Monday, May 31, 2010

saint mungo. mary. and midge

The skies might be clear, dusted lightly just with veins of ash, but my humour is grey to middling.

Determined to make something of it, I climb down out of the box and venture out to rub shoulders with tourists and Spring Bank Holidaymakers. It intrigues me why so many tourists hasten to this city. Even on a good day. Infiltrating bus and train station, an occupying force. I have had my fill of it. Its people like anemic corpuscles infecting the pavement. Bumping into visitors bristling with rude health.

It might be a Bank Holiday, but the hammers and machinery started in on both sides at 7 AM regardless. The scraping of demolition continues unabated.

I walk out onto Glasgow Green. A place of public hangings once and gang fights still. And it strikes me then.

It is mid morning and the grassy quadrants are startlingly quiet and bare. The topiary shrubs have been freshly hewn; some asian youths are already busy with a game of cricket. Under the great Needle shared with London; Paris; New York.

The glass on the westerly face of the People's Palace is the same bleached out blue as the sky. Squat on the lawn. Faintly perspiring.

Well. It is achingly pretty. As handsome as those vast public spaces between the Eiffel Tower and the Luxembourg Gardens. Over towards the Bois de Bologne. I visited there once, a long while ago.

I am disorientated, but not so much that I can't see that this is precisely what a tourist must see.

I am abashed. I sit down on the grass and light one cigarette after another, the morning sun licking at my arms and neck. All prejudices exposed, I exhale and let them go.

Later - in those hours between tea and dusk - I go back there with the kids, a ball, a bike.

We kick the ball and use two trees as goalposts. I steal the bike for half an hour and peddle about like a lunatic.

A few toy dogs chase each other off the leash and at the edge of the adventure playground a young mother is sick into a hedge. Try as I might, it looks like shit.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

the last movie

"There are moments that I've had some real brilliance, you know. But I think they are moments. And sometimes - in a career - moments are enough. I never felt I played the great part. I never felt that I directed the great movie...

I can't say that it's anybody's fault but my own."

I was sprawled out on the sofa when I caught the tail end of the bulletin. Dennis Hopper finally lost out to the prostate cancer which had been eating away at him for the better part of a decade.

It saddened me a little.

Hopper achieved iconic status in his own right even before I watched him in "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Giant". A boy clearly in awe of Jimmy Dean. His fallow years reminded me of what a fine picture "The Last Movie" was. It might have very nearly destroyed his reputation in Hollywood, it might have financially crippled him, but that one unravelling length of celluloid is pretty much how I will chose to remember him. Permanently distracted and keen to pry loose the skin on things.

Dennis Hopper wore the face of a man awaking from electro convulsive therapy. An epiliptic seizure.

The thousand yard stare of a suburban head who might have just breakfasted on mescaline and tequila before venturing out to collect the mail or mow the lawn.

His sabbatical in Peru was certainly outwardly prompted by his contractual obligation to Universal Pictures, but it reeked of an obsessive impulse to harness the hallucinogenic properties of the ayahuasca vine. Well. The path to enlightenment is twisting and fraught with peril. There is no defining eureka moment or pot of gold to recover where previous expeditions have floundered. Just diminishing perspective and the ritual cycle of birth and decay.

If Dennis Hopper found out otherwise he kept his own counsel.

His role in Francis Coppola's "Apocalypse Now" rehabilitated him commercially.

His role in Coppola's adaptation of S.E. Hinton's "Rumblefish" told of more prosaic truths. I will not dwell on the ensuing drug rehab program or later successes, of which there were many.

Dennis Hopper was an accomplished photographer, painter and sculptor. In many ways he was a child who refused to be cowed by social constraint. He did what he did and lasted longer than most.

Friday, May 28, 2010

a loaf supreme

montage by ib.

I have Holly to thank for this learning curve. For joining the dots and uncovering shared DNA from a time not so long ago when king ether and happenstance still reigned absolute; when genetic code could not be matched through a Uniform Resource Locator.

