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Very good Jon Stewart segment tonight, as it happens, on the Batiste case. (See 'The Usual Suspects' below.) He virtually just had to sit back and show the clips, from the press conference with (Attorney General) Alberto Gonzales . Me, nearly crying with laughter, I was.

But at the same time ... I mean. There is certainly potential for tragedy here, too. There is something awful, just awful and obscene and genuinely pathetic. There is a kind of (awful, obscene) Theatre going on here, certainly, which we certainly need to consider and return to.

(Which, by the way, is in no wise a criticism of Stewart. For who he is, and what he is trying to do, I think he is everything I would wish for, and possibly more. In this little space, he is not the Devil. )

((Although the thought did cross my mind, later on, during one of those smarmy flossy More4 i-dents, where all their presenters and actors and 'faces' have glintingly banal Q & A flung at them, and they smilingly quip back, you know the ones I mean, the thought did fleetingly occur, that quite conceivably, and by any reasonable measure, for all intents and purposes, for this week at any rate, the face that I see if you ask me, in media terms certainly, 'Who is the Devil?', the face that I see is Gordon Ramsey. No: really. ))

posted by Ian 6/28/2006 01:52:00 AM
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I'll have to address this properly at some point (and I have in fact been taking notes, on and off, here and there, for what is probably quite a time, now; little inarticulate squawks, scribbles, but all told, strung together, a certain Song may manage to make itself heard, or some kind of intermittant tolling, but anyway), yes, at some point, one point being, perhaps, in the muffled snigger below, and I hope it didnt feel unseemly, it wasn't meant to be, my ragging on the 'What Is Philosophy? Event Cancelled' - sorry: I'm laughing again... well, here is the point: behind so many jokes, there is often a sharper or shadow side, some Other meaning, isn't there? And I was watching this trailer tonight on More4, for a new three part series (next week, I think) presented by Slavoj Zizek no less, The Pervert's Guide To Cinema I think it is called, and my mind flashed back to this morning's laughter, and then back to the scary bearded man, in a boat, saying "the attacks of The Birds are OBVIOUSLY explosive outbursts of maternal super ego," and I know, I know, it may be said he is in fact telling a joke himself, maybe even against himself, or against the self-protective sureties of Theory, but nevertheless that "OBVIOUSLY" niggles me, or others like it, or an underlying tone or assumption at any rate, or anyway, regardless, in the middle of the trailer (or boat, ha ha) I suddenly realised, something I've been trying to half repress for months, which was something like: I no longer buy this stuff, I really don't, this feeling of feeling somehow LAPSED, The Lapsed Subject, ha, yes, it could almost be a Zizek paper, couldnt it, which is half my (ticklish) problem, that it's so EASY to do this stuff, and that at some point I stopped being engaged or surprised or invigorated (pro OR contra) by anything said in this general space or arena, and instead found it all blindingly obvious ('The Blindingly Obvious: Oedipal 'Blind' and Glare in The Birds' ...), a dogma, a carbon placed over any convenient object, I find the tone, the tone offputting almost as soon as the words begin, which ... oh, no, it's too late, too late already, I'm too tired, I should address this properly, later, later. OBut let me just say, of all the writing I've been shocked by, seduced by, delighted by, stirred by, surprised by, in the last 5 or 6 years certainly, maybe longer, virtually NONE of it has been Theory, let's put it that way. (I deviously insert and claim and cling to that "virtually", yes , because there might be one or two, something or other, Avital Ronnel I think, maybe, something stirs in my memory, something she wrote about Valerie Solanas, but that is a special case anyway I think... which we will come to later, later.) I mean, I'm not saying my hope for a certain kind of theoretical writing has disappeared, certainly not, but it lies elsewhere now, and must be inscribed completely otherwise. (Of all the writing I've been shocked by, seduced by, delighted by, stirred by, surprised by, in the last 5 or 6 years certainly, maybe longer, a perplexingly large percentage of it has been in private communications to me, more or less private let's say, I'll fling out a glib phrase here and call it "wemail" ('OUImail'? 'wemale'? the echoes aren't coincidental to the project I have cloudily in mind, I dont think, but anyway) here I re-open my very battered copy of Derrida's ENVOI from The Post Card... sorry, my mind went awry, then stopped, there, for a moment, I was trying to remember a quote but couldnt, something about deeper coincidences running through our lives that aren't really mere coincidences, ah yes. (Yes. Similar to my ragged guilty little epiphany tonight before the beardy burly man, it occured to me the other week, that I might have overlooked one of the most obvious candidates, if I were looking for reasons why I have felt so 'off', so absently burdened, so emptily melancholy, these last few years, as if burdened or distracted by some 'I-dont-know...', something gone-but-not-forgotten (or forgiven? or finished?). So: loves that disappointed, friends that died, dreams that stalled...? Nothing fit, not quite... and then I realised: I hadn't mourned Derrida. I had WIPED it from my mind. I had NO REACTION WHATSOEVER. Which, obviously, is not right. (I once quIPped to Mark Sinker, some glib line about "The Three Ds that had overturned my life: ... drink, drugs and [half a comic beat] ... Derrida. [PAUSE] And the one I really couldnt kick, the one that really fucked me over: [longer comic beat] ..... Derrida." (I may seem to be wondering far from my initial point here; or maybe even contradicting it. But I'm not.) I'm not going to say the 'H' word, but you know what I'm talking about. Something remains to be worked out, something un-repressed, re-presented. Something that was alive for me, and now feels dead.
Dead as a dogma.

