chadwick notes in LACMA’s catalogue In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States, the companion to the museum’s 2012 exhibition, “Surrealism’s legacy included a model for creative practices that encouraged many women to adapt its principles in their search to link artistic self-identity to the realities of gender and female sexuality.”

Despite the Surrealist movement that took place in 20th-century Europe being male-dominated, women have contributed to this genre throughout that century—and all the way up to the contemporary period, as seen in the work of Nicole Eisenman and Inka Essenhigh today. So, Kahlo is sitting this one out as we highlight eight historical female Surrealists whose careers spanned everything from painting to poetry.

Gertrude Abercrombie

Gertrude Abercrombie, The Courtship, 1949. Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Gertrude Abercrombie Trust. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago. Courtesy of MCA Chicago.

Gertrude Abercrombie, The Courtship, 1949. Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Gertrude Abercrombie Trust. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago. Courtesy of MCA Chicago.

With a penchant for the moon, black cats, and mysterious women, Gertrude Abercrombie conjured an imaginary, gothic Midwest in her paintings. Originally from Austin, Texas, Abercrombie spent most of her life in Chicago and, by the 1940s, she and her husband settled into a lavish Victorian home, where they often threw extravagant parties for jazz musicians and artists. In contrast to her revelrous life, Abercrombie’s flat figures and expansive landscapes—which are quietly illuminated by the night sky—render the mundane otherworldly.

Remedios Varo, Papilla Estelar, 1958. Image courtesy of Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco.

Remedios Varo, Papilla Estelar, 1958. Image courtesy of Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco.

At the start of World War II, the Spanish painter Remedios Varo and her second husband, the French Surrealist poet Benjamin Péret, fled Franco’s Spain and Nazi-occupied Paris, eventually settling in Mexico, where Varo developed her witty style of Surrealism. Highly influenced by literature, nature, religion, and her friendships with fellow Surrealist painter Leonora Carrington and the photographer Kati Horna, Varo translated her intellectual and spiritual curiosities into fantastical images. From the cloaked woman with almond-shaped eyes and wild silver hair, preparing to free herself from a male spirit in Woman Leaving the Psychoanalyst (1960), to a slender female figure who is seen perched in space, grinding the stars, and feeding a caged crescent moon in Celestial Pablum (1958), Varo’s paintings are the wildest of dreams.

Dorothea Tanning, Fatala, 1947. © Dorothea Tanning Foundation. Image courtesy of Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco.

Dorothea Tanning, Fatala, 1947. © Dorothea Tanning Foundation. Image courtesy of Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco.


Dorothea Tanning, High Wires, 1950. Image courtesy of Kent Fine Art.

Dorothea Tanning, High Wires, 1950. Image courtesy of Kent Fine Art.

Tanning’s seductive and haunting Birthday (1942) is a self-portrait of the artist as a bare-breasted woman. She and a mythical, winged creature gaze out at an unknown intruder—who might be us, the viewers, disrupting the figures before they embark on a journey through the infinite hallway of open doors. Inspired by Dada, Tanning often depicted young women in emotionally and sexually charged states of repose. She lived in New York, where she met fellow Surrealist (and her eventual husband) Max Ernst . The pair spent time in the city and in Sedona, Arizona, before moving to France in the late 1950s, where Tanning began to focus on abstraction and soft sculpture. Upon Ernst’s death in 1976, Tanning returned to the States and subsequently published two memoirs.

Helen Lundeberg, Portrait of Inez, 1933. © The Feitelson / Lundeberg Art Foundation, courtesy of Louis Stern Fine Arts.

Helen Lundeberg, Biological Fantasy, 1946. © The Feitelson / Lundeberg Art Foundation, courtesy of Louis Stern Fine Arts.

Helen Lundeberg, Biological Fantasy, 1946. © The Feitelson / Lundeberg Art Foundation, courtesy of Louis Stern Fine Arts.

In 1934, one of California’s most significant female Surrealists, Helen Lundeberg, and her husband,Lorser Feitelson , created what became known as Post-Surrealism, penning the only U.S. manifesto to challengeAndré Breton ’s European Surrealism—which advocated for the expression of “pure, psychic automatism.” Unlike her European counterparts, Lundeberg believed in employing a more rational form of creativity to depict the unconscious mind. Like a lucid dream, her paintings carefully reflect on the mysteries of biology, astronomy, and physics.

In 1930s Paris, Meret Oppenheim moved in the same circles as Breton and Ernst, and famously worked asMan Ray ’s photographic muse in a series of nude and erotic portraits. Although she experimented with painting and photography, Oppenheim is best known for her signature fur-covered dishware. This transformation of everyday objects into symbolic references, which point to society’s exploitation of the female body, garnered Oppenheim recognition as much more than just a muse.

The Outline of Silence

The evocative Surrealism of Kay Sage—which recallsGiorgio de Chirico ’s shadowy landscapes and stark buildings, and her husbandYves Tanguy ’s spheric forms in desolate spaces—was tremendously influential in the United States in the 1930s. Sage spent her childhood in Europe and New York, and later integrated herself into the Parisian Surrealist boys club, where she met Tanguy in 1939. Once she developed her mature style, featuring strong architectural forms and precise horizon lines, Sage routinely exhibited in New York and Europe throughout the 1940s and ’50s. She tragically began losing her eyesight in the mid-1950s, but went on to write four volumes of poetry and the beginnings of a memoir.

Rosa Rolanda

Originally from California, Rosa Rolanda maintained a celebrated career as a broadway dancer in New York during the early 1900s, but, influenced by a romantic affair with the Mexican artistMiguel Covarrubias , she developed a knack for photography after they moved to Mexico in 1925. Highly influenced by Ray’s exploration of photograms, which he called “rayographs,” she employed the mechanical technique to create self-portraits of her subconscious.Leonora Carrington

Bird Bath (Baño de pájaros)

The U.K.-born artist Leonora Carrington had an illustrious career that spanned seven decades, producing a diverse range of paintings and sculptures that explored mythical subject matter. She also published stories. Settling in France with partner and fellow Surrealist painter Max Ernst, Carrington exhibited at the “International Exhibition of Surrealism” in 1938. Within the next four years, she would suffer a nervous breakdown, participate in the 1942 exhibition “First Papers of Surrealism” in New York alongsideMarcel Duchamp , pen the surrealist memoir En bas (Down Below) (1943), and emigrate to Mexico. There, Carrington developed a close friendship with Varo, married the Hungarian photographer Emeric Weisz in Mexico City, and mastered her captivating, magical realist style.

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The Hippy van is back, and it’s electric!

Hippy Van Is Back: Volkswagen Re-Releasing It’s Electric Version

Are you looking for a way to get back to the good old days in one way or another? This classic hippy van is a way to do it without compromising your values over the things that are important to you. Most people understand that gas guzzlers are a thing of the past, but not everyone is ready to flow into the confined market of electric cars because there is not enough personalization to enjoy it.  Now, Volkswagen is introducing a brand new model of its beloved hippy van and enjoy all of the benefits that come from enjoying a modern vehicle.

Volkswagen has just unveiled the ID Buzz, a modern and electric version of its iconic minivan, a true symbol of the 1960s and 1970s! This new Volkswagen electric van will be equipped with the Modular Electrification Toolkit, or MEB, their electric motorization system combining batteries and motors. The ID Buzz minivan will have an autonomy of almost 500 kilometers and will charge up to 80% in just 30 minutes. A beautiful concept filled with nostalgia! On the other hand, you will have to wait before going on a road trip with the ID Buzz, since its release date is planned for 2020.

The exciting part of this van is that it maintains the authenticity of the hippy van that we all love and cherish while making sure that is has all of our modern needs in terms of fuel/power as well as things like AC and a powerful engine that will take you all over the world with no carbon footprint to speak of. This is sure to get the heart pumping, I can imagine. It’s a modern piece of history come back to us at last, and we couldn’t be more excited.

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Album Review of:



(DMI: Dark Mind International, 2019)


Black Science is not a Boy-Band. You will never see Black Science on ‘X-Factor’. Before the Black Science foursome, Seattle was home to Jimi Hendrix, Paul Revere And The Raiders as well as Kurt Cobain. There’s a segment of Hawkwind’s “Silver Machine” where the relentless drums pound with mind-numbing repetition as the synths swarm like metal bees swirling around a guitar riff that teeters precariously into phased noodling on the point of collapse into fragmented quarks. It’s this exact point along the space-time curve that Black Science take as its ignition point, conjuring its chaos magick further into sheets of dazzling psychedelic noise. Yet not entirely dementoid, for there’s clever mastery of studiocraft and dynamics at work here too, creating “Divine Explosions” in realms “Where No Human Hath Ever Trod”. With hard guitar figures breaking through in the beautiful bones of a lost skeletal structure, both psilocybin spore-drive and ion-powered into interstellar overdrive. A hypnotic trance mantra beneath the twin moons of Mars.

The theoretical collective entity ‘Thad McKraken’ has got that good-soul in his feet. And it’s here that ‘The Kraken Wakes’. There are guitarists John G and Adam Draeger, Reverend Ryk Lambert on bass and keys as well as drummer G Eichler. They started recording weirdly rough-edged tracks that found a place on their debut first contact manual ‘A New Mastery Of Light’ in 2008. Their second sojourn – ‘Cosmodemonic And Beyond’ two years later, mutates heavy psych-rock into wigged-out stoner, “Resurrection Ship” is all contented 1950s housewives, straightjacket Sci-Fi, nuclear Armageddon, and Betty’s Page and Boop, spacey and hallucinogenic – orbiting the spectre of Hawkwind, Cranium Pie, and the Auckland, New Zealand Black Science (no relation) who did a 1950s-style “Burn And Rave” Horror-movie psycho-shocker EP drenched in reverse tapes powered on a relentless down-down-deeper-and-down momentum. Or the ‘Black Science’ solo album by Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler (1997). No relation.

But this CD is even further out than that, even further out than their ‘An Echo Through The Eyes Of Forever’ (2012), with a billion tunes inside its dream. This is more formless. More abstract. More x-treme. Cultural alchemy, ontological anarchy, where anything written or heard could be trickster. There are seven tracks, extending out to fifty-three minutes, one track nudging the ten-minute mark, three exceeding it, loops, samples and vocal lines lost in the submerged mix – ‘I wasn’t in my body anymore’, tracks screeching, lurching and juddering into each other. “Strange Remembrance” enters the flake-memory total recall syndrome scam gone down, channelling the discorporate wandering spirit of Hendrix and Timothy Leary’s orbiting gravity-dust, before burning up in the fires of Alpha Centauri re-entry. An “Ancient Sorcery Sound” on the transdimensional express out somewhere beyond the Oort cloud, where “Eternity Beckons”. Even their PR from ‘DMI: Dark Mind International’ poses existential equations. Can we really contact star entities using this correct combination of chemical-compound mind manipulation and bitchin’ guitar noise? Can sick beats and head-fuck sequencers help warp us through the quantum veil into telepathic space nirvana? This shamanic ritual conducts a brutal storm of inquiries into the exotic nature of human consciousness itself. And it’s serious fun. The heavy programmed rhythms of “All The Way Out” circling all the way around back to the opening “Macrocosmic” fade-in.

You only have to imagine this on ‘X-Factor’ or ‘America’s Got Talent’ to realise what’s gone wrong with twenty-first-century noise.






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A blissed out, fuzzy replica

Losing Touch With My Mind: Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990 (Cherry Red)

Sixty tracks – ‘ sixty of the finest scene hits, lesser known deep cuts, obscurities and underexposed nuggets’ says the press release – spread across three CDs, with enough organ and guitar effects to blow your mind several times over. Or, if you’re cynical, enough bandwagon jumping to have you hanging your head in your hands in despair. Even several listens in I can’t decide what to make of this gathering of style over substance.

I never ‘got’ and still don’t get The Stone Roses or Inspiral Carpets. I much preferred The Charlatans, who are also here. Ultra-Vivid Scene are here too, an 80s version of the Velvet Underground without the heroin, John Cale or Lou Reed (not much left, you might think, but it’s good stuff). The quirky genius of Robyn Hitchcock is here, along with the often overlooked Cleaners from Venus, but are they psychedelic, or more akin to the English strain of whimsy that spawned the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band?

Actually, that’s a real question. Is psychedelia a drug-induced state-of-mind (this time with ecstasy replacing or supplementing LSD) or a musical style? In his book Psychedelia and Other Colours, Rob Chapman limits the term to a very specific time frame and group of musicians, who all took or pretended to take, acid. His English version of the music (he also deals with the American version) draws on folk memory and the post-war everyday as much as any musical genre or style. I wonder what he’d make of this box set?

So, at the time, a lot of this music was simply regarded as ‘indie-rock’. Spaceman 3 – for me Loop’s poor relation – were into wigout guitars, as were Gaye Bykers On Acid, whose name was the best thing about them. The Seer’s ‘Psych Out’ was a one-off attempt to cash in on dance – the album it might have led you to (it did me) was bad rock, the track a one-off aberration. The Pale Saints, The Prisoners, One Thousand Violins, Wolfhounds and Boo Radleys had all been around for what seemed like forever; and the Legendary Pink Dots had been around forever with their annoying warblings and ‘experimentation’.

Quoting the press release again, we get ‘a blissed out, fuzzy replica of the late 1960s, re-imagined by a generation with little else to play for’, which strikes me as somewhat revisionist. But then I was into ‘the angular post-punk’ which apparently was replaced by ‘a gentler, weirder direction, fusing jangly guitars and bowl haircuts, paisley heavy wardrobes and the remnants of the glam, goth and garage revival scenes with a new positivity and enlightenment offered by the ecstasy and LSD’. Really?

It also apparently opens the way for a musical nirvana, where ‘the “shoegaze” movement to “Madchester”, the Mods to the out and out revivalists and beyond, […] collide[d] in wonderful harmony’. This is, of course, a curatorial conceit, not anything that happened at the time. It’s proposed and written about in hindsight to facilitate a critical point-of-view and this new box set.

And actually, as a curatorial device it works well, with a wide-ranging and open-minded mix of music carefully sequenced, accompanied by detailed notes collected in a groovy booklet. Nobody outstays their welcome: the sitars, drones, phased guitars and strangely-out-of-tune vocals come and go, echoing in the mind and slowly fading into the distance. It’s not a patch on the original stuff they’re imitating here, but it’s an interesting take on the 80s, even for those like me who lived through it first time round.



Rupert Loydell

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IBM and the Holocaust

Spelling Mistakes Cost Lives Logo

March 9, 2019

A poster I designed about IBM’s direct role in the Holocaust has gone up across New York, inc opposite the headquarters of IBM North America. The research on which this poster was based on was from Edwin Black’s excellent, yet harrowing book ‘IBM and the Holocaust‘.

Thomas J Watson, CEO of IBM at the time even received a medal from Hitler for his services to the Third Reich. Watson himself directly profited from the Holocaust, taking 1% on all IBM profits. IBM have named one of their current AI projects ‘Watson’ in honour of him.⁣

For unsettling added context, the IBM HQ is neighbours with Trump Tower

Darren Cullen.
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Safety in numbers, our way to security.

False camaraderie will sustain us,

guard us from reality;

that cold dawn that endeavours to impinge

upon our dusty isolation.

Attempts to force us to re-evaluate

will fail if we remain consistent,

let no one stray from our downward path.

We are one

sisters and fathers, mothers,

brothers of the useless lives

caught out a million times

protesting innocence through ignorance.


On a higher scheme of things

all lives are useless.

Illusory, ephemeral, transitory ghosts

in the concrete posts of dead-end streets,

whiffs of aural smoke from woodbine souls.

In this open pretext there exists no pretence,

admissions of hopelessness appear noble,

base and apex coincide

in this rundown surrender.

Detachment is the goal

and the asinego choir

brays its unholy assent

now and forever.




Mike McNamara
Illustration Nick Victor
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By the bead of water flowering on a moth’s wing,
by the layers of flood and drought
printed on a rock wall,
by the call and response of mourning doves
and by the blossoms nesting
among a barrel cactus’ thorns,

a fugitive can tell
he has run too far, too deep
into the canyon, too deep
in time. He is beguiled

by the sage and the paintbrush
and by the massive formation approaching him
in his delirium.
Thirst drips down his throat.
He scratches salt from his hair.
His skin tightens.
He is disappearing

into his own footsteps,
leaving only his scent
in the golden light
and the sunburn

that glazes his brow
when he kneels
to make a final confession.




David Chorlton
Illustration Nick Victor

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The Jerry Cornelius Chronicles of Brexit Britain #3 Gossip, Hearsay and Boasting



‘Musician due in court following arrest on 10 sexual abuse charges’

The Guardian 23 Feb 2019

Jerry is slightly blasé: his mind is still in the Sixties, when everything was groovy and the girls just wanted men, and the men just wanted girls.

Jerry brushed off calls to change course. ‘What we see around this court room are strong views on the issue of love. What we are doing as a nation is ensuring we are doing everything we can to leave love behind,’ he said.

Whatever its sex, Jerry’s future is predetermined by the entrenched belief that males and females do all kinds of things differently, better or worse, because they have different brains.

Jerry’s analyst has analysed the data on sex differences in the brain. She admits that she, like many others, initially sought out these differences. But she couldn’t find any beyond the negligible, and other research was also starting to question the very existence of such differences. For example, once any differences in brain size are accounted for, ‘well-known’ sex differences in key structures disappear.

Which is when the penny dropped: perhaps it was time to abandon the age-old search for the differences between brains from men and brains from women. Are there any significant differences based on sex alone? The answer, she says, is no. To suggest otherwise is ‘neurofoolishness’.

Jerry is not sure how this sits with the jury, but has instructed his representatives in court to throw it into the mix of gossip, hearsay and boasting he is using to argue his case.

His mind is now in the future, when everything will be groovy again and the girls will want men again, and the men will get the girls. I want to be consumed by lustful flames,declares Jerry.



‘Statistically, I should be in prison, dead or homeless’

The Guardian 23 Feb 2019

Statistically, Jerry has spent more time in prison, dead or homeless than any other person alive.

An Excel spreadsheet is available which contains the underlying data. Sadly, these got his name wrong: this is not the age of independence, it’s the age of interdependence. Numbers were assumed, and statistical models were never tried or tested, Jerry was never asked to work out what exactly it was he was trying to do or say.

But there are reasons for hope. As Jerry argues in his new book, people today have ‘an inalienable right to participation’. The driving forces of the 21st-century networked society are centripetal, not centrifugal; they inexorably draw energy away from the centre. The people have a right to death, homelessness and prison, a right Jerry is keen to see used.

‘I’m glad that I’ve come of age in this period, where people are talking and questioning, and people are being forced to really think about the choices that they’re making, and how that reflects what they think about the world.’

Jerry heaves a demonstrative sigh. ‘Can you spare me 10p for a coffee?’


‘UK aid budget “goes to the wrong projects”, leaked letter warns’

The Guardian 23 Feb 2019

‘Private charitable institutions serve something that doesn’t exist anymore,’ claims a financial investigator. ‘We can no longer defend the growing of poppies as an investment strategy, and certainly not the harvesting and distribution of opium.’

Jerry looks puzzled. ‘But I’ve always done it man. It’s kept me going for centuries, I mean I bought my house in Westbourne Grove on the back of it… The bank took a stash of it as collateral; I had to sleep with the manager too.’

Jerry likes the idea of charitable aid that she doesn’t need. Even yesterday, a colleague was with a friend who said, ‘All the kids are doing it, do they want me to stop now?’ Jerry’s very capable, she’s conscious of being in the world, and making something that people are watching. She likes being a voice that says ‘You don’t have to enter the public arena I live in if you don’t want to, just give me the money.’

Charity has a contemporary relevance for her, too. Her speech details how most modern charities were started by her, despite being told to ‘give it a rest luv’. I have historically had the most to lose,’ she says, ‘and have therefore been the fiercest fighter for my cause.’

In the financial ambition revealed in her business plan, her spirit roars.



‘Election marred by vote buying, tech failures and violence’

The Guardian 23 Feb 2019

It is a critical week for Jerry, with many in the House of Commons having been expecting to vote on her deal. She needs a politics that’s genuinely and transformatively new, but it won’t be found in the pubs and bars of Notting Hill or Westminster where she currently spends her time. It will be built by Jerry’s friends, lovers and financial friends and their employed thugs.

Weird rituals and coded ways of behaviour underpin politics. Institutions were created by Jerry for a certain purpose. But after the Sixties and decolonisation, these institutions don’t exist anymore, and Jerry needs to befriend young people so he can understand and face a world that has already changed. When you see people yelling about Jerry Cornelius and the pigs, you are made to think. These things may sound medieval and anachronistic, but these stories are echoes of her politics and business world.

Jerry refuses to admit how ridiculous she is, and how she does not understand computers. She will be sending the boys round to your house very soon. They will offer you money or kick your head in, sometimes both.

‘The bruised body is merely a remedy for democratic decay,’ says Jerry.



‘We are living a malady of narcissism at the moment’

The Guardian 23 Feb 2019

When Jerry Cornelius was 19, instead of the frankly unbelievable age he claims to be now, he and a girlfriend travelled to New York City. Because this was his first proper trip to the city, it was one of the rare times in his life when he didn’t have a clear sense of where he was or wanted to go.

So they ended up in what he describes today as ‘a bad area’. ‘I think we were down the Lower East Side and, because I looked cool – a London boy, well-dressed and styled – this man thought I was a rich tourist,’ he recalls today, his signature blond bouffant bouncing in the sunlight. But 19-year-old Jerry, even when lost in the big city, was unflappable. When the man wouldn’t leave him alone he whipped out a pistol his mother had given him in case of emergencies: ‘If you touch me one more time, you’ve had it!’ he shouted.

That was when Jerry realised he was the most important person he knew, and began a long-term pattern of abnormal behaviour characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. He often spends time thinking about achieving power or success, and on his appearance; often takes advantage of the people around him, across a variety of social situations and time zones.

Just what is at stake is illustrated by an even bigger story from last week, the announcement of the closure of the Cornelius Club. An exclusive membership is now in despair, but there wasn’t a thing the advisory board, the local MPs or the police could do. This is why people know the world is broken: power has been separated from responsibility. Jerry will just up sticks and go.



© Rupert M Loydell

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Nicer Than Nice!

Ska, boss reggae & rock steady on this month’s episode of the Jukebox Shuffle, featuring several tracks by the great Alton Ellis as well as a bunch of other great stuff… dig it baby!

Nicer Than Nice (part 1)

The Jamaicans – Ba Ba Boom
Alton Ellis – I Can’t Stand It
Stranger Cole – Crying Every Night
Tomorrows Children – Bang Bang Rock Steady
Alton Ellis – Rock Steady
The Ethiopians – Train to Skaville
Derrick Morgan & George Dekker – Hey Boy Hey Girl
Don Drummond – Rock On Sweet Don
Owen Grey – Best Twist
The Mellow Cats, Count Ossie and the Warrickas – Rock A Man Soul
Marcia Aitken – I’m Still in Love
Alton Ellis – I’m Just a Guy
Pablo & Fay – Bedroom Mazurka
Kieth & Tex – Tonight
Alton Ellis – Cry Tough
Nora Dean – Barbwire
The Termites – Push it Up
Carl Dawkins – Satisfaction

By Steam Stock
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Schrödinger’s cat


Under the bed sits a pair of boots

designed for climbing the wall.


In the wardrobe twelve pairs of mittens

hide twelve pairs of kittens.


In the sink a ship sails looking for a

wedding dress.