Supreme Dicks came together in Massachusetts in 1982.

Somewhere between the insular slacker campus of New Hampshire College and Amherst; just under 100 driving miles from Boston.

Erecting their tent on the scavenging grounds once frequented by Chickatabot and the Mahican wolf tribe.

Where once there raged wars with "people of the place of the flint" - the Kaniengehaga of three elder brothers - the blood sown plains sired Amanita Muscaria. Fraternities of Psilocybin.

Visited by the spirits of the bear, the wolf, and the turtle, Supreme Dicks allied in council. Oxemberg; Shere; Shafel. Kicking against the pricks.

They issued a truncated declaration of independence in 1992, "Sky Puddle", followed by a more comprehensive document on the Communion sub-division of Homestead Records: "The Unexamined Life". Recruiting Louis Knox Barlow to pluck a string on one strange song along the way. "Working Man's Dick" came next on the UK based Freek label. And a third, "The Emotional Plague", in 1996. A brooding phratry. And then they folded.

I know a thing or two about folding, myself. I know a good deal less about the Supreme Dicks.

SUPREME DICKS: RANADA'S DEMON from "Working Man's Dick" LP (Freek) 1994 (US)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

barrow boy | flirting with disaster

In spite  

of the glam jacket, Surrey boys Mud were too steeped in chips and gravy to turn a convincing trick in the US when hitmakers Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman came calling.

Between their formation in 1966 - out of the ashes of Ramainder and Les Gray's The Mourners - and their signing with Mickie Most's RAK label six years later , even domestic success proved elusive. All attempt to ride on the coattails of the prevailing fashion failed miserably. Of the four singles first CBS then Philips were persuaded to finance - beginning with 1967's optimistically pitched "Flower Power" - not one charted. When "Jumpin' Jehosophat" did not dent the top 30, despite securing favourable airplay, it seemed that the gig was up.

A new decade was upon them and their name was, irretrievably, mud.

The van stalled somewhere in the region of Finchley, and the working men's club circuit loomed. Butlin's Holiday Camp for a couple of months in the summer.

Against the odds, Chinn and Chapman - renowned for glueing the glitter dust on Sweet and Detroit exile Suzi Quatro - were looking for a new act to expand their portfolio; Mud were signed to RAK in late 1972 as a result. 'Act' was key; a non-negotiable part of the job dscription.

Chinn and chapman did not f@ck around.

A complete overhaul was deemed essential. With lime green polyester suits conjured out of nowhere and a brand new number tailored to fit, Mud dragged the disposable "Crazy" to the lip of the Top 10 in January, 1973.

Meanwhile, just around the corner, Malcolm McLaren took his cue and plotted. Itching to refine the the formula with just a dash of the MC5; lusting after some New York Dolls to make his own.

MUD: CRAZY from "Crazy b/w Do You Love Me" 45 (RAK) 1973 (UK)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

the case for the defence

"I love this blog not just for the editor's musical taste (which is exemplary), but also for his artful presentation of the material. Rather than post entire albums (which I don't approve of), he instead zeroes in on a particular song or two and offers it along with anecdotal text which is as smart as it is smart-assed. Ambiguity and mystery is, for me, a major component to the joy of discovering new sounds, and unlike a lot of MP3 blogs that treat art as a bland commodity, SibLINGSHOT uses it to make personal and political points with exceptional panache. I'm proud to call myself a fan."

To Mike L., filling in for Tom Scharpling: thank you for your generous words. Thanks too, to Thee Punk Rock Chef for forwarding the love. SibLINGSHOT ON THE BLEACHERS.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

our man flint: a breakfast of kings

montage by ib.

It was so hot this morning we breakfasted in a Brazillian cafe in the Trongate. Sufficiently searing that my elderly - non portable - PPC went into thermal shutdown before we ventured out. Intel does not equate with intelligence. The Motorola is still boss, but slow. As to our prolonged alfresco fueling, not so decadent as it might initially seem, the cost of eating out was on a par with renting a trough in the wall to wall abbatoir that is McDonald's.

