a new low in topical enlightenment

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Issue #110 (August 10, 2011)

DuPage River, Illinois

Photo by Joe Carducci

From the London desk of Steve Beeho...

Jamie Reid - Ragged Kingdom

As punk's big bang recedes ever further into the past, it increasingly feels as if for any claim you care to make about it, the opposite is equally tenable (high art/low art, egailtarian/elitist, working class/middle class etc etc). And it was almost certainly these tensions which made it so fertile. But for a long time it seemed as if one cardinal principle was inviolate: punk was the antithesis of hippiedom.

In the Sex Pistols’ first ever interview with the music press (Sounds, 24 April 1976), John Lydon declared to Jonh Ingham that “I hate hippies and what they stand for”. And just to hammer the point home, one of McLaren’s key rhetorical flourishes in The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle (and a passing side-swipe at Richard Branson) was “Never trust a hippie”.

But these days Lydon, the man who once sneered “I wanna destroy the passer-by”, name-checks Mahatma Gandhi as the historical figure he admires most. And now here we are at the Jamie Reid 'Ragged Kingdom' retrospective at the Isis Gallery, tucked away in an Islington back street, clambering through eight tipis which have been set up to provide a peace camp, er, vibe.

Each tipi is devoted to a separate aspect of Reid’s career: Suburban Press, The Cat Book, Sex Pistols, How To Become Invisible, Afrocelt/Visual Stress,
Strongroom, a Festival of Sleeves and the Eightfold Year. The installations don’t purport to be comprehensive – items are displayed haphazardly, with zero commentary/context and photocopies strewn on the floor, the antithesis of an orderly curated presentation. It’s up to you to make the connections.

Although Jamie Reid's reputation will forever be indelibly associated with the Sex Pistols, the exhibition shows how his work is best viewed as a continuum, often recycling past creations to re-present them in new contexts.The Nowhere/Boredom bus image on the back of the 'Pretty Vacant' picture sleeve was originally a Suburban Press poster while the 'Holidays in the Sun' “nice drawing” was previously used in the Situationist International anthology, Leaving the 20th Century (having itself been created earlier for Reid’s unpublished Cat Book). And now the bitter irony of ‘God Save the Queen’ has been supplanted by the eco-cry of 'God Save Our Forests'.

Viewed from one angle the exhibition highlights how apparently marginal/"extreme" ideas can seep into the mainstream over time without anybody batting an eyelid. When Reid initially coined his “Media sickness more contagious than AIDS” slogan in the mid-80s at the height of AIDS hysteria, it smacked of bad taste provocation and drew embarrassed titters from a TV studio audience when Margi Clarke wore a scarf adorned with it on the Terry Wogan Show (those were the days!). But in the post-phone hacking climate, what's the betting that a majority of the British public would now instinctively agree?!

Likewise the moral outrage and physical violence that 'God Save the Queen' unleashed in Jubilee Year seems like ancient history in an era when the tabloids routinely run critical pieces on the royal family which would’ve been inconceivable in 1977. And who would’ve imagined when Bow Wow Wow exulted in the threat that home taping ‘piracy’ posed to the music industry (the last project which McLaren and Reid collaborated on) that digitalisation would decimate record companies in a way those trouble-makers could only have dreamed of?

The story of punk, like all art, was the response of specific individuals to particular circumstances. What tends to gets taken for granted now though is that a crucial part of what made it so thrilling was the fact that the rest of the world *really* hated it.

But it’s unhealthy to remain locked in that mind-set forever. No longer fuelled by audience hostility, John Lydon goes out of his way at Pistols reunions to tell the crowd how much he "loves" them (although his innate prickliness never seems far away). And although the other Pistols experienced difficult post-split come-downs, they’re now all affable well-adjusted geezers, doubtless assuaged by the delayed respect and payday(s) that the band’s premature implosion deprived them of first time round.

Although McLaren’s scheming ultimately accelerated the Pistols’ demise, it always seemed poignant how unwilling the band members were to give his crucial catalytic input its due when they reformed. (Presumably this was chiefly Lydon's doing and I suppose his thirst for vengeance was understandable after McLaren attempted to stitch him up).

Ironically, considering how he tends to get cast as a dilettante in revisionist histories, in his own way McLaren remained more committed to the original punk rhetoric than the band did, seemingly the last person standing, (bar the occasional shell-shocked prog rocker), who still believed that the Pistols "couldn't play".

But is such dogmatism necessarily a good thing? The contrast between Lydon's and McLaren's respective forays into Reality TV is quite telling. When Lydon appeared on "I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" in 2004 his wit and sensitivity endeared him to viewers and would almost certainly have led to him winning if he hadn’t stormed off after an off-screen bust-up with the programme makers. Compare that to McLaren’s mortifying appearence in 2007 on "The Baron" where his attempts to provoke the locals just seem depressing and undignified and almost led to him being lynched.

After the Pistols' story degenerated into the overt cynicism/sabotage of The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle, Reid turned his back on the negativity and darkness that had engulfed it and embraced instead issues of spirituality, nature and beauty, although his work retained its hard political edge. On the face of it this seems a counter-intuitive direction to take but one of the subtexts of the exhibition is that for Reid environmentalism is actually the logical culmination of his Suburban Press community activism and punk’s assault on media manipulation and passive consumerism. "Never Mind the Bollocks, Save the Environment" indeed.

Photos by Nick Zak


Jamie Reid addendum

• 'Safely pinned'

• 'Un-pinned'

•  3D'd

• Museum number:E.1829-1992
Gallery location:National Art Library, room 76, case 14

• A breakdown of the full Reid collection held by the V&A

• The punk/hippie interface fails to come off in 1977:
Jamie Reid in conversation with Billy Childish where Billy reveals he sent some lyrics to Glitterbest for consideration, only for them to be witheringly sent back as “hippie clap-trap”.


Too Much Art – www punk art overkill
• A mind-blowing photohistory of 430 Kings Rd

• Paul Gorman in his blog The Look on Malcolm McLaren's/Bernie Rhodes' (?) seminal 'You're Gonna Wake Up' T-shirt which threw down the gauntlet in 1974:

link 1

link 2

• Something in the air… Tomata Du Plenty’s pre-Screamers Tupperwares flyers:



• .... 23 years later Tomata’s paintings feature on CNN

• And in the next millennium the conceptual art world embraces The Screamers

• Jon Savage on ‘The Secret Public’ , his legendary collage collaboration with Linder Sterling

• A 2-part guided tour of the ‘Secret Public’ exhibition at the Boo Hooray gallery

• Random Pettibon image generator

•  Gary Panter sleeves

• Bazooka comics

Loulou Picasso

• Last year’s London Bazooka retrospective, part of the Anti-Art Festival

• Mike Kelley on The Poetics

• Marc Zermati’s 'Rock is my life' exhibition

• Malcolm Garrett’s immortal Buzzcocks singles designs

• Barney Bubbles's artwork  was probably *the* bridge between the early 70s counterculture and punk. (And does anybody now deny the brain-mashing brilliance of Hawkwind?) A  cornucopia of his 7" sleeves

• ... and in particular his great design for the Damned’s Stretcher Case giveaway single

• West Coast flyers and other flotsam from the Rat Sound collection

• End of the World! World Imitation and Monitor

• Hitsville UK on the changing face of British punk singles from proto-punk to anarcho-punk. Note how it isn’t until the advent of anarcho-punk that real homogenisation sets in. (The irony!)