But it's not enough to sigh and turn away; I should rather air it out, somehow, probably, sooner or later, some way or other, probably sooner rather than later.

I'll try and track down my notes; I'll watch the Zizek thing; I'll throw something together. Yes.

I won't leave it so late the next time. "I won't leave it so late the next time."
(Although perhaps by definition, 'the next time' is already way too late, by any decent measure.)

posted by Ian 6/28/2006 01:07:00 AM

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from The Raw Story website:

FBI confidential informant also said to be provocateur...

"According to activists from Des Moines, Philadelphia, Miami, Sacramento, and other locations, a young woman named "Anna" allegedly infiltrated peace and justice rallies and anarchist meetings, and even attempted to join protests against the Democratic National Committee (DNC) ahead of the DNC's national convention last year as a paid FBI confidential "informant." Activists say that she has tried to provoke conflict at various advocacy events and violent incidents with police to get people arrested. In other words, Anna is not just an informant, she may be a provocateur [...]"


posted by Ian 6/27/2006 05:54:00 PM
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As previously noted, I.(P.) don't own a mobile phone; neither - I am now glad to say - do I own, or have I ever wanted to own, one of these 'more trouble than theyre worth' little dream machines:


posted by Ian 6/27/2006 03:06:00 PM
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This was the case that was nagging away in the back of my mind while I was writing 'The Usual Suspects'; I had a vague memory of a C4 or BBC documentary about the whole farrago, but it took me a while to re-assemble the (f)actual details. A longer version here. (You might remember it: it was the originary 'guilty until proven innocent' case where, because the guys were Middle Eastern AND had video tapes of tourist destinations including Disneyland and Las Vegas, ergo, 2+2=boom, rather than the dull truth, which was that they were indeed just tourist video tapes of a student holiday.)

And this is a new case I stumbled across in the process, where two sixteen year old girls (!) are the latest terrorist masterminds to be caught in the Homeland Security trawl.

“They are being held under secret evidence that some FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials admit is baseless,” the New York office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) stated in a prepared release.
To date, no evidence has been cited by officials.

What I didn't notice at first is the other factor it has in common with the Batiste case: the two girls, one is a Guinean immigrant, the other purportedly an "illegal" immigrant from Bangladesh (although this is being denied). Three or four of the Batiste defendants are immigrants from Haiti. You'd almost think the Govt was deliberately targeting isolated, weaker individuals who, if the bigger case falls through they can always fall back on "well they shouldnt have been here in the first place" and deport them for spite or something ...

posted by Ian 6/27/2006 02:03:00 PM
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Explicatory link to Moorish Science {see previous story} :

History and Catechism of Moorish Orthodox Church ;

and a good 1994 Erik Davis article on Peter Lamborn Wilson, which touches upon the M.O.C. and its self-proclaimed 'prophet' Noble Drew Ali:

"For Wilson, a more important instance of "heresy as cultural transfer" occurred early this century in the work of Noble Drew Ali, the African American whose imaginative mixture of Masonry, esoteric Christianity, and his own visionary dreams of Egypt led to everything from Elijah Mohammad to hip-hop's 5 Percent Nation. As Wilson says, "Drew Ali's a real American prophet, the black man with a Cherokee feather stuck in his fez—the perfect image of everything I wish America were and isn't." In Sacred Drift, Wilson seeks the poetic fact of Noble Drew Ali, drawing not only from historical materials but from conversations with old-timers and pamphlets bought from incense-sellers in Times Square. "This is in fact the real opening of Islam in America. It's only long after that you find middle-class white people becoming interested in Sufism."