The luxury of sitting at a table on the pavement was not lost on me. The option of lighting a cigarette over coffee.

While the fast food chains might ice their cake by taking out insurance policies on their staff, there remain small businesses motivated just enough to make a living vending iced tea. And there is nothing remotely corrupt in that.

Late yesterday evening, Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story" aired for the first time on Freeview. It made for sobering viewing. If you have not yet seen this excellent film, let me just say that the thrust of Moore's argument went well beyond documenting the $165 million bonus AIG paid its employees after the enforced Capitol Hill bail-out.

In the face of one of irrefutable fact after another, there was little remotely sensational in Moore's observation that Wall Street's campaign to deregulate finanancial markets has led us directly to the unchallenged ushering in of a Plutonomy.

At the expense of democracy and civil rights.

This is definitely one occasion when our man from Flint can not be comfortably denounced by counterclaim of employing hyperbole.

In the course of just one year, the New World Order conspiracy no longer appears quite so deluded. It is one thing to privatise insatiably and dismantle industries. It is quite another when enire countries slip into dereliction and public coffers glare back emptily.

Genuine evil is at large. Shielded by the genuinely incompetent: the Reagans; Thatchers; the bumbling Bush.

The socialists, too, breaking bread with the moneylenders.

FDR had a vision of a second bill of rights. He died. The internet was born and for a while there existed real freedom of speech.

Gallows Humour is all very well. Next time you bust a nut getting down and homely with The Simpsons, remember that the withered arm of Montgomery Burns is closer than you think. Marge is dead; Homer is on Food Stamps; Lisa is Jodie Foster's Betsy; and Bart takes it up the ass on a yacht in the Bahamas.

To the US ballboys amongst us I say this: at least you have Obama batting in your court. Fail to recognise that, and potentially we are all f@cked. Trust no 1.

JAMES BROWN: BOSS from "Black Caesar (OST)" LP (Poydor) 1973 (US)

Friday, May 21, 2010

communiqué #27: more riz for your sunday spliff

illustration by Boris Artzybasheff: 25 May 1899 - 16 July 1965.

Somewhat tiring of this, quite frankly, I have these few words to impart:

DMCA ballbreakers and ambulance chasers; suck my F@CKIN' cock.

Suffer one more paragraph of mine to be deleted, and I'll toast you and your litter of rats. If you wish to see 'product' exist solely in a vacuum, so be it. Go peddle it to that blind and deaf duffer on the mountain.

If you are bent on breaking the proverbial butterly on a wheel, so be it once more. I will gladly spit right in your eye socket. Or pitch my tent on your lawn.

Rest assured. Your legal jurisdiction is a figment of your own bloated imagination; a rusty firmament where artists once starved and PR men drove shiny Oldsmobiles.

Or Vauxhall Astras with four bald tires.
Death's Heads on the doors.

One more thing. Blogger. You better get your act together. It is one thing to advise that you have reset a post to draft status; it is quite another to 'accidentally' delete it from a domain you have no proprietory claim to.

And please. Do not again forward me an email detailing a list of more than 40 affected URLs which pertain not one iota to this site. This is not China, and the adverse publicity does not reflect well on you.

detroit nickel bag

Sometimes the good shit rolls right on by. Streaming ticker tape and all manner of sweet things stashed in the glove compartment.

You don't catch up with it until much later. When it's burned out. Jacked up on bricks in a vacant lot; nose down in a ditch with its hood popped open and the tire iron buried deep in the skull of an insurance agent four and one quarter miles from the scene.

That's pretty much how it was with me and The Gories. A three piece first operating out of Detroit back in '86. Two dapper dudes and a chick on drums. Then the record got set straight, see. For The Sake of the Song. The scales fell from my eyes; my ears got hip.

I could see from just a single glance in the bathroom mirror that close to two decades had slipped on by. The skinny kid got replaced. Some time between the champagne reception and the divorce. The cutting of all that fucking tiered cake. Too busy with the repayments and his girfriend counting calories.