• Action Time Vision aka Spin 3 celebrates the punk sleeve glory days

• The catalogue for the 1978 ‘Punk Art’ exhibition at Washington DC Project for the Arts

• John Morton’s sleeves/posters/tour pics for the Electric Eels, Styrenes, X_X etc and the punk art/anti-music of Johnny & the Dicks

• Heroic Leisure on Fast Product’s deconstructionist meta-consumerism

• The Barbican’s “Panic Attack! Art in the Punk Years” show

•  Gee Vaucher dicusses her pre-Crass/Crass/post-Crass work, including her mid-70s illustrations for the New York Times and Ebony (!)

 The ‘Damned Disciples Songbook’

•  Victor Gastelum on his experiences as SST art director

• Slash back issues (if only those scans were larger!)

Jon Savage interviews Claude Bessy and V.Vale

• Don Waller provides the lowdown on Back Door Man

• Bruce Kalberg on No Mag

• No Mag from 1982, featuring Chuck Dukowski’s fantastic history of LA punk

And two more issues from 1983:

link 1

link 2

• The complete set of Ripped and Torn

•  The ongoing history of Vague magazine

• Flipside 1

• Shane Macgowan’s hand-written fanzine Bondage from Dec '76, “Typing is for girls!”

• Collected covers of Sniffin' Glue

• Sluggo! safely under glass

• Chicago art punk from Praxis magazine

• 'Those were different times' - Charlotte Pressler's Cleveland memoir, originally published in
Cle in 1978

• Bobby Pyn & co. providing invaluable lifestyle tips on “how to look punk” in early '77

• Scans from Mick Jones’s fanzine collection

• Jordi Valls’ London Punk Tapes book produced to accompany the recent Barcelona exhibition of raw unheard live recordings made by the author in 1976/77

• The Dangerhouse iPad cover

Two current exhibitions for your social calendar

• Rude and Reckless: Punk/Post-Punk Graphics, 1976-82 at the Stephen Kasher Gallery, New York:

link 1

link 2

• Visual Vitriol, at Rough Trade East, London

Post “Colonial” Tibet
by Joe Carducci

This new temporal, normal plane-of-existence leader the Tibetans-in-exile have elected, Lobsang Sangay, said the magic word “colonialism” to describe China’s deep geo-strategic interest in their Buddhist neighbor to the south-west. Actually, Tibet was cut down from over twice its historical size. There was essentially a land-bridge about five hundred miles wide up to their sole co-religionists in this world in Mongolia. This Tibet and the original-sized Mongolia, together met and thence freed the Muslims in East Turkestan, alias Sinkiang, a.k.a. Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, (originally Qurighar by the natives), from their new bad neighbors the Han Chinese. Sangay lobbed an excellent word-grenade at the Chinese -- one designed to alert the remains of the international left that the plight of the former feudal Tibetans have got their act together and intend to leave the road and go home. The sudden use of this word, “colonialism,” means Tibet is no longer a lofty Shangrila-type lifestyle revolt among NPR listeners. Its use also launches the possibility at the Chinese Communist Party that they might soon wish they had cut a deal with the Dalai Lama, who in the past, up to last week, before the Tibetans stepped down from their clouds to our political plane-of-existence, was asking politely for mere “autonomy,” though perhaps somewhat more “autonomy” than the Xinjiang Uighur’s are enduring.

Also of interest was how strongly the Financial Times reported this development, on its front page, under the fold, in a short piece by Girija Shiva Kumar (in Dharamsala) and James Lamont (in New Delhi), “Tibet’s political leader-in-exile condemns China ‘colonialism’”:

“In a strongly worded inaugural address, Lobsang Sangay vowed to fight Chinese ‘colonialism’. Speaking at the Indian hill station of Dharamsala, seat of Tibet’s exiled government, Mr Sangay stirred hopes among his supporters that he would be more assertive towards China than the Dalai Lama, who retains his role as Tibet’s spiritual leader. The prime minister, or Kalon Tripa, said: There is no socialism in Tibet. There is colonialism. Chinese rule in Tibet is clearly unjust and untenable.’”

Unlike its fellow global business paper, the Wall Street Journal did not use the word “colonialism” in its headline, and though its story, reported by Jeremy Page, was longer, the word never occurs. Given Rupert Murdoch’s earlier kow-towing to Chi-com sentiment one wonders at that muting in the story. It does seem to confirm the power of the charge. The New York Times so far has published only a brief from the AP which also did not quote the charge. I wasn’t listening to NPR or the BBC so don’t know whether the change in tone of actual Tibetans will change the tone of the old movement in the west consisting of untold numbers of bumper stickered Volvos and Priuses in co-ops or Whole Foods parking lots.


Tibet Addendum

Mark Magnier in LAT, "New Tibetan exile leader vows to take on Chinese ‘colonialism’".

“Lobsang Sangay, the Tibetan prime minister in exile, vowed to fight China's uncompromising approach toward Tibet during his swearing-in ceremony Monday as he prepared to assume many of the political duties previously handled by the Dalai Lama. Speaking at the Tsuglagkhang Temple in Dharamsala, a hill station in northern India, Sangay vowed to fight Beijing's ‘colonialism,’ and said his election sent ‘a clear message to the hard-liners in the Chinese government that Tibetan leadership is far from fizzling out.’ After traditional offerings of tea and sweetened rice, Sangay, 43, took up his new post at exactly nine seconds after 09:09 a.m. Nine is considered an auspicious number that many Tibetans associate with longevity.”

Jeremy Page in WSJ, "Tibetan Exiles Swear In New Political Leader".

“Mr. Sangay’s appointment is troubling for China because he once belonged to a radical Tibetan youth organization that has advocated violence and still seeks full independence, rather than the autonomy that the Dalai Lama has pursued through nonviolence…. Mr. Sangay said he personally did not espouse violence, because he thought it was ‘futile,’ but added that he had advocated independence and joined ‘confrontational’ protests during his involvement with the Tibetan Youth Congress.”


China Addendum…

Times of India, "Maoists signed controversial Buddha deal, says Chinese envoy".