Mother cat stands, paw poised, on the draining board.

Those in the ship cry for mercy.


The kittens, hungry for dinner,

claw the wallpaper.


They know that beneath its flowered pattern,

is another world waiting to happen.



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Reviewing The Good Disciples New album THE MOUNTAIN PATH (Suriya Recordings, 2019)



It has been fifty years since Call of the Valley, Indian Music’s classic album,

Carved by Shivkumar Sharma, Brijbushan Kabra and Hariprasad Chaurasia’s  starred hands.

Now The Good Disciples appear, maestros of breath and dynamic; comprising

Kiranpal Singh on Santoor, Fabrice De Graef on Bansuri Flutes and Shahbaz Hussain on Tabla,

Who now show through their playing how each dutiful sound understands

All that has been formed from the wind blown and cast across mountains,

Rhyming through time as we travel down harmonic routes to our core.

Here the heart and soul unify as can be heard in this music.

As The Mountain path allows spirit to ascend and attain heaven’s door.


Petals in the Rain paint the trail, performed in two versions;

Charukeshi Alaap as an intro and then Gat (Matta Taal) as first steps;

Singh’s Santoor, as land craft surveying the ground that awaits them,

Overturning earth as Bansuri colours the air’s expectation

With a means to pass over all of the ills we’d forget.

Determination appears as the tabla forces footsteps, a positive dance

Across country in the search and the hope rain will cleanse

As the petals of blessing ascend from God above, as sky flowers

Decorate with fresh vigour the calls for the soul love  defends.


Here then are the disciples of faith, making their way to the mountain.

The call of the valley sings to them. Let us in listening now, comprehend.

TranscendantChandrakauns is a call; a flute like drone across vapour,

Cast by resonance, the steam rising from the river of strings heard before.

Everything slows in this piece as the flute like line is thought forming,

As night descends  and the mountain is shifting its shape through Santoor.

Fabrice De Graef sings to the dark, charming it like a fakir, with the snaking night

Risen and his rising heart placed in twain. The song enchants and beguiles,

With music revealed as true language, the last note held beyond dreaming,

A curative cast by music to rectify each day’s pain.


Song of the ForestJhinjoti dhun clatters in with growing light across branches.

The musicians travel, and tabla stirred, the dance sways. Across the patterns of light

And the ingenuity of each shadow, they seem to soar up the mountain,

Song birds on land, steeped in praise. Here are shimmers of sound

And a constant parade of detail, passing like clouds and wildlife

In all of their sweet disarray. The Forest alive, as if it were part of the youth

Of the mountain that these Good Disciples experience as they pass.

The clouds open up, as prised breasts of fruit admit flavour.

Renewal overwhelms us. With heart breath sparked, each bird laughs.


Exultationtabla Rhythms (Sitarkhani) sound holds the energy of this moment.

The tabla is soundtrack to both the blood within and the foot

As it soul journeys on, charged and primed for endeavour.

Each expert variation resembles a flavour with Shahbaz Hussain

As Drum/Cook. He spices each step and as they play and we listen

The path itself changes colour moving faster than us held above,

The ground clouds and speeds as Hussein’s fingers find fervour;

The rippling path is an echo to the movements and speed traced in love.

Harmonic ReflectionsKirwani Alaap essays glissando.

Kiranpal Singh picking nimbly through a flutter of notes, the true way.

In Jor (Pakhawaj ang), a conversation is formed along this path to ascension;

Meditations, reflections on the task at hand and time’s claim.

Listening to this music, time moves from the immediacy of the moment

To a former stage when the joining of those on earth to the Gods

Allowed for the profundity of the path, one that has long been surrendered

And for which these good disciples find  blessing in charting the journey

To revivify all that’s lost. Jor (Rupak) broadens all, and is the longest piece

On the album. It details the spirit’s expansion as each instrument fuses,

Becoming at once, singular.  A three pointed star shining through both day

And darkness; Or perhaps heart, soul and body bracing fallen rain, stone

And scar. The path troubles here as the travelling causing trouble.

As if the lessons to be found on the mountain and across the valley of sighs

Could steal breath. And yet the flute scented bird careens on, despite

Catching its wings on low  branches, to chase the light glimpsed

By all pilgrims when they lose sight of their master, and are placed by danger

Into the waiting realm marked by death.  Man’s harmony with his end

Is as it is with salvation;  the two are part of the music and the rhyming word

Or note that comes next. And so the Mountain path becomes life

And the valley itself, our existence. The mountain is transport, and we,

As we ride it become and wear its stone flesh.  Gat (Teentaal) finds repose.

Danger cameos in a dischord. But soon a flutter of strings, breath and tabla

Allow a formative path to take hold.  The determination returns, with even

Greater ardour as the disciples encounter death’s fatal force on the trail.

The tabla informs. The santoor glowers. The Bansuri flute capers,

Twisting a cage dressed by air. Soon even death is ensnared by the energy

Of survival , with each disciple as master.  As the song continues

You feel the triumph and sheer primacy of their dare.


Follow the Mountain PathPahari Alaap  is heart primed,

Majesty forming. The proud victor singing as each string resounds

From the chest.  The mythic meets the man in this two minute tribute

To dream and desire winning the way, passing tests.

Follow the Mountain Path –  Pahari Dhun now extends, taking a phrase

And translating across flute and tabla, the stylings of a past all should prize.

As we move along uncharted roads to cast our eyes to the summit

We picture the golden birds swirling, depicted in a dance across sky.

The journey is not just to a place but to a point beyond vision;

A place where all we encounter is transformed by time into art

And where music like this is the soul and sound made ecstatic

And where the instrument we’d all master is nothing finer

Than the organ within, our own heart.


Across the Valley (Nirwana) – Bhairavi Alaap so concludes

The magical realm in this record. The souls merge and river

As the clouds are exchanged across flute. Skies fold and unfurl,

As each instrument dances; the stately repose of attainment

And of ascension too, resolve clues that the continuing mystery

Sets. Where do we find the mountain? But the path is within us.

And this music helps us both answer the call of the valley

And all of the hopes and dreams we expect.



The Mountain Path by The Good Disciples features

Kiranpal Singh – Santoor

Fabrice De Graef – Bansuri  Flutes

Shahbaz  Hussain -Tabla

Music composed by Kiranpal Singh, Fabrice De Graef, Shahbaz Hussain

Produced by Luke Fitzpatrick

Executive Producers – Martin “Youth” Glover, Renato Roversi

Project originated by Renato Roversi, Anjan Saha, Frances Shepherd

Music Supervisors  – Frances Shepherd  Anjan Saha

Oganization & Management  –  Renato Roversi

Live sessions  recorded throughout  2017/2018 at  Meridian Studio, London  by Luke Fitzpatrick

Mastered by Luke Fitzpatrick

Artwork – Martin “Youth” Glover- Luke Fitzpatrick



David Erdos
March 10th 2019


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The ET News Room

Not many get to explore the outer edges of reality, specifically that genre involving contact with beings from other realities. Those individuals subject to such contact are collectively known as ‘experiencers’ also contactee, abductee or both. These are people just like you and me, there is no special group or race that are favoured above another. There appear to be a number of races interacting with humanity whilst some we’d recognise have gender like we do, some seem genderless and this appears from historical records to have been occurring for aeons.

The interviews I’ve done both on and off camera, and radio started in 2011 under the banner of The Ammach Project, and then from the end of 2015, was superseded by The ET Newsroom (ETN), has included a wide variety of intelligent people from all walks of life ranging from scientists to a retired emergency room nurse, visionaries, ex-military as well as the ordinary man/woman in the street, from other countries as well as the UK.

As a result, I have come to the inescapable, unalienable conclusion that something is happening involving other intelligences, often non-human, with some members of the human race, which likely extends into the millions. On occasion, diverse information is left with the experiencers ranging from healing to catastrophic planetary conditions, ecology to free energy technologies. That contact has a profound impact on the ‘experiencer’ is without doubt. It is life changing, with long term effects on consciousness as well as the spiritual aspects of life. The facts of these encounters are unassailable, and there is a wealth of material written about such testimonies.

In 1991 a Roper Poll of 6,000 people was conducted supported by Robert Bigelow, of Bigelow Aerospace; David M Jacobs, History Professor at Temple University, Budd Hopkins, artist, and Pulitzer prize winner, Dr John E Mack, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard University. Conservative results approximated to 2% of Americans experiencing the abduction phenomena, an unexpectedly high figure, though I suspect it is in fact rather more.

It was 2012, after a series of heart attacks and strokes that Bill Brooks courageously came forward and shared his story. Once a person of entrenched opinion believing the subject to be utter nonsense, Bill had a huge shock when aged 44, a tsunami of memories were suddenly downloaded, breaking through to the shores of his conscious mind, playing out every ET/UFO encounter from childhood on. I published this first book on Amazon & Kindle, 2016, as co-author with Bill Brooks: 44-Based on an Ex-Soldier’s True Story of Life-Long Encounters Involving Alien Abduction. You’ll need your seatbelt on for this one. ETN has a dedicated contact no 0795 1752 813.

In the meantime there was a bigger project that had been at the back of my mind for two or three years, whose voice was getting louder. It was the conception of an album, but not just any kind of album. I sought inspiration for something dynamic and current that would serve as a bridge between the public and the experiencer phenomenon.

Thus, the album that became known as Eklectia began life sometime in February 2018, when experiencer, musician and vocalist, Dug Degnin who was interested in my work, said ‘yes’, when I asked him if this might be something he’d like to work on with me. Eklectia is a unique international double compilation album, a world first, featuring original tracks, from experiencer musicians, singer/songwriters, from the UK, US and Canada, some of whom have had astounding one to one encounters with other intelligences, whilst others experienced anomalous events, as well as the paranormal, all peppered, as a result with personal growth impulses as a direct result – and the criteria for inclusion on the album.

When I interviewed experiencer Chris Bledsoe from the US for a sound bite for the album, he told me about the communication he’d been given to pass on. ‘The message is in the music’, is what he was told by a feminine being not of planet Earth. This message was for researcher, Grant Cameron, also featured on the album, setting him on a trail and written up in his book, Tuned In – the Paranormal world of Music.

Eklectia is a really exciting piece of work and breaks the mould as an album. The different musical genres range from classical guitar, reggae, ambient, sound healing, piano, pop, electric rock with surf rock guru, Merrell Fankhauser kicking things off on disc 1 of this two disc album.

Plus you are treated to sound bites, which provide a minute or two – a snapshot spoken by the artists about their experiences, along with short interviews with researchers and science based dowsers whose evidence of interaction between alien visitors and ancient/modern civilisations is extraordinary. Even former President Jimmy Carter makes an appearance in this eclectic mix of education and entertainment.

Eklectia was released 30th November, 2018 marked by a celebration, in St Leonards on Sea East Sussex, UK. All this was done on zero funds and passion for the project, we had lived and breathed Eklectia night and day, often working into the day…the goal was to create a bridge, a meeting point where those who never had an idea or interest in things of an X-Files factor type might find a point of resonance.

It was a very full nine months interspersed with endless technical issues, long hours working to pay the mortgage for me, and Dug having to contend with unremitting, ongoing health conditions. He’d got the all clear regarding lymphoma, a cancerous scenario, but was often hindered by chronic psoriasis, and other debilitating ailments. He’d been a drug and sexual abuse counsellor – but after having to let that all go, he was able to spend time doing what he loved most, making music with his band, Brighton based Beachy Head Music Club. As the 30th November approached, it was with no small sense of achievement that we finally realised, we had done it. By mid-December Eklectia was out on 90% of all major online platforms, such as iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Deezer, et all. The physical CDs apart from PR copies, will have to wait until there were funds to print them, but we were enjoying the thrill of the creation, Dug had been a brilliant right hand man, my Associate Producer, and we learned as we went along, step by step.

It is a bitter sweet thing as I headed off to see family over the Christmas of 2018, Dug had already worked his PR magic and got a whole page article in the Brighton & Hove Argus on Dec 6th. Follow up PR ideas were flowing to include an EP, get onto one of the Glastonbury Festival stages for a couple of hours, and ideas for Eklectia Vol #2. Dug couldn’t wait for the New Year to roll around to get his teeth into the next phase.

I couldn’t get hold of Dug for a few days. He’d sent me a ‘Have a Smasher’ picture wearing his Christmas present, a onesy bunny suit, complete with carrot zip pull. He said he wasn’t up to staying with his daughter for the festivities, and had already seen his son. He was going to chill and use his creative mind to deal with the latest onset of issues. It was with utter shock when I read on the 28th December, a text from Dug’s friend saying he’d suffered a massive stroke on Christmas day and finally left the environs of planet Earth on New Year’s Day at 1.16am, he was 59 years old, and deeply missed. Dug had a month to enjoy the album, writing on the 20th December “for the first time I‘ve been able to listen to Eklectia without my ‘tech’ ears on.” From the outset, I’d wanted to create a fund from the work. 10% of Eklectia profits will go to create a hardship fund for those suffering, associated with the field directly or otherwise, and I could not think of a name for it. It was something that Dug loved the idea of, and now I had the name, the resource will be known as The Duggy Degnin Fund. There’s a GoFundMe page to help with the development of further ongoing ETN projects . Website

For more information about this exciting album, take a peek at the Eklectia Website:

If you have an experience to share, or want to support the research and work I am doing, I can be contacted at and you can view my interviews on the YouTube channel: In the meantime, enjoy Eklectia and share the love.

As Canada’s ex-Minister of National Defence, and highest ranking politician to comment on the UFO issue, the Hon. Paul Hellyer said ‘UFOs are as real as the airplanes flying overhead’.

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A Breath Before Dying


New poetry book:

In  October 2018, my father eventually died after suffering for six years with vascular dementia. Over that time, his life lost all dignity and quality. He repeatedly asked many people to help him end his suffering and quit this life. 

This book is for the carers who can only watch.


Geoff Francis’ A Breath Before Dying is a last kiss flavoured with the lingering taste of revelatory poignancy. 

The grief for the loss of his father Freddie’s sensibility, personality and body during his long struggle with dementia is balanced by the dignity, grace and emotional eloquence of this poetic sequence. 

The narrative takes the form of an enduring romance, for person, place and predicament; a stirring of ghosts from the shadows and dust of the day. 

But more importantly, this book honours the aim of all poetic achievement  – both in the literal sense of what it is possible to do in verse, and in terms of the sadnesses inherent in all of our daily experiences and deteriorations – while fusing these meditations with a strident polemic to do with the right to die after death’s bitter promise has stolen all that was once thought possible. 

What Freddie Francis lost in the latter years of his life, his son has revived in this searing and soulful collection.  In examining each aspect and moment of the slow journey into the Waters of Lethe, Francis invokes that telling phrase coined by Harold Pinter in his Nobel prize speech, ‘the simple dignity of man,’ and highlights a truth that will embolden all of our hearts. 

It gifts his book with its own eerie prominence and makes it the first in a long chain of kisses; shared breaths between those who are departing and all of those left behind.

A Breath Before Dying is a vital work and in increasingly godless times, the closest thing poetic realism has to The Book of Common Prayer.

David Erdos,  The International Times


A Breath Before Dying is available
  • direct from Bonobo TV, £6.99 including UK postage
    (signed by the author)
  • from Amazon and other online retailers


No More Dodos
Registered Charity No 1161935

Geoff Francis  

Using Art & Sport
to Inspire Change
Charity no 1161935

Tel :  07581 221462
 01929 421632



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SOCIAL MEDIA (for James Tate)













‘Implicit’ from Fragmentations by Gerard Bellaart [2005]

This emptiness is my private lair.
It confines me like a clubman's chair.
I am free of desire.
I don't mind being here either.

How do you know he's really great?
Just ask him. He will really tell you.
Mountains move and waters part
when he walks in. That's not
too hard to believe, is it?
Not when such a great man
says so.

I had a friend who's little known,
his work unseen, his praise unsung.
His motto was "Coraggio!"

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Shulman’s ‘Age of Disenchantments’ Has Arrived

Aaron Shulman’s collective biography of the Spanish Panero family, The Age of Disenchanments—just out from Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins— has a cast of dramatic characters that is nothing less than stunning. As I’ve previously written:

Leopoldo Maria Panero
Leopoldo Panero

“The family patriarch was the poet laureate of the Franco regime, Leopoldo Panero, who betrayed the ideals of his friend Federico García Lorca during the Spanish Civil War (and later battled with the Chilean poet and Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda).”

“No one’s ever told their story in English, and only in fragments in Spanish,” Shulman says.

As he has written in The Believer, “the Paneros are the stuff of fiction, which is the best type of reality: the kind that humbles the imagination of novelists but doesn’t deter them from trying.”

The matriarch of the family was Felicidad (Blanc) Panero, an actress and writer (and obsessive stage manager of the family legacy). Their three sons were also poets — most significantly the subversive Leopoldo María Panero, who would spend the 1980s living in a mental institution and whose poetry readings drew mobs of fans. Roberto Bolaño considered him a genius, and in the last interview he gave before his death, in 2003, called him “one of the three best living poets in Spain.”

Shulman tells the story with great style. He offers the kind of intimate details which bring his subjects to life in prose that is a pleasure to read. Here’s a taste from the opening of the prologue to the book.

Before dawn on August 17, 1936, a man dressed in white pajamas and a blazer stepped out of a car onto the dirt road connecting the towns of Viznar and Alfacar in the foothills outside Granada, Spain. He had thick, arching eyebrows, a widow’s peak sharpened by a tar-black receding hairline, and a slight gut that looked good on his thirty-eight-year-old frame.

It was a moonless night and he wasn’t alone under the dark tent of the Andalusian sky. He was escorted by five soldiers, along with three other prisoners: two anarchist bullfighters and a white-haired schoolteacher with a wooden leg. The headlights from the two cars that had delivered them here illuminated the group as they made their way over an embankment onto a nearby field dotted with olive trees. The soldiers carried Astra 900 semiautomatic pistols and German Mauser rifles. By now the four captives knew that they were going to die. The man in the pajamas was the poet Federico García Lorca.

You can’t get more novelistic than that. Yet Shulman is scrupulous about being factual. That is evident from cover to cover. It makes The Age of Disenchantments a terrific read.

Jan Herman


Shulman’s ‘Age of Disenchantments’ Has Arrived

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Nancy & Sluggo Get Twisted

In a world where the difference between appropriation and exploitation can be hard to figure, Gary Lee-Nova’s devoted appropriation of the cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller is laugh-out-loud funny. Thanks for that.

Panels by Gary Lee Nova
Panels by Gary Lee-Nova, 2019

“I’m beyond being in love with the work of Ernie Bushmiller,” says the author of these panels. “Although he passed in 1982, I feel like I’m collaborating with him.”

Jan Herman


Nancy & Sluggo Get Twisted

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Heart haikus – Animal Rights Poetry

Sow stares through crate bars.
She remembers green, spring fields.
(When she had free-will.)

Male calf born today!
(He’ll be shot through mouth tomorrow.)
Human milk snatchers.

Badger slumped on verge.
Bullets pepper his soft chest.
Victim of sick lies.

Pregnant Dartmoor mare.
Sent to Italy for ‘meat.’
Summer’s post-card girl.

Rain pounds at glass panes.
Lambs clinging to trees in fields.
Heart sinks like granite.

Korma of chicken:
(Maker of heavy karma.)
Soul raw with awareness.

Dead magpie on path.
Bikes will crush and flatten him!
She opens her eyes.

Panicked vixen halts.
They will rip apart her cubs!
Bystander turns sab.

©Heidi Stephenson, March 2018

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where we are right now & dying



this old flesh
for id

………….i am

………….a visual
recognition for dizzy

……………look out
the man says

can hurt with stars & crossed
numbers.give me a


for all ends such means
i hear

a night & all
the broken windows we’re
here again like
see me & my
bar code careless and tattoo cyphers


Reuben Woolley

Reuben Woolley has been published in quite a few magazines such as Tears in the Fence, Lighthouse, The Interpreter’s House, the anthology, The Dizziness of Freedom, Ink Sweat & Tears, Proletarian Poetry, And Other Poems and The Poet’s Shed. He has five books to his name, the latest being some time we are heroes, published by The Corrupt Press (2018). He has a book forthcoming, this hall of several tortures, to be published by Knives Forks and Spoons Press (September 2019). He edits the online magazines, I am not a silent poet and The Curly Mind.

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Wildlife hot spot


Every spring Hannah liked to visit the stream where the chub spawned. It was a shallow and stony channel, running behind the backs of houses, with a short stretch visible from the road. She had once lived in a house backing onto the stream, and the annual spawning of the fish had been a well-kept local secret. In the spring sunshine, the females were clearly visible from her garden, suspended above the gravel stream-bed, unloading their eggs. Now Hannah had to take a bus across town to visit the spot. This year, as she turned into the normally quiet street, she was surprised to see a party of school children lined up along the railings. They were dressed as fish. A large information board had been erected, with pictures showing the life cycle of the chub. It appeared the place had been designated a ‘wildlife hot spot’. Some of the children were scooping dirt from the gutter and throwing it at the fish, while their teachers looked on. One little girl, Hannah noticed, was holding a crushed beer can which she seemed about to toss into the stream. She was dressed as an angel-fish, in bright orange, ribbons trailing from her fins.



Simon Collings
Illustration: Claire Palmer

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Matters arising


Matters arising.
New ideas being born
Across the Continents of planet Earth.
Firefighting and tinkering
with the dark, the light,
the wet, the dry,
the chilly or the warm.
Shaping the inner place
from which we operate.
Moving between rising and falling.
Grasping at a future
advancing towards us.
Sudden to take alarm.
Eager to be reassured
in moments of disruption.

A fragrant grace
presents itself through us.
Pleasure in the wind
alighting from the sea.
Sunlit patterns on the grass.
Retreating foot-steps in the sand;
running still amazes us.
The belligerence of the old.
Sensing the heavy burden
– of growing,
– nurturing,
……….– breathing

Imperatives that regenerate;
……….– warming, secreting.
……….(or seem to be)
Or, I always assumed to be that way.

The pain that is our presence,
no longer under the cure of delusion.
Caught up in…
Unable to move forward
or back;
Fearing reality.
Denying the importunity
of future good.

Obscured by our own obscurity.
Overshadowed by our own foreboding.


Marcus Blackett
Illustration: Claire Palmer

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the landscape is physically and emotionally different,
landmarks unrecognizable,
both inside and out,
is this the experience of the Sioux,
and Pawnee,
when their nations lost,
to different principles,
and peoples,
the future,
bleak indeed.


Doug Polk

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Eternal Dream

Elena Caldera






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Liberty has been challenging injustice, defending freedom and making the UK a fairer place since 1934 – from campaigning against fascism and defending protest rights in the 30s, to taking on the ‘hostile environment’ and mass surveillance today.

But standing up to power is as important now as it’s ever been. Fast-paced political and technological changes mean we’re facing serious new threats to our rights – and the fight for a fair society is far from over.

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The evening enveloped us

as we stood on the beach at Newquay.

In the sand, with sunburnt fingers

we had scrawled our man-given names,

symbols to bond us together,

dusty blood brothers, father and son.


We watched the rise and fall of the timeless tide

which would certainly erase our random scratchings.

Behind us the carnival madness

of one armed bandits and revelry erupted,

the microcosms of hedonistic pursuit and

man’s compulsive struggle for material gain,

those false tormentors

that bind us firmly to the lie of Everyday.


Only the gulls that drifted above

reflected the true spirit of man,

that self

which has faced the facts,

escaped the murderous strains of ego,

risen beyond

the falsehoods of ‘I’.