What a shitty deal. The King of bum raps.

Still. I console myself that I still have all my teeth. Right there in the beer glass; warmed up in the window.

THE GORIES: CHARM BAG from "House Rockin'" LP (New Rose) 1989 (US)


A veteran of Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label, Edward O'Sullivan Lee scored his first hit as producer in 1967: Roy Shirley's "Musical Field" for WIRL. From there it was a steppin' razor to renting space at Channel One.

Throughout the 1970s, virtually every dub 7" produced by Lee for his own imprint came stamped with a King Tubby Home Town Hi-Fi remix on its flip side. Bunny Lee was a man of integrity.

I am uncertain when this Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeared dub was originally recorded, or whether it was released. It features on the London based Jamaican Recordings compilation released in 2002. Jah Floyd reports in his sleeve notes that the material is culled from early working sessions with the Revolutionaries. With supporting aggrovation from Earl Smith and Willie Lingo.

SLY & ROBBIE: DUB TO THE ROOTS from "Sly & Robbie Meet Bunny Lee At Dub Station" LP (Jamaican Recordings) 2002 (Jamaica)

subject to alteration

WIRE: MR. SUIT from "Pink Flag" LP (Harvest EMI) 1977 (UK)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

toilet love

the patented o®eaganomics toilet synthesizer.

From Oreaganomics latest issue, "The Red Velvet Sessions"; produced by Andrew Small and available to download exclusively on CLLCT.

I was chatting with an Oreaganomic late last night. What with wildly conflicting time zones, etc, I found it quite impossible to get a handle on what hour of day or night it was in Oreaganoville. The chain got pulled on our conversation before I reminded myself to ask whether their patented Toilet Synthesizer™ appears on this rather excellent number.

Well. One has to admire the ingenuity.

The above photograph didn't drop in my mailbox til later. Scarily Keith Emerson.

"if that shit falls on me,
it's gonna fall on you too."
- SJB.

OREAGANOMICS: CHI OF LOVE from "Red Velvet Sessions" LP (Self Released / CLLCT) 2010 (US)

the fabled lost album | maryjane redux

Given that Life Support has now been pulled, it might be timely to indulge in a little hospital resurrection.

'Hospital', in the legal sense: "a charitable institution for the education of the young" ; as a word, a tongue-twister for infants and those waking from a coma.

The ward has been closed. The files shredded. The beds stripped, the walls hosed down.

The euthanasia was a necessary evil. An unconscionable burden on those limited resources which maintain this site, the penny sucking machine which was a secondary server profited no one. A lamp left burning, the spiders patrolling back pages have outstayed their welcome. Let them weave threats in the dark.

In part prompted by the recent attention afforded Bomis Prendin; Notekillers; Karen Cooper Complex, it is my intention to stir some spirits. Be cautioned. The similarity begins and ends with slumbering. The Ghosts scrapings occupy a wholly different realm. A quieter den. An Indian lodge. So.

The following entry - with minimal amendments - was originally published here on August 1st, 2008.

Between 1989 and 1993 The Ghosts recorded a vast number of songs (the gathering hesitates to dub these sketches demos) on a living room installed Teac 4-Track. They never saw the light of day. The majority of those recordings were entirely spontaneous. Fueled by a seemingly endless diet of alcohol and various nefarious substances. A few of these songs - the best, though by no means the vaguest - proved oddly prophetic.

Half muttered utterances and instrumental doodlings appeared to take shape arbitrarily on tape with little planning or provocation ; fleeting snapshots etched magnetically like fragile antique photographs documented for posterity. Again, given their spontaneity, few seemed to benefit from subsequent reworkings. Repeated attempts to improve on the quality of those original scribbles resulted, at best, in yet more songs broadly hinted at ; at worst, in dead-ends unravelling like string.

The finished painting resisted editorial conceit.