“A controversial plan by a dark horse Chinese NGO to transform the birthplace of the Buddha into a ‘Buddhist Vatican’, that would also bring the dragon uncomfortably close to the Indian border, could be a gift by Nepal's ruling Maoist party. The new Chinese ambassador to Nepal, Yang Houlan, tried to downplay the brouhaha over the $3 billion mega project by Hong Kong-based Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (APEC) to develop Lumbini in Nepal's Terai plains, the birthplace of the Buddha, while paying a courtesy call on a Terai party in Kathmandu on Tuesday. Hridayesh Tripathy, an MP from the Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party, told the media soon after the visit that he had broached the controversial subject, mentioning that Nepal's foreign and culture ministries had said they had no clue about the Chinese organisation's plans and would not allow it.”

The Times of India: "Nepal rejects ambitious Chinese Buddhist venture".

“‘Nepal is the actual stakeholder,’ said Modraj Dottel, spokesperson of Nepal's culture ministry that governs Lumbini, the town in southern Nepal that is the destination of thousands of pilgrims and Buddhist scholars worldwide, and a Unesco-declared World Heritage Site. ‘How can we own a deal struck in a third country without the formal consent of the actual stakeholder?’ The unambiguous official rejection came after reports in the Chinese media earlier this month that a Hong Kong based NGO, the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation, had signed a memorandum of understanding with the UN Industrial Development Organisation for a $3 billion project to develop Lumbini into a ‘Buddhist Mecca’, complete with hotels, an international airport and other tourism-related infrastructure.”

Andrew Jacobs in NYT, "China Hopes to Bolster the Credibility of a Handpicked Lama".

“‘Nobody wants him to come, and yet still he will come,’ said one 26-year-old monk. ‘We feel powerless.’ The main problem is that this Panchen Lama, 21, is one of two young men with claims to the title. The one chosen by Communist Party officials in 1995, named Gyaltsen Norbu at birth, is often referred to by local residents as the ‘Chinese Panchen Lama.’ The other is Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who would now be 22, a herder’s son who was anointed that same year by the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader. Most Tibetans are still loyal to the memory of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, even if he has been missing since Chinese authorities swept him and his family into ‘protective custody’ more than 16 years ago. ‘We just hope he is still alive,’ said Tsering Woeser, a Tibetan essayist and blogger who noted that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s visage, frozen as a 5-year-old, hangs in many homes and temples. ‘We are waiting for him.’ As Gyaltsen Norbu moves from adolescence to adulthood, Chinese authorities are facing a quandary over how to burnish his bona fides: his standing will continue to suffer if he remains apart from Tibetan monks and the faithful, but officials risk inflaming passions by foisting him on a community that remains deeply suspicious. In recent years, the Communist Party has tried other means to raise his profile. They named him vice president of the state-run Buddhist association and appointed him to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body that meets annually in Beijing. But so far most of his public statements have left Tibetans unimpressed. In one typically stolid remark last March, he said, ‘We live in a society governed by law, while the religious practices fall into the category of social activity; therefore, only by administration according to law can we ensure a stable and harmonious development of religious affairs.’”

NYT: "In China, a Leader People Love Is Marginalized Within the Party".

“The Wenzhou episode is illustrative. One political analyst close to senior officials said Mr. Wen had not planned to visit the disaster scene; a deputy prime minister who oversees work safety, Zhang Dejiang, was to handle the matter. But with Mr. Zhang in charge, backhoes crushed and buried a wrecked train car at the site — and provoked a national outcry from bloggers who accused the government of a cover-up. Mr. Wen, then in a People’s Liberation Army hospital and limited to occasional appearances, was sent to Wenzhou to soothe the masses. Mr. Wen pointedly mentioned that he had been sick — a rare disclosure for a leader — then delivered a call for truth, justice and an inquiry that was open at ‘every step’ to public supervision. The official state media took Mr. Wen’s broadside as a pass to keep digging into Railways Ministry incompetence.”

Sharon LaFraniere in NYT, "Officials in China Seized Infants for Black Market, Parents Say".

“Yang Ling’s parents had not registered their marriage. To keep the baby, the officials said, the elder Mr. Yang would have to pay nearly $1,000, on the spot. Otherwise, they said, he would have to sign away the girl with a false affidavit stating that he was not her biological grandfather. ‘I was totally outraged,’ he said, but ‘I did not have the courage to resist. They do not play by the rules.’ He signed the document. Yang Libing discovered the loss of his daughter during his monthly telephone call home from a pay phone on a Shenzhen street. ‘Is she behaving?’ he asked cheerily. The answer, he said, made him physically sick. After racing home, he said, he begged family planning officials to let him pay the fine. They said it was too late. When he protested, he said, a group of more than 10 men beat him. Afterward, the office director offered a compromise: although their daughter was gone forever, the Yangs would be allowed to conceive two more children.

‘I can’t even describe my hatred of those family planning officials,’ Mr. Yang said. ‘I hate them to my bones. I wonder if they are parents, too. Why don’t they treat us as humans?’ Asked whether he was still searching for his daughter, he replied: ‘Of course! This is not a chicken. This is not a dog. This is my child.’”

From the Desk of Joe Carducci…

David Malpass in WSJ, "Weak Dollar, Weak Economy".

“The U.S. is practically alone in the world in pursuing a near-zero interest rate and letting its central bank leverage to the hilt to buy up the national debt. By choosing to pay savers nearly nothing, the Fed's policy discourages thrift and is directly connected to the weakness in personal income. The zero-rate policy only benefits mega-borrowers like federal and state governments, big banks and big corporations — a group not known for much net private-sector job creation. The select few are able to borrow cheaply, but corporate proceeds often go abroad while most government borrowing just encourages deficit spending. The combination of super-low interest rates and trillions in leveraged Federal Reserve debt constitutes a semi-official weak-dollar policy. It has driven gold to a record high and made the dollar one of the world's weakest currencies. The dollar index has fallen 38% since 2002 (to 75 from 120) despite cynical statements by officials that a ‘strong dollar is in our national interest.’ To protect themselves from the weakening dollar, investors and corporations are shifting growth capital from U.S. businesses into foreign infrastructure and jobs, a process that is dismantling decades of U.S. wealth creation.”


Gene Epstein in Barron’s, "Time to Man Up".

“The paltry projected cut in 2012 renders any discussion of the potential fiscal drag from the Budget Control Act impossible to take seriously. The idea that the spending cuts could slow economic growth is widely held, but simply makes no sense under scrutiny of the actual figures involved. Recent experience has even made it hard to believe in the flip side of fiscal drag, known as fiscal stimulus. Hundreds of billions of extra dollars have been spent to boost economic growth, to no apparent effect. Most recently, total federal outlays in the 2011 budget have jumped to a record $3.629 trillion, an increase of $173 billion, or 5%, over those in 2010. Yet real growth of gross domestic product through the first half of this year has slowed to an annual rate of just 0.9%. If a 5% increase in federal spending can stimulate so little, what can you say about fiscal drag that is about the size of a statistical error?”


The New Yorker’s Assumptions at Futureofcapitalism.com.