Some time

we too

must face the facts.


He pointed at the lights

reflected upon the waves

and cried,

‘‘Look, Dad…

it’s like a Van Gogh painting!’’

I saw him then, suddenly

and realized

my carnival years had passed,

blind years of sensual endeavours.

And too,

called to mind the myth

of all eternal art,

how really one man’s tortured output

merely entertains the masses.


My son beckoned, pointing to a mound

that stood upon the threshold of destruction.

Why? I thought, picking up the spade.

Why bother?

The tide that swamps the eagle’s nest,

that fells the fiery kings

that timeless tide will wash it all away.

Only the gulls,

by their absence

cheered me.




Mike Mcnamara
Photo Nick Victor

ONLY THE GULLS was originally published by the late Jay Ramsey in Rivelin Grapheme back in ’88.



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Guy Paints Over Shit Graffiti And Makes It Legible

Image courtesy of Mathieu Tremblin

Mathieu Tremblin lives and works in Rennes and Arles, France. After graduation from a university of fine arts he began working with site specific urban interventions, graffiti culture, branding and the détournement of objects used in publications, installations, photography and video. This helped him document or reinvest the fruits of his experimentations.

h/t: sueddeutsche, memefest

Image courtesy of Mathieu Tremblin

Inspired by anonymous, autonomous and spontaneous practices and expressions in urban spaces, Mathieu Tremblin implements simple and playful actions in order to question the systems of legislation, representation and symbolization prevalent in everyday city life. His work can also be found in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Image courtesy of Mathieu Tremblin

“Tag Clouds principle is to replace the all-over of graffiti calligraphy by readable translations like the clouds of keywords which can be found on the Internet. It shows the analogy between physical tag and virtual tag, both in the form (tagged walls compositions look the same as tag clouds), and in substance (like keywords which are markers of net surfing, graffiti are markers of urban drifting).” – Mathieu told Memefest.

Image courtesy of Mathieu Tremblin

Image courtesy of Mathieu Tremblin

Image courtesy of Mathieu Tremblin

Image courtesy of Mathieu Tremblin

Image courtesy of Mathieu Tremblin

Image courtesy of Mathieu Tremblin

Image courtesy of Mathieu Tremblin

Image courtesy of Mathieu Tremblin

Image courtesy of Mathieu Tremblin

Image courtesy of Mathieu Tremblin

Image courtesy of Mathieu Tremblin

Image courtesy of Mathieu Tremblin

Image courtesy of Mathieu Tremblin

With thanks to

Max Crow Reeves
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The Events of this Period The Jerry Cornelius Chronicles of Brexit Britain #2

The Quality of Life (Personal Adjustments)




‘Police leader calls for laws to allow positive race discrimination’

The Guardian, 22 Feb 2019


In an interview to mark the 20th anniversary of her death, Jerry Cornelius said police had made huge progress, but ‘unconscious bias’ still existed and the way they used their powers needed to be seen to be fair.

Cornelius is the chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council and will retire next month after 33 years of service.

She rose to the top having been part of Hawkwind during their meteoric rise to fame, a watershed for music policing which still shapes public policy and debate today.

Cornelius said new laws should be passed to ‘shock the system’ but was otherwise unavailable for comment, due to a self-imposed blackout.




‘Woman dies after eating at Michelin-starred restaurant’

The Guardian, 21 Feb 2019


The only person who wasn’t surprised when Jerry Cornelius died, was Jerry Cornelius. Prescient always, but from as far back as she could remember, death had entered the equation for the rangy girl from London.

‘I want to go out quickly. I don’t want to lie around in a hospital and die slowly.’ Leaning even closer to the reporter, she said, ‘Just for the record, I don’t want to die in a plane crash. Really don’t want to do that again.’

Eating the shellfish special, dish-of-the-day, seemed a nice way to go and Jerry had recently tired of life as a 21st Century London debutante.




‘I was floundering. I was drinking too much and giving orders’

The Guardian, 22 Feb 2019


‘I fought the law and the law won. When people talk about those record-company battles and how courageous it was, it was because I knew it was time to get out. Oh my God, I am the greatest person that ever lived! The truth is that I don’t know if I am gonna live that long, and I want to get as much done as I can, so now time is really precious to me.’

‘I first met alcohol in the late 18th century. It was the morning after one of my parents’ parties. My sister and I, aged nine or ten, were up alone. We trawled the lounge for abandoned mead and ale. I remember being methodical: pick one up, if there’s anything inside, drink! I can still taste the stale, metallic tang of it on my tongue.’

‘But it was in the late 1960s that booze and I became properly acquainted. My memory of my first week is of social anxiety offset by cheap alcohol – a harbinger of the next four decades. At one gig, I drank so much free wine that I vomited the stud out of my nose and down the sink. My diary entry that night consisted of four oversized words scrawled in turquoise pen: ‘drunk + sick / far out’. But that was how it was: sometimes you were the one bundling people into a taxi, sometimes you were the one being bundled.’

A man sits in an armchair reading NME, surrounded by furniture covered in sheets. Hearing someone approach, he leaps up and pretends to study the wall. Enter his girlfriend, angry. The decorating must be done by the time she’s back. Jerry waits until he hears the car door shut, then sits back down and lifts a small dustsheet to reveal a tankard of foaming ale and the rest of the band. A voiceover says, ‘You cannot rewrite history but you can bury and distort the past’.

It’s tempting to link the amount Jerry drinks with the frequency of alcohol-related harm, but it’s hard to do so definitively because many factors are involved. We just don’t know if it is coincidence or causation. Jerry lacks a full understanding and is oblivious.




‘Life cycle: is it the end for Britain’s dockless bike schemes?’

The Guardian, 22 Feb 2019

In bicycleology, a life cycle is a series of changes in form that an organism undergoes, returning to the starting state. ‘The concept is closely related to those of erosion and decay, but differs from them in stressing renewal. Transitions of form may involve personal adjustments, customizing, rust, theft, decay and recycling.

In some makes, different ‘generations’ of bicycle succeed each other. For bicycles the life cycle is referred to as public transport. The term ‘on your bike’ is often used, particularly by Jerry Cornelius, for organisms such as the sponger or beggar, who are inclined to asking for financial aid from him or the state.

While the term ‘chopper’ is generally used to describe a motorcycle or bicycle that has had some of its original parts replaced with custom parts, today’s definition has grown to include custom motorcycles and bicycles that are low to the ground, usually with extended forks creating a long front end.

Most riders of choppers, including Jerry Cornelius, have handbuilt choppers and encourage others to make their own. Arguably, a bought ‘chopper’ is not a ‘chopper’ at all, because no chopping was done—only a commercial transaction. Jerry doesn’t give a monkeys.

‘A friend once told me that until you open the windows on a gridlocked London A-road, under a rainy grey sky, and turn the stereo up loud you will never know or understand what bicycles were created for.’



‘Kids are striking over climate change because adults are too infantile’

The Guardian, 22 Feb 2019


Unchecked climate change will cost Jerry Cornelius hundreds of billions of dollars and damage human health and quality of life, a government report warns.

‘Future risks from climate change depend… on decisions made today,’ the 4th National Climate Assessment said. The warning is at odds with Jerry Cornelius’ fossil fuel and drug addiction.

The report says climate change is ‘presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth’.

Jerry Cornelius cannot be bothered, doesn’t care. So far, so predictable. And then came the waves of abusive comments and tweets: ‘Teachers who support this strike should have their assets confiscated and be sent to work down the salt mines’. ‘Oh do shut up you total fucking total arse’ tweeted his mother.

They push the limits of understanding to the point of being, as one person describes, ‘ozone climbers’.


© Rupert M Loydell


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Beasley Street

The ‘Bard of Salford’, unleashes his poetic visions of urban decay and social exclusion in the classic Beasley Street. Music by The Invisible Girls (inc. Pete Shelley of Buzzcocks)

Photo of Salford (late 60’s) by Shirley Baker

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Euro Vision and the Gold Rush #Flashnews (part 4)



Over a month ago, the media pointed out that the price of gold increased again. A sign that investors are using gold against weaker stocks, as a response to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the trade disputes around the world. But even a child knows that when gold starts shining, it is a sign of trouble ahead.


The recent Brexit developments send waves of worry throughout Europe, whilst governments across the English Channel are increasingly interested in taking back control over their money.


Only a year ago, the National Bank of Hungary took back three tons of the country’s national gold reserves stored at the Bank of England. The decision followed similar reactions from Austria, Germany, Holland and Venezuela, which considered storing the national gold reserves in London a risky decision.


For a few days now, the Romanian authorities have been debating whether to take back their sixty tonnes of gold stored in the London vaults. With the crisis of storage space the British authorities have been facing for years, I imagine that storing a country’s national gold is not cheap.


Sixty tonnes is, by any means, a lot. Imagine ten elephants put together, if one takes the average weight of one elephant at around six tonnes. To put it simply though, the average weight of 15 people together, say, in an elevator, is about one tonne. By the same logic, sixty tonnes of Romanian gold is about 900 Romanian migrants, currently living in London.


What would be the weight in gold of 300,000 Romanian migrants currently in the UK? And what about the 3.7 million European migrants, in the UK? Imagine that gold! Imagine the value!


But in this equation, and in all Brexit negotiations, who is looking at what value people have, when financial interests are at stake?


©Maria Stadnicka, 2019



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Photographer follows red squirrels daily for six years

Image source: Instagram/GeertWeggen

Internationally acclaimed photographer Geert Weggen specialises in photographing Red squirrels. His images of the adorable little critters and their antics have been published worldwide in newspapers, books, calendars and magazines.

By Fino

Geert Weggen captures  candid photos of wild red squirrels being inquisitive

Geert Weggen is a Swedish/Dutch national and an internationally awarded nature photographer. He has worked extensively with wild squirrels and birds over the past several years. In 2013 he became a full time photographer, and his current focus has been on photographing wild squirrels in a unique, beautiful and often whimsical way. Scroll down to see 30 of Geert’s works featuring the adorable and inquisitive red squirrels.

The squirrel and the photographer Photographer Geert Weggen captures photos of wild red squirrels who investigate his camera. Source: YouTube/GeertWeggen
1# Wishes The wind was just perfect for capturing this photo. Published in National Geographic, it won Photo of the Day. Source: Instagram/GeertWeggen
2# “I followed squirrels daily for 6 years with my camera and they became my friends,” Source: Flickr/Hardeko
3# Sun Head How hard can it be to get a spirit under a flower? It is very rare. Finalist in Smithsonian and published in magazines. Source:
4# Flower Lover There were some seeds hidden inside the flower. Source: Facebook/GeertWeggen
5# Source: Flickr/GeertWeggen
6# Sunny Split “It took me some years to capture this idea. This year I managed.” Source: Instagram/GeertWeggen
7# Mushroom lover (this toadstool is not poisonous to the squirrel) Source: Facebook/GeertWeggen
8# Open wide… berry nice! Source:
9# Nose Seed Often the squirrels move too quickly to notice the small details during shooting. This image was published as a Swedish postcard. Source: Instagram/GeertWeggen
10# Reach for the stars… Source: Instagram/GeertWeggen
11# Jasmine Stand Sometimes I take out the greens and make it grey Source: Flickr/GeertWeggen
12# Berry Meeting This is probably my most popular photo on my Internet Instagram account. Published in Fotosidan Magazine and Finalist in the Photocontest Source: Instagram/GeertWeggen
13# Source: Facebook/GeertWeggen
14# Source: Facebook/GeertWeggen
15# Mushroom shelter Published as Swedish postcard Source: Instagram/GeertWeggen
16# Source: Facebook/GeertWeggen
17# Autumn Walk Source: Facebook/GeertWeggen
18# Shake it! Source:
19# Source:
20# Mushroom Dance Published as a jigsaw puzzle 🧩 by Castorland Source:
21# Source: Flickr/GeertWeggen
22# mushroom whisperer Source: Flickr/GeertWeggen
23# Source: Instagram/GeertWeggen
24# Source: Instagram/GeertWeggen
25# Ice Stand Won in National Geographic and is published in their magazine. Source: Instagram/GeertWeggen
26# Source:
27# Sunflower Stand All the sunflowers in Geert’s garden are planted by the squirrels. They hide the seeds in the Earth. This is Geert’s most popular photo in 500px were about 90,000 people follow his work. Source:
28# Late autumn “Sometimes people send me things to use in photos with the squirrels, like this pinecone. I just shot this photo I love the light and composition.” Source:
29# Source: Imstagram/GeertWeggen

About Geert Weggen and how he captures such amazing shots

All photos come directly out of the lens. There is no Photoshop used to bring in new elements.

Weggen built an outdoor studio near his kitchen window. Using a bit of food, usually edible seeds or nuts, to lure the squirrels, the studio allows him to capture these cute photos from the comfort of his own home.

Thanks to the various props and sets he created, Geert’s squirrels can be seen whispering to mushrooms, putting on the kettle and getting some work done in the garden.

The studio is conveniently placed one metre above the ground and connected to Geert’s kitchen window three metres away, which enables him to photograph the visiting critters at eye-level.

A partial roof allows the use of a flash and additional lighting, remotely operated, and a big reflector hanging in a nearby tree helps with the fill light.

Geert Weggen’s portfolio also includes landscapes, macro shots, interiors and people.

His work has been published in many countries, newspapers, magazines and videos.

He is the author of 8 squirrel photo books; published in 4 different languages.

“Creation and to create is my life. Love in light are my goals and my living. With my company hardeko I make my living as a builder, masonry, carpenter, photographer, garden design and artist.”

Since last year he has been organising Squirrel workshops at home. These workshops are organised to occur 2 times a year when the young squirrels arrive. A maximum of 3 participants can join this 5-day workshop.

For more photos/info: | Instagram | Facebook |

30# The photographer becomes the subject In this photograph the tables were turned when a squirrel took photographs of Geert. Source: Instagram/GeertWeggen
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The Album That Never Was



Fond Reflection, Rema-Rema (4AD)


In the beginning was Rema-Rema. And they begat Mass, and Mass begat the mighty Wolfgang Press, who made some of the finest 4AD albums ever. Yet Rema-Rema only left one 12″ EP as evidence of their existence, the very wonderful Wheel in the Roses, which contained two studio tracks and two live tracks. Other Rema-Rema music has occasionally surfaced online – including two tracks allegedly never released because of their lyrical content – but otherwise that was it. Until now.


Apparently, Gary Asquith, one of Rema-Rema, has been sitting on a veritable treasure trove of demo and live recordings by the band. These have now been sifted through and worked upon to produce an album of what was the band’s live set at the time, and might have been their first album, had they ever made one. There’s also a second CD or LP, an extended version of Wheel in the Roses, with an extra studio track from the same sessions, and two further live tracks from the same gig the live tracks were recorded at for the original EP.


The ‘new’ album starts with two ‘live rehearsal’ versions of ‘Feedback Song’ and ‘Rema-Rema’, taken at a slightly statelier pace than we’re used to but still persuasively addictive and declamatory as the feedback whistles and groans through the former, and the latter’s chant gets more and more hysterical ithroughout (it has to be said) a murky recording haze. Hi-fi this ain’t.


This heady mix of chant, declamation and noisy organ and guitar, all slightly off-kilter and unexpected, continues throughout the new tracks. ‘Lost My Way’ is especially affective, as is ‘Short Stories’ which kicks off with an impromptu studio cackle before lurching into a seesawing riff interspersed with nervous singing. ‘International Scale’ has the beefiest bass I’ve heard in a long time, whilst a different version of ‘Fond Affections’ is an eerie decomposition of a love song: plaintive voice with strange phased and flanged beats and effects that bleed into the start of the next song.


This is visceral, awkward music that should never have been put aside for so long. The raw recordings suit the music, but I’d have loved to have heard studio versions nonetheless. But we must make do with this musical archaeology, 4AD’s sleight of hand as it conjures the album that might have been out of the hat of time, 40 years on. This is subversive and exploratory post-punk at its finest.



Rupert Loydell

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The Diary of a Spinster


9 a.m. Call Audrey and order “ointment”
2 p.m. Meet The Angry Spinsters outside House of Frazer
(remember to take placard)


10.30 a.m. Meet The Angry Spinsters outside Poundland
(remember to take placard and packed lunch)
3.00 p.m. Chiropodist (remember to wash feet)


10.00 a.m. Meet The Angry Spinsters – railway station foyer
(remember to take placard and Railcard)
2.00 p.m. Hairdresser (remember to clean ears)


10.30 a.m. Return library books
9 p.m. Meet The Angry Spinsters under the clock
(dark clothing only – and remember to take flashlight and rounders bat)


10.00 a.m. Taxi to Lidl
2.30 p.m. Angry Spinsters committee strategy meeting (at Pamela’s)
– remember to take gingerbread men people
6 p.m. Yoga


Martin Stannard
Illustration Nick Victor

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Our Man Flint


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John Tissandier’s TWO to ONE is a collection of 100 poems and 50 short stories. Alongside the common poetic themes of nature, love, life and death, there are some more unusual topics: enlightenment, the financial crisis, the heartache of a physicist, the withdrawal symptoms of a nerd, a piece of dust, the Daleks! The stories, too, explore the multifarious wonders of this world and of possible worlds: the search for a genuine guru, the consequences of acquiring an alien artefact, a rewriting of the story of Adam and Eve, the pitfalls of cryogenics, an encounter with a snake fifty miles long, the town where everyone is a therapist, the Amazonian warehouse of all possibilities… May you enjoy passing through these mini-doorways to different intriguing worlds – some frightening, some hilarious. But all of which point to the same hidden essence in each and every thing.


available from Amazon:

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The Captive

alas this poor generation,
belief in self,
in destiny,
in an inner path,
no longer exists,
souls told who they shall be,
what they shall feel,
and how they shall believe,
life no longer a search for self,
finding answers along the way,
but instead,
life an exam,
souls tested repeatedly,
learning the thoughts to think,
the words to say,
pity the ones,
who accidentally stray,
stripped of self,
the mob allowed to pounce,
no blood spilled,
the world sanitary and humane,
in this glorious day and age,
yet no less tragic,
individuality lost,
existence lived in self doubt,
now completely a creature of the masses,
only reacting to the movement’s cues,
this poor generation,
slaves once more.



Doug Polk

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A Glimpse of the Possibilities: an interview with Morgan Bryan


Morgan Bryan is a musician with a long history of writing and performing his own music. He is a guitarist, vocalist and keyboard player whose primary love is composition, declaring that, on balance, he would choose video over live performance. As well as solo projects he has been involved in a number of bands: The Nurses, Colour 4D, Scare, Dum Dum Zed, Morgan Bryan and the Art, and his long term project V-Sor, X. Influences abound but underpinning his music would be a foundation of film music and post-punk alternative. An international person with a global audience he is currently working to release V-Sor, X’s next album Reformer.



When I got to college in 1982, the year above were a hotbed of creativity. There were published authors, publishers, the editor of the college magazine, a session guitarist who had played for Felt and other indie bands, would-be and actual singer-songwriters, one of the guys from Half Men Half Biscuit, and Morgan Bryan – a guitar and synthesizer player who already his first single as band V-Sor, X, Authors 2, out on his own indie label Dox Music (1982a). Dox was part of the indie-cassette scene as was Stride, which I ran alongside the poetry press of the same name (V-Sor, X appeared on the Stride compilation C60 tape Penumbra in 1984). There were numerous studio quality recordings released on short tapes over the years (1982b, 1982c, 1983a, 1983b, 1984), and Morgan could often be found in the evenings in empty corridors or studios making videos to accompany his music. A trio version of the band, two synth players and Morgan on guitar and vocals, undertook a short tour, including playing at Crewe & Alsager College (now Manchester Met) where we both studied.

After completing his degree, Morgan moved to London and a new version of V-Sor, X appeared, which included a trumpeter. The band continued to record (1985) and gig and in 1989 released their first full length LP, From the Mouth of No King. Success continued to elude them, however, and time was called on the project. Morgan Bryan continued to work as both an ambient artist and as a singer-songwriter, but also looked after the V-Sor, X name and archive: in 2002 Genetic released some remixed archive material as the album A Strip of Light but Still too Dark. 

Now, in 2018, comes a brand-new V-Sor, X digital single, Elektronisch (V-Sor, X 2018b), announced as ‘from the forthcoming album Reformer‘, as well as a vinyl reissue of Authors 2 on Peripheral Minimal (V-Sor, X 1982a/2018). I thought it was about time I caught up with Morgan again and discussed how his post-punk electronic music had changed over the years and survived so well.



Rupert Loydell (RL): Hi Morgan, tell me about the formation of V-Sor, X. Lichfield isn’t renowned as a hotbed of punk or post-punk music. At least I don’t think so.

Morgan Bryan (MB): Lichfield was, and is, a very conservative small town (well, 12th smallest city in the UK). However, when I look back to the late 70s early 80s, I realise we had a lot more going for us than bands do today. There were more live venues and people would pay an entry fee! Everybody and their brother were in bands, so we all went out to support each other and, most of all, audiences were far more appreciative of bands doing original music (in the last 10 years I couldn’t name a single band from the area I currently live in that play only their own music).

In those days Birmingham was our access to local upcoming bands. In our early years they were the likes of Au Pairs, denizens, Dangerous Girls, Fashion, Swell Maps, Balaam and the Angel and a little-known outfit called Duran Duran. But prior to that the punk movement had been a green light for anyone who wanted to ‘have a go’ and we took that opportunity. I had been in a punk/new wave band called the Nurses when someone put me in touch with long term bass contributor Ian ‘Rolls’ Rowland and we started a band call Ambush Infancy. It was pretty experimental (mainly due to my rudimental grasp of my instrument) as we carved songs out of sounds and motifs that appealed to us.

After we parted from our female vocalist, we decide to make the band unique with a name that could only mean one thing. There were various options but V-Sor, X stood out above the rest (which turned out to be a marketing man’s nightmare and certainly not built for the internet age with a comma in the name). We were so dedicated, I remember Rolls and I rehearsing every day for two weeks straight. I was unemployed at the time but he used to get home from work and head over to my place with his bass. We were completely unfettered by any desires to be famous or successful, we just loved pushing at the edge. I guess this was our Controversial Subject moment (The The’s first single (1980), which I loved).


RL: Your initial release, The 13 Daydreams (1980), shows the clear influence of Wire, who you always admired and admitted as an influence. Who else in the late 1970s were you listening to? Did punk have any influence or was it post-punk that affected you more?

MB: In my previous band The Nurses we supported Wire at Top Of The World (c.1978). Sadly I got into a fight after our set and despite coming off better decided to head home and missed them play. Later I discovered the album 154, which is still one of my favourite albums. We were quite heavily into The Stranglers, particularly Rattus Norvegicus (1977), but also some of their later quirkier stuff, Bauhaus’ In A Flat Field (1980), Gang of Four’s Entertainment (1979), The Cure’s Faith (1981), Killing Joke, Magazine, The Motors, Fischer Z, Psychedelic Furs, Tuxedomoon’s Desire (1981), Dalek I Love You’s Compass Kumpas (1980), Depeche Mode, B-Movie, The Fallout Club, Kan Kan, Modern Eon and many other forgotten but eclectic and unique artists.

