Saturday, October 18, 2008


halloween falls early this year. the alfred e. smith hammer memorial horror.

Yesterday was not a good day for me. While some Americans appear to be confused or fearful that they are slipping into Socialism by slow degree, or that Barack Obama is perhaps a communist or the son of the mad arab, Jor-El of Kal-El, I caught a programme on Channel 4 about the seemingly ever present "Muti" murders and mutilations which plague the most economically deprived rural regions in South Africa.

Muti is traditional African herbal medicine, but there is a darker side where human body parts - particularly the lips and genitalia of children - are prized as ingredients in ritual potions and talismans used to fleece the ignorant or sociopathic. There was an incident in London six years ago, too, where a young African boy's torso was recovered from the River Thames. If I remember correctly, the child's aunt was later charged in connection with his senseless slaying. Anyone who saw this episode of "Unreported World", ably presented by Ramita Navai, could not fail to have been crushed to some extent at the plight of the traumatised young boy, Fortune, as he posed awkwardly on his bicycle for the cameras while his father recounted how his son had been dragged into the bushes and mutilated at the hands of a predatory thug. All the more poignant as the father spoke in hushed English; as falteringly protective as any parent covering his child's ears.

I did not feel much like drinking or - most unusually - listening to music.

As I settled down to sleep later last night, I flipped on BBC Radio 4 - which after midnight rolls out in synch with the BBC World Service - and was treated to a forty year anniversary special on the Vietnam war's My-Lai Massacre from 1968. You are no doubt familiar by now with the awful chain of events which ignited international outrage. No matter how many times I hear a new account, there is always some freshly emerging horrific detail.

I could have simply flicked the channel, of course. It would not make much difference. Since then as international spectators we have endured countless other crises and atrocities. From the genocides in Yugoslavia and Rwanda to the ongoing madness in Darfur. It is not that nobody gives a shit, precisely. It is just that it keeps on occurring over and over again as part of the human condition.

All the more appalling then, to watch Obama and McCain exchange anecdotal pleasantries - to delighted applause - at the fiasco which was the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner.

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART: SKELETON MAKES GOOD from "Skeleton Breath, Scorpion Blush & Other Readings" CD (Bootleg) 1982 (US)



Your driver said...

Ha! I just clicked through from Doc 40. You are on the radar of the inimitable Mick Farren. You deserve the attention.

ib said...

Thanks, Jon ; although I suspect this has more to do with Mick's eye for a good photograph. Robert Mapplethorpe is the one deserving of credit.

Your driver said...

Well it also has to do with the fact that Farren is reading your worthy blog. One odd thing I like about that picture: I used to have one of those little rifles Burroughs is holding. That was back in my drinking and guns days. I told you that I "interviewed" Burroughs once. I had a brutal hangover, while he appeared to be quite chipper at 8 in the morning. Lucky for me I had thrown up in an alley on the way to the interview or it might have gone even worse. As it was, all we could find to talk about was guns. My brushes with greatness.

ib said...

Unless I'm mistaken, the little gun he is holding is a CS gas powered handgun with a fitted rifle stock. These things are quite deadly, but used to be perfectly legal here in Britain.

I very nearly purchased one in 1995/6, when I informed the store owner of a small shop that I was interested only in something which would inflict damage from a greater distance than the other side of the road.

Needless to say, I am envious of your meeting with royalty.

ib said...

In the event that last comment sounded a trifle unhinged, let me reassure you. After some deliberation, I refused to buy the fucking thing.

Besides, it was a one shot loader. Anyway, there really ought to be legislation preventing such shops being located immediately adjacent saloon bars. On the other hand, as I'm sure you know, you can purchase all sorts of things in bars.

Your driver said...

No, that's a Charter Arms AR-7 .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle. They were originally developed as survival rifles for air force crewmen. The rifle disassembled into three pieces and the receiver, magazine and barrel could be stowed in the butt. It's an extremely simple little machine and anyone could easily convert it to full automatic fire and easily build a silencer for it. You could do these things with the sort of simple hand tools that an impoverished drunk punk rocker from Indiana might have in his roach infested filthy apartment. But of course I wouldn't know anything about that. I knew a guy in Indiana who knew a lot about that sort of thing and he ended up doing a very hard year in federal prison. He got away with doing just one year by ratting out some friends who knew a lot about some other things. I'm glad I have some stories to tell about meeting people like Burrroughs. I'm even more glad that I've managed to live long enough to become a guy who doesn't do really crazy shit. Life, at long last, is sweet. Unhinged? I'm glad we've got this thing on hinges. At least if it swings one way, there's the possibility of swinging it back.

Your driver said...

Speaking of guns, craziness and evil, you might want to read this post at the unapologetic mexican.

ib said...

Jon. I bow to your vastly superior knowledge on guns. Crazy shit, indeed; and all the better for examining it reflected back through the lens of a telescope focused back in time, I think.

I caught this comment late last night but my own powers of focus were greatly diminished by that juncture, and I'm just catching up.

I will of course, check in on the unapologetic Mexican.

ib said...

Ugly shit.

At least that gun was not a firearm. Ball-bearings ? Sounds more like a BB gun, although the report says it was gas propelled. The CS gas handgun I was referring to earlier is capable of punching lead slugs straight through sheet steel. This according to Bill Burroughs himself.

I posted a belated link to The Unapologetic Mexican on today's item on Miles' "On The Corner".

All day I've been wondering what prompted me to post "Vote For Miles", and then the penny dropped. It was obvious all along, but somehow I missed it.