“The New Yorker magazine out today has pieces by two different writers that display a similar attitude. The first runs under the headline ‘Why Wall Street Should Fear the Tea Party.’ It includes the sentence, ‘the austerity advocates will also be emboldened in their attacks on the Federal Reserve, which they argue has been overly loose in its monetary policy (when in fact it's been too tight).’ It may be the writer's opinion that the Federal Reserve's monetary has been too tight. But to say it's a ‘fact’ is something that it's strange got past the New Yorker's vaunted fact-checkers. Interest rates are near zero, with the Fed's ‘zero interest rate policy’ even generating a zippy acronym, ‘ZIRP.’ Gold has already soared to record highs against the dollar. The loose policy has consequences, both in terms of the low return on savings accounts pushing savers further out the yield curve, and in terms of a weaker dollar. Maybe there's an argument for a looser monetary policy, but if the New Yorker wants to make it, it should do so, rather than merely stating it as a ‘fact’ without any further explanation.”


Ross Douthat in NYT, "Waiting For A Landslide".

“One reason American policy-making has become ‘less stable, less effective, and less predictable’ — in the words of the downgrade that Standard & Poor’s handed to the United States on Friday night — is the enduring influence of V. O. Key’s theory, and the seductive dream of realignment that it conjured up. This dream has hovered over national leaders from Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich. But it has loomed larger in the last decade, as our politics have grown more polarized and our country has suffered through a series of dislocations and disasters. Events like 9/11 and the Great Recession have persuaded partisans on both sides that a dramatic realignment is imminent; the breadth of the ideological divide has convinced them that it’s necessary.

Thus the conservative hope that the war on terror would decisively tilt American politics to the right, and the liberal assumption that the 2008 financial crisis had unmade the Reagan coalition forever. Thus Karl Rove’s famous goal of a permanent (or at least ‘durable’) Republican majority and Rahm Emanuel’s promise that the Obama White House wouldn’t let a ‘crisis go to waste.’ Thus the assumption, on the left and right alike, that every presidential election is the most important in our lifetime — except for the next one, which will be more important still.”


Charles Johnson in WSJ, "How Silent Cal Beat a Recession".

“In Coolidge's time, as now, the educated class harbored contempt for the philosophic underpinnings of our republic and for those who would defend them. Alice Roosevelt Longsworth, the daughter of Teddy, accused Coolidge of having been ‘weaned on a pickle.’ In language similar to attacks on conservatives today, Pulitzer Prize winner Arthur Schlesinger castigated Coolidge for being too beholden to business. The narrative stuck. In 1995, another Pulitzer Prize winner, Irwin Unger, said Coolidge ‘slept away most of his five years in office. . . . The watchword of [his] government was do nothing.’

But ‘nothing’ seemed to work. With the tax cuts in place, luxuries of the rich quickly became middle-class, as affordable cars and radios rolled off the assembly line. Industrial titans (and Coolidge-backers) like Harvey Firestone and Henry Ford made unheard-of fortunes. Real annual per-capita income rose 37%, to $716 from $522.”


Kevin Warsh & Jeb Bush in WSJ, "A New Strategy for Economic Growth".

“Policy makers should cease the barrage of ad hoc, short-term policy initiatives. Is increased federal spending across government agencies a grand strategy? How about checks in the mail to spur spending? Cash for clunkers to move auto inventories? Fast trains and faster Internet? Mortgage modification programs and fleeting tax credits to re-stoke home ownership? Inducing consumers to do today what they would otherwise do tomorrow is hardly a grand strategy. Hundreds of billions in ‘stimulus’ spending has stimulated little but more debt. Forty-eight months have passed since the onset of the financial crisis, 26 months since the recession technically ended. Yet job creation remains remarkably weak, and markets deeply uneasy. We can't go on like this. The debt-limit debate caused policy makers to recognize what citizens already knew: We must put our fiscal house in order. Cutting spending is essential. But we will never cut our way to prosperity. So, what should be the economic grand strategy? In a word: growth. Stability has replaced growth as the foremost objective of economic policy. But growth over the next 10 years is more consequential to our well-being than any new regulations promulgated by the Financial Stability Oversight Council or cost-cutting considered by the new congressional super committee. Absent strong growth, any projected improvements in the country's fiscal position won't materialize.”


David Aronson in NYT, "How Congress Devastated Congo".

“The ‘Loi Obama’ or Obama Law — as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform act of 2010 has become known in the region — includes an obscure provision that requires public companies to indicate what measures they are taking to ensure that minerals in their supply chain don’t benefit warlords in conflict-ravaged Congo. The provision came about in no small part because of the work of high-profile advocacy groups like the Enough Project and Global Witness, which have been working for an end to what they call ‘conflict minerals.’ Unfortunately, the Dodd-Frank law has had unintended and devastating consequences, as I saw firsthand on a trip to eastern Congo this summer. The law has brought about a de facto embargo on the minerals mined in the region, including tin, tungsten and the tantalum that is essential for making cellphones. The smelting companies that used to buy from eastern Congo have stopped. No one wants to be tarred with financing African warlords — especially the glamorous high-tech firms like Apple and Intel that are often the ultimate buyers of these minerals. It’s easier to sidestep Congo than to sort out the complexities of Congolese politics — especially when minerals are readily available from other, safer countries.”


Rachel Wolf in Prospect, "My Generation".

“Baby boomers complain their children cannot afford a house — while preventing the development that would make it possible. Despite population growth, they have consistently failed to increase the supply of available land. London is expected to have 700,000 additional households in the next 20 years — the equivalent of 35,000 households per year. Yet in the last year fewer than 25,000 dwellings were created in the capital. This has been true for decades: the supply of housing has not been allowed to keep pace with demand. Unsurprisingly, house prices have skyrocketed — my parents’ house in London has quadrupled in real terms during my lifetime of 26 years — and the wealth gap between those who bought in that period and those who did not increases every year. For baby boomers high house prices are a guarantee for the future: a significant part of their pension and a vital asset to pass on when they die. That is why cutting inheritance tax is so popular. It is also why people passionately resist new housing in their area. For us, it is a catastrophe. The population increases, new houses are not built and the price of property continues to rise. The average person in my age bracket — between 22 and 29 — cannot pay their rent and save for a deposit. It would cost on average 10 per cent more than their net monthly income.”


Riva Froymovich in WSJ, "Europe’s Youth Face Scarcity of Jobs".

“Companies can’t adjust wages based on productivity and local living costs, since wages in many countries are set centrally. And some economists say Europe’s strong social security net decreases incentives to find work. In the past, governments may have narrowed the gap by adjusting labor costs through a devaluation of their currencies. With the advent of the euro, though, that isn’t possible, creating the need for more drastic restructuring of labor markets.”


Jennifer Hughes in FT, "The Short View".

“Germany has become a greater risk than the UK, according to the credit markets, where the price of insuring German government debt against a default on Tuesday popped above that for UK gilts. The figures might seem a little ironic to London-based investors as they track riots across the capital, but the numbers are reflective of the UK’s current popularity as a non-Euro zone, alternative haven to Germany.”