Wilson's Sacred Drift (Essays on the Margins of Islam) is the book I mentioned which has a whole chapter on Noble Drew Ali et al.

posted by Ian 6/27/2006 01:38:00 PM
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This current story from the States about the supposed major 'terror cell' who have been "foiled" and arrested...

It seems to have been uncritically swallowed and regurgitated verbatim by most News outlets both there and here; but even ten minutes digging around by a lazy sod like me reveals a different story altogether.

The real story seems to be that this poor Narseal Batiste character - the supposed ring leader they have arrested and paraded as a Evil Hardened Terrorist Mastermind - is actually a sad, unemployed, semi-delusional 'care in the community' type, who was well known in his neighbourhood as a harmless eccentric, who wore strange robes, carried a giant wooden staff and stood at the same intersection every day and talked to the sky (well like yeah, that sure fits the profile of well-integrated secretive Terrorist Mastermind to a key, don't it?); the guy fell apart after his beloved mother died, and he subsequently went bankrupt. Interestingly, he and his friends aren't Muslim, but follow The Moorish Science Church - which is the same utopian belief system that Hakim Bey (aka Peter Lamborn Wilson) talked up a few years back. [More on this, possibly, when I track down my copy of the excellent Lamborn Wilson book with a chapter on Moorish Science and its homegrown 'prophet' Noble Drew Ali. Moorish Science is/was kind of religion as bricolage, part 50s hep cat hipster jive, part Americanised Islam, part proto-Rasta proto-Black Power street pol.]

Anyway, Batiste and his homeless, job-less, penniless (and, it has to be said, clueless) friends, were holed up in a decrepit warehouse, not a threat to anyone or anything... UNTIL ... until the FBI 'infiltrated' them with a paid informant. There's already been suspicion and protest at previous dubious 'Homeland Security' cases which hinged on 'informants' who, looking at anything up to a $250,000 gift horse had to come up with something to feed and placate their Feeb masters; which is what appears to have happened here. The Batiste Gang [sic] had never expressed anything approaching a 'terrorist' or anti-US thought or sentiment (unless you count Batiste expressing sadness and outrage at 9/11, according to his Father) ... UNTIL ... this devious (and conveniently anonymous) 'informant' cum agent provocateur - let's henceforth call him 'Keyser Soze' - arrived on the raggle taggle scene. At which point Soze himself lined up Batiste and friends and got them to swear an oath to 'Al Qaeda' for the benefit of the already installed surveillance cameras. Likewise, the whole 'plot to blow up the Chicago Sears Tower' was a concotion by Soze, who out of nowhere told them he could find them guns, explosives, supplies, etc. (Batiste's initial response to this information? He gave Soze the gang's SHOE SIZES, because they were sorely in need of NEW BOOTS.)

Now, go back and read the dozens of uncritical News reports of this 'story' (Guardian included, thus far), complete with ridiculous quotes from FBI, Richard Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales. (Some of which appear to almost err on the side of a cautionary ambivalence about a case which even they themselves may anticipate falling apart at some point down the road - as previous such cases have.) The Government admit that they have found no weapons, no explosives, no cameras: nothing. Forked tongue Government speak to account for this amateur night scenario is that the group were "more aspirational than operational" and that, this just goes to show that 'you don't have to have solid links to Al Qaeda to do Al Qaeda's work' (Goonzales ... actually that was a parapraxis, but I think I'll let it stand: GOONzales.)

It's hard to decide what the worst aspect of this 'story' is, although I'm sure you can count them all off for yourselves.What would be worse - that the combined powers of the Bush Administration, Homeland Security and the FBI DO or DON'T actually believe the B.S. they're shovelling out here?
That they think the twitchy public and a cowed, complaisant media will just swallow this exploitation and entrapment of a mentally unstable man - sad dreamer at worst, almost certainly in need of sympathetic treatment of some kind?

Various second thoughts ensue of course: how much money was wasted on this? Who, if anyone, was Keyser Soze NOT turning in? What about the real, competent, hidden criminals who are quietly getting on with their viral work, as before, while Big Power spends months, and millions, making home movies of some misguided guys who make Reverend Jim from TAXI look like Herbert Marcuse?