The words 'ether' and 'happenstance' were increasingly employed with banal regularity, even as those more detailed aural pictures revealed themselves in unfolding events. The spectre of mockery loomed in and out, something faintly malicious glimpsed over one's shoulder. It came and went. Avoided definition.

A pillow of moss ; a sliver of sneeze ; a broken pocket watch.

There was, in any event, a definitive collective of five persons involved. Sometimes just three. Frequently a pair. As time went by, the most naked of those sketches, quite possibly, were fathered by only two. They felt themselves to be diviners of curiosity rather than serious musicians.

And then they just grew tired.

The following 'snapshots' are Begg & MacDonald compositions, if they warrant such chutzpah. Take them with a pinch of salt. Dust off your snap-brim.

ib: vocals, table knocking;
gus macdonald: guitar;
macdonald: bass.

Chancers. Soap-dodgers.
Gibbering in the drool of Jack Daniels.
Pulling on a neck of Wild Turkey.

image top: "fleeing a dust storm". farmer arthur coble and sons walking in the face of a dust storm, cimmaron county, oklahoma.
arthur rothstein, photographer, april, 1936.
(library of congress)

THE GHOSTS: NEW BAPTIST (DUST BOWL) from "The Lost Album" Teac Demos (Maryjane) 1992 (UK)
THE GHOSTS: SISTER LINO from "Hitler's Watercolours: 56 Gower Street (1989-1993)" Teac Demos (Maryjane) 1992 (UK)
THE GHOSTS: PONY NOSE from "Hitler's Watercolours: 56 Gower Street (1989-1993)" Teac Demos (Maryjane) 1992 (UK)
THE GHOSTS: UNICYCLE from "Hitler's Watercolours: 56 Gower Street (1989-1993)" Teac Demos (Maryjane) 1993 (UK)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

bomis prendin: seconds too late

Further to an earlier piece here on Richmond's Karen Cooper Complex, travel directly to WFMU to avail yourself of Jason Sigal's concise overview on the experimental scene which existed in Virginia and Washington DC between 1970 and 1981.

As archived on the previously lauded FMA, DC's Bomis Prendin was born of a "mutating collective" originally entrenched in Richmond, VA; sonic terrorists Titfield Thunderbolt and Big Naptar walking point on reconnaissance. 1979's "Test", and its successor "Phantom Limb", elicited praise from Jandek and eventually earned Bomis Prendin an entry on the Nurse With Wound list.

A mythical Grail of sorts coveted by those blistering in the shadows.

Do not fail to click the play button on Keith Chambers' video reel homage to Karen Cooper Complex while you loiter.

Bill Altice - guitarist in both Bomis Prendin and KCC - alerted me to its existence back in April. I had just been watching a documentary on survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - HBO's "White Light / Black Rain" - and Keith's cut up to "Jerkin' Pretty" prompted a snow of fallout on the same retina burn. Dislocated and hypnotic, it made me feel like I was back in the classroom in 1970; chasing through Olive to Gold on the teaching apparatus which was SRA.

The following, "Doppler Shift" - the second serving - is a closed percussive groove which might have come via The Cryptic Corporation. One listen to it was all that was required to convince me that Sheffield's Cabaret Voltaire might have been exposed to it during their early tenure at Geoff Travis's Rough Trade.

BOMIS PRENDIN: THE DOPPLER SHIFT from "Phantom Limb" 9" Eva-Tone Soundsheet Flexi (Artifacts/yclept) 1980 (US)

Monday, May 17, 2010

déjà vu: hector's house

What started out in my brain as a Midnight Florida Fantasy soon escalated into a delirium haunted by flutterings of ZaZa & Kiki in "La Maison de Toutou". Which ultimately led me here.

According to the mighty Loronix, "O Violão E... Tapajós" is the second album from Sebastião Tapajós; produced by João Mello, featuring only Tapajós and his violão. And some beguiling percussion.

A confession: I have not visited there for quite some time, so it is with much sadness that I notice there are no newer entries than that dated September 23rd, 2009. After a week plagued by more seemingly indiscriminate DMCA murmerings, this painstaking effort of amateur vinyl excavation waxes especially eloquent. And raises dark notions of mortality.