Otmar Issing in FT, "Slithering to the wrong kind of union".

“Many observers are now interpreting the European Union’s manifold financial rescue measures to support Greece as a step in the direction of political union. Therefore, should people like me not be happy with this development? In fact, the opposite is true. Connecting the initial idea of a political union with developments currently under way is both logically flawed and politically dangerous. In short: a consistent concept of a political union should be based on a constitution, and imply a European government controlled by a European Parliament, elected according to democratic principles. What we see happening now is something quite different. More and more national taxpayers’ money is now at risk to ‘save’ the euro. Yet the conclusion that this process is leading in the direction of political union is derived from the strict conditions imposed upon member states that broke the rules, in exchange for help – conditions which imply a kind of European control over elements of member state governments. If these conditions do trigger reforms – which in many countries is long overdue – that would be welcome. However, the fact that a member country can be assured that its membership of the euro – even in the case of permanent violations of the rules – will be saved at any price causes moral hazard and creates an obvious potential for blackmail.”


Walter Russell Mead in WSJ, "Europe’s Less Than Perfect Union".

“Despite the ECB's starring role in the latest phase of Europe's crisis, we have reached the end of the age in which serious people could believe international political institutions would replace sovereign governments as the chief actors in international political life.

The belief that global institutions operating on the basis of law could radically change the nature of international life has deep Western roots. Long before Immanuel Kant dreamed of perpetual peace during the Enlightenment, thinkers in the Dark and Middle Ages such as Thomas à Becket and Pope Boniface VIII hoped that the Catholic Church would grow into a multinational institution that could regulate the relations among Europe's crowned heads while imposing human rights standards on feuding nobles. The ancient dream of a multinational bureaucracy replacing the rule of force with the rule of law got a boost when Woodrow Wilson placed the League of Nations at the core of the Versailles system after World War I. But the golden age of international institutions came with the end of World War II. Of the many circumstances promoting international institutions after 1945, two merit particular mention. The first was the historical and diplomatic deep freeze brought on by the Cold War. Beginning after the Peace of Westphalia in the mid-17th century, and especially in the 19th century, great power politics moved at a blinding speed as nations changed partners and policies. During the Cold War, events slowed.”


Stephen King in FT, "Soviet collapse poses worrying parallels for euro crisis".

“While the Baltic states were balancing their books, the likes of Georgia and the Ukraine presided over budget deficits approaching 30 per cent of gross domestic product, partly because the fall of the Soviet empire had left industry -- and, hence, government revenues -- in a state of collapse. Because these countries had no access to international capital markets, they had to fund these deficits either through loans from other parts of the former empire or by resorting to printing money. At first, they did this through the back door, creating so-called rouble ‘supplements’. Yet, following the Central Bank of Russia’s summer 1993 currency reform -- which abolished all rouble banknotes issued between 1961 and 1992 -- the back door abruptly slammed shut.”


Andrew Kramer in NYT, "Judge Keeps Ukraine Opposition Leader Jailed, Sparking Protest and Petitions".

“Ms. Tymoshenko, a former prime minister and leader of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, was arrested Friday in a Kiev courtroom where she stood accused of exceeding her authority as prime minister, a charge her supporters dismiss as politically motivated. The judge ordered her arrested for contempt after she refused to rise for the judge, saying the trial was political, and she was accused of mocking witnesses. Ms. Tymoshenko had apparently not cooled off after the weekend in jail, again refusing on Monday to rise to address Judge Rodion Kireyev. Her lawyers had appealed for her release on various grounds, including a petition supported by about 200 prominent Ukrainians, who vouched for her and promised she would not leave Ukraine during the trial. The first on the list was the leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Filaret. A second member of the country’s usually fractious opposition also pivoted Monday to support Ms. Tymoshenko. Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, a former chairman of Parliament and foreign minister, attended the court hearing, emerging to tell reporters that the trial was “a clear threat to Ukrainian democracy.”


Ellen Barry in NYT, "Out of a Swelter Come Apocalyptic Visions".

“The giant locusts had been bad enough, and the snakes, which are known in Georgian as ‘that which cannot be mentioned.’ She actually hadn’t seen any scorpions herself, but she believed that one of her neighbors had, and in the asphalt-melting, earth-parching, brain-scrambling heat of midsummer, she was not in the mood to be fastidious about evidence.

‘This means the apocalypse is coming,’ said Ms. Beniashvili, 72, who was leaning out of a window. ‘I cannot tell you exactly when, because I am not very knowledgeable about this. But it is clear that the apocalypse is coming. The world has gone crazy.’ ‘Anyway, I hope we will survive,’ she sighed, and went inside to look for lemonade. There were theories being propagated in Ms. Beniashvili’s neighborhood: that the locusts were mutants caused by the meltdown at Chernobyl; that the snakes had been imported in train cars by some shadowy enemy; that all these natural phenomena were the result of certain explosions that happened 11 years ago on the surface of the sun.”


Yaroslav Trofimov in WSJ, "Egypt Incites Anti-U.S. Trend".

“In the final days of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, Egypt’s state media whipped up a xenophobic frenzy not seen here since the 1950s, blaming the revolution on alien plots and inciting vigilante mobs to assault and detain scores of foreigners. After a lull, Egypt’s new military rulers are increasingly using the same tactic: portraying pro-democracy activists as spies and saboteurs, blaming the country’s economic crisis and sectarian strife on foreign infiltrators, and blasting the U.S. for funding agents of change…. Dozens of Westerners, including tourists, reporters and Cairo residents, have been rounded up on the streets and delivered to police stations and military checkpoints by mobs of volunteer spy catchers in recent weeks.”


Tobias Buck in FT, "Nostalgia adds to heady blend fuelling Israel’s social protests".

“More than 90 per cent of land in Israeli is still in the public domain – a key reason, some analysts say, for the dearth of cheap housing. The lack of competition is another important factor: in sectors such as banking and retail, the Israeli market is simply too small and isolated to attract foreign companies. Competition is further undermined by the oligopolistic structure of the Israeli economy, which is dominated by a handful of sprawling family-controlled conglomerates. Economic pain aside, the protests also draw on a very particular form of Israeli nostalgia. To most outsiders, the recent transformation of the Israeli economy from a high-inflation basket-case into a high-tech powerhouse is an unmitigated success story. Yet many Israelis, regardless of their wealth and social status, say they still long for a return to the years when the country was less materialistic and more egalitarian. Even in cosmopolitan Tel Aviv, the ideals of the kibbutz live on.”


Roula Khalaf & Abigail Fielding-Smith in FT, "Latest unrest exposes dual standards of Hizbollah".