And ... why now? Well, best guess is it was the only thing they had handy to release to balance out THIS ...


Another Day In The Empire ;
Duluth News Tribune ;
New York Daily News ;

+ a PREVIOUS EXAMPLE of how these things "work". (It always baffled me, that Bush pronouncement, that 'we will not distinguish between Terrorists and those who harbour them', given that in the years preceding 9/11, the countries that "harboured" the operatives in question were ... Germany, Great Britain and - predominantly - the USA itself.)

posted by Ian 6/27/2006 11:41:00 AM
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Sorry, Mark, but I just blew breakfast coffee out my nose, laughing at this, which I thought was the most inadvertantly funny headline I've seen since the days when The Onion was still really sharp and funny: .... WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY? EVENT CANCELLED.

There is even the equivalent of a footnote in the 'further details of cancellation' link. Note perfect! (It reminds me of a headline dream I once had: 'Drug Addicts Protest March Deferred Til Day After Tomorrow, OK?, I'll Almost Certainly 90% Definitely Be There, Yeah?' )

'The Cancelled Event: Revolution after Zizek and Badiou...' You have to admit, it sounds just so, no?

Philosophy cancelled due to Art Falling Ill: DISCUSS.

posted by Ian 6/27/2006 11:17:00 AM

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Every so often, you come across a piece of writing on the Net that really does justify all the half-bored virtual derives .... I stumbled aross this, The Tao of Junior Bonner, completely serendipitously. If you follow the left-hand column of links to pieces on other Peckinpah work, and a piece on the Peckinpah repertory gang, the quality doesn't flag, either. Lovely stuff - even if you don't necessarily agree with bits of it it's personal and heartfelt and involving, and makes you reconsider stuff that (in my case, certainly) you may think you know inside-out. (In my case, you may end up reconsidering things you really didn't want to .... such as the fleeting thought that I may now be a whole lot nearer Ace Bonner than Junior Bonner these days. Sigh.) I always thought Junior Bonner was a deeply underrated film, and I always found it improbably moving (especially the spectral on-off relationship between Junior's Ma and Pa, played by Robert Preston and the marvellous Ida Lupino), even before its specific themes of ageing and disappointed dreams and melancholy compromise began to sprout like crab grass on my own prairie....

posted by Ian 6/25/2006 11:33:00 AM
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The only time I've ever wished I had a mobile phone .... I was skulking round various audio mySpace shrines or virtual vitrines the other night, which sometimes feels like a kind of nostalgic pub crawl, except you're crawling for jukeboxes not drinks, because in parallel with all the New Artist mySpace sites is a profusion of fan sites, some of which are rather odd, to say the least, although I do like being able to click-click and just like a good jukebox you can hear "Kinky Afro" or "You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory" or "I See No Evil" or "Swang", etc, just like that, but I'm straying from my initial point here (although, BTW, I've been massively underwhelmed by every Future of Music As We Know It new New Artist I've heard hyped on mySpace, up to and including Joan As Police Woman - you'd think you were going to hear some kind of ultimate dream combination of Rickie Lee Jones, a distaff Tim Buckley and Nina Simone, but... well, let's just say I don't get it, I really don't - except, EXCEPT, Kode9, who instantly passed my I MUST PLAY THIS TEN TIMES IN A ROW NOW test with "9 Samurai" - and if anyone can throw me together a Kode9/Burial CD I'd be very grateful, ta, also, which reminds me, does anyone know of any good dub-hardy SPEAKERS going for a song? The woofers of my long suffering Acoustic Research are literally now held together with gaffer tape, and I KNOW that one more over enthusiastic run through of a favourite track off a WOEBOT compilation and I'm going to be speakerless in Gaza...), but, yeah, to get back to the mobile phone thing, the only time I ever wished I had a mobile phone (because not only do I not have one, but I still have no idea how to operate one) was here ... Pere Ubu ringtones??!! Now that I would like to hear!!! "Life Stinks" or "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" rendered as a ringtone...

posted by Ian 6/25/2006 10:34:00 AM

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Finally got round to reading the uncut 'oral history' of that First Annual Rock Writers Convention from 1917 or whenever it was - and how fucking tame was that? It was like the missing link between High Fidelity and Animal House... they all drank A LOT OF BEER! (wow, gasp, you dont say) and some of the older, smooother boys (Tosches, Booth - see me after P.E.) had actual sex with probably real live women... Sheesh. I had wilder Tuesday afternoons, in those old yadda yadda blah blah blah early to mid 80s (N)ME days. Maybe I should write A BOOK about it. Didn't I already do that? I didnt? I must have left it in a cab or something, I'm sure I did, you know....

posted by Ian 6/20/2006 10:06:00 AM

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I LOVE this story ....

