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So I thought: REM can't always have been this bad, this polite, this paint drying: surely?

{Michael Stipe is on the cover of the Radio Times now, this week}
Do people still – well, I don’t know. I never knew with R.E.M. For me they've always been the equivalent of one of those programmes you never tuned in to, that never clicked, that from a distance even, seemed too nice. Or too full of itself. Or something. (Dawson’s Creek. I mean – get out of here! The guy looks about 53! You might as well cast Michael Stipe as a peachy teenager!)
No, R.E.M – pleasant enough now and then, but I could never understand the adulation, the worship, the 5 page interviews. WHY?

But there’s always a song, or a moment.

GREEN: three or four songs there I love.

WOW. "Orange Crush" and "Turn You Inside Out". THAT's the spirit: that's what's needed here tonight (and tomorrow and tomorrow and ...)

And I’d forgotten how much till I played them the other morning. Three entirely different songs - three entirely different emotional tones - three entirely different emotional reactions. (As opposed to the – and correct me here if I’m wrong because like I say, I’m not a fan – but the loooong worthy blur of sameness that the past decade and a half or so seems at least from the outside to have been . . .)

i know you
i knew you
i think i can remember your name
im sorry
i lost myself
i think i thought i was someone else
my friend
are you visible today
you know i never knew it to be so strange


I don’t know – like I say I'm not fan – but isn't GREEN so vital because it was kind of a CUSP moment. On the cover photo Stipe stilll looks all spotty and geeky and has that awful hayseed rawk fan quasi mullett he always sported in the early days before he went all semi-OUT and squiring-Courtney and obtusely fashionable and hidden filofax. (Which image I actually like and prefer: I LIKE him as a public figure. I’m glad he’s there.)

i’m sorry
i lost myself
i’m sorry
i think i thought you were someone else

REM before they lost the grease + gravel + grumble. When Stipe still looked like a contestant on East German Big Brother. That brief dust-devil subterranean homesick unslick moment when e/t Stipe touched turned to an odd kind of mall-angel poetry – that brief teletype pre- cowboy hat moment between the 2-folky-rocky-strummy beginnng and the endless plains of Hollandaissey 2-ezy worthiness they seem to have inhabited forever and a Q ***-star review.

All georgia sun yellow and seasick green and Reagan blue.

Orange Crush, Turn You Inside Out: where did the ache behind such songs go?

But the one that really got me, the one that surprised me, the one that ... is this a tear I feel sliding ... ?

Play now. Quote lyrics in full.

"I am not the type of dog ..." to "- IT'S A BEAUTIFUL LIFE."

Oh, my.

+ ---- -

Should we talk about the government ...

What is this “sexed up” business, which is reiterated constantly now in relation to the see-thru documents? Doesn’t it very much suit the government, this slinky phrase? It sends off sparks – but the wrong ones. Couldn’t we say SCUMMED up? Or PUMPED up? OR SLICKed up? Or ‘delicately venalised?’ Or SOMETHING which reflected what was REALLY going on here?

I just cannot listen to any of the debates or exchanges or Question Time outs any more, because it doesn't matter if the mouth is from left or right or nowhere much at all but a nice balanced nowhere man middle, EVERYONE feels as if they are duty bound to preface any slight oh my gosh niggly criticism with the disclaimer that YES YES we know, the Iraqi people no longer live under this murderous tyranny yadda yadda. And YES: this is nice, this is good, this is proper, this is decent.

But the idea that America would launch a war, sacrifice its young troops, risk a Vietnam - a 24 hour rolling omni-tech TV war - etc, etc, in order to make life better for the ungrateful peasant population of a Middle East despotism is, we know, frankly risible and patently not the case. The WMDs likewise look like [you’ll forgive the figure] a smokescreen; in fact, it may well be the OPPOSITE case that is true: that the US only risked this venture knowing, as they almost certainly did, that Iraq was a MINIMUM risk opponent, that this would be a war against a weak country, a despoiled country, a country with NO hyper-tech weapons.

Who benefits? There are MASSIVE benefits: it is a convenient BIG-UP for Bush’s upcoming [re] election; it is a convenient sidetrack from the relative failure of Afghanistan, and the failure to pin down Bin Laden; it is a convenient way of flooding the military complex with a huge hike in BUDGET – which also benefit’s Bush’s election campaign, because his backers either dwell inthat shaodwy sector or will anyway benefit somewhere down the line. A convenient way, too, of stitching up the USA with swingeing new SECURITY measures [just as was the DRUG WAR so-called before it].

And these are just the off-the-top-of-my-head reflections of a non-expert; you can be sure that far more sub rosa tactical gains were expounded by Bush’s advisers before any step was taken.

posted by Ian 6/28/2003 12:08:00 PM

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