To quote directly, Zecalouro:

"This is probably the most complex album restoration made so far at Loronix, including cover artworks and especially the music. I had to use that equilibrium of noise reduction against loss of frequencies, and I stood in the middle of it. There are many pops, clicks, clacks and hiss ... but this album is so beautiful and so hard to find that I decided to show friends, in spite of these problems."

As to more immediate grieving, I crossed paths with a neighbour out there who recently lost her husband to cancer. Her loss coincides with the relentless chipping away of the decaying block which towered over us as we spoke, an endgame in preparation for more invasive surgery.

"Ho! You f@ckin' cunt!" one of the worker ants yelled from a seventeenth floor window. His round face and shoulders framed by a few jagged shards of glass.

Certainly, it dispenses with the tedium of taking the stairs.

He might have been hailing a colleague. Like smouldering blunts, his words scattered on the wind like so much injurious debris.

My neighbour appeared not to notice. Fate is arbitrary and by definition unchallengeable. Its Takedown Notice almost always unforseen. Her husband was given three months to live and died two days after his prognosis. She is holding up as well as can be expected. Our housing association very kindly refused to lend assistance - or squander resources - in removing any items which might foster unpleasant memories. Or cause a wound to fester.

I glanced up at the chimpanzee leering out the window.

On the opposite side of that same concrete block, one Sunday afternoon four or five years ago, a young woman was hurled to her death. A nurse. It was rumoured the apartment she fell from was a drug den. More accurately, she was in the wrong place at quite the wrong time. Allegedly, she clung desperately to the windowsill in those last few seconds until a second woman brought a claw hammer down on her fingertips. The resulting dent in the asphalt below was never properly filled in; there was a log jam in the lifts as people fought to get down there for a spot of rubbernecking before the ambulance arrived.

I was in the process of leaving that block myself, after what was a painful visit, and there was a queue on every landing all the way down.

Fate is like that. It might just as easily have caused some loudmouthed moron to momentarily lose his footing and bleed out from an arterial wound, passing schoolchildren squinting up in alarm. Beleaguered scouts mindful of a sniper.

It didn't.

SEBASTIĀO TAPAJÓS: CARIMBÓ from "O Violão E... Tapajós" LP (Forma) 1968 (Brazil)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


The weightlessness of surfing,

the unmonitored pursuit that is
catching a wave
into dead space populated
by figments,

brings me crashing to the beach.
Buried. Inside out;
retching around a glassy pebble.

A gallstone.

An avalanche of unanswered mail,
virtual splintered bone.
Orbit and muscle, unblinking eye.

The sin of omission. A harbinger.

fulham fallout

Having watched Gordon Brown's oddly compelling - and no doubt thoroughly sincere - farewell performance oustide No. 10 yesterday evening, two small boys and wife in tow, I awoke to see a caravan of Fulham FC partisans rolling into Hamburg ahead of the UEFA Europa League Final.

On Freeview, that is. I have not, without warning, relocated to ply my trade on the Reeperbahn. A fat ass might go a long way, but in Jutland there is just too much competition.

A Conservative 'safe seat', the new constituency of Chelsea & Fulham returned a 60.5% share of the vote for Greg Sands in the wake of the disintegration of the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham following the Boundary Commission's review for parliamentary representation.

The ruling has not significantly altered voting habits.

From Wiki:

"The 2006 Conservative administration has introduced a number of changes to the running of the council, including the sale of homeless shelters, charging for home-care, increasing fees for meals on wheels and selling youth clubs. The administration has also been accused of intending to sell off council housing to private developers, charging council tenants market rent for their properties.

In a report into the the treatment of a pregnant homeless woman that the council refused to home, the Local Government Ombudsman accused the borough of hindering her investigation and of maladministration."