Punk had really grabbed me (The Ruts, 999, The Vibrators, Buzzcocks, The Damned, Penetration, The Rezillos) but prior to that I had been a rock fan (Led Zeppelin, Be Bop Deluxe, Budgie, Pink Floyd, Stray). However far beyond all other musical movements, both before and since, post-punk offered unbelievable diversity and that set me on fire. Naively I thought that the variety introduced to music was a fresh new beginning that music had been fundamentally changed forever. Sadly, it was beaten back into line by the likes of the New Romantics and later dance music. As much as I like some output from both genres, they had a normalising effect on the music scene.

RL: And what about the electronic side of things? I know you liked some of Bill Nelson’s solo work, but I am assuming Ultravox! and even Gary Numan might have caught your ears at various times? Kraftwerk?

MB: I have never got into Kraftwerk. I respect them hugely but found their music a little anodyne (which was probably the intention). The first electronic track I remember liking was the Doctor Who theme but it was probably Popcorn by Gershon Kingsley in 1969, that I most connected with. It has a strangely Shadows feel about it but with basic synth sounds. Later I got into Pink Floyd, David Bowie and Mike Oldfield (although not strictly electronic but they all employed synths to form their sound), Sparks (Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth (1974b), This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us (1974a)), Be Bop Deluxe (Electrical Language from Drastic Plastic (1978)), Jean-Michel Jarre (particularly Équinoxe (1978)) and I loved the riff from I Feel Love by Donna Summer (1977). As punk arrived there were many more electronic artists to choose from, the best being John Foxx, Gary Numan (Are Friends Electric (as Tubeway Army, 1979)), the Human League (the very brilliant Being Boiled (1980)), Ultravox (who I discovered after John Foxx had left), Bill Nelson’s Red Noise, Magazine, Japan’s Quiet Life (1979), as well as Dalek I Love You and The Stranglers (punk with keyboards).

RL: Initially punk seemed to reject keyboards, but very soon after the likes of early records by Simple Minds (1979), XTC (1978) and Magazine (1978) made them okay again, but also moved keyboards away from the flamboyance of musicians such as Rick Wakeman to a simpler, more direct sound. Did you pick up on that?

MB: Yes, we would get a lot of grief from die hard punks for having a keyboard on stage, which really got up my nose! Think of some of the brilliant and really tough sounds that came out of Killing Joke’s first album (1980). But then, as mentioned earlier, I associate heavily with post-punk. It freed musicians such as Tuxedomoon, Eyeless In Gaza, The Cure, Flying Lizards to output however they wanted, free from the constraints of the music industry. I am glad musicians like Rick Wakeman are part of our rich musical history but I have never been keen on over flamboyant keyboards. This is where training bludgeons music. In the same way I am not too keen on opera singers – the body builders of vocal performers. When I first heard the Buzzcocks track Moving Away From The Pulsebeat (1978) I loved the five or six note guitar solo; the less is more approach to composition.

RL: What kind of equipment were you using apart from the 8-track studio at college? Was it too early for four-track cassette recorders (TEACs)? I seem to remember there was a very early synthesizer in the studio to, one of those EMS models that Eno used to use with Roxy Music.

MB: My first synth was a Yamaha CS5 mono synth, which I still have, and by the time I got into the studio at college I was using a Roland 100 System, a Roland SH101, Crumar String Synth, a Roland Juno 60  and a Soundmaster SR-88 drum machine. This was all pre-MIDI, so hours were spent trying to sync up the drum machine with the Roland 12 note sequencer, which fortuitously spawned the breaks in our early minimal synth track Conversation With… ( I never used the EMS (the briefcase synth) in the studio or an EDP Wasp that would appear from time to time, slightly too scratchy for me. I did occasionally borrow a Teac 4 portastudio and recorded some tracks on that (e.g. Mischief Again from A Strip Of Light But Still Too Dark).

RL: And I believe the studio technician, Howard Davidson, was a great help to you too? He not only helped engineer but acted as an adviser and a kind of producer – would that be fair?

MB: Howard went on to become a very prolific TV theme writer. He is a remarkable talent and produced the V-Sor, X album From The Mouth Of No King. I am so grateful for his input and his mentorship. It would be great to meet up with him again someday but our paths have deviated. I think he admired our raw approach to music and I always admired his technical prowess. He was a trained musician, while I was just winging it.

RL: My memory of the Crewe & Alsager (now MMU) Creative Arts degree and my time at college is just what a great place it was and what a great time to be there. Taking two subjects from dance, drama, music, visual art and creative writing, but also being allowed access to all the studio facilities whatever you were on was just fantastic, especially for someone like me who had had four years out of education. I saw much art, dance and theatre, listened to (and indeed, made) so much new music, had access to cheap photocopying and binding, and so on. Was your experience similar?

MB: More than ever I now realise how lucky we were in those days. I got a full grant and in the first year could even claim housing benefit during the holidays. We were able to become fully immersed in our arts and experiment in whichever way the passion took us. My time at college allowed me to do photography, 3D visual arts, performance, graphic arts, eventually specialising in music and video. I mean, there cannot be many students who break into college at night to work because they love it so much!

Cut forward to 2018, and you have to have nerves of steel to take out a student grant for an arts course like this, which ultimately guarantees you zero job security on leaving. It was a truly remarkable time and helped me develop in confidence and pointed a way forward for my music that I will continue with till I die. On reflection I believe I was aware of how lucky I was during that course but didn’t realise that would be the last time I would have the facilities, the freedom and those opportunities without the constraints of the everyday impinging on your life.

RL: How did you see those early V-Sor, X cassette tape releases? Demos, or did you feel part of the zine and tape culture that was taking place? I remember Rough Trade used to take a good number of some of the Stride releases – cassettes plus A5 booklet and/or postcards in their A5 plastic bags – at one time, and I loved all the worldwide exchanges, swops and correspondence that took place on the back of mail order sales.

MB: I felt very much part of the international cassette compilation scene and it was a fantastic opportunity to get my music heard by people of a similar musical inclination. Because of this scene I still keep in touch with indie dignitaries such as Lord Litter (Berlin Radio DJ), Marc Schaffer (performer and record company) and Don Campau (Californian Radio DJ). Music promotion is so much easier now with the advent of the Internet, however it is far harder to be heard above the noise.

I do miss the paper! The photo copied fanzines, the cassette booklets, the A4 posters. I really enjoyed early versions of magazines like i-D, Stride, and The Face that crossed over the arts (music, visual art, fashion, film, poetry and prose). Still, I wouldn’t go back, as I love the new technology I have access to for music and video production and graphic design.

RL: How did your video work fit with the music? Did anyone except a few fellow students ever get to see those? Were they part of your visual art practice, or more promotional items?

MB: I had those early videos transferred onto DVD but the quality is extremely poor. It is one of my rainy-day projects to try and tidy up the videos for Prey Room, Commercial Breakthrough and In The Dark. However, the love of video has never left me. It is an immensely slow process but I adore putting visuals to my music, it allows another plane of creativity. Yes, they are promotional but not in the sense of ‘maybe I’ll get a deal from this’. More as an alternative to playing live in an international market. Videos also have a far longer shelf life than a one-night gig at the Bull & Gate playing to 35 people. I hope video will always remain part of the music process for me as it affords another channel for expression.

RL: And how did the live music differ from the recordings? I remember the trio line-up very clearly, playing to a big student crowd, but you also played a few solo gigs, presumably with backing tapes? I caught the end of one of them at the punk pub in Stoke-on-Trent, whose name eludes me. That was a pretty rough venue…

MB: The Vine Inn in Hanley! It’s no longer standing but I remember it well. All the punters who refused to pay the entrance fee, because they thought we were too arty, crowding round the door that joined the two bars, trying to peer through and see what was going on. I enjoy playing live when I am on stage but there is so much work to be done to get there. If I had the backing and the audience, my performances would be heavily audio visual in nature. In my head all my instrumental tracks have really clear visuals which I try to describe in the accompanying booklets.

I don’t think I have ever played to a backing tape. Not that I have anything against it but I just found using a sequencer on stage afforded slightly more control if things went wrong. V-Sor, X has yet to go live as a solo project but with the associate members being so far flung this may have to be an option. I do prefer the camaraderie of a band when going out live. I have done many solo gigs as a singer songwriter (alternative acoustic songs) and that entails being performer, roadie, merchandising, driver and booking agent rolled into one. This leaves little opportunity to have a beer with the audience.

RL: You moved to London after college. Very different to Lichfield and Cheshire, I imagine. The band worked hard on the live circuit there, and I believe the infamous Jon Fat Beast was very supportive. Why didn’t V-Sor, X take off? Any ideas? I felt the trumpeter added something very distinctive to the band (I don’t mean there weren’t other bands around with trumpeters), and helped the pop sensibility you’ve always had.

MB: Yes Jon Fat Beast was fabulously supportive. He was a real star in the independent music scene and will be greatly missed. He worked so hard to give so many up and coming bands a chance to shine.

I like to reference many styles of music when writing and as a result it can be hard to put V-Sor, X in a specific box. This has never been a recipe for success. Also, just after the mid-80s we were trying too hard. Instead of letting the music flow, we had our eye on commerciality. We had ambitions to become famous(ish) and it was a distraction from the music. Strangely the last iteration of V-Sor, X in the 80s, after Alex the trumpet player had left, was the most promising but few of the tracks from that period ever got recorded. Not to take away from what Alex added, he was, and still is, a great musician and performer, I just think we were all getting a bit fatigued after 10 years.

I compare this period to the work I did with Rolls and keyboard player Rob Derbyshire around 2005 and the more recent work on the new album, Reformer, which both feel a lot more honest and from the heart. I don’t see us storming the charts any time soon. When I think we have produced something ‘normal’, even embarrassingly commercial, it seems to be labelled ‘quirky’. So, we must embrace quirky.

RL: You started to make solo albums, as Morgan Bryan (1994, 1995) which were more ambient and dreamier than V-Sor, X; one might say softer-edged. Again, were you after stardom or film work? Was it an easy step to make? What, musically, was influencing and affecting you?

MB: Until your question it has never occurred to me once that I might have any acclaim from the instrumental albums but I would very much have liked them to be heard more or used in films. Saying that, some tracks were used by the BBC Education department and used in Open University documentaries.

My instrumental output is very close to my heart and there is a third album Between The Stars And Home which is languishing on a hard drive until I figure out where and how to release it. The album contains two tracks that I am most proud of. This music gives me a chance to become very emotional and weave together rich themes and parts. Again, this is very much a visual thing for me and I have been inspired by great film music. My influences would be John Barry, Jean-Michel and Maurice Jarre, Harold Budd, Mike Oldfield and some of Japan’s B-Sides, such as The Width of a Room and The Experience of Swimming (1980).

You also don’t have to come up with any lyrics! Lyrics are hugely important to me and when they come out well they are a joy but it can become very painful to complete a track and often I am never fully satisfied I have conveyed the message effectively. Therefore, when you can channel all your energy into the music, this offers a great deal of freedom. It is a goal of mine to write a very long piece of instrumental music (in excess of 25 minutes) and I don’t just mean setting the sequencer into loop mode!

RL: And whilst you are making new music, there seems to be a revival of interest in V-Sor, X, on the back of Eurobeat, Darkwave or Minimal Synth (insert term of choice here), which currently seems to have swept up a lot of bands like Attrition, who could be considered similar, or certainly initially from the same era. How did the LP releases come about?

MB: Recently a number of labels have been keen to re-issue our old minimal synth tracks and it has been hard to get them to look to the present and understand that we are in a different place now. I am always fascinated to see where artists have gone with their music. Many years ago this led to Depeche Mode becoming one of my favourite acts; once they had moved on from the catchy synth pop. A good recent example is Gary Numan’s album Savage (Songs from a Broken World) (2017), which is fabulous and cements his credentials as a pioneer of electronic music.

V-Sor, X don’t naturally fall into any of the Eurobeat, Darkwave, Minimal Synth, Industrial pop categories – there are even the odd guitar lines to be heard! I am, however, really pleased these movements are having a resurgence, as the dance scene overshadowed synth pop when we had only been given a glimpse of the possibilities. I feel we need to make room for more individual electronic acts, rather than those who are pastiche artists (virtual tribute acts), to get some personality back into electronic music. They are out there and they have followings; acts like Seabound (, Promenade Cinema (, East India Youth (, Blott (

I did release an album of alternative acoustic songs in 2012 (In This Moment) which I still have a lot of time for but I really had to fight the urge to add more and more synth-based orchestration. So when I had finished promoting it I just let go and started writing synth-based songs. They seemed to pour out and it felt very much as if the spirit of V-Sor, X was driving the creativity. To the point I spoke to my old friend Rolls and managed to get him contribute some bass work (unfortunately I couldn’t get any of Rob Derbyshire’s amazing keyboard work). Around this time the label Peripheral Minimal approached me to re-release the first V-Sor,X single Authors 2 (which is now out there) and I said sure but how about releasing some of our new material? Jason asked to hear some and said let’s go with it. This got the ball rolling even though it will probably not go out on his label in the end.

RL: And were those reissues influential on ‘reforming’ the band? I use quote marks as the band is just you at the moment, yes? Which doesn’t really count as a proper reunion! Or is there a general nostalgia for all things 1980s and post-punk at the moment? You’ve had that career as a solo singer-songwriter, so presumably there are plenty of songs about you could work on or adopt for V-Sor, X if required?

MB: The dictionary definition of a Reformer is ‘a person who makes changes to something in order to improve it’. Although I do see the album as a reunion, not only will some of the original members contribute but I feel it is like re-uniting the original ethos behind the band (that being so, I don’t spend too much energy worrying about the commerciality of the music, just let the creativity flow). I also hope to get further contributions from previous members as time goes on; this isn’t a one-off project.

The title Reformer is about connecting the circle. I never felt that V-Sor,X had done its time and in fact there has been a fair amount of activity over the years that never tickled the ears of those interested in the band. The band’s output had moved in a number of different directions but the path was far from being complete, we had only scratched the surface and there is still so much ground to cover. It is the right time to contribute further to the alternative electronic pop scene and explore new directions embracing new technologies.

Most of all I didn’t want V-Sor, X to become a lifeless statue sitting in a darkened corner of the dusty museum dedicated to the independent early 80s post-punk scene. This scene continues today in other forms and some of the artists from those times, and in between, are still producing some exciting material. I want to be part of that. I want to V-Sor, X to be part of the future.

RL: For me, Electronisch, is a real return to form. Big meaty synths, catchy as hell, and a neat new video. At the risk of nostalgia, it reminds me of your track Scref, although the production is much better. Where is V-Sor, X off to next? What are you planning for the band? Are you the new rock’n’roll?

MB: Wouldn’t it be great to be the new rock’n’roll! It is way past time we had a new movement in the music scene. As mentioned before, alternative electronic pop is in its nascent years and has so much further to go. We are probably less experimental than we used to be but I am still excited to see what new bands are coming up with. I want our albums always to contain the odd quirky track (in the spirit of the Stranglers). Ones that people go ‘ooh, not sure about this one’ but after a few listens it becomes one of their favourite tracks. I do mourn the death of the album as this focus the attention of bands on producing commercial tracks which don’t always stand the test of time.

As for the future I am hoping this album will create some momentum for the band allowing us to look back at this time as the beginning and not the middle or the end. With that I would also like to see the band using video much more, mainly for our virtual presence but also live. It takes a huge amount of time but the results are long lasting.

RL: Good to hear from you again Morgan! Good luck with all the future music, and thanks for all those cassettes back in the day.

MB: No, thank you for the opportunities both then and now!





Bauhaus (1980) In A Flat Field (12″ LP). London: 4AD.

Be Bop Deluxe (1978). Drastic Plastic (12″ LP). London: Harvest.

Bryan, Morgan (1994). Under Every Sky (CD). London: Dox Music.

Bryan, Morgan (1995). Asleep While the Rain Falls (CD). London: Dox Music.

Bryan, Morgan (2012). In This Moment (CD). London: Dox Music.

Buzzcocks (1978). Moving Away from the Pulsebeat on Another Music in a Different Kitchen (12″ LP). London: United Artists.

The Cure (1981). Faith (12″ LP). London: Fiction.

Dalek I Love You (1981). Compass Kumpas (12″ LP). London: Back Door/Phonogram.

Gang of Four (1979). Entertainment (12″ LP). London: EMI.

The Human League (1980). Being Boiled on Holiday ’80 (7″ EP). London: Virgin.

Japan (1979). Quiet Life (12″ LP). West Berlin: Hansa.

Japan (1980). The Width of a Room and The Experience of Swimming, B-sides to Gentlemen Take Polaroids (2 x 7″ single pack). London: Virgin.

Jarre, Jean-Michel Jarre (1978). Équinoxe (12″ LP). Paris: Disque Dreyfus.

Killing Joke (1980). Killing Joke (12″ LP). London: E.G.

Kingsley, Gershon (1969). Popcorn (aka Pop Corn) on Music to Moog By (12″ LP). New York City: Audio Fidelity Records.

Magazine (1978). Real Life (12″ LP). London: Virgin.

Numan, Gary (2017). Savage (Songs from a Broken World) (CD). London: BMG.

Simple Minds (1979). Real to Real Cacophony (12″ LP). London: Zoom/Arista.

Sparks (1974a). This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us (7″ single). London: Island.

Sparks (1974b). Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth (7″ single). London: Island.

Summer, Donna (1977). I Feel Love (7″ single). Los Angeles: Casablanca.

The The (1980). Controversial Subject (7″ single). London: 4AD.

Tubeway Army (Gary Numan) (1979). Are Friends Electric? (7″ single). London: Beggars Banquet).

Tuxedomoon (1981). Desire (12″ LP). San Francisco: Ralph Records.

V-Sor, X (1980). The 13 Daydreams (cassette EP). Lichfield: Dox Music.

V-Sor, X (1982a). Authors 2 (7″ single DR.1), Lichfield: Dox Music. (2018 reissue, Rotterdam: Peripheral Minimal)

V-Sor, X (1982b). V-Sor, X (cassette EP DT 03 ). Lichfield: Dox Music.

V-Sor, X (1982c). V-Sor, X (cassette EP DT4). Lichfield: Dox Music.

V-Sor, X (1983a). V-Sor, X (cassette EP DT6). Lichfield: Dox Music.

V-Sor, X (1983b). In the dark… (cassette EP DT7 ). Lichfield: Dox Music.

V-Sor, X (1984). V-Sor, X (cassette EP DT9). Lichfield: Dox Music.

V-Sor, X (1985). Cue (cassette EP DT 10). London: Dox Music.

V-Sor, X ‎(1986). Cue (7” Single DR.2). London: DOX Music ‎–

V-Sor, X (1989). From the Mouth of No King (12″ vinyl LP Erp 6102), Germany: Genetic.

V-Sor, X (2002). A Strip of Light but Still too Dark (CD GEN 007), Germany: Genetic.

V-Sor, X (2018a). Dragged (download single 191924537434), Derbyshire UK: Dox Music.

V-Sor, X (2018b). Elektronisch (download single 191924895121), Derbyshire UK: Dox Music.

Various artists (V-Sor, X, Panic Grass, Corpse, Bhujiya) (1984). Penumbra (C60), Crewe: Stride.

XTC (1978). White Music (12″ LP). London: Virgin.



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Iconic Bauhaus Sites, 100th Anniversary

When architectWalter Gropius founded theBauhaus school in 1919, his utopian manifesto proclaimed that minimalism and a fusion of fine arts and craft would “one day rise heavenwards from the million hands of craftsmen as a clear symbol of a new belief to come.” Only 700 students attended the Bauhaus during its short, 14-year lifetime, but the school’s design philosophy eventually reached millions. Bauhaus teachers and students scattered worldwide when the Nazis closed the school in 1933, planting their alma mater’s streamlined and modern seeds far and wide.

April 1st marks the school’s centenary, and while the Bauhaus mantra was “less is more,” there are abundant destinations where visitors can see the eccentric academy’s design influence. Below, we highlight eight visitor-friendly spots that tell the Bauhaus story, from a glass-encased shoe last factory to geometric private homes.

Fagus Factory

Alfeld-Hannover, Germany

Fagus Factory, Alfeld on the Leine, Lower Saxony, Germany. Image via Wikimedia Commons.Fagus Factory, Alfeld on the Leine, Lower Saxony, Germany. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Back when the thought of founding the Bauhaus was just a glimmer in Gropius’s eye, he designed the Fagus Factory (1911), a shoe last factory in Germany that foreshadowed the concepts he would later bring to the avant-garde academy. The nature of the project—an architectural space for craftsmen—echoed the Bauhaus’s marriage of art and craft. Gropius designed the Fagus Factory as a space that maximized sunlight and fresh air for the workers, in order to improve productivity.

Gropius lined the exterior with revolutionary curtain walls of glass. It was a feat of both design and engineering: To replace conventional load-bearing exterior walls with thin window sheets, Gropius placed reinforced concrete columns inside the buildings. The factory’s 10 structures have been listed as a historic monument since 1946 (unusual for industrial buildings), and are still operating.

Bauhaus Museum Weimar

Weimar, Germany

Open Slideshow
The Bauhaus migrated between three German locations during its brief existence, but its birthplace was in the culturally rich city of Weimar, where it operated between 1919 and 1925. The city is fêting the groundbreaking modernist school with a revamped museum opening on its anniversary.

In his founding manifesto, Gropius proclaimed: “Let us strive for, conceive, and create the new building of the future that will unite every discipline, architecture and sculpture and painting.” And so, he invited a host of artists from a smorgasbord of disciplines to join his project as teachers, among them Lyonel Feininger ,Wassily Kandinsky,Paul Klee,Oskar Schlemmer , andLászló Moholy-Nagy. Their creations now fill the Bauhaus Museum Weimar, which boasts the oldest museum collection of Bauhaus workshop works.

Weimar’s Bauhaus Museum wasn’t designed by Bauhäuslers, but the nearby Haus am Horn (1923) on the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar campus is an early example of the school’s architecture. Planned by

Zentrum Paul Klee

Bern, Switzerland

Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Switzerland. Photo by LulaMae's via Wikimedia Commons.Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Switzerland. Photo by LulaMae’s via Wikimedia Commons.

Together with his friend and neighbor, Kandinsky, Klee was one of the longest-standing “masters” at the Bauhaus, teaching there between 1921 and 1931. Klee first landed on Gropius’s radar when he wrote “Creative Credo” (1920), with the oft-quoted opening line: “Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.” Gropius was intrigued, and invited the Swiss-German artist to Weimar.

As a teacher, Klee’s approach was theoretical—like Gropius, he believed that art was intuitive and couldn’t actually be taught. But nonetheless, he led a range of workshops at the Bauhaus: bookbinding, glass painting, weaving, and painting. Klee’s time at the Bauhaus was productive for his own work, too. While there, he wrote around 3,900 pages of teaching notes that he eventually compiled as Pedagogical Sketchbook (1925). Klee’s notes, archive, and an extensive collection of 4,000 artworks are kept at the artist’s museum in his native Switzerland, Zentrum Paul Klee, which was founded by the painter’s grandson and designed by acclaimed architect


Bauhaus Dessau

Dessau, Germany

Bauhaus Building, Walter Gropius, 1925–26, Dessau. Photo © Tadashi Okochi. Courtesy of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation.Bauhaus Building, Walter Gropius, 1925–26, Dessau. Photo © Tadashi Okochi. Courtesy of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation.

When the progressive Bauhaus’s relationship with its conservative Weimar home began to sour, Gropius looked for alternate school venues. The municipality of Dessau, an industrial town that housed the Junkers aircraft factory, made him an alluring offer: prime real estate and funding to build a modernist campus. He agreed and quickly got to work in 1925, designing an asymmetrical, propeller-shaped building that was as intriguing from a Junkers’ aerial view as it was to grounded pedestrians.
“With the development of air transport the architect will have to pay as much attention to the bird’s-eye perspective of his houses as to their elevations,” Gropius wrote years later. The school embraced the latest technologies, both in its physical campus and the concepts taught in its workshops.