“‘We cannot stand idly when the disputes take place between the oppressed and oppressor, between right and wrong,’ declared Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbollah chief, of the uprising in Egypt. But when people began to rise up against the Syrian government which, along with Iran, is one of Hizbollah’s backers, the group’s tone changed. Broadcasts on al Manar, Hizbollah’s television channel, sounded eerily like Syrian state broadcasts, describing the uprising as part of an international conspiracy designed to benefit Israel.”


Devon Maylie & Jenny Gross in WSJ, "South Africa Textile Firms in Tatters".

“Though based in South Africa, clothing maker Peter Blond & Associates Ltd. is moving. The destination: Lesotho. The company has shifted about 70% of its employees to the hilly, impoverished nation of two million people landlocked within South Africa. By the middle of next year, the maker of women's coats and trousers will hire 350 more people in Lesotho and reduce the size of its Cape Town factory by 120 people from 670. ‘A business is a business, and investors want their returns,’ says Chief Executive Ekkehard Oelz. ‘There is no growth potential in South Africa. I, as a business operator, am increasingly concerned.’ He isn't alone. Other businesspeople and experts warn that soaring wages, frequent strikes and onerous labor regulations are a recipe for trouble in Africa's largest economy. Just as global investors are looking for a foothold in Africa, this country's labor-intensive textile industry is looking elsewhere, not just to Lesotho, but to nearby Swaziland and Mozambique as well.”


Rob Quinn at Newser.com, "Drug Smugglers May Have Wiped Out Amazon Tribe".

“Authorities in Brazil fear that a ‘lost’ tribe deep in the Amazon has been wiped out after encountering the outside world at its worst. The tribe, which had never previously been contacted by outsiders — and was photographed earlier this year aiming bows and arrows at a plane flying over their homes — is missing, and authorities believe they were either massacred or forced to flee deeper into the jungle by drug traffickers moving over the border from Peru, LiveScience reports. Brazilian guards assigned to protect the tribe's lands were overrun by traffickers last month. After government forces regained control of the outpost, they discovered an arrowhead in one of the men's backpacks. Interrogation of a captured suspect convinced officials that a massacre had taken place in the jungle. ‘I was left with the strong impression that these guys had killed the Indians, at least a bunch of them,’ the chief of Brazil's Department of Isolated Indians wrote to his colleagues.”


Thomas Fuller in NYT, "Thailand Gets a New Prime Minister".

“The losing Democrat Party is the oldest in Thailand and is generally supported by old-money business owners and the current military hierarchy. But such alliances are often fungible, and Ms. Yingluck appears to be forging her own with some members of the elite. The victory of Ms. Yingluck and her party has nonetheless sharpened divisions between rural and urban areas and started a debate over the significance of a woman leading the country. Ms. Yingluck, who is 18 years younger than her brother, has spent recent weeks denying stories in the Thai media that Mr. Thaksin is calling the shots from abroad, that he is helping choose the cabinet and wheeling and dealing on her behalf. She has vowed to work ‘independently.’ ‘I will be myself,’ she told reporters last month. Ms. Yingluck is a rarity in the often macho world of Thai politics, but as someone who has never held political office before she is also one of the least experienced leaders to emerge in a major Asian country in decades. Her political career spans about 80 days. When Pheu Thai named her as a candidate for prime minister, she was urged on by her brother. Some supporters also saw the election as a chance to send a protest message to the military and traditional elite, which had backed the departing coalition and was perceived as applying undue influence behind the scenes. Ms. Yingluck, despite her family’s fortune, was often portrayed in the campaign as an upcountry girl who was in touch with plebeian Thailand. But much of Ms. Yingluck’s life has been in the shadow of her brother. In the 1970s, Mr. Thaksin obtained a master’s degree in criminal justice at Eastern Kentucky University. A decade and a half later, Ms. Yingluck got a master’s degree in public administration an hour’s drive away, at Kentucky State University, a historically black institution set amid horse farms and rolling hills.”


Lydia Polgreen in NYT, "Unusual Summer of Political Calm Is Enjoyed by a Disputed Region".

“When young Muslims across North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula rose up this winter and spring against dictatorial governments, it seemed inevitable that their example would find voice here, in a mostly Muslim region that is claimed by both India and Pakistan, and where Indian soldiers are seen as an occupying force. Instead, the Kashmir Valley is enjoying an unexpected season of tranquillity. Tourists from across India have descended on the valley, filling just about every airplane seat, hotel room and houseboat. Business in Lal Chowk, the city’s bustling central market, is booming again. Wooden shikara boats ferry vacationers across the shimmering surface of Dal Lake, trying to dodge the latest attraction, zooming Jet Skis. No grand bargain has been struck between India and Pakistan that would explain the new calm, and no major concessions have been made within the Indian portion of the region either. Draconian laws that shield security forces from prosecution still allow the police to arrest anyone suspected of disturbing the peace.

Yet subtle but unmistakable shifts have helped calm the situation in Kashmir, which sits astride one of the world’s most dangerous nuclear flash points.”


Dan Levin in NYT, "China’s New Wealth Gives Old Status Symbol a Boost".

“Faced with a spate of legal disputes between mistresses and their lovers over money and with growing public disgust that threatens to tarnish its authority, the Communist Party is trying to stanch the mistress tide through carrots and sticks aimed at women and men alike. The Supreme People’s Court has considered a draft interpretation of the country’s marriage law that would for the first time acknowledge mistresses, stating that they have no legal right to their patron’s money, property or other expensive trinkets, legal experts said. Likewise, married men would not be able to use the courts to regain the cash and other niceties they had lavished on affairs gone bad. In an effort to combat the growing lure of the sugar daddy, some local governments have gone on the offensive, preaching against moral turpitude and trying to encourage young women to rely on less carnal skills to survive. To that end, officials in Guangdong announced in March that starting this autumn all girls in elementary and middle school would be required to take a new course in ‘self-esteem, self-confidence, self-reliance and self-improvement.’”


Andrew Rettman at EUobserver.com, "EU firms among targets in epic-scale hack".

“US-based cyber security firm McAfee uncovered the operation, which it has dubbed Shady RAT, by accessing a command server used by the intruders, and published its results in a 14-page study on Tuesday (2 August). RAT is short for Remote Access Tool, a type of software. McAfee declined to name the companies affected, but said a Danish satellite communications firm, a German accounting company and a UK computer security firm were among the victims. Each of the companies was effectively being burgled for between eight and 12 months at a time in the 2008 and 2009 period without their knowledge.”


Cornelia Dean in NYT, "Groups Call for Scientists To Engage the Body Politic".

“Generally, hopes for technical bipartisanship rest in part on the belief — widespread among researchers — that the nation’s engineers, as a group, tend to be Republicans while its academic scientists tend to be Democrats. And in theory, as Dr. Foster put it, if people on both sides of the aisle can agree on “the quantitative facts” of an issue, policy differences need not inevitably lead to bitter partisan gridlock.”


Letters to the Public Editor in NYT, "Criticism of Shale Gas Articles, and of the Critic".


David Mattin at LA Review of Books, "Exile on Fleet Street".