The one thing abundantly obvious is that those same voters, presumably, in West London who returned New Labour in 1997 have changed position, if not locality. Presumably, a pogrom on those lowering neighbourhood tone is back on the agenda. Those who can, may make a million selling mobile ringtones to the proles in Barking; those who can't, should move to Streatham.

A resettlement zone in Glasgow.

Brushed under a carpet of volcanic ash where once there fell soot.

What is clearer still, though, from observing the outcome of this general election nationally - and the protracted interparty negotiations which ensued as a result - is that the Majoritarian system which exists to serve only two parties in no way reflects the demands of the electorate.

While the media, in particular the press, was quick to proclaim a marginal overall majority of seats favouring the Conservatives sufficicient cause to demand Gordon Brown's immediate expulsion - contrary to both law and precedent - the fact remains that even under a prejudiced system those votes returned were by no means decisive.

The Conservative party won only one seat north of the border, of course, but look south too and the result was far from an outright mandate.

The case for substantial electoral reform has never been clearer. All the more irritating then, when former Thatcherite, and plausible Gestapo agent, Malcolm Rifkind popped up to protest at the Liberal Democrats holding "secret talks" with the Labour Party, or to witness a retired John Prescott's vociferous tub thumping as though New Labour retained sovereign right to govern.

To write off "Little Nicky Clegg" as "merely a pretty face", as Ann Treneman did in The Times, is - if not wholly unpardonable - nothing short of sloppy hyperbole.

Clegg had every right to negotiate with candor; to seek a deal for a referendum on proportional representation.

While his party may have merely secured 57 seats under the "broken system" both Cameron and Brown were prompt to condemn, as a percentage of the vote he scored a solid 23%; an incontrovertible fact some commentators remain ill at ease with. Or care to concede.

The "first past the post" system does not serve the touted national interest.

Where seats south of the border were most fiercely contested, in some instances where entire swathes of the electorate were denied their right to cast a ballot, it would be presumptious in the extreme to celebrate a narrow defeat as indicative of victory.

The electorate seems governed by mistrust. The coalition now entering office seeks to govern on a shoestring.

Or a recycled Ratners rope.

It is only proper that the party leaving is held accountable for policy and, crucially, its refusal to put those same policies to the test. A taciturn refusal to appeal directly to the electorate at the earliest opportunity has not served Gordon Brown's ambition to implement long term policy where he felt he most evinced just cause.

Neither do I believe that the electorate generally favours those immediate wholesale cuts in public spending both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are bent on now imposing. Rather, in response to the expenses scandal and collapse of the financial services sector in no small part, the British public is more keen to prune back those inefficient layers of bureaucracy; to unravel the worst self-serving excesses insulated by state.

Whether Nick Clegg, as deputy prime-minister, holds enough cards to steer a coalition clear of selling its hand to the highest bidder remains to be seen. The position he now occupies, I would suggest, is a good deal more central to that national interest than the "tiny circle of space" derided by Ann Treneman.

THE LURKERS: GERALD from "Fulham Fallout" LP (Beggars Banquet) 1978 (UK)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

on your bike: tomorrow belongs to me

Joe Boyd - legendary returning officer and foreign envoy - cited Tomorrow's appearance at the UFO Club as being a singular defining moment in his commentary on the fractured 1960s, "White Bicycles".

In a rudimentary concession to proportional representation, perhaps, it was observed that Fairie defector, John Charles Alder duly kicked up a hallucinogenic storm. Never much an aspiring part of The In-Crowd, Alder subsequently dallied briefly with Bleachers stalwarts The Pretty Things before establishing a pact of sorts with some Deviants and one Steve Peregrin Took.

The result, "Think Pink", owes more than a little to the perverted spin Mick Farren exulted in playing a hand in as elected engineer and producer. A joint collaboration with Took - on which the latter escaped the tyranny of über fuhrer, Bolan - "Three Little Piggies" is my own all too transparent attempt to collude with The Saucer People in flipping the bird in the direction of our nation's recent flaccid election.

Not so much upright as dangling. A well hung slab of sleeveless porcine meat.