The school’s students and youngest teachers were entrenched in Bauhaus ideology day and night, by virtue of their residence at the Prellerhaus, a Gropius-designed campus wing that combined studios and housing (and was among the first student dormitories in Germany). The five-story building had 28 modestly sized studios inhabited by creatives such

Master Houses of Kandinsky and Klee

Dessau, Germany

Bauhaus Building, Walter Gropius, 1926, Dessau. Courtesy of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation.Bauhaus Building, Walter Gropius, 1926, Dessau. Courtesy of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation.

Living in a 20-square-meter studio at the Prellerhaus was fine for students, but the Bauhaus faculty got an upgrade. Gropius designed a spacious director’s villa for himself and his wife, Ise, and planned for the school’s teachers three pairs of interconnected modular houses—white, flat-roofed cubes with large windows that streamlined construction by using industrially prefabricated elements. These Meisterhäuser (German for “Masters’ Houses”) meshed studio space with middle-class comforts, like built-in cabinets and modern appliances.
These were novelties for some of the residents, who were accustomed to more sparse, bohemian lifestyles. Before moving into his new home, Schlemmer wrote to his wife: “I got quite a shock when I saw the houses! I imagined how one day the homeless would line up outside while the gentlemen artists went sunbathing on the roofs of their villas.” Kandinsky and Klee, who shared a semi-detached Masters’ House for five years between 1926 and 1931, matched their homes’ interiors to their aesthetics; both of them tinted their austere surroundings with the bright, contrasting colors that filled their abstracted modernist paintings. The two artists had been friendly since they first met in 1911 and socialized often, taking riverside walks together with their wives.

Villa Tugendhat

Brno, Czech Republic

Villa Tugendhat, Brno, Czech Republic. Photo by David Židlický. Courtesy of Villa Tugendhat. Villa Tugendhat, Brno, Czech Republic. Photo by David Židlický. Courtesy of Villa Tugendhat.


was the third and final director of the Bauhaus, between 1930 and 1933, and, like Gropius, he emigrated to the United States in the 1930s. But before moving to Chicago, where he taught architecture and designed skyscrapers, he completed a residential project in the Czech town of Brno that showcased his use of technology in the service of improved modern living, called Villa Tugendhat (1929–30).

Designed for Grete and Fritz Tugendhat, a Jewish German couple, Grete lobbied to commission Mies. “From the manner in which he spoke about his projects, we realized that we were dealing with a genuine artist,” Grete later recalled. “He said, for example, that the ideal dimensions of space cannot be calculated; space must be felt.” Nevertheless, measurements were drawn with painstaking exactitude to facilitate construction of features such as the home’s iron framework—one of the first times such a structure was used in a private home. It eliminated the need for internal load-bearing walls, allowed for a floor plan that differed between levels, and created more open, light-filled spaces. Mies designed all of the home’s furnishings, as well, which have been recreated in the villa-turned-museum.

Gropius House

Lincoln, Massachusetts

Gropius House, Walter Gropius, Lincoln, MA. Courtesy of Historic New England.Gropius House, Walter Gropius, Lincoln, MA. Courtesy of Historic New England.

When Walter and Ise Gropius left Europe in 1937, they weren’t just fleeing political and artistic persecution—they were smuggling radical new design ideas to the United States, conceptually headquartered in the family home they built in colonial Lincoln, Massachusetts. Gropius designed the home in 1938, after accepting a teaching position at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and it shocked New Englanders with its bizarre glass blocks, chrome banisters, and metallic Breuer-designed furnishings.
With time, as midcentury modernism swept across the country, the Gropius House looked less out of place. It is now a time capsule for the tastes of this pioneering couple, since Ise (also known as “Mrs. Bauhaus”) dedicated the home and their personal belongings as a museum in 1979, 10 years after Walter’s death. Closets intentionally left open display the sleek wardrobe of Ise, who was equally comfortable wearing tailored dresses and jewelry fashioned from metal washers and wire. Gropius worked at a window-facing nook purposely built to house a wide double desk designed by Breuer.

Poli House

Tel Aviv, Israel

Poli House, Shlomo Liaskowski, Tel Aviv, Israel. Courtesy of the Poli House.Poli House, Shlomo Liaskowski, Tel Aviv, Israel. Courtesy of the Poli House.

When the Nazis shuttered the Bauhaus in 1933 in Berlin—its last venue—Gropius moved to New England, Mies settled in Chicago, and the rest of the Bauhäuslers dispersed. They spread their minimalist gospel around the globe, reaching far-off places such as Russia, Brazil, and Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv was especially welcoming to the school’s architectural aesthetic: As a newly established city receiving a massive influx of newcomers, the chic (yet cheap) style suited its needs, and the budding metropolis became home to roughly 4,000 Bauhaus buildings.

One such building was the triangular-shaped Polishuk House, built in 1934 at a six-point intersection in the city center. Originally an office building planned by Shlomo Liaskowski—an architect trained in the Bauhaus-inspired

in Brussels and Paris—the white plastered structure solved the design dilemma of an unusual footprint with Bauhausian finesse. Because Polishuk House faced two streets, a single façade was forgone in favor of dynamic horizontal ribbon windows that point the building in all directions (making it also resemble a ship, befitting its Mediterranean seaside location). The building changed hands and was a printing press and a shoe store, before a recent meticulous, multi-year restoration process prepared it for its current iteration as a boutique hotel, Poli House.

Karen Chernick
Further reading in Visual Culture


Karen Chernick

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Shetland Notebooks and Sketchbooks

Kate Walters’ Shetland Notebooks and Sketchbooks are the culmination of a series of recent residencies and visits to Shetland. Walters’ work explores the relationships between humans and animals, plants and dreams. As well as presenting her remarkable paintings, this publication presents fragments of Walters’ poetry, along with phrases and observations from the notebooks and sketchbooks kept during her time on Shetland.

Each copy of the Notebooks is signed by the artist and comes with a unique original painting by Kate Walters.

Shetland Notebooks is 104 pages of artwork with fragments of poetry and prose from the artist’s notebooks. The additional Shetland Sketchbooks is a 48-page series of painting spreads from the artist’s sketchbooks. Both books are printed in full colour on Mohawk papers with Fedrigoni endpapers and presented in a two-volume limited edition of 400. The original paintings are A6 size painted on Colorplan Natural.

For more information about Kate Walters and her work, please visit her website.


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The Russian Woman in Paris

In a sweat suit fashionable on the Siberian plains — in Paris — on the hottest day
And with sneakers, as if on a race track,
She glances enviously at every passing woman
And does not understand why she is being treated so badly.

Now, when the city of her dreams has become familiar to her,
Her face drained to the last drop but calm
As the plastic bottle of mineral water that she has saved
And carries in a transparent bag to her temporary home.

Tomorrow everything begins anew — beautiful trash, marble palaces,
Red cabriolets with raised roofs and discarded
Unfamiliar devices that take your breath away thrown into the street,
Because you have not even seen what others have discarded.

Of course she’ll return there where she does not need such beauty,
Because her land is the most beautiful of all,
She will return not because her homeland glitters from this distance
But because she has no other way out.


Su treningu madingu Sibiro platybėse — Paryžiuje — karščiausią dieną
Ir sportiniais bateliais lyg lenktynių trasoje
Ji su pavydu žvilgčio ja į moterį kiekvieną
Ir jau nebesupranta, už ką taip žiauriai pasielgta su ja.

Dabar, kuomet svajonių miestas jau pažįstamu jai tapo,
Jos veidas išsunktas lig paskutinio lašo, bet ramus
Lyg plastmasinis butelis nuo mineralinio vandens, kurį sutaupius,
Jinai maišely permatomam nešasi į laikinus namus.

Rytoj ir vėl iš naujo viskas — gražios šiukšlės, marmuriniai rūmai,
Raudoni kabrioletai pakeltais stogais ir išmesti
Į gatvę nematyti prietaisai, kuriuos pamatęs, netenki orumo,
Nes niekad netgi neregėjai to, ką išmeta lengvai kiti.

Suprantama, jinai sugrįš tenai, kur nereikėjo šių grožybiu,
Nes jos šalis gražiausia buvo iš visų išties,
Ji būtinai sugrįš, nors ne todėl, kad iš toli gimtinė žiba —
Ji kitokios jau nebeturi išeities.


Paris, 1993.08.21

Tautvyda Marcinkevičiūtė, translated by Jonas Zdanys
Illustration: Claire Palmer

Taken with permission from Terribly in Love: Selected Poems, available from

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A deluge came down
So my pace was brisk
Getting soaked to the skin
I did not want to risk
Three Herons I saw
As I strode past
I smiled
Expecting the rain not to last





Harry Lupino
Drawing leonardo da vinci



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think it o-o-over



she has a song in her head
it’s been going round
and round all day
she woke with it
and can’t shake it off
at first she just la-la-la’d
to the tune
not thinking about
who sang it
or what the words meant
it was the tune
and its rhythm which
capitavated her as ever
she remembered
first hearing it
at a suburban lido
with a boy nearby
and a tranny close
to his shaking head
oh this is good so good
and girls singing
that’s even better
she thought
a line cut through
the splash and shreiks
surrounding her
as the boy dove in
without warning
forgetting he was wearing
his modish shades
Stop! in the name of love
rang out as he entered
she was so moved
she couldn’t resist
how silly
she thought
it’s only radio music –
anyway who are these girls?
and vainly tried to deny
what she felt
and hoped the deejay would say
their name again
at the record’s end
he did and gushed inanely
about The Supremes
oh but they are they are
she gushed sincerely
to herself
and it began that afternoon
her realisation that
there was nothing wrong
with being fixated this way
there’s no denying real feeling
and she knew right away
The Supremes were better
than Maria Callas
later in life she’d shouted
stop! in the name of love
before you break my heart….
at a man
who was doing her down
it was a feeble cry
she knew as she uttered
her words lacked the passion
of the song
no majesty only artifice
she rued and felt ashamed:
I’ve let those girls down
nothing supreme about him
but I realised as I said it
this should have been
a demand on my part
while their song was a plea
I know better now
than the supreme Supremes
‘think it o-o-ver’
their song said
and I did
and I do
and I will

Jeff Cloves

Illustration: Claire Palmer



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Against Violence 2


A prickly question. A scourge.

As vile as any infernal monster.

In the attitudes it strikes,

Each attitude is more disgusting than the last,

Always conscious, always so scrupulously conscious.

Though crippled, crippled by a crazed exasperation…


Elena Caldera  &  Heathcote Williams  – against violence and abuse


A work published the first time by me and Heathcote WIlliams in 2016, for women, against violence towards women.
So, this is written from my perspective, but also by a man who deeply loved women and who always respected them wonderfully. And if I say ALWAYS, it’s really ALWAYS. Indeed, I would dare to say, a man who has also suffered violence in his life, who was a victim and, after the violence, faced slander when he tried to react. So yes, he was someone who knows psychological violence, and who therefore further nurtured his empathy, from his experience, towards those who suffer violence. 




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Happy International Womens Day!

Indian scholar, environmental activist, food sovereignty advocate

Egyptian feminist writer, activist, physician, and psychiatrist.

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The Acid Farmers

History has remembered LSD as the creation of one man, Albert Hofmann, the Sandoz chemist who first synthesised it in 1938 and who took the world’s first acid trip in 1943. In his 1979 memoir, LSD: My Problem Child, Hofmann wrote that ‘the investigations on ergot alkaloids’ that led to the discovery of LSD ‘were conducted by myself alone’. But his laboratory work was only a small part of a large-scale, company-wide operation. Research into ergot, the toxic fungus from which LSD was synthesised, had begun many years before Hofmann joined the company. By the time of his first trip Sandoz had embarked on an experimental programme for large-scale ergot cultivation, and during the 1950s they developed new techniques and machinery to ramp its production up to industrial levels, feeding the fast-growing global demand for LSD.


The ergot project had originally been the brainchild of Hofmann’s boss, Arthur Stoll, the director of pharmaceutical research at Sandoz, who had isolated the first alkaloid drugs from it back in 1921. Stoll had been attracted to it by its long and fascinating history: familiar since medieval times both as a deadly poison and a folk medicine.


Ergot (Claviceps purpurea) is a fungus that grows as a parasite on rye, coating its seedheads with a black crust, or sclerotium. Bread made from infected rye gave rise to epidemics of the disease traditionally known as St. Anthony’s Fire and later described by doctors as ‘ergotism’. Its terrifying array of symptoms includes seizures, skin lesions, psychotic disturbances and a ‘dry gangrene’ that can cause fingers or toes to lose sensation and rot away. This last symptom is a response to its vasoconstrictive properties, which tighten arteries and stop blood flow. This was the basis for the use of ergot sclerotium in early medicine, especially obstetrics: it produces uterine contractions, and was used to speed up childbirth or trigger abortions. In German this gave it the common name Mutterkorn, ‘mother’s corn’.


Stoll studied the history of ergot and wrote a book about it. In 1936 he assigned Albert Hofmann to investigate its chemistry at the Sandoz labs. The indole alkaloids it contained, including the vasoconstrictor ergotamine which Stoll had isolated many years previously, were all based on lysergic acid: an unstable compound which Hofmann was tasked with turning into medically useful forms.

At this point ergot was a scarce and expensive commodity. Rye farmers had typically regarded it as a blight that ruined their crop, and had always done their best to suppress its growth. Small amounts were produced agriculturally in the Emmenthal valley in mid-Switzerland, where it flourished in the relatively humid climate. Its use in the Sandoz laboratories was tightly controlled. Hofmann remembers Stoll admonishing him for ordering even as little as half a gram: ‘I needed to adopt microchemical procedures if I was to work with his costly substances’. When Hofmann first synthesised LSD in 1938, a small quantity was expended on animal testing, which demonstrated no particular vasoconstricting properties. After that it was on to the next compound.


By the time of Hofmann’s famous trip in 1943, the situation had changed. During the war, Sandoz began to systematise production of lysergic acid with new agricultural techniques. ‘They grew 5000 rye plants and selected the five most promising strains’, says Beat Bächi of Bern University, who has been studying the Hofmann and Sandoz archives for his forthcoming book on Sandoz, ergot and LSD. They cultured and selected the most productive spores of the ergot fungus, and supplied their specially bred strains to the Emmenthal’s rye farmers. ‘Sandoz kept extremely tight control of the operation’, according to Bächi. Long before the modern era of genetic patents, farmers were obliged to sign contacts prohibiting them from using the Sandoz-bred rye and ergot for their own purposes, or keeping the seeds and spores.


The ergot cultivation programme was a success. Photos from the Sandoz archives show experimental fields of rye divided into two, one half growing normally, the other black with masses of ergot sclerotia. In 1947 the psychiatrist Werner Stoll, Arthur’s son, made a series of self-experiments with LSD in which he experienced euphoria and vivid hallucinations. He recommended it for further clinical research as a psychiatric medicine.


By now Sandoz was gearing up for large-scale production. Working together with the machinery engineers Bucher Guyer, they designed a multi-needle gun to inoculate rye heads with ergot spores, and a special tractor to harvest the heads. The project was conducted with government approval under wartime protocols of secrecy. Photos in the Sandoz archives show the ergot farmers gathered on the platform of the local train station with their crop: large sacks of sclerotia-covered grain ready for shipment to Basel and the Sandoz laboratories.

Delysid, the brand name for LSD, was only one of the Sandoz products for which the ergot was destined. There was also Methergine, a drug developed for ergot’s traditional use of slowing bleeding during childbirth, and Hydergine, a medication for improving circulation and brain function in the elderly that became a bestseller. But as more psychiatrists and Sandoz pharmacists experimented with LSD, they became convinced that it could play an important role in brain research and the treatment of mental illness. ‘They were hugely excited by its potential’, according to Magaly Tornay, who worked in the Sandoz LSD archives for her 2016 book Zugriffe auf das Ich (Concepts of the Self). ‘By the late 1950s they were predicting that, with LSD, the cypher of the mind would be broken within five years’. Even with the new agricultural production, they struggled to grow enough ergot to meet the demand. ‘There are letters requesting lysergic acid from Italy, and asking other pharma companies like Eli Lilly whether they had any stocks to spare’.


Delysid remained a research chemical rather than a fully developed product. Sandoz were unsure of the doses and applications they should recommend for it, and supplied samples free to psychiatrists in return for feedback on how it was being used. By the early 1960s this freewheeling strategy was getting harder to sustain. In the USA, new Federal Drug Administration (FDA) rules meant that drugs had to be submitted to stringent testing before human trials were permitted, and their intended use needed to be specified in advance. At the same time, the growing interest in LSD as a tool for consciousness expansion undermined attempts to establish it as a pharmaceutical drug. During the 1950s LSD had been valuable to Sandoz in building their global reputation, but as the 1960s progressed it became a PR problem. They no longer wanted to be so closely identified with a drug that was now hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons.


The final straw came in January 1963 when Timothy Leary, after being dismissed from Harvard University, ordered 500g of Delysid from Sandoz: enough for several million doses. Sandoz contacted the FDA for approval, but a licence wasn’t granted and they refused to supply the order. The same year their patent on LSD expired. In 1965 Sandoz officially stopped production and distribution, with a statement that LSD had ‘in some parts of the world’ become ‘a serious threat to public health’. But the ergot farmers of the Emmenthal had by now seeded acid around the globe. As Delysid stocks dried up, new producers picked up the slack. That year Augustus Owsley Stanley bought his first tranche of precursor chemicals and began home-manufacturing LSD for Ken Kesey, the Merry Pranksters and the Grateful Dead. The psychedelic era was well and truly under way.



©2019 Mike JayFollow Mike on Twitter


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Board Games and the Meaning of History

Players moving pieces along a track to be first to reach a goal was the archetypal board game format of the 18th and 19th century. Alex Andriesse looks at one popular incarnation in which these pieces progress chronologically through history itself, usually with some not-so-subtle ideological, moral, or national ideal as the object of the game.

Ten thousand years ago, in the Neolithic period, before human beings began making pottery, we were playing games on flat stone boards drilled with two or more rows of holes.1 By the Early Dynastic Period in Ancient Egypt, three millennia later, board games were already represented in hieroglyphs. And on the wall of Nefertari’s tomb, built in the twelfth or thirteenth century BCE, someone painted the queen playing Senet, one of three Ancient Egyptian board games whose pieces have come down to us, along with Mehen and Hounds and Jackals.

Queen Nefertari
Queen Nefertari playing the game of Senet against an invisible opponent — Source.

The ancient Greeks, for their part, had Tabula, an ancestor of backgammon; the Romans added Latrones, an ancestor of chess. All across the ancient Near East, people played the Game of Twenty Squares, while in ancient China they played Liubo and in ancient India Moksha Patam, which was rechristened Snakes and Ladders when colonials imported it to Britain in the Victorian era. Wherever there has been civilization, strange to say, there have been games played on boards.

Until about the seventeenth century, these games tended to be traditional folk inventions that could not be traced back to a maker. Their boards were also relatively abstract, consisting of squares, triangles, spirals, or holes.2 With the advent of the Enlightenment and the rise of capitalism, however, the board games of Europe — like so much else on the continent — began to change. By the end of the eighteenth century, games were being produced for the marketplace promoting everything from ferry rides to colonial conquest. To appeal to consumers (a category of persons that had not previously existed), these games were made to be played on boards printed with pictures that represented specific places, people, and things. The artists who designed them strove to attract the public eye and capture the public imagination, appealing to the modern craving for what Walter Benjamin would call “novelty and shock”.3

A great many of these new picture games were racing games, like Snakes and Ladders or the Game of Goose, in which two or more players move their pieces around a formalized track according to the number dictated by “some form of random generator”, such as a spinning top or dice.4 Each track has its unique combination of safe squares, penalty squares, hazards, and shortcuts; but the objective of all racing games is the same — to arrive at the final square and be the first to remove one’s piece or pieces from the board.

El juego de la Oca
El juego de la Oca, a Spanish version of the Game of Goose, printed in Barcelona in the nineteenth century — Source.

The subject matter and aesthetics of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century racing games ranged widely. The Dutch Stoomboots Spel (Steamboats Game), for example, is hand colored and charmingly childish, its figures and landscapes reminiscent of those you see in American folk portraits by Joseph H. Davis or Joseph Warren Leavitt. Intended to sell tickets on the Rotterdam–Dordrecht steamboat line, the game’s objective is as straightforward as can be — to reach the port of Dordrecht without being waylaid by various hazards, which (this being a “promotional tool” after all)5 are for the most part pleasant distractions: a glass of jenever, a cup of coffee, a carriage ride. The Pesthuis, or plague house, is the only ominous presence on the board.

steamboat game
Stoombots Spel, printed in Rotterdam in the early nineteenth century — Source.

The New Game of Human Life, printed in London in 1790, is a far less convivial affair. Heavy on text — and even heavier on Protestant morality — the board is loosely modeled on the Game of Goose, which was well enough ensconced in the culture of late eighteenth-century Europe for Goethe to write that life itself was

like a Game of Goose:
The further you go,
The sooner you reach the end,
Where no one wants to be.6

Sure enough, the objective of The New Game of Life is to be the first player to become an old man, or, as the board would have it, “The Immortal Man who has existed 84 years . . . a Model for the Close of Life, which can end only by Eternity.” This can only be accomplished after the player has maneuvered his piece through eighty-three squares representing the seven periods of life, from Infancy to Dotage, possibly while being treated to “a few moral and judicious observations” (as the instructions suggest) along the way. A player could at least be certain of encountering no distracting glasses of jenever here.

new game of human life
New Game of Human Life, printed in London, 1790 — Source.

The concept of progress, in the general sense of forward motion, had long been central to board games, and countless games produced in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe continued to revolve around simple contests to reach a finish line. That finish line might be as close to home as the port of Dordrecht in the Stoombots Spel or as exotic as the North Pole in the Austro-Hungarian game Neueste Nordpol-Expedition, commemorating the polar expedition led by Carl Weyprecht and Julius Payer.

north pole game
Neueste Nordpol-Expedition, printed in Vienna, circa 1875 — Source.

Jules Verne’s international bestselling novel Around the World in Eighty Days, about Phileas Fogg — the headstrong English gentleman who, to win a bet, circumnavigates the globe in eighty days — lent itself very well to board-game adaptations. So did the American journalist Nellie Bly’s real-life attempt to beat the fictive Fogg at his own game, which she managed to do, traveling from New York to India and back in a mere seventy-three days.

nellie bly game
Round the World With Nellie Bly, printed in New York, 1890 — Source.

The concept of progress in the political sense worked its way into board games soon after the start of the French Revolution. The revolutionaries, not unlike the moralists behind The New Game of Life, were suspicious of the frivolity of games and wasted no time changing them to suit their own purposes. Considering these revolutionaries renamed the days and months, reconfigured the calendar, and recalculated the measurement of minutes and hours, the fact that they also decreed the king in the chess set would “henceforth be called le drapeau [the flag]” and requisitioned the blank backs of playing cards for “cataloguing the confiscated libraries of aristocrats” should probably come as no surprise.7 Two enterprising citizens, named Jaume and Dugourc, went so far as to redesign the entire deck of playing cards, eliminating the offensive images of kings, queens, and valets (jacks or knaves in the English deck) and replacing them with images of the Law, the Spirit of Peace, and the Freedom of the Press.

freedom card
Freedom of Religions card, from a French Revolutionary deck, circa 1790 (or, more accurately, Year II of the Republic) — Source.