"BRITNEY pondering Jolie-style birth

Following in the steps of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Britney Spears is considering a Namibian birth for her next baby, a government official said.

Deputy Environment and Tourism Minister Leon Jooste said officials have received an inquiry on behalf of the 24-year-old pop star.

Spears already has a baby son with husband Kevin Federline.

"She has shown interest to come over to Namibia," he said.

"Nothing has been confirmed yet, but there is a definite possibility of that happening."

He declined to provide further details, saying: "She wants to come in very low profile and have some privacy.

"She might change her mind if we reveal too much now."

... I mean: it's not often you get to hear the actual sound of someone shooting themselves in the foot. (Jooste perfect.) I am also strangely mesmerised and agitated by the use of the word "pondering" ...

I must say, I suspect that even if poor post-Federline Britney were to announce that the prospective child's father was Dick Cheney, and that she was in negotiations to give birth halfway up Everest, with David Blaine as attending obstetrician, she still couldn't scare up one thousandth of a micro Jolie of first-photo-panic media interest in the 'event'.

posted by Ian 6/16/2006 08:48:00 PM
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No surprise that the CIA has its own website; the bit that blows me away - hours and hours of dissing fun for all your dysFUNctional family - is the CIA's Homepage For Kids.

And if you go to the section marked THE CIA SEAL and click on 'About The CIA Seal' you will discover that:

"When our country was being established, Benjamin Franklin, one of our founding fathers and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, wished the national bird to be the wild turkey. Mr. Franklin believed the turkey was a good choice as it provided food for the early settlers. He also thought that the turkey looked noble. However, Mr. Franklin was outvoted by the other members of the Continental Congress who felt that the eagle symbolized strength and alertness and that it would look much better as our national symbol."

America's premier Intelligence Community: so very very nearly ... A NOBLE TURKEY.
And who would disagree with that?

posted by Ian 6/16/2006 02:01:00 PM
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A MUST READ: this eye opening article from The Abolitionist on the deep background realities - and real politik - of the so called AVIAN FLU threat/pandemic...

There are plenty of other good online exposes and analyses of Avian Flu if you cast about a bit, but this was the best, I thought. I got the link itself from this original article.

posted by Ian 6/16/2006 01:56:00 PM
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Inexplicata - The Journal Of Hispanic Ufology

posted by Ian 6/16/2006 01:39:00 PM
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What WAS the Frequency, Kenneth?

posted by Ian 6/16/2006 01:34:00 PM
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There's been lots of good online articles on Zarqawi in the last week, but the one that really grabbed my attention was this one from INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE, concerning Nick Berg (and his Father)... I'd quite forgotten some of these details, if I ever knew them in the first place:

"Nicholas Berg, on the other hand, was remarkably unlucky. More of an idealist than a chest-thumping corporate predator like ex-CEOs Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, Berg, 26, had developed a method for helping underdeveloped areas build safe, affordable structures where steel is hard to come by, as Wikipedia reports. Progress, not profit, was his motivating force. He was also an idealist in another way: he believed in his government. The president said Iraq had been liberated – "mission accomplished" – and that American companies needed to help the Iraqi people rebuild their land. Berg didn't realize that the president was a liar. Iraq had not been liberated but delivered into a new hell. Mass deaths, house raids, airstrikes, societal collapse and torture had spawned a fierce armed resistance. Bush's invasion had also loosed the most brutal, ignorant religious extremists – like Zarqawi – to prey upon the land. Meanwhile, "reconstruction" was a sick joke: it was just a pipeline for Bush cronies to drain Iraq, and the U.S. Treasury, bone-dry.

Berg came alone: no bodyguard of bristling mercenaries, no Halliburton subcontracts, no Beltway cronies. Work was promised, but without that insider grease, fell through. He decided to go home. Six days before his scheduled departure, he was suddenly seized by Iraqi police and turned over to U.S. forces. For reasons still unclear, he was held for 13 days – during which time the Abu Ghraib revelations ignited the land, and the tinderbox of Fallujah exploded when four mercenaries were killed in retaliation for the American shooting of Iraqi protestors a few days before.