By the by. As of this month the gravy train that was DivShare on these pages stops rolling. End of. The reinstatement of posts affected will be subject to whim or direct appeal; the resut of self-imposed caps on public spending. 

This latest measure has has been a long time coming. I convened with my mirror in the bathroom and was persuaded, f@ck it; one less truffling snout to feed.

TWINK: THREE LITTLE PIGGIES from "Think Pink" LP (Sire) 1970 (UK)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

tumbling dice

an idiot's guide to casting off.

Contrary to popular belief, the phrase, "the die has been cast", owes nothing to the singular of dice.

Rather, it is a wholly historical reference to the occasion when Julius Caesar usurped the law of senate and crossed with his Legions over the Rubicon into Rome. The act of an aggressor on home turf.

"Fuck it," he might have said. Betraying the frisson of the moment.

"Jacta Alea Est" was that which was reported, though; "let the die be cast". An allusion to the irreversible process of adding ink or dye to water.

The polling stations are open. The invitation to mark one's card with an indelible 'X' - to cast the runes in a tactical vote, perhaps - has all the appeal of merely rolling the dice. Snake eyes. Three blind mice, unusually. It's hard to cut through the untruths trotted out these past few weeks with banal regularity.

There are no anarchists in the running in this constituency. We are not Greece.

If you prick us we do not bleed; we wince and rush to pour some tea.

The canvasing for this election, like those before it, has been crippled by political correctness. Ask one question, and one is ridiculed as a bigot. Ask another, and one is accused of being naive at best. Socially inept, more poignantly.

Up here, well beyond the 13th floor in the eyesore of just one more crumbling apartment block, we have received no canvasers on our doorstep. No party of any colour. Public housing is not the issue in these beleaguered times. At least not a vote winner. And, of course, it would be foolish in the extreme to attempt to sugar the pill by offering to fit a solar panel.

But. It does not stop the incessant cold calling by telephone. The hard sell on the conservatory in the sky.

As to how many visitors alighting on these pages fall short of the 'middle' ground courted by New Labour, I can only guess. The heady strata occupied by those on a joint income of £48K per annum, concerned at losing out on their current rate of child tax credits. 

By contrast, the Liberal Democrat policy of an income tax exemption on the first £10K of earnings seems positively socialist. That's a minimum wage incentive for those seeking to escape the poverty trap of welfare benefits. 

The grinding burden of a punitive Council Tax.

And I don't easily forget that it was Margaret Thatcher who prompted a public auction on social housing; the wholesale shortage which now exists, or those spiralling house prices which underpinned this present financial crisis.

A very real underclass exists now in the UK. An indigenous underclass. Fostered more by incompetence than design; the reluctance of successive governments to do anything more to tackle its root cause than blithely repeat the phrase like an empty mantra.

While awarding charitable status to profiteering organizations bent on passing round the begging bowl.

In essence, New Labour - like its Conservative predecessor - chose to bank on deregulated financial markets to return it to office. And balked at the last minute when faced with a domino collapse and the erosion of its redefined popular vote.

Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask nothing at all. The incumbent is blameless, the nominal inquisitor peppers his speech with 'fresh' until his policies resemble a tampon commercial. If we are in fact bleeding out now, rest assured it can be dressed up as ushering in a collective menopause; all that is required being a wad of tissue to stem the gush of public spending. 

As expected, too, the third man has been roundly derided as a Eurocentric spiv. If not quite routed. A flash in the pan just as the big guns were looking a little bit flushed. I'm sorely disappointed he did not capitalize on his earlier success and kick the two headed cur utterly senseless while it sat in its puddle of piss. 

For all his seeming candor, at this late juncture the tailoring looks set to come unstitched. One wants to warm to policy but it all seems a tad unstructured. 

Still. We are heading for a hung parliament, we are warned. As if this constant tug of war demands only two hands on the rope.

Well. Let them eat cake, frosted with glass. We are fresh out of pies. Credulity.