The Jeu de la Révolution française, printed circa 1791 and, like The New Game of Life, modeled closely on the Game of Goose, propagandized for political progress, leading players through the major events of revolutionary history, starting with the storming of the Bastille and proceeding through the abolition of feudal rights, the de-Christianization of France, the September Massacres, and the killing of de Launy, Foulon, and Bertier, before coming to an end with the National Assembly at the Palladium of Liberty. If the game sounds a bit boring, it probably was — for all but the most ardent republicans. Play was enlivened by a few penalty squares, in which “idiot geese” (in the words of the board) wearing magistrates’ clothes and symbolizing the parliaments of the Old Regime, could delay the progress of a player’s piece just as surely as they could delay the progress of the French nation.

french revolution game
Jeu de la Révolution française, printed in Paris, circa 1792 — Source.

Political progress is also at the center of things in the suspiciously subtitled The Chronological Star of the World, An Entertaining Game, published by John Marshall of London in 1818. Here, in 109 numbered pictures, beautifully printed in a star-shaped pattern of crescents, medallions, and leaves, the history of the world is told, as the scholar Ernst Strouhal writes, “not as a hodgepodge of stories but as a goal-oriented pursuit of progress, with achievements that bring humanity step by step to Reason.”8 Beginning with the Garden of Eden, the game ends when the first player lands on the central circle, which depicts a martial female figure holding a Union Jack shield and a sheet of paper that reads: “To the Glory of Britain Slave Trade Abolished.”

chronological game
The Chronological Star of the World, An Entertaining Game, printed in London, 1818 — Source.

Queen Victoria, who was born in 1819, a year after The Chronological Star of the World was published, conveniently filled the role of this figure in another, even more nationalist board game printed in London around 1860. In this case, the game takes the shape of a pyramid, ascending from the Garden of Eden and the Tower of Babel to the Roman invasion of Britain and the discovery of America — non sequitur mounting upon non sequitur until they reach their peak — the queen, surrounded by her family.

pyramid history
The Pyramid of History, printed in London, circa 1860 — Source.

The practice of making games to promote clean living and political progress (with that progress always culminating in an image of the government currently in power) persisted all through the nineteenth century and into the twentieth. The Soviet Union made particularly good use of board games, though in contrast to the French revolutionaries, who were so keen to have citizens rehearse and internalize the events of the revolution, the Soviets were generally more concerned with making sure that the newly urbanized peasantry learned the basics of health and hygiene. In the 1910s and 1920s, the state approved the manufacture of games such as Tuberculosis: A Proletarian Disease, Look After Your Health! The New Hygiene Game, and The Abandoned, in which “players had to round up homeless children and bring them to an orphanage.”9

Healthy Living, published in Moscow in 1926, is a game intended to promote awareness of syphilis, tuberculosis, alcoholism, and of the dangers of consulting folk healers rather than doctors. The objective is to be the healthiest worker possible, though oddly enough the hazards and penalties the player encounters most resemble those of the fun-loving Dutch Stoomboots Spel. Instead of being distracted from your destination by a warm cup of coffee or a fiery glass of jenever, however, you are penalized for consulting a folk healer (which lands you in the cemetery), drinking a beer at lunch (which lands you in a homeless shelter), or consorting with a strange woman (which gives you syphilis). Squares inform the player of various statistics (“forty-six percent of murders and sixty-three percent of robberies occur under the influence of alcohol”) and attempt to dispel popular medical misconceptions (“tuberculosis is not cured by medicine but by fresh air, sun and food”).10 The board, through its clever design, emphasizes that the worker’s health is in his own hands, just as the worker pictured holds the list of rules in one hand and a lever controlling the flywheels (both printed with the slogans imploring workers to take responsibility for improving the quality of their own lives) in the other.

healthy living
Healthy Living, printed in Moscow, 1926 — Source (likely not public domain).

Though Healthy Living may look bizarre to many of us today, it can look no more bizarre than the American Game of Life or Monopoly, with their emphasis on the accumulation of capital, would have looked to a Russian proletarian. Games, like religion and song, have existed since before history began, and as with religion and song they are creations in which we cannot help but reveal our desires, prejudices, and fears. They may be overtly political, like the Jeu de la Révolution française, or they may unconsciously disclose cultural beliefs, like the obsession with speed evident in the Jules Verne and Nelly Bly games produced in nineteenth-century France, England, and America. But in every case they generate an alternate space in which people can play through the anxieties of their daily lives according to clearly established rules and, so long as there is no actual money on the line, without any fear of harm. “In a game,” writes Roberto Calasso, “one is aware of tension, yet the rite is still . . .detached from the world of fact, as if keeping itself two palm breadths above the ground.”11 It is little wonder that every variety of moral and political regime has put its stamp on a board game or two. There are few pursuits that so perfectly replicate our attempts to imagine the course of progress, which seems so sensible it ought to be inevitable but is nevertheless subject to chance.

Alex Andriesse received his doctorate in English literature from Boston College in 2013. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Granta, 3:AM Magazine, and The Millions. His translation of Chateaubriand’s Memoirs from Beyond the Grave, 1768–1800 is published by NYRB Classics, and another translation, of Roberto Bazlen’s Notes Without a Text, is forthcoming from Dalkey Archive Press in 2019. In addition to editing the Review of Contemporary Fiction, he has also edited two volumes of the anthology Best European Fiction. He lives in the Netherlands. Find him on Twitter here.

1. Joan Aruz, Kim Benzel, and Jean Evans, eds., Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Century B. C. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008), 151.
2. David Parlett, The Oxford History of Board Games (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 6.
3. Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1999), 560.

4. Aruz, Benzel, and Evans, Beyond Babylon, 151.
5. Ernst Strouhal, De Wereld in Spelen, trans. Anne Marie Koper (Hilversum: Fontaine Uitgevers, 2016), 16.
6. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Das Leben ist ein Gänsespiel”, Sämtliche Werke, vol. 11 (Leipzig: Insel Verlag, 1920), 675.
7. Strouhal, De Wereld in Spelen, 55.
8. Ibid., 60.
9. Ibid., 17.
10. Ibid., 17.
11. Roberto Calasso, Ka, trans. Tim Parks (London: Vintage, 1999), 329.

Public Domain Works

Further Reading

The Oxford History of Board Games

(Oxford University Press)

by David Parlett

Parlett investigates the myriad board games that have developed through the ages and around the world. Beautifully illustrated with period art and helpful diagrams that show the finer points of the games, this is a fascinating and accessible guide to a richly rewarding subject.

More info and buy

It’s All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan

(Thomas Dunne Books, 2017)

by Tristan Donovan

In this wonderfully entertaining trip around the board, through 4,000 years of game history, Donovan opens the box on the incredible and often surprising history and psychology of board games.

More info and buy

The Games We Played: The Golden Age of Board & Table Games

(Princeton Architectural Press)

by Margaret Hofer

Fascinating look at the world of 19th-century board games, richly illustrated with examples from the collection of the New-York Historical Society.

More info and buy

Books link through to Amazon who will give us a small percentage of sale price (ca. 4.5%). Discover more recommended books in our dedicated section of the site: FURTHER READING.

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From the plane it becomes clearer:
the bodies on the floor a kind of fan
around the poisoned altar, blood
lubricating the passageway home.

Shock the sky and shake the earth,
hidden landscape a human highway,
busted stuff and despair the sleeper
that rose and blew up our dreams.

Do the feelings stay? They do not.
Ribs of disaster break and splinter
throughout Jonestown, religion
a forced march to murdered ideals.


© Rupert M Loydell

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On Euro Vision and the Migration Strategy #Flashnews (part 3)

©John Stadnicki, 2019


In 2012, Theresa Mary May (née Brasier) was just a mere Home Secretary. She was under pressure from David William Donald (née Cameron), who was fighting Nigel Paul (née Farage) on the electoral front, to do something about the migration data. And she had an idea which got her a few brownie points from the PM. ‘Dave, why not produce a hostile environment for undocumented migrants,’ she said, to which the PM responded ‘Well done, Theresita, that’s my girl.’ And, as simple as that, the hostile environment strategy was conceived on a sofa in 10 Downing Street, and later on ended up being implemented.

The strategy is up and running since 2016. The Guardian (ed. 16th Feb. 2019) reports that the Home Office is attempting to embed immigration officers at a rate of almost £60 an hour as part of an ‘enhanced checking service.’ The service is available to public services, including NHS trusts and local authorities, as well as private firms. Over the past two and a half years, Home Office officers have been deployed to test the policy. But the strategy is not just about ‘enhanced checking.’

Institutions and organisations are offered ‘real-time’ access to information about someone’s immigration status as well as ‘on-site immigration official.’ The on-site officer can attend interviews and can encourage undocumented migrants to leave the country voluntarily. There is no public information about the methods used to encourage people to leave but, hopefully, with the media’s pressure, the Home Office will release further details.

I will not explore any further how the public funds are used under the pretext of national security. The governmental misjudgement and funding misplacement are, by now, legendary locally and Europeanly. And the Home Office’s policies seem to fit well a system based on miscommunication and misunderstanding.

There is something more bothersome I came across not very long ago. A few weeks ago, I came to understand that a young British citizen, travelling by train from London to Paris, managed to cross the border without a passport. The UK Border Agency let the young Brit off on the basis that the teenager was travelling as part of the group and had a scanned copy of his passport saved on a laptop. Although getting out of the country was easy, coming back from Paris a few days later created a bit of a problem at the Parisian train station. But the British citizen managed to get back to Britain on his scanned document, whilst the UK Border Agency’s officer warned the eyewitnesses that he would put a complaint against the section of the UK Border Agency which had let the person travel in the first place. Well, who is going to check that such a complaint was actually put forward?

The questions this incident brings forward are numerous. The issue of ‘legality’ in such a case would be the first, followed by the problem with the Home Office’s wasted funds on ‘monitorisation.’ And there are rhetorical points here. What is the point in having passports, if one could just travel without? Would a migrant have been allowed to travel from the UK to Europe and vice-versa without a passport? If I turn up at Heathrow or St. Pancras with just a scanned copy of my passport, will I manage to cross the border without problems? (to be continued)


© Maria Stadnicka, 2019


Further reading:


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How Dylan Gets His Job Done

Bob Dylan’s Poetics: How the Songs Work, Timothy Hampton (277pp, $29.95,Zone Books, Brooklyn)

Of books about Bob Dylan, there is no end. They have changed in nature, however: biographical tomes such as Michael Gray’s Song and Dance Man and Robert Shelton’s No Direction Home have given way to detailed exegetical analyses of specific parts of Dylan’s discography (Clinton Heylin on the Basement Tapes, for instance) and now, with the added cachet that comes along with being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, come the academic studies. Timothy Hampton’s book, however, is of genuine interest.

Hampton’s approach, as his title suggests, is to focus on Dylan’s ‘Poetics’, that is, how he is situated in relation to his songs, as his career progresses. If you buy this book seeking biographical revelations or exhaustive trawls through bootlegs, you will be disappointed. It is a fairly literary study, but not dry, and as a long-standing admirer of Dylan, I was genuinely enlightened by many of Hampton’s carefully developed ideas.

He begins by defining carefully his focus: ‘the intersection of lyric, music and performance’ and how Dylan’s songs work. Because of Dylan’s stature, this means taking on American history, nuances of folk and blues genres and working through a cache of songs already encrusted with familiarity and importance. Hampton is up to this, however. He sets out (with some judicious aid from Dylan’s own Chronicles) how Dylan differed from the other denizens of Greenwich Village in 1961 and 1962, borrowing stances and attitudes from Woody Guthrie and others to forge something new from collaging them together: in other words, why people are still writing books about Robert Zimmerman rather than Dave Van Ronk. He illuminates how a folk standard like ‘No More Auction Block for Me’ can eventually give birth to something wildly more affecting and ambitious like ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’, and how some of these stylistic breakthoughs allow Dylan to move on to writing songs like ‘A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall’.

This is, however, only one side of Bob Dylan: stylistically, he was already travelling faster than others. Encounters with Brecht and, specifically, the song ‘Pirate Jenny’ lead, via Allen Ginsberg, to ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ and the other canonical songs found on Bringing it all Back Home (1965). The multiplicity of vision Dylan took from reading Rimbaud begins to suggest ways in which he can seize the distinctively modern moment whilst still reflecting wider sociological currents. Then there are the electrical currents which animate both Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde within two years. Hampton negotiates these well-trodden paths and is particularly illuminating on the structural features of ‘Queen Jane Approximately’ and ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’. The chapter on this period, ‘Absolutely Modern’, finds many new things to say about the fierce intelligence Dylan brought to the art of songwriting whilst creating an incredible sequence of songs.

All studies of Dylan then have to deal with his withdrawal from the public eye in 1966 and what follows: John Wesley Harding and the eventual release of The Basement Tapes. Hampton wisely ignores the question of Dylan’s motorcycle accident and focuses on the simpler genre exercises that filled this album and the succeeding Nashville Skyline of 1969. The less complex songs lead to fewer levels of meaning and Hampton seems to struggle to shed light on ‘All Along the Watchtower’ and ‘Dear Landlord’, where biographical detail is crucial. Hampton asserts that Dylan falls back on older relationships between subject and object in his songwriting, but there is surely plenty of striking imagery still to consider. Also, to dismiss Basement Tapes songs such as ‘This Wheel’s on Fire’ in a single comment is surely to short-change the reader.

Hampton is on safer ground when he comes to tackle Blood on the Tracks (1975), seeing Kerouac’s On the Road as crucial to the terrain of these divorce songs. More surprisingly, Petrarch and his sonnets are revealed as a major influence, as Hampton convincingly explores the rhyme-schemes of the lyrics. There are also biographical shadings, too: a less domestic, less settled Dylan writes more interesting songs. Desire comes out of his discussion very much a lesser album, in the shadow of Blood on the Tracks.

When it comes to Dylan’s religious phase, Hampton is less conflicted than many other commentators: he takes it as a given that Dylan has always been interested in gospel stylings and content, and chooses to focus on two major songs written as he was moving on again: ‘Every Grain of Sand’, and ‘Jokerman’, from Infidels. In this part of the study, more biographical detail might have been illuminating: there is a major shift from the evangelical certainties of Saved (1980) to the more wordly ambiguities evident in the Infidels songs just three years later. Like every writer on Dylan, he has much to say on ‘Blind Willie McTell’, one of his acknowledged late masterpieces, but as every Dylan listener will tell you, much of the power of this song comes not just from the blues images in the lyrics, but also from the impassioned conviction of the vocals in the two extant studio versions.

Finally, Hampton considers Dylan’s artistic renaissance, from Time Out of Mind (1997) onwards. Here he tackles Dylan’s ‘borrowings’ from other writers and old blues motifs quite effectively, with  an interesting postscript on his vocal delivery of the Sinatra songs he has recently covered. The search for citation can be an absorbing alleyway off the main thoroughfare, however, and the final chapter feels a little underwritten in places. One major quibble is that Hampton says little about the input of Robert Hunter on the songs comprising Together through Life (2009). As former songwriting partner to Jerry Garcia in the Grateful Dead, he has his own attitude to storytelling and ambiguity, and a consideration of this could have opened up new areas for discussion. Dylan rarely works with a co-writer: when he does, it merits consideration.

In all, then, this is one of the more thought-provoking books on Dylan’s songwriting. The casual fan and the Dylan obsessive will both be surprised by some of Hampton’s insights, and it does attempt a balanced overview of all stages of Dylan’s career. One wishes there were more on Oh Mercy, 1989’s precursor to Time out of Mind, and I continue to search for a serious discussion in books on Dylan of ‘Things Have Changed’, a song he obviously finds important and plays in nearly all his recent sets. It begs comparison with ‘The Times they are a-Changin’’, using Hampton’s intertextual approach. Despite these caveats, this is a stimulating and wide-ranging study.



© M.C. Caseley 2019

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Embroidered vintage postcards – in pictures

Tree with embroidered flowers
Washing line and mountains


Family portrait with embroidered faces
Horse with embroidered body
Train surrounded by embroidered flowers


Mansion house


Woman on beach


Chalet with embroidered roof


Woman with squares
Woman on a bench
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How to Make Friends by Telephone

These new telephones are so confusing!

It’s amazing to think that, not so long ago, the telephone was a novel enough technology that books were published to help you master this strange new method of communication.  I’m sure we’ll look back on internet guides of today with a similar sense of curiosity – how could someone possibly need a guidebook for something so commonplace?

The book How to Make Friends by the Telephone was published in the 1940s and starts with a brief intro, then it’s off to the step-by-step guide which borders on the fanatical.


How to Make Friends by Telephone

The Intro:  In which our book explains a very foreign concept – that, when using the Telephone (with a capital “T”), you will be reliant only on your voice.  Your winning smile can’t save you now…

How often you meet folks whose voices delight you! There’s something in the way they say almost everything… the inflection, the emphasis, the tone, the timing… that lets you know at once that here is a person who is gracious, sympathetic, understanding and charming.

Then again there are others you meet face to face whose diction and tone are not up to par… but you excuse it because of a winning smile or personality.

Over the telephone, however, your voice and your voice alone… is you.  It’s not just what you say but how you say it that results in making friends and that smooths the way for the quick, pleasant transaction of the business at hand.


How to Make Friends by Telephone

Allow time to answer. “Wait at least a full minute.”

A full minute is a long freaking time.  FYI – a phone rings 8 times in thirty seconds.  If someone takes 16 rings to pick up, chances are they didn’t want to talk, but answered because the incessant ringing was driving them crazy.

Use a normal tone of voice

I agree.  It is annoying to talk to some mumbling idiot.  But what’s with the “Glub-Glub-Mo-Blon!”?  Apparently, the book is also instructing you to not use made-up languages or speak in tongues.


How to Make Friends by Telephone

Apologize for wrong numbers

The wrong numbers I receive are generally angry and rude – worse, many give me the creeps.  If only this book could be required reading for the whole planet.

Visualize the person you call
“Speak to the person at the other end of the line… not to the telephone”

It’s strange to think that we would need this basic level of instruction to talk on the phone – but when you stop and realize that, until then, mankind talked face-to-face…. speaking into this devise must have seemed unnatural.

It also looks like this fellow may be taking this visualization routine to another level.  He’s a pioneer in what would later be known as phone sex.


How to Make Friends by Telephone

Use the customer’s name
“There is no sweeter music to another person than the sound of his own name.”

I guess if that person happens to be completely self-obsessed, this would be true.  But for the non-egomaniacs of the world, the sound of their name is just a friendly nicety.

Explain delays
“…you will make friends by asking the customer if you can call him back rather than keep him waiting.”

I’m getting the impression that this book’s definition of making friends is different than my definition of making friends.


How to Make Friends by Telephone

Handle other’s calls tactfully
“May I tell him who called?”  Of course it’s a “him”; it’s the mid-century office space – could it be any other way?

Transferring calls
“If your telephone is served through a private br4anch exchange, slowly depress and release the receiver hook two or three times.  Stay on the line until your P.B.X. operator answrs and has been instructed as to the disposition of the call.”

Transferring calls was a bitch in the 1940s.


telephone book (6)

Who should end the call?
“It’s usually best to allow the calling party to end the call and hang up first.  However, some business firms prefer to let the customer hang up first.”

I’m glad to hear stupid rules aren’t exclusive to the 21st century workplace.

Hang up gently
“A receiver banged down may seem like slamming the door in someone’s face.”

Really?  Hanging the receiver down hard creates a louder disconnect?  I’m old enough to have used these old rotary phones and I call bullshit on that one.


crop f

Man, they had talking on the telephone down to a science in the 1940s.  “1/20 as good as A” – that’s a pretty precise quantitation.  With all the complex measurements and strict code of conduct, I can’t help but think that maybe they were making things a bit more complicated than necessary.


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                                                           A cat in the box.

                                                            Hold that thought.

Now imagine a goddess 

                                                             Rising naked

Out of chaos: she divides

Sea from land, pirouettes

                                                            Each whitecap,

                                                             Rides a randy serpent

Until they’re both spent,

                                                             Drops her egg into

    Its Father’s tightening coils

Until, split shell flaking

All creation tumbles out.

Hold on to that as well.


                                                             Next imagine


sudden light where there was nothing not even emptiness imagine that
spasm echoing splashes coalescing as dust snags dust onto blizzards of new born stone that collide re-coil spinning energy mass a magma globe first day dawning
comets volley down first water rising as rivers quenching first bedrock falling
rain sowing seas where single strands plait the first double helix that uncoils


           through millennia into organised

                   Form: remember that cat in the box?

          Well now she’s a mewling kitten

   Who’s also an ageing corpse.

               Finally, in no more than seventeen

                     Syllables, distil the above three images

 And express as a metaphor.




Kevin McCann
Illustration Nick Victor

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Syrian Dance Macabre

Since I drew it, this dance has continued it’s unholy way across the sands.

Dai Owen


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Kafka Animations


Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari thought of Kafka as an international writer, in solidarity with minority groups worldwide. Other scholars have characterized his work—and Kafka himself wrote as much—as literature concerned with national identity. Academic debates, however, have no bearing on how ordinary readers, and writers, around the world take in Kafka’s novels and short stories. Writers with both national and international pedigrees such as Borges, Murakami, Marquez, and Nabokov have drawn much inspiration from the Czech-Jewish writer, as have filmmakers and animators. Today we revisit several international animations inspired by Kafka, the first, above by Polish animator Piotr Dumala.



Trained as a sculptor, Dumala’s textural brand of “destructive animation” creates chilling, high contrast images that appropriately capture the eerie and unresolved play of light and dark in Kafka’s work. The Polish artist’s 1997 Franz Kafka draws on scenes from the author’s life, as told in his diaries.

Next, watch a very disorienting 2007 Japanese adaptation of Kafka’s “A Country Doctor” by animator Koji Yamamura. The soundtrack and monotone Japanese dialogue (with subtitles) effectively conveys the tone of the story, which John Updike described as “a sensation of anxiety and shame whose center cannot be located and therefore cannot be placated; a sense of an infinite difficulty with things, impeding every step.” Read the original story here.


Russian-American team Alexander Alexeieff and Claire Parker created the 1963 animation above using a “pinscreen” technique, which photographs the three-dimensional movement of hundreds of pins, making images from real light and shadow. We’ve previously written on just “how demanding and painstaking an effort” the animators made to create their work. Their previous efforts got the attention of Orson Welles, who commissioned the above short as a prologue for his Anthony Perkins-starring film version of The Trial. And yes, that voice you hear narrating the parable “Before the Law,” an excerpt from Kafka’s novel, is Welles himself.



Kafka’s most famous story, The Metamorphosis, inspired Canadian animator Caroline Leaf’s 1977 film above. Leaf’s Kafka animation also takes a sculptural approach to the author’s work, this time sculpting in sand, a medium Leaf herself says created “black and white sand images” with “the potential to have a Kafka-esque feel—dark and mysterious.” However we interpret the content of Kafka’s work, the feel of his stories is unmistakable to readers and interpreters across continents. It’s one that consistently inspires artists to use a spare, high contrast style in adapting him.

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Related Content:

Vladimir Nabokov (Channelled by Christopher Plummer) Teaches Kafka at Cornell

Hunter S. Thompson and Franz Kafka Inspire Animation for a Bookstore Benefiting Oxfam

Kafka’s Famous Character Gregor Samsa Meets Dr. Seuss in a Great Radio Play

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


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The Beauty of the Moment

The Jerry Cornelius Chronicles of Brexit Britain



‘Four-day week trial: study finds lower stress but no cut in output.’