Halfway through the report Dimbleby speaks to Murdoch’s second wife, Anna. Here, he strikes on a more informal line of questioning, and says with an almost coquettish lilt in his voice: ‘I expect it’s awful to be the wife of a media tycoon. I mean, don’t you feel cut out of so much of his life?’ Anna considers for a moment. Then she says: ‘I don’t like it when people call him a tycoon. Tycoon is a sort of Americanism. He’s a good Australian businessman, and he’s come over here.’ The beginnings of a smile flicker over Anna’s face; she suppresses it, and adds: ‘And he’s going to show you how to do it.’ That answer was an impromptu, perfect encapsulation of the Murdoch project as it was then conceived. For 30 years Murdoch has considered himself the ultimate outsider at the heart of the British establishment, a man ‘over here’ and determined to bring a value system shaped by the colonial experience — one that insists on egalitarianism, robustness, and competition — to bear on an old British elite that he considered hypocritical, complacent, and, above all, beholden to repulsive class prejudice. That outsider mentality has lain behind everything Murdoch has done, from the culture of tabloid sensationalism pioneered at the News of the World, to the breaking of the print unions in Fleet Street in the 1980s, to the assault launched on Britain’s sleepy- four-channel television landscape by the Sky pay-TV network. It drove him to sell the British people a new idea of themselves, and their country. In our millions, we bought it.”


Kara Scannell & Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in FT, "Legal battles in secretive world of set-top boxes".

“Lawsuits since 2002 from several pay-TV groups claimed that NDS, a digital technology company that was at the time about 80 per cent owned by News Corp, cracked the codes of rivals’ smart cards that are used to secure pay-TV set-top boxes, then released them to pirates who flooded the market with counterfeit cards. The lawsuits were filed by Canal Plus Technologies, a division of the French pay-TV operator Canal Plus, Echostar and DirecTV in the US and Sogecable, the Spanish pay television company…. The Canal Plus Technologies suit against NDS was dropped in April 2003, on the day News Corp bought Telepiu, an Italian satellite broadcaster, for almost 1bn from Vivendi, which controls Canal Plus. Similarly, DirecTV dropped its litigation when News Corp took a 34 per cent stake in the US satellite broadcaster in late 2003.”


Charles Mann in WSJ, "The Real Story Of Globalization".

“In the great tropical harbor of Manila Bay, two groups of men warily approach each other, their hands poised above their weapons. Cold-eyed, globe-trotting traders, they are from opposite ends of the earth: Spain and China. The Spaniards have a big cache of silver, mined in the Americas by Indian and African slaves; the Chinese bring a selection of fine silk and porcelain, materials created by advanced processes unknown in Europe. It is the summer of 1571, and this swap of silk for silver — the beginning of an exchange in Manila that would last for almost 250 years — marks the opening salvo in what we now call globalization. It was the first time that Europe, Asia and the Americas were bound together in a single economic network. The silk would cause a sensation in Spain, as the silver would in China. But the crowds that greeted the returning ships had no idea what they were truly carrying. We usually describe globalization in purely economic terms, but it is also a biological phenomenon. Researchers increasingly think that the most important cargo on these early transoceanic voyages was not silk and silver but an unruly menagerie of plants and animals, many of them accidental stowaways. In the sweep of history, it is this biological side of globalization that may well have the greater impact on the fate of the world's people and nations.”


Alfred Crosby in WSJ on Charles Mann’s book, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created.

“A few years back the journalist-historian Charles C. Mann wrote an important and popular book, ‘1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus.’ Drawing on the work of scientists and scholars (including my own), he sketched a panorama of pre-Columbian America, showing how native peoples in North America, South America and the Caribbean interacted with the natural world. Now Mr. Mann is offering a muscular, densely documented follow-up, ‘1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created,’ which should, ideally, be read in sequence with the 1491 book. (Why did he skip over 1492 in his titles? Perhaps because Felipe Fernández-Armesto, a couple of years ago, published a respectable book with that year as its title.) Mr. Mann's 1493 offering, like its predecessor, runs to more than 400 pages, but it moves at a gallop, describing the profusion of economic, agricultural and biological cross-pollination that occurred after Columbus stumbled on America.”


Simon Kuper in FT, "Who stole the ‘Mona Lisa’?".

“The art theft of the century helped make ‘Mona Lisa’ what she is today. The world’s popular newspapers -- a new phenomenon in 1911 -- and the French police searched everywhere for the culprit. At one point they even suspected Pablo Picasso. Only one person was ever arrested for the crime in France: the poet Guillaume Apollinaire. But the police found the thief only when he finally outed himself.”


Amy Wallace in NYT, "With A Flip Of a Knob, He Heard The Future".

“As a studio player in the 1960s, Mr. Casher was always looking for effects and techniques that would set his guitar solos apart. He admired the bluesy tones that the trumpet and trombone players emitted, with the help of wah-wah mutes, on ‘Rhapsody in Blue,’ George Gershwin’s 1924 classic, but couldn’t figure out how to imitate them on the electric guitar. The Thomas Organ company had acquired the rights to distribute Vox amplifiers — a British brand that the Beatles helped to make famous. To promote their venture, Thomas Organ formed the Vox Ampliphonic Orchestra, and Mr. Casher was invited to join. That put him on the premises of the company’s headquarters in Sepulveda, Calif., when its engineers began working to modify the amplifiers into solid state, translating all the tube circuits into transistors. As they did so, they ran across a switch known as a midrange boost, or M.R.B. for short. ‘They said, What the heck is this?’ Mr. Casher recalls of the M.R.B., which used different frequencies to make certain sounds seem louder. The feature — a switch that musicians clicked — had been invented by Dick Denney, a British engineer and guitarist. ‘If you really want to say who was the grandfather of the wah-wah,’ Mr. Casher says, ‘it was Dick Denney.’ When Joe Benaron, the chairman of Thomas Organ, found out that installing that same switch in the United States would cost almost $3 a unit, he balked. So the chief engineer, Stan Cuttler assigned a young colleague, Mr. Plunkett, to solve the problem. He did so by replacing the switch with a 75-cent knob much like those used for volume control. Soon afterward, at a Vox Ampliphonic Orchestra rehearsal, Mr. Casher first encountered the device. ‘I said, What’s this knob? And I’m flipping it around and noticing it’s going wah-wah as I went from left to right,’ he recalls. ‘I said: Hold on! This is what I’ve been looking for! But guitars take two hands to play — you can’t be fiddling with knobs during a solo.”


Doug Glanville in WSJ on Gerald Early’s book, A Level Playing Field: African-American Athletes and the Republic of Sports.