Berg was released into this heightened turmoil one day after his family filed a lawsuit against his illegal detention; he disappeared four days later. His remains were found one month later near a Baghdad highway; the gruesome video appeared three days after that. "


Berg's Father's response to Zarqawi killing ;

good article by Patrick Cockburn on Zarqawi ;

longer article from The Atlantic ;

more Counterpunch reaction ;

and ONE MORE time ...

posted by Ian 6/16/2006 12:41:00 PM
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... (Could This Be A New WATERGate?)

Now this is a strange one. Maybe the reason this story has dropped off the map is that there is a perfectly innocent and logical explanation behind its apparent strangeness and inconsistencies and dubiousness. I'll trace out the Links here and let you speculate/meditate/decide...

Start with these TWO scratching-our-heads
LOCAL .......... REPORTS;

then this pithy OVERVIEW;

Then, thanks to the wonderful CLICK ease of Google, scan these
dark dark WATERS ... and take it from there.

I mean, even if it is all just a (nuclear) storm in an over priced cup of tea... it's still mighty mighty odd.

posted by Ian 6/16/2006 12:30:00 PM
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I think the new Busta Rhymes 45 is crud - over produced and under developed. It's like he's just thrown all the current 'in' signifiers at a wall and hoped some of it would stick. I hate the video for it, too (cash, jewellery, muscles, foxy ladies, etc yawn etc.) Especially sad, as at the weekend one of the video channels played the vid for WOO HAH! WOO HAH!, which, both sonically and video wise, actually seemed years ahead of the current stiffo. (I still love the kick-off start of that old video, where Busta and compadres are all stuck in a too-small car.) But yesterday the same channel played a 'REMIX" version of the current single - the only notable bit of which is the beginning, where Busta and Smug Signifyin Pal are HUPstaged in sharpness and hipness by a posse of young black schoolgirls, doing an HON-masse foot stomp dance routine. I saw this in the morning and it really made me smile; then, aboot 4 hours later, I was stacking books in my first floor eyrie when I heard the HEXact same DISS-tinctive foot stomp pattern (somewhere between military parade, Gold digger tap, and circa HAIGHTey One Buffalo Girl rope-skip hip hop) ...

I looked outside and three of the Estate girls (about age 8 to 10, I guess), in school uniform, arm in arm, (one black, one white, one cappucino) , were making their way home, DOIN THE DANCE, foot note for foot note.

I predict a summer trend.

posted by Ian 6/09/2006 10:06:00 AM
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I have to say, I agree with a whole lot of what Marcello has to say here; I've been disappointed, or bored stiff, or impressed-but-untouched by 99% of Stuff I Should Like, lately. On the other hand, I found myself improbably moved by - of all things - the last two Will Young 45s;...

... the one with the strange Nuremberg Tribunal looking video, and the new one with the too-smart-alecky Blue Peter video. The latter, moved almost to tears. He's definitely discovering things in his voice, thngs he can do with his voice, places to go, spectres to meet ....

posted by Ian 6/09/2006 09:52:00 AM
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A first: last night I had a dream in which Lacan made an appearance. (I can't remember any more than that, unfortunately. My previously most notable/memorable oneiric Guest Appearance was this one dream where I had Breakfast with Mr & Mrs Les Dawson. I just know there's a punchline waiting to be made somewhere here, but for the half life of me I can't pin it down ...)

posted by Ian 6/09/2006 09:50:00 AM

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Freddie 'Parrot Face' Davis sez
Let It Be Known: I AM THE BEAST...


posted by Ian 6/06/2006 09:08:00 AM

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... a good TALKING POINT alternative to todays business-as-usual Sunday papers.

posted by Ian 6/04/2006 11:03:00 AM

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Maybe I should have waited til 6.6.(0)6 to post THIS, but having stumbled across it, I now can't get it out of my mind.