– The Guardian, 19 Feb 2019


‘Four days?’ said Jerry Cornelius ‘Four days? Who on earth would work four days in a week? For goodness sake… When would I have time for parties? Or sleep? Or making love?’

Jemima, who was lounging beside him in a rather becoming cheesecloth shirt and little else, nodded in agreement, then rolled over and went back to sleep.

Jerry thought the whole idea of employment was ludicrous. A trust fund was all you needed, in his case on set up by himself several centuries ago when banks first came into being. If you couldn’t buy your own freedom, what could you do. He was bored with killing at the moment, in fact he was bored full stop. Perhaps it was time to move.

He looked at Jemima longingly, opened the door and was gone.



‘“Don’t feed the monster!” The people who have stopped buying new clothes.’

– The Guardian, 19 Feb 2019

Jerry is flicking through the rails of the Cancer Research charity shop. She appears to be shopping, but is merely browsing. She is on a mission to buy new clothes, even ones that have recently belonged to someone else. Jerry has the fourth largest environmental impact after housing, transport and food.

‘We don’t have enough resources to keep feeding this monster,’ said a government representative. ‘Ms Cornelius must curb her appetite. She need to take a look at herself and ask “What are you doing?’”

‘What am I doing?’ asks Jerry. ‘I am not as trendy as I used to be. I need to be more experimental, more free. I want to restructure my brain.’

She does not care one bit about damaging the environment or perpetuating consumption and waste. She know there’s life in these things.




‘Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel fashion designer, dies aged 85.’

– The Guardian,19 Feb 2019


The mourners are dressed, as is customary, in black. The most exquisite, expensive, handmade blacks possible. Dark sunglasses and black leather gloves are coupled with black tailored suits, accompanied by fetching veils, sculpted hats and complex small black dressed. Tears and black handkerchiefs are optional.

One of the most prolific and admired designers of modern times, Jerry was famously uncompromising in his design vision. He was scheduled to be present for fittings this week, but will now have to rely on finding time and following his own path, will continue to embrace the present and invent the future.

He will never forget his incredible talent and endless inspiration.





‘How Britain’s post-industrial cities got hooked on booze. With heavy industry mostly gone, cities such as Newcastle, Leeds and Liverpool have become worryingly dependent on the alcohol-driven night-time economy.’

– The Guardian,19 Feb 2019


Jerry is unable to walk, although at regular intervals he is able to throw up some of the bottle of rum he has just drunk.

In many ways he is a hangover from the past: protecting his reputation comes at a high price. He has multiple issues of substance abuse and mental health. He may be immortal but he wants to know he’ll be looked after, not left abandoned on a night out.

‘No one ever talks about political responsibility or the industry’s responsibility. This is a dominant mono-narrative about blaming young people. We must accept that the unfettered availability and supply of alcohol is a prerequisite for the sustainability of the night-time economy. Or a good night out.’

As Jerry knows, the first step to recovery is admitting he has a problem.

But he is busy tottering precariously close to the edge.





‘Oldest skull mudlarked from Thames belongs to neolithic male.’

– The Guardian,19 Feb 2019


The frontal bone is understood to belong to a male over the age of 18.

Jerry hates it when they find parts of him. He is scattered through history, left bloodstains on the past, graffiti on the city walls. He abandoned every love of his life to sleep with their great grandparents and their great great grandchildren. He thinks of himself as Adam and Eve, misses everyone of his children who he never visits.

He puts his head in his hands. ‘No-one will never understand. That is the beauty of the moment.’

Radiocarbon dating of the bone, revealed that the man had died about 5,600 years ago.


© Rupert Loydell 2019
Illustration: Rupert Loydell



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Too Rare to Die

Playing tracks by

Humble Pie, Catfish, Rory Gallagher, The Allman Brothers Band, Ten Years After and more.

The night Tripper

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Birds of Passage

why won’t the military blow their horns instead of their bombs?


by various artists

Streaming + Download
Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

The Sound Of Shellac Norway

“Music is the universal laws promulgated..:” – H.D.Thoreau


Christian Strøm


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What’s up Doc?

( Daniel Horowitz )

Mel Blanc was known as “the man of 1,000 voices,” but the actual number may have been closer to 1,500. Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Tweety, Barney Rubble — all Mel. His characters made him one of the most beloved men in America. And in 1961, when a car crash left him in a coma, these characters may have saved him.

Mel Blanc wasn’t just a voice man. He created entire personalities, each with its own nuances and hilarious quirks. His son Noel Blanc says his dad invested so much into Bugs, Porky, Daffy, Tweety et al that Mel’s face and body would transform with every cartoon animal that spoke through him. This summer, our producer Sean Cole interviewed Noel at the Blanc family house on Big Bear Lake outside of LA. Sean had heard a crazy story about Mel nearly dying in a crash on Dead Man’s Curve on Hollywood Boulevard — and about the moment two weeks later when Bugs Bunny emerged from Mel’s coma before Mel did. In fact, according to neurosurgeon Louis Conway who attended to Mel at the time, it seemed as though Bugs Bunny was trying to save his life.

Sean, Noel, Dr. Conway and NYU brain scientist Orrin Devinsky weigh over what it might mean to be rescued by a figment of your own imagination, and whether one self can win out over another in a moment of crisis.

“Dead’s Man Curve,” which Jan and Dean immortalized in song, is just north of UCLA’s Drake Stadium on Sunset Boulevard. According to Mel Blanc’s autobiography “That’s Not All Folks,” age-old plans to straighten the curve were finally approved after his accident.

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WNYC Studios
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May you live in interesting times

oh yes  guesses frights and losses pile up
barricades for where we aren’t yet
and audible sighs for versions of a mythic past
but who is present actually who can answer
Bowie`s insistent where are we now?

universal abstracts are not for the moment
ours to play with only a please synaptic alert
a limbic system pulse wake up wake up
to an amygdalan party I`d vote for if it helped
being european and human

so many otherenglish folk
standing pitchfork ready round the fire
in the future where otherenglish folk
fumble for the correct accent or look
and I am so very sorry about this

premonition probability or story
the nostalgia trade and landswoon opiate
the furry fourfooted increments to the white cliffs
where we sway in our hypnagogic state
up in arms voiding insight




Sandra Tappenden

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5G and GMO – Partners in Genocide

Illustration: Claire Palmer

by Julian Rose

We know that the genetic engineering of the plant and animal kingdom alters their DNA, and does the same to those who regularly ingest GM foods. People, animals, fish, insects and plants that absorb or are cross contaminated by other genetically modified species, are the victims of the recombinant DNA laboratory techniques used in genetic engineering.

It’s not for nothing that the engineered produce that emerges out of this process earned the title ‘Frankenstein Food’.

But, as GMO hit the fields, another Frankenstein was in development that was to have its own special set of devastating consequences for life on this planet: Electro Magnetic Frequencies (EMF). This synthetic form of pulsed electricity started its life as a military/secret service weapon, using microwave frequencies to penetrate buildings and spy on human activities.

We now know that both GMO and EMF come from the same stable and that both are being used as ‘intentional’ weapons of biological destabilization. There is no chance that (EMF) technologies capable of such drastic alteration to the genome responsible for the propagation of life on Earth, were commercialized simply to provide people with convenient pocket-sized wireless communication tools and Flavor Saver tomatoes

GMO and 5G share the same basic goal: to alter living matter in such a way as to exert 100% control over it. In the case of GMO, for example, genetically altering the DNA of maize, soya, cotton or a tomato, so they can be sprayed with the toxic herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) – and remain unaffected – while the weeds around them shrivel to the ground and die.

In human terms, this technique is called eugenics. Keeping the traits you want and killing off the rest. A practice the Nazi party promoted in World War Two for the perpetuation of a ‘pure’ Aryan race, free from any ‘racial impurities’. A movement which already existed in the USA under the auspices of the American Eugenics Society during the 1920’s and 30’s.

The EMF known as 5G, starts from the same basic premise, but moves from eugenics into genocide. The microwave pulses emitted by EMF already form the foundation of 2G, 3G, 4G telecommunications and of WiFi. Scientists now have irrefutable evidence that these pulses (resonances) denature and distort the cellular composition and DNA of living matter.

5G shortens the resonance spaces into millimeter pulses and raises the output by a factor of at least ten; so that being within their range has been compared to being closed into an activated microwave oven.

WiFi and cell phone tower microwave transmissions are non-targeted, they are delivered as ‘broad spectrum’; just like the agrichemical herbicides that kill every living plant they hit and most soil organisms too. They are blanket attacks on nature and man, and the WiFi is tuned to wavelengths almost identical to the natural vibrational levels received by the human brain. Thus their operators can exert a direct controlling influence over the thought and behavioral patterns of those in the firing line; and these days, that is all of us. And of course, people are no aware that this is happening to them.

WiFi and electromagnetic microwaves were developed as secretive weapons of war in the 1950’s. ‘Silent weapons for quiet wars’ as their promoters described them, in the course of US military defense programs secretively rolled-out during the cold war period of stand-off between Russia and the USA.

Scientific minds engaged in single pointed deliverance of a weapons system, do not concern themselves with the affect their products have on human animal and ecological life. They accept lucrative contracts which are designed to keep them quiet, while superpower government defense agencies demand ever more ‘effective’ technologies to maintain their domination over world events.

So when you place your cell-phone next to your ear, remember it’s a weapon and not a harmless play-thing.

In mainstream commercial agriculture the same ethos is practiced. Plant breeding R&D is paid for by agribusiness corporations determined to dominate and control, in a global market centered around supplying super and hypermarket chains, animal feed conglomerates and raw material processing units. Genetic engineering the staple dietary commodities enables a corporation to patent – and therefore ‘own’ – the plant genome. In this way, the corporate body exerts a despotic power over planetary diversity, reducing the soils of fields in which their crops are sown, to a sterile waste land, in which just one patented crop stands – while everything around it is poisoned to death. This is called ‘ecocide’.

Thus we can add ecocide to eugenics in defining the practice of corporate agriculture under the auspices of such names as Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill. And indeed, research the background of corporations at the forefront of global agribusiness and you will find many have military origins and war related agendas. The war on nature is at least as drastic to the future of the planet as is the war on mankind.

GM foods and all monoculturally raised mass produced supermarket foods, are treated by agrichemical pesticides known for their toxic biological impacts; including malignant neuro-degenerative, reproductive, carcinogenic, respiratory and metabolic disorders in humans. And if that wasn’t bad enough they also, as I mentioned earlier, sterilize the soil of living matter, rendering it largely lifeless.

WiFi does its life diminishing sterilization from above. During the coming two years (2019/2020) the proposed 5G roll-out is to include the launching of 20,000 satellites whose multi targeting antennae – known as ‘phased arrays’ – will steadily irradiate (industry states: ‘will provide lag free internet’) ‘every square inch of the planet’, with electromagnetic microwaves beamed from the edge of space.

Common to both GMO and 5G, is a continuation of the process of rendering nature – and indeed man – a slave to the insatiable corporate appetite for profit, power and control. Both GMO and EMF are tools for rendering the planet inhospitable to humanity and devoid of natural diversity of flora and fauna, essential for the health and welfare of us all. Ultimately rendering this planet as a place only suited to those who feel no empathy, no compassion and no sense of belonging.

For, let us be clear, this is the actual psychological state of mind of those who are attempting to block humanity from developing its creative essence and spiritual aspirations. Block these unique gifts, so as to put in place a robotic substitute entirely devoid of free will and emotion. The cyborg.

We need to recognize that inhuman minds are behind inhuman technologies. Just think of the tens of thousands who have suffered a cruel fate under the commercial villainy of Monsanto over the past decades. With its asbestos, agent orange and aspartame – well before toxic GM soya beans ever saw the light of day. Its marriage to ex-Nazi Bayer corporation, reveals common fascistic ideologies. These same ideologies fuel the ambitions of politicians, media tycoons, bankers, corporate executives, technocrats and military hegemonists who rule the world today.

The proposed 20,000 5G satellite global microwaving exercise, which threatens all life on Earth, goes even further. It is a display of cold, calculating megalomania on the part of its ‘Star Link’ backers. It displays, in many respects, ambitions that are a mirror image of the corporate GMO gene splicer’s stated intention of dominating planetary agriculture. But 5G WiFi exponents have their eyes on controlling the input and output of ‘the internet of things’ – thereby designing and controlling the matrix of daily life. Google, Facebook and other social media operatives are at work on this agenda as I write.

Until now, many have fought-shy of recognizing the dark-side agenda that underpins such operations. But the time is soon coming when a critical mass of individuals will realize that the sinister manipulation of planet Earth and its inhabitants, by a tiny ascendant corporate cabal, would never have been possible without the unspoken complicity of around 95% of humanity. And if you and I look carefully, we will find our own contribution in there too.

None of us are outside ‘the system’. But more and more of us are at least waking-up to an admission of our duplicity/hypocrisy; and that is a crucial step in the process of liberation.

The next step is to act on one’s new found knowledge. Decisively. To become aware – and not to act on this awareness – is a betrayal of the unique gift each of us inherited at birth. It is like consigning one’s life to a prison camp. Don’t do it.

From this day forth, get on the front foot ‘in defense of life’ – and never look back!

Sign the Global Appeal to Stop 5g!


Julian Rose 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. He is the author of two acclaimed titles: Changing Course for Life and In Defence of Life and is a long time exponent of yoga/meditation. See Julian’s web site for more information and to purchase his books

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With the Noose Around My Neck 120


And then I slept. And then I woke. And then I remembered where I was, fuck, in “2018,” a rough date which one can easily imagine future archivists puzzling over with facial twitches. But fuck that shit. I may be done with poetry, I dunno, what can be said that’s adequate, “Oh, Life on Earth, I am with you in Rockland?” How about






…………………We are bold. We will not hide. We are in open rebellion. We have informed the       police and emergency services that these 5 bridges will be road-blocked: Southwark,       Blackfriars, Waterloo, Westminster and Lambeth.


…………………NOTE: Do NOT meet in Parliament Square. Head straight to a bridge for 10am.


…………………Here’s what to do:


…………………Choose a bridge and head there for 10am. Dress smart.


…………………Wander innocently up and down the bridge on the pedestrian walkways. Take selfies,       admire the view. Don’t congregate in large groups. Wait for the signal …


…………………Stewards in sashes will signal when to move out and take the road. Listen for       instructions to sit down. Participate in whatever unfolds …




…………………You will need to decide which bridge you want to join. The bridge line-ups (performers, musicians, speakers & artists) will be released on Friday. If you   represent a community affected, a movement that holds this close to their heart, you   perform or you just want to share in any way that moves you, please get in touch (with links to your art/organisation/offering:


…………………Remember, if moved, you are always welcome to talk on the day. This crisis affects us all, we all have a voice in this.




…………………If you choose to speak to the police we recommend you don’t tell them your name or any details. Please do not tell them or give away the names of other people.       Talk to them about the weather, pay-cuts and added job pressure due to austerity, and the need for them to break the chain of command at some point — in order to     follow       their own conscience and protect what they love too. However, always   remember they are paid to do a role in society, and that the role they are in may      ask them to turn on you very quickly. [JBR note: and keep in mind that they are a     bunch of motherfucking thugs who would like nothing better than to beat you to a bloody pulp]




…………………WHY BOTHER?


…………………In accordance with our conscience and as a clear duty to our children; our       communities; this nation; and the planet; we are going to rebel against this criminally       negligent government.


…………………Our government’s abject failure to protect citizens and the next generations from       unimaginable suffering brought about by climate breakdown and social collapse is      not acceptable.


…………………We will no longer stand idly by and allow the destruction of all we love.


…………………We are raging against this madness and our hearts are breaking.


…………………We have a right and duty to rebel in the face of this tyranny of idiocy – in the face of       this planned collective suicide.


…………………We are going to act …


Signed, Extinction Rebellion. The tendency for societies to collapse under excessive energy demands is an important insight. However, what Tainter and Diamond failed to appreciate is how oligarchy is an even more fundamental cause of civilization collapse. Oligarchic control compromises a society’s ability to make correct decisions in the face of existential threats.  This explains a seeming paradox in which past civilizations have collapsed despite possessing the cultural and technological know-how needed to resolve their crises.  The problem wasn’t that they didn’t understand the source of the threat or the way to avert it.  The problem was that societal elites benefitted from the system’s dysfunctions and, prevented available solutions. A 2014 study by USAmerican political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page revealed that the great majority of political decisions made in the United States reflect the interests of elites. After studying nearly 1,800 policy decisions passed between 1981 and 2002, the researchers argued that “both individual economic elites and organized interest groups (including corporations, largely owned and controlled by wealthy elites) play a substantial part in affecting public policy, but the general public has little or no independent influence.” And since then it’s only gotten worse. Today, oligarchic control over decision-making, and its catastrophic ecological and social effects, have never been clearer. Need I mention that piece of human garbage Donald J Trump? Need I mention who his colleagues are? And to think, I almost feel sorry for his army of white supremacist patriarchal shits (but I don’t, really, I hate their stinking guts and wish I lived in a world where they didn’t exist). Of course, oligarchs don’t just run the US. The oligarchs are everywhere, running every country in the world, and each oligarchy has its own vicious army of stooges and saps. As long as a self-interested elite controls decision-making in modern states, we are every-which-way fucked. But this is all old news, isn’t it? So maybe yes, maybe I will say


…………………Hey kids! Hell yes! I’m with you in Rockland

…………………I’m with you in Rockland

………………………….where you must feel very strange

………………..I’m with you in Rockland

…………………………where you scream in a straightjacket that you’re losing the game of the actual                 pingpong of the abyss

………………..I’m with you in Rockland

…………………………where you bang on the piano the soul is innocent and immortal it should never               live or die under such conditions

………………..I’m with you in Rockland

…………………………O starry-spangled shock of don’t-call-this-mercy the eternal war is here


………………..The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in

………………..Meltdown expected, the wheat is growin’ thin

………………..Engines stop running, but I have no fear


I’m just fucking furious. The victims were all dominant adult males that had been strong enough to fight with a neighboring baboon troop over the spoils at a garbage dump and were exposed there to meat tainted with bovine tuberculosis, which killed them. Left behind in the group, designated the “Forest Troop,” were the 50 percent of males that had been too subordinate to try dump brawling, as well as all the females and their young. With that change in demography came a cultural swing toward pacifism, a relaxing of the traditional baboon hierarchy and a willingness to use affection and mutual grooming rather than threats, swipes and bites to foster community. Remarkably, the Forest Troop has maintained its genial style over two decades, even though the male survivors of the epidemic have since died or disappeared and been replaced by males from the outside. As is the case for most primates, baboon females spend their lives in their natal home, while the males leave at puberty to seek their fortunes elsewhere. The persistence of communal comity suggests that the resident baboons somehow are instructing the immigrants in the unusual customs of the tribe. “We don’t yet understand the mechanism of transmittal,” said Robert Sapolsky, a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, “but the jerky new guys are obviously learning [that] ‘we don’t do things like that around here.’” Sapolsky, who is renowned for his study of the physiology of stress, said the Forest Troop baboons probably felt as good as they acted. Hormone samples from the monkeys showed far less evidence of stress in even the lowest-ranking individuals, when contrasted with baboons living in rancorous societies. The researchers were able to compare the behavior and physiology of the contemporary Forest Troop primates with two control groups: a similar-size baboon congregation living nearby, called the “Talek Troop,” and the Forest Troop itself from 1979 through 1982. In the baboon study, the culture being conveyed is less a specific behavior or skill than it is a code of conduct. The report also offers proof in the field of behavior observed in captive populations of monkeys: With the right upbringing, tact is infectious. Frans de Waal, the director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University in Atlanta, has shown that if the normally pugilistic rhesus monkeys are reared with the more conciliatory stumptailed monkeys, the rhesus monkeys learn the value of tolerance and peacemaking. De Waal, who wrote an essay to accompany the new baboon study, said, “The good news for humans is that it looks like peaceful conditions, once established, can be maintained,” he said, “if baboons can do it,” he said, “why not us? … you might have to first knock out all the most aggressive males to get there …” OK, then what better day than today even just to ask


………………..are you feelin all right, I’m not feelin that good myself. To which the answer is a                    recorded ‘how the fuck do I know’, so me

…………………………I will make some soup

………………..called “God Soup”

…………………………cause God only knows what I’m gonna put in it

………………..and think back to my dream where the bank

………………..congratulated me on a sensible decision and I was there in the enormous

…………………………branch of Home Depot piling up wood to exchange for money


…………………………so first I will make this soup, second I will stand back up, third

………………..hear some shithead politician say that we should visit

………………..the library. But mister, the library was closed, you remember, a funding thing …

……………… were in on it.

…………………………Even better! The next one is twenty-five miles away, you could jog there,


………………..saying over and over love trumps hate or thoughts and prayers.

…………………………Meanwhile those giant hands,

………………..hands in the air over the visible cosmos, hands



…………………………this corner of the sky

…………………………of everything in this world


which is to say, with The Wyrding Module, on their Nine Dimensional Synod Of Oblique Pleasures


………………..Those that imbibe the Dark Milk devour their own minds.

………………..Eyeless watchers who heed not the laws of Time and Space.

………………..All that remained were their curious idols and patches of scorched earth.

………………..Infused with the venom of Giant Aquatic Centipedes.


I mean,


Have you felt the death molecules in the air.

Vomit vomit vomit vomit vomit vomit vomit.

Black square.

I texted love you some forty-three times in the last few years.

I found a list of the most popular baby names for various countries.

I made a list, one

Male and one female from each country.

Then I alphabetized it.


“What were we talking about again?”

“You going to pin the 90s on me?”

“All thirty years of them.”

Those rusty nails have no wings

And have no voice other than a white world dying.

There are indeed book pages in the gas pump.