“Curt Flood had it tough. After being traded away from the St. Louis Cardinals—a team he did not want to leave — in late 1969, the outfielder challenged Major League Baseball's reserve clause, a relic of baseball's earliest years that allowed teams to hold on to players in virtual perpetuity. Flood's case made it all the way to the Supreme Court. But he lost, and the fight took its toll. Many sportswriters and fans thought Flood was trying to bring down baseball and its traditions. An African-American man unafraid to compare the reserve clause to slavery, he was criticized sharply in the press for disloyalty and received surprisingly tepid support from civil-rights leaders. By the time the Supreme Court upheld the reserve clause, 5-3, in 1972, Flood was already out of the game. After taking on the baseball establishment, he was not the same ballplayer — he sat out the 1970 season and played only a few more games in 1971 before retiring. When a journalist tracked him down in 1978, he begged: ‘Please, please don't come out here. Don't bring it all up again. Please. Do you know what I've been through?’”


Mark Yost in WSJ, "Putting the Freeze on Broken Bats".

“Baseball bats used to be ‘balanced,’ said Chuck Schupp, a major-league representative for Louisville Slugger, a bat maker. That means that if a bat was 32 inches long, it weighed 32 ounces. By Schupp's memory, Yankees outfielder Paul O'Neill was the last player to use a balance bat (34 inches and 34 ounces). Today, the trend is toward lighter bats, with bigger barrels and thinner handles. The design changes are primarily intended to increase bat speed, a factor that many hitters consider key to hitting home runs. But to make lighter bats with bigger barrels that taper to thinner handles, manufacturers have to use wood that is less dense. The best wood for bats, most experts agree, is ash. But a decade ago, players — encouraged by bat makers — discovered maple, a less-dense wood that played into the widely held belief that bat speed is everything. Barry Bonds was an early adopter of maple. So was Adam Dunn, who famously went on a home-run tear while playing for the Cincinnati Reds. In 2004 he hit a career-high 46 home runs with maple bats, followed by 40 each in 2005 through 2007. Then in 2008 he went back to ash.

‘I'm tired of them breaking all the time,’ Dunn said. ‘I'm using maple in batting practice and ash in games.’ He hit 40 home runs in 2008, and 38 in 2009 and 2010. So far this season, through Monday, he had hit just 11. But Dunn, who famously said that maple bats are simply too dangerous, is sticking with ash. ‘One of them (maple bats) is going to end up sticking out of somebody's neck,’ he said. ‘I'm not being that guy that did it.’”


Vice Magazine: "Chuck Dukowski from Black Flag Has a New Band with Eugene Robinson".\

“Vice: And so you have these two other guys, which makes it not really a Black Flag reunion but something new.

E.Robinson: I never really wanted to do a Chuck Berry Revue thing where there are a lot of guys onstage playing Chuck Berry songs but no Chuck Berry. We always said it’d be cool to do something new and forward-looking and then Chuck said, “Look, when I left Flag around My War there were a lot of songs we didn’t record, and when I left the band I took them with me. So I’ve kinda been waiting to do something new.

And now is the time. So what’s the plan?

We’ve finished recording and the stuff is being mastered. We’re going to release four songs on two different seven inches, only on vinyl. I know you can take a USB turntable and burn the songs, but I’m hoping the number of different steps involved in doing that will give people disincentive to do it. I mean, I’m close to living in my car. Which is to say: We spent money on this so you could spend some money on this.

And the live show will be…

The unreleased, unheard songs from that era and that set list that I included, these would be specifically Chuck-penned Black Flag tunes.”


Byron Coley book excerpts at TheWire.co.uk.

“The first three times I saw Suicide I hated their guts. Their hoity-toity electro-musings were far from the brand of shit I chewed, gritty though they might have been. My ire reached such intensity that the third time I saw ‘em I knocked over Marty Rev and got bounced down the stairs at Max’s for my troubles. Then their rec came out, and my peep-headed friends played it so often that it became more than familiar. And I’ll be a stein o’ Steg if I didn’t start likin’ it. Yeah, it was funny, good, all that stuff. But that was years ago, and it went outta print before too long so ya couldn’t find it in yr local shoppe. But now that’s been fixed and more!”


#149; Das Dischord Special!!!!

Interview mit JEFF NELSON von Christian Unsinn Interview mit IAN MACKAYE von Jan R?hlk Gastbeitrag von ALEC BOURGEOIS (Einleitung Jan R?hlk) Interview mit JOE LALLY von Oise Ronsberger Gastbeitrag von ALEC MACKAYE (Einleitung Jan R?hlk) Gastbeitrag von SKIP GROFF (Einleitung Jan R?hlk) Gastbeitrag von DON ZIENTARA (Einleitung Jan R?hlk) Interview mit BRENDAN CANTY von Oise Ronsberger Gastbeitrag von AMY PICKERING (Einleitung Jan R?hlk) Interview mit CYNTHIA CONNOLLY von Alva Dittrich Interview mit PETER CORTNER von Oise Ronsberger Interview mit JASON FARELL von Dietmar Stork Gastbeitrag von MARK ANDERSEN (Einleitung Jan R?hlk) - Diskografie


Obituary of the Week

• Marshall Grant (1928 - 2011)

“The group’s signature sound came into being overnight — literally — as Mr. Grant recounted on a number of occasions. Shortly after he switched from rhythm guitar to bass, which he did not know how to play, he and his fellow musicians began experimenting with the group’s new configuration. ‘We finally got it tuned, and then we stuck adhesive tape all over the neck with the notes on it, and then we started playing little rhythm patterns,’ he said on being inducted into the Musicians’ Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville with Mr. Perkins in 2007. ‘The only thing that we could do was what the world now knows as the boom-chicka-boom-chicka-boom sound that we established that first night.’ Marshall Grant was born on May 5, 1928, near Bryson City, N. C. He moved to Memphis in 1947 and worked as a mechanic at several auto dealerships At the Automobile Sales Company, a Plymouth dealership, he began playing guitar with two fellow employees, Mr. Perkins and A. W. Kernodle, known as Red. Cash was introduced to the group by his older brother, Roy, the service manager at the dealership, after returning from military service in the Air Force.”

• Fred Imus (1942 - 2011)

“Mr. Imus appeared on country radio shows, most recently co-hosting ‘Fred’s Trailer Park Bash’ on Sirius XM Radio, with a politically incorrect style like his brother’s. He produced Don’s show for a time and called in for decades, becoming ‘a regular guest who wouldn’t leave,’ Mr. Imus said through Mr. Hiltzik. Although the two often argued on the air, they ended every call with ‘I love you.’ Before the Imus brothers ventured into radio they recorded a song called ‘I’m a Hot Rodder (And All That Jazz)’ in 1963 as Jay Jay Imus and Freddy Ford. Mr. Imus peaked musically in 1976 when he wrote ‘I Don’t Want to Have to Marry You’ with Phil Sweet, who worked with him on the railroad. The song was recorded by Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius and reached No. 1 on the country charts.”


Thanks to Steve Beeho, Andy Schwartz, Jay Babcock.

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• The New Vulgate
• Joe Carducci, Chris Collins, James Fotopoulos, Mike Vann Gray, David Lightbourne
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