Follow up and actual illustrations (eeeeuuuuurrrgh: CREEPY) here ...

posted by Ian 6/01/2006 01:35:00 PM
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SPOOKS IN (postmodern) SPACE

Just as many informants who happened to be actors or artists willingly and gladly provided whatever information they could provide. Some of them did it out of a sense of patriotism and duty; others did it because they just loved being involved in the intrigue. It was another stage to act upon, another canvas upon which to create an impression, another image or story to circulate. It was a wrapping of truth within something novel and packaging it as "fiction," or "surrealist," or "avant-garde," and it all occured within a world where those labels afforded plausible deniability and yet at the same time fed the public's insatiable imagination for making the lie and the truth seem increasingly interchangeable. It was the birth of the postmodern and the death of belief in any grand historical narrative, but scholars have largely failed to see how the intelligence community was implicated in it."

H.L. Goodall Jr.
A NEED TO KNOW: The Clandestine History of a CIA FAmily.
[Left Coast Press/Berg]

posted by Ian 6/01/2006 12:25:00 PM
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Lost in rhetoric the other day, I forgot one instance of the Wire canon that lately did burn down my house in the same way as Screw/Trae/et al: Julius Eastman on the posthumous Unjust Malaise 3-CD set. Now this particular strain of head-noddy glacial Serialism/Minimalism/whatever the hell it is, isnt normally my idea of a walk in the park with the one you love. (In fact, in tandem, I listened - or tried to listen - to a 3-cd Phil Niblock set and it bored the arse straight out my dayglo Bermuda shorts.)

But there's an 'x' factor in Eastman that snaps my neck around to wonder : who/what the Reich is THAT?
Whether you know His Story or not (and it's quite a sad one, a perplexing one, altho not entirely unexpected in its burst and fall); if you do know the story you cant help but think the 'x' factor is to do with a Crazy Black Queen (over-)acting on the stage of a post-Cagean apolitics of 'dont ask dont tell' campus whispers, and thereby showing up his elders and closeted betters; whether this makes the quote actual music unquote more or less gripping, is something to explore. I think you can 'hear' the story 'in' the music: I think it tears through what might otherwise be dry and boring Formalism, with at times thrillingly audible traces of his complex and ornery personality. (One serialist composition for four pianos is whipped along by Eastman's vertiginously joyous and unexpected preacherman "1 - 2 - 3 - 4!!!") At the time (downtown NYC, mid 70s), Queer Politics was about refusing certain 'Forms' or restrictions, it was about coming out crazily and messily all over the place, no division between 'private' and 'public', between feral cruise and cocktail politesse; and this probably scared the shit out of Cage, Cunningham et al. , who belonged to a different generation altogether.
(I'm sure Terre Thaemlitz somewhere draws a devastating parallel between Cage's at times too-convenient and approaching-Twee muscial formalism, and his ambiguous Closet-y status.)

I read a great definition of Formalism yesterday as it happens. (This could apply to that ridiculous Neubauten ICA restaging Simon mentions too: was there ever a better example of the futility and cul de sac emptiness of Formalism as terminal and terminally vain, vainglorious, exhausted gesture?) The definition was found in an Obit for the rather interesting sounding Peter Viereck (on whom, more at a later date, possibly; I must admit I'd never heard of this strange poet/historian before): "[In this] he expanded into the field of cultural criticism, proclaiming "form yes, formalism no". Commenting on Robert Frost's mot that free verse was like playing tennis without a net, Viereck said that formalism in poetry was like the net without the tennis." Isn't that on the money? So many times I've visited some "shocking, daring, powerful" Art Event at the ICA and "the net without the tennis" was exactly how it felt...

Now, that dumb-ass Greil Marcus quote Simon spotlights - the thing about Anita Baker (although of course it could be about Chic, or Dr Buzzard's, or any black male singer who ever put on a beautiful suit and serenaded an audience into submission, etc, etc) : What I hear/read in that quote is something like 'black folks shouldnt/can't have a phantasy life, that's not what they're FOR...' Coming out on top (or even burrowing out sideways from the bottom) and enjoying - if only for a night, or a season - the jouissance of the Hi Life, on any number of well-cut hi-steppin' "signifyin/signifying" levels - isnt how Marcus sees the black entertainer or black social engagement. It doesnt quite rebound the right way for the tastes or trajectories of hs own phantasy life; which is fair enough - more power to his Unconscious and all that I say ... not enough folks let the traces of their Symbolic/Imaginary life out onto the page these days.

But that doesnt give him the right to criticise a sharp dressed man, or a woman's lu-lu-luscious seduction-night croon. And who knows, this may all, ultimately, be very precisely about some body's ability to lose self consciousness, or history - which ever comes first or gets back on top - and allow themselves to get or be CAUGHT UP IN THE RAPTURE OF 'X' ...