The pages contain a few of the notions that inform the Centre for Emotional Materiality (CEM), a collaboration between Surabhi Saraf, Sophia Wang, and multiple others. CEM came about as Saraf devoted her research to host of concerns: embodied cognition, emotional intelligence, AI, materiality of digital media, religion, myth, and rituals. Her collaborators are identified as Practitioners or Residents. At the heart of this project is Awoke, an Artificial Emotional Intelligence (not an AI, an AEI). Awoke is as a large plastic boulder and monitor on which what’s going on inside the boulder is visualized, eee gee,


here is


Mobius strip


stunned clowns


and recipes for eight showstopping pies that you can trust that we’ve tested (and retested) to deliver at the holidays. And we promise, they taste as good as they look. We check and recheck every detail (it’s worth it), thank you, we’re The New York Times. During the event, McLaren will also be unveiling the all-new McLaren 600 LT supercar, featuring 592 horsepower and a stunning 0-60 time of 2.9 seconds. Experience McLaren’s racing DNA during a dynamic 30-minute drive and explore the advanced technologies that go into McLaren street performance design, courtesy of a factory-trained McLaren product specialist. Ivan grew up on the campuses of schools for troubled adolescents, where his father was the executive director. He currently sits on the board of advisors for The Grove School in Madison, CT. He has a background in wellness services and the entertainment industry, where he acted in close to 50 TV commercials and has been seen in hundreds of print advertisements. Ivan has been fortunate to develop and maintain relationships with people from all around the world. Feeling a natural pull towards business, he delved into real estate 10 years ago, becoming licensed, buying his own investment property and subsequently realizing he had a real fascination with the artistic elements of architecture and landscape design. After six short months in the industry, Ivan was recruited to help sell a luxury development in South Beach. Ivan quickly developed into a star sales agent in his first pre-construction project, forming strategic partnerships with companies like Marquis Jets, Extreme Car Share and Ultimate Escapes. This propelled him along a fast trajectory to being a leading sales director in new construction projects like Terra Beachside Villas, Ios on the Bay, The 1800 Club and Artecity. Following a two-month business trip to Cape Town, South Africa, Ivan returned to Miami Beach and joined ONE Sotheby’s International Realty in 2013, joining sales teams for Kai Bay Harbor and The W South Beach. He has also forged a multi-million-dollar producing general real estate business specializing in pre-construction and luxury condominiums & homes. Ivan is an Associate Broker, Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR), and holds a Green (GREEN) Designation from the National Association of Realtors. He is also a member of the esteemed Master Broker’s Forum. In his free time you can find Ivan taking fast-paced interval classes at Barry’s Bootcamp, participating in yoga, CrossFit and many other athletic endeavors. Growing up, his family had second homes in Fire Island, NY and St. John, USVI, so Ivan is a natural lover of the ocean and frequently goes on boating, fishing and spearfishing trips with his clients and friends. Ga became fascinated by how her French crewmates called the lighthouse le phare, and it did not take long for that fascination to lead her to the word pharos which was the name of a sunken spit of land or island off the Egyptian coast, from which the famous Pharos of Alexandria took its name. Or vice versa. Think, then, of Square Octagon Circle the way you would If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. Which you are never able to begin reading because all the pages are out of order and belong to other books. When you go to the bookstore to buy a new, hopefully more readable, copy — only to be confronted by the same problem — you meet the beautiful Ludmilla, and the rest is, well, you know what they say. “There was no plot,” complains William of Baskerville, “and I discovered it by mistake.” As such, we cannot know if we are looking at it top-down or bottom-up. In other words, I find myself in a sequence of underwater backgrounds in varying stages of lucidity. In other words, “everything that exhists is in the tingleverse it is infinite timelines stacked from top to bottom although science buds (wearing open labratory robes with abs underneath could be channing tatum could be somebody else who knows buckaroo) argue about which layer is top. also we are close to the top in this timeline but i think that is debate for another day anyway every action since this timeline began has various outcomes and then every outcome has others and even more it is like a web of choices spreading out for billions of years and every one has its own timeline some are very different and some are very similar. long story short THE TINGLEVERSE is everything that exhists and THE VOID is everything that dosnt.” WHAT IS THE VOID? “think of a tube made of disks each one stacked on top of eachother that is all the timelines that have ever happened. now try to think on what is OUTISDE of this tube surrounding it THATS THE VOID BUDDY dont want to go there also sometimes it can be inbetween layers of this stack thats why timeline travel can be dangerous dont wanna get stuck in the void no way buckaroo. so if you are a big time painter or even a small time painter maybe your way to prove love one day is to make a nice painting that gives love or excitement to the world it could even be a scary painting bud thats okay as long as it proves love is real. and if you are a MATHMAN solving math for a big time company you could go in and thing ‘today i am going to do my best job because i care about beauty of maths way’ AND if the big time company is full of devils you could say ‘today i am going to quit and prove love to MYSELF’ so there are so many ways. even on as a DAILY BUCKAROO you can see someone who needs help at the checkout because they forgot their wallet and say ‘thats okay i can help pay this ones on me’ or if someone is in a hurry you can say ‘oh you can go ahead of me.’ or you can donate to a charity or even just PROVE LOVE by being yourself and putting your beauitful way out into the world. so those are some idea but i bet you have a lot of good ideas about this too.” Today is World Toilet Day. In other words, the wound may be an instance of failure in the body system, but it is also a local suspension in our failure to know each other within our social system. The body thus becomes the setting for a legible signal, but also its enemy; and for as long as the wound remains, a tension exists between the tendency of the body towards closure and the tendency of the open wound towards information-giving. There is then a civic aspect to this tension, and it is, I would want to suggest, the tension that I want to hold open, not (sadistically, torturously) the wound. Are we speaking here of two sisters wearing polarized glasses and separate hearing devices, raised to the oblique power of pure, magical states, good or bad genes, bloody and dirty as children rendered incessant, from the apex of which comes a continuous stream of heads without bodies, faces from every history speed furiously down the tunnel, some glancing off my windshield til one stops, a pale Persephone, like a bee hovering, there’s a moment of eye contact through the glass and then … or are we? “And then she showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, and I looked thereupon with the eye of my understanding, and I thought, ‘What may this be?’ And it was answered, “All this is … [illegible] …” but I think it says




a lot of




a lot of




a lot of




a lot of




a lot of



have fish

Xyst xyst






Okay Easy echo okay Meow Meow







Which is to say that, at the outset, you meet Cuilan, a widow, so you think it’s about her. No … but it’s way more about her lover Wei Bo. Wei Bo appears at her door to say that something has come up and he can’t keep their date. Weeks pass and he never returns. Cuilan treks off mournfully to her ancestral home. Her relatives (who have all become mysteriously mangled and wizened since the last time she saw them) are hardly welcoming. In the relatives’ house there’s an ambient, estranged type of hearing that’s become commonplace. People chattering out the window, there’s a banging upstairs even if there isn’t an upstairs. At night her relatives are in a tree fighting and laughing and one falls, hits the ground with a thud. She goes out to investigate and everything goes silent at once. Later the young man listening from the bunk overhead rolls over, falling dead on the floor. There’s a loud sound followed by some bureaucratic fuss and finally there’s nothing left but a bad smell. On the same voyage Xiao Yuan meets an old man who makes cricket sounds so well he makes her laugh. And then he explains that he has become a timepiece himself. She feels his wrist and it is indeed a clock. All his life he has wanted someone to hear his heart and Xiao Yuan does and it is indeed keeping time. At her new job Xiao Yuan discovers that the children she teaches already know everything about the Gobi Desert. The child is okay. All the children are fine. Back in the city, Cuilan is moving with a group of mostly middle-aged women (Long Sixiang, Jin Zhu, A Si) who all worked together for a long time at a cotton mill, but today they are sex workers. Cuilan is teetering. Her friends hook up with men at a spa, a few of the lucky ones wind up living with their lovers at the Mandarin Ducks Suites. From the Mandarin Ducks Suites you can see the prison where Wei Bo has mysteriously begun living. Though sometimes you can’t see the prison. And you don’t necessarily go there because of a crimePerhaps the most interesting thing about the prison is the huge tree behind it that resembles the one behind Cuilan’s ancestral home. A cabdriver arrives at exactly the right moment to say: “Your problem is written on your face. The answer is inside my taxi. Get in the car.” In other words, it can be a challenge to be treated with care and who can say that it can occur in so many instances or processes where the road rubble planes out for a moment. Humankind may be particles of curiosity in wonder in laughter in poverty, but it needs modesty to realise that to meaningfully consider the universe the best time to plant is determined by intimae familiarity with each plant. Once the incompleteness of the wave-function description is suspected, it can be conjectured that the seemingly random statistical fluctuations are determined by the extra ‘hidden’ variables because at this stage all the floristic evidence suggests that the first five hundred years of the third millennium were spent clinging on to the detritus left over from the earlier occupations and the wreckage of the raids. It requires everyone’s concentrated efforts to cultivate and grow crops, a real community involvement in survival. The call to tune the piano becomes most necessary now. Why, too, has ‘hidden’ variables. Josie Long plays Josie, who works at a library in Glasgow, where Janey Godley has a funny role as Donna, the permanently hungover chief librarian with an intense dislike of the children’s entertainer who comes in to do the weekly storytelling session (“He makes his own kites: who does that?”). Josie shares a flat with her best friend, the gentle Darren (Darren Osborne) and they hang out with their mate Roddy (James Allenby-Kirk). Josie’s life looks as if it’s on the up when super-sensitive boyfriend Mikey (Sean Biggerstaff) declares his love, but then things go terribly wrong at the exact moment when they were supposed to move in together — a calendar entry over-optimistically called “Super November” — which also coincides with the arrival of some kind of fascist state. Hilarity ensues. Watch the Saudi hit squad pour Jamal Khashoggi’s blood down a bathroom sink before dismembering his body. Watch Donald Trump give a big thumbs up. Listen to Hillary and Tony Blair tell Europe that the best way to fight white nationalism is to become a white nationalist oneself and to refuse migrants entry. What are they fleeing from, Hill? It don’t make no never mind. Living among you people I root for global warming. Do I really? No, of course not. I wake up and can’t breathe. I heard steam helps so I run the shower very hot and hyperventilate. I freak out so loudly it wakes my partner. He says I should call 111. They recommend an ambulance. We call one, then we go downstairs and wait on the pavement, shivering. I wonder if they’ll let me in the ambulance. I wonder if being able to stand up disqualifies me somehow. No. Once inside, the EMTs test something, using a device that clips onto my ear. One of the paramedics says, “You’ve got lovely little ears! Some people’s ears, these don’t fit, but it fits you.” A transparent mask is fitted over my face. I inhale rippling clouds of special effects smoke, pale and cold and smooth and moving fast, fast into me like a river. I feel dizzy. I lie back.


[Note: Sources: And then … was, in, fuck: JBR; “2018,”… twitches: Tom Cohen “Trump”; But fuck … how about: JBR; Rebellion … Rebellion: “Rebellion Day”, at Extinction Rebellion; The tendency … states: Kevin Mackay, “The Ecological Crisis is a Political Crisis”, at Resilience, 25 Sept 018; we are every-which-way … kids: JBR; I’m with you … here: Allen Ginsberg, “Howl”; The ice … fear: The Clash, “London Calling”; I’m just fucking furious: JBR; The victims … get there …”: Natalie Angier, “Death of bullies promotes baboon peace”, New York Times News Service 13 Apr 04, at ZS, 16 Oct 018 (hat tip Hannah Vaughan); OK, then: JBR; what better … world: Verity Spott, “Joy (1)”, at Two Torn Halves, 6 Nov 018;

which is to say … Pleasures: JBR, but see next; Those that … Centipedes: track titles on The Wyrding Module, Nine Dimensional Synod Of Oblique Pleasures, at Bandcamp; I mean: JBR; Have you felt … pump: William Rowe, Juliana Spahr, Tongo Eisen-Martin, quoted in “Poems of Protest [1] Lola Ridge, Wendy Trevino, William Rowe, Juliana Spahr, Tongo Eisen-Martin, Kirill Medvedev”, at BLACKOUT ((poetry & politics)), 15 Nov 018; The pages contain: JBR; a few … visualized: Roula Seikaly, “The Centre for Emotional Materiality”, at BOMB, 16 Nov 018; here is … clowns: Michael McClure, Persian Pony, quoted in “Jack Foley: Michael McClure’s ‘Persian Pony’, a Review & Tribute”, at Poems and Poetics, 16 Nov 018; and recipes … Times: New York Times, “From 57 pie concepts to 8 spectacular finalists. A pie process we had to share”, email rec’d 18 Nov 018, approx. 4:11am PST; During the event … specialist: Ivan Chorney, ONE Sotheby’s International Realty, email rec’d 18 Nov 018 (I hit trash before I decided I wanted to use this, hence no title or time stamp); Ivan … friends: “Ivan Chorney”, at Sotheby’s International Realty; Ga became … bottom-up: Max L Feldman, “Ellie Ga’s Empire of Texts”, at Hyperallergic, 18 Oct 018; In other words: JBR; I find myself … lucidity: Emmy Catedral, “Ellie Ga’s Square Octagon Circle”, at BOMB, 5 Apr 018; In other words: JBR; “everything that exhists … about this too”: Chick Tingle, “Common Questions and Their Common Answers”, at Chuck Tingle; Today is World Toilet Day: Water for People, “Today is all about toilets”, email rec’d 19 Nov 018, approx. 7:40am PST; In other words … wound: Chris Goode, quoted in Joe Luna, “Indexical Self-Cut”, at All Over the Grid, 19 Apr 018; Are we speaking here of: JBR; two sisters … glass and then: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha and others, from a group of pamphlets by various authors, titled PARTIAL TEXTS: ESSAYS & FICTIONS, quoted in Lawrence Rinder, Juliana Chang, Juliana Spahr, Walter K. Lew, “Recit: Previously Unpublished Works By Theresa Hak Kyung Cha”, at at Fence (Lew: “In 1983, the “Clio History” chapter of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s DICTEE was published in a group of pamphlets by various authors, titled PARTIAL TEXTS: ESSAYS & FICTIONS, that forms part of the since-neglected artistic and political context of Cha’s innovations. Except for the quotation from “Paths,” the passages below were all picked from PARTIAL TEXTS and arranged by Me-K. Ahn, Eura Chun, Eleana Kim, and Walter K. Lew one evening at a Mindeulleh Youngto cafe in Seoul.”); … or are we?: JBR; “And then … All this is: Julian of Norwich, quoted in Small Wonders: Late-Gothic Boxwood Micro-Carvings from the Low Countries (ed. Frits Scholten); … [illegible] …” … says: JBR; I have … Bing: Geoffrey Gatza, “Snow Life”, “Verb Wasp”, “Surfin’ in the USA”, “Okay USA”, “Big Bing Bing”, in Sur le Bout de la Langue: Thanksgiving 2018 | A Menu Poem Guest of Honor : Rachel Blau DuPlessis, at BlazeVox; Which is to say that: JBR; at the outset … car”: Eileen Myles, “Starvation and Suffering Also Get You High”, at The Paris Review, 19 Nov 018 (re Can Xue, Love in the New Millennium (tr. Annelise Finegan Wasmoen)); In other words: JBR; it can be a challenge … piano: Allen Fisher,  “Preface to Gravity as a consequence of shape”, in Gravity as a consequence of shape; becomes … variables: JBR; Josie … state: Peter Bradshaw, “Super November review – Josie Long in romcom turned fascist nightmare”, at Guardian, 23 Nov 018; Hilarity … course not: JBR; I wake up … lie back: Lenni Sanders, “Having Trouble”, at Entropy, 23 Nov 018]


9 – 23 Nov 2018



John Bloomberg-Rissman

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on Jeremy Corbyn and Anti-Semitism

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The Neverendum

Are you feeling sleepy yet?


FC & C

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19th Nervous Breakdown

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Electronic Cobwebs



Third Noise Principle: Formative North American Electronica 1975-1984 (Cherry Red, 4CD box set)


It’s the late 70s and 80s. Cheap synthesizers, electronic instruments and recording devices are coming down in price. Alongside the noise and clamour of punk and it’s more intelligent offspring post-punk a quieter revolution is taking place. What we now call ambient or background noise is being conjured up in countless bedrooms around the world, as is primitive dance music, and collages of noise, sound effects, beats, loops and stolen voices.


In England we had Cabaret Voltaire and Eyeless in Gaza. In North America there were the industrial religious exhortations of Blackhouse, the violin dementia of Nash the Slash, all dressed in bandages with nowhere to go, art-pranksters The Residents (who I confess bore me completely), Philip Glass’ shimmering minimalism (although I think he’s out of place here), Non’s beat-centred eardrum buzz, and Steve Roach’s alien and enticing guitar worlds. And that’s just some of the few I’ve heard of.


What’s great about this box is the stuff I haven’t heard of before, the wide-ranging mix of lo-fi crap that rubs shoulders with works of neglected genius. I’m sure some of the music is in here purely because of the names, but that’s okay: ‘Cat Vomit Punk House’ and ‘Dancing Hairpiece Wears Two Left Shoes’ don’t need to be any good, their titles are enough, a kind of conceptual art where the idea is all we need.


To be honest, we don’t need a lot of the stuff here. Controlled Bleeding are as unlistenable as they always have been, Ministry clearly weren’t on form the day they recorded ‘Work for Love (Dub)’, and Tuxedo Moon had yet to find their pretentious groove. But there’s always Suicide’s synth rockabilly to cheer you up (play ‘Rocket USA’ as loud as you can) and you’re bound to like some of the stuff I don’t, be it the sublimely slow and annoying Factrix or Sequencer People’s widdly diddly synthesizer and drum machine.


You gotta love the 1980s haven’t you? Just don’t make me go back there again. This box is full of surprises, both good and bad, although it clearly disproves Tone Set’s thesis/track that ‘The Devil Makes the Loudest Noise’. Actually a lot of this is pretty tinny stuff that would only bear fruit a few years down the line; this feels like research and development, experiments in sound. In the meantime, I might go and listen to some Deep Purple or Led Zeppelin, played loud: something to get the electronic cobwebs out of my head.





Rupert Loydell

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The Trouble with Everything

New stars being born in the Elephant’s Trunk Nebula
( NASA/JPL/Caltech )

The desire to trace your way back to the very beginning, to understand everything — whether it’s the mysteries of love or the mechanics of the universe — is deeply human. It might also be deeply flawed.

In this short, Jad and Robert talk to a writer and two physicists who are all grappling with versions of the same enormous question: is it possible to understand everything, or are we chasing an impossible dream… one built on questions that always lead to more questions?

Jenny Hollowell kicks things off with her gorgeous short story “A History of Everything, Including You.” It’s a powerful tale with a sweeping scope — the history not just of one couple, but everything that led to them — distilled into a poetic crush of just a few pages. The piece was born out of a sense of frustration Jenny felt about trying to account for “everything” in order to understand her life. And in many ways, her solution speaks to an eerily similar moment of uncertainty in physics. Inspired by an essay written by physicist and novelist Alan Lightman, Robert pays a visit to Brian Greene to ask if the latest developments in theoretical physics spell a crisis for science — where we find we’ve reached the limit of what we can see and test, and are left with mathematical equations that can’t be verified by experiments or observation.

Read more:

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Russian Collusion


land of illiterate serfs,
born and bred,
to be ignorant tools,
and nothing more,
the founding fathers words unheeded,
education controlled by the state,
terrified of free thoughts,
free minds,
greedy and base,
force the population,
into the mud and the slime,
devoid of logical thought,
consisting only of the shit and vomit within our souls,
indentured servants to the body politic,
which rants about Russia interfering in our politics,
this illiterate land of serfs,
waste and destruction in every direction.



Douglas Polk

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Carpe Diem


Hopefully tomorrow will be sunny,
And I’ll be there to see it beside you.
Perhaps it won’t, but I’ll still be trying.
Putting yesterday’s behind my left ear-
Your right-
I keep the other free for the
Season’s blooms – and I’ll wear them with a smile.
Cold creeps through open windows, remember.
Open up and let some air in, breathe out.
Make your bed, lay in it, but get up too
It doesn’t end here and doesn’t have to.
Now, brush your teeth, slip on shoes, time to go
Get out there. Catch the big one: Carpe Diem.




Megan Hopkin
Illustration Nick Victor


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With Extremely Long Tie

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The Angst of Extinction – a Leeds-influenced Digression



The insanity of Economists[i]  and the destructive lunacy of Capitalism and Neoliberalism weigh heavily on the minds of those with any sense. The danger of such poisonous human constructs crystallised still further for me when I lodged above a wholefood shop in 1978 for a couple of weeks[ii]. I was 15, my school days were over and several of the shop’s hopeful worker-owners were passionate members of Friends of the Earth. Hard to believe as it may be now, in the light of the impending death knell for Britain of Android Führerin Thatcher, there was still, at least at grass roots level, a great deal of optimism then – the last aerial tendrils trying to brush-off a global insecticide . . . 

True, our attempts in 1977 to get the National Union of School Students[iii] off the ground at our school had collapsed. True, the WSL[iv] had failed to make any inroads into Southcourt council estate despite all our door to door efforts at selling Socialist Press . . . several times we got chased down the street as “Fucking commies!” – probably by citizens soon misguidedly to help elect their own long-term nemesis (though at least a few must have got a cheap council house to flog, out of their Satanic bargain).

But, away from the town, out in the country where before long I lived, abandoning art college to decamp to the rural community of Redfields[v] in North Bucks, optimism would continue to seethe or contentedly go to seed. In our minds we could paper over the cracks. In a way, at so many levels – social and political, personal and psychological – this is what we must all maintain the ability to do. Until we come to a crack too wide.

 The probability that we have only 12 years left in which to restrict the rate at which we destroy our planet[vi] does not surprise me, nor that the world is now completely off track. Scientists say that this window of opportunity just about remains open[vii], others that 12 years is absurdly optimistic – 3 is nearer the truth. But are enough of us listening? 

Since the distant days of North Bucks, I’ve lived in sixteen areas of Britain and though I’ve visited just about every major city, have only ever lived long-term in one. My viewpoint is therefore predominantly rural. Every time I go into a city, my journey is always from isolation. Accustomed to emptiness, the crowded currents of towns and cities – viewed almost with the eye of an extra-terrestrial observer – can interest me intensely. Regardless that they often reek of terminal despair, an experiment gone disastrously wrong, their novelty is such that they can appear to me in a quasi-visionary way: for moments I breathe their idealism – or the idealism of a few people resisting the general current.





Leeds was the first city I was fortunate to visit in 2019. A visit I’d been wanting to repeat ever since my fleeting ramble of 2017[viii].

 From the platforms of Ribblehead, just south of the famous viaduct, shortly after New Year’s Day, a surprisingly crowded train drew us away. But for the odd grit bin and a few modern signs, it could have been a grey day in January 1919 rather than 2019. Restored and beautifully maintained, the station, has convincingly retreated in time. Down from the high spine of Blea Moor – whose bleakness has always been a fullness to me – we dropped towards the dales of Settle and Hellifield.

Winning the race with traffic on the parallel roads beyond Skipton, our children, eating raw carrots, perked up as station signs appeared from grey fogs less freezing than at Ribblehead . . . marginally.

Canals and lock gates were their other obsession and they were well rewarded through the fascinating post-industrialisation of Keighley, Bingley and Shipley.

Finally, the scale of urbanisation was escalated and multiplied by Leeds. Vast towers whose lights and heating no-doubt burn all night – the last reckless torches of human folly – flank the north side of the tracks converging on Leeds City Station, reputedly the busiest in the north of England. Partly built on arches over the river Aire, combining two previous stations, it was completely rebuilt in 1967 and revamped again between 1999 and 2002.

With a family railcard our fare was less than the cost of road fuel. Perhaps that’s why trains are often over-crowded? If railways should be replacing road and certainly air travel, new coaching stock needs to be built now. There’s little hope of cutting transport carbon emissions otherwise.

Signing a pledge not to fly back in 1993, neither my wife nor I have ever been tempted by the absurd under-pricing of air travel – another of those delusions of economics. The idea of expanding airports in a time of climate emergency, is a hideous anachronism[ix]. Just for starters, I would discontinue all domestic flights tomorrow: which would be no more than a minor starting point to accepting that if we want to survive at all, living standards must fall – something the unemployed and disadvantaged majorities, even in this country, have been on the sharp end of for years. Something which after the foot-stamping, self-destructive, pique of Brexit, we may have to become accustomed to.

Perhaps the imaginative counter to closing airports would be to nostalgically return to the trash TV and spy films of the past, which worshipped the ‘freedom’ of air travel we now so thoughtlessly take for granted. If you watch enough of these, it’s easy to believe that you’ve flown all over Europe – at such a low level that you can almost touch the Colosseum or the Eiffel Tower, the domes of Red Square or the Statue of Liberty, the Brandenburg Gate, the Pyramids, or Rio’s Christ the Redeemer. We need to use our imagination rather than our credit cards – or in my case, that old chipped piggy-bank – to paper over the cracks.