But then, Marcus has never given (M)ANY signs of liking music that betrays a sonics of phantasy and phantasm, that carries its so called 'politics' in its rapt or rapturous sonics rather than from its all-too-correct soap box. Which is why I'd normally cheer his concomittant dismissal of R.E.M. Jesus & Mary Chain et al - but it just seems a bit rich coming from someone who has so consistently championed such DULL DULL DULL and worthy Holy Greil plodders as Springsteen, Clash, et al et al. And for whom Black Folks seem to be there only to provide the politically appropriate MYTHOS - i.e., street or crossroads mythologies, Stagger Lee mythologies, stuff fraught with danger - altho, of course, not usually to the Berkely bound middle class white boy writer, safe and secure at his desk - rather than anything suspiciously aspirational. It all devolves to the Street Nigger of his fevered imagination...

Ishmael Reed long ago noted (and castigated) this post-Mailer syndrome of white cultural critics unable to see the Black social stage as anything but fraught with danger and despair and downward trajectory ; but surely the elephant in Marcus present day salon is Rap. Marcus' forthcoming book about 'Prophecy and the American Voice' takes in two seperate chapters on David Lynch, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Roth, David Thomas, and ... NO RAP??????!!!!!! No Black music AT ALL in a book about the American Voice as a soothsaying and Prophetic one?

(What I'm saying may be a bit lazily dashed-off unfair; but it may just scrape against a few unpalatably barnacled truths. That the 'Voice' Marcus is obsessed by is one he hears, fundamentally, inside himself, and projects out onto a rather severely circumscribed 'canon' of 98% white spokespeople. It's a lecturer's voice, essentialy, displaced onto mainstream rock n roll song-as-message and message of secular redemption ...)

Its like I was saying the other day about music I admire, but dont actually listen to - something to tick off, rather than lose yourself in, or be taken over by. I feel that way increasingly about Marcus' texts. I mean, it's impossible not to admire his uh huge contribution, his industry, his relentlessness (at pushing his One Voice, One America vision) but Christ, it's getting a bit threadbare and monomanical and just plain overwritten and stodgily boring to read.

Cf., this upcoming book THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME - Prophecy and The American Voice [Faber] Whole sections of which are just plain turgid and overwritten and nerdo-gonzo boorish, like a man using an encyclopeadia to convince you that Coke tastes nice. He actually manages to make David Lynch (or rather, his favourite David Lynch, which also happens to be exactly the same as my favourite David Lynch) seem BORING, which is going some. Altho maybe it's not so surprising, as I thought Marcus' BFI Classics entry, on The Manchurian Candidate, was his thinnest, sketchiest, more self-parodic work to date.

The problem with that "American Voice" is that Marcus hardly ever writes about it AS A VOICE. Always as this straight-backed historico-metaphysical construct, personal myth of 'redemption', and huff-puff 'It All Comes Back To the Eternal LOGOS of Free Speech' re appropriation. Somewhere in my archives I'm sure I've got a long semi-rant of A Repudiation of Marcus I wrote as part of a longer project (involving the ghosts of Elvis Aaron Presley, Walter Benjamin, the Gothic tradition, and Rickie Lee Jones' "Pirates': I think that was it). Any rate, it's been bugging me more and more, ever since Invisible Republic... or maybe it's just fundamentally, that my taste (which prefers tracks to albums, one offs to canonic 'classics') runs to his Real Life Rock Top Ten (which, coincidentally, I always love, even when I disagree with it), far more than it does to the more professorial voice of his increasingly lumbering theses.

Another forthcoming book I found turgid and complacent and politically bizarre and unreadable: LACAN - THE SILENT PARTNERS - edited by Slavoj Zizek. I'm sorry, boys - I still don't get the Zizek thing. But especially here. Richard Wagner? Henry James? Turgenev?
Bill and Ted's Totally Amazing Course On the Dialectic .... boner.

{BTW: anyone with acces to Rocks Backpages should check out the acutely wonderful and uncommonly acute Carol Cooper's defences of Black Glamour - as 'political' stance - in articles on August Darnell and Prince, amongst others.}

{NB: big thanks to Nick at The Wire, for sending me the Julius Eastman and other stuff to begin with...

posted by Ian 6/01/2006 10:03:00 AM

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