Friday, 20 February 2009
about the suppression of thought and invention in primary schools - "utilarian and philistine times" indeed
NuLab's obsession with "standards" does not even succeed by its own theoretical criteria, because throughout their period of government they have been in hock to the very forces which do most to erode those "standards", even elevating the most powerful individual in that field to the level of honorary cabinet minister against whom all vaguely contentious policies must be checked and, accordingly, diluted beyond recognition. They have in fact given us the worst of all worlds, regressing to the most depressingly narrow and rigid elements of pre-1964 education, only with far greater pressure on teachers and completely devoid of the contempt for the worst aspects of mass culture which both Reithians/Hoggartists and rock'n'rollers who thrive on the illusion of rebellion can agree was pre-1964 mass education's only real saving grace (and even if you are of the Brendan O'Neill "hating anything that is popular equates to hating the mass of the population for who they are" school, you must concede that rhetoric about "standards" makes no sense unless such views are also held, or at least accepted). The only thing stopping me from saying that no government could be as morally low as this one is the knowledge that its successor will almost certainly be even lower.
in an all-too-typical 1970s-themed ad for Eco 2020 which, oddly, appears to be soundtracked by "Oh Yes You're Beautiful" performed in the style of "Rock'n'Roll Part II".
Expect many more sightings before the next (and last?) UK general election.
Sunday, 15 February 2009
... then this has to be the new "Stand Up and Be Counted".
If a British - or rather English - fascist movement ever comes to power, it won't start in dingy BNP meetings. It will start here.
Mondob3ta is ON THE FUCKING MONEY.
would he similarly say that most people his own age and younger from, say, East London "don't sound white"?
Comments like this are why I cannot join in the "lolz at public schoolboys trying to understand hip-hop" mindset that occasionally circulates on ILX and WSC, nor can I ever use the term "wigga" (which is bafflingly considered acceptable in many supposedly left-wing circles). Surely, if this is the alternative (and it is), any kind of attempted engagement with cultures other than your own, however ham-fisted, has to be a good thing?
I know the above might read as a partial defence of Chris Martin. It wasn't meant as such.
I know the above might read as a partial defence of Chris Martin. It wasn't meant as such.
The forelock-tugging response to the supposed "British victory" at the Grammy awards - yes, Carmody, only a week late - is dispiriting not so much for what it is itself (all too familiar and, I fear, unavoidable) but for the way the apologists for Heritage Soul genuinely appear to believe that "our" winners are in the tradition of the canonical British "greats" of the '60s, i.e. they have sold a freshened reinvention of the best of black American music back to the US. The truth of the matter is that these pallid, tedious, NuTory-friendly weaklings stand a better comparison with the likes of Chris Barber and Kenny Ball, who in the late '50s / early '60s sold a similarly irrelevant and timewarped pastiche of the black American music of several decades earlier back to the US* ("Petite Fleur" and "Midnight in Moscow" were among the few major pre-Beatles British hits there - "Stranger on the Shore" was even bigger, but it has little to do with jazz of any kind). The arbiters of the American "mainstream" in the early '60s would have been far more comfortable with those records than they were with, say, the Miracles' "Shop Around", even though that had reached number 2 on the pop charts. Whoever is in the White House and whatever advances may be made in other fields, the pop-cultural part of the American elite's obsession with British Heritage Soul shows that their mindset today is essentially the same. Luckily, the US audiences who really count - i.e. those unconfined by Heritage, the equivalent audiences of those who put "Shop Around" where it was all that time ago - far prefer T.I. and Lil Wayne. Other than as indicators of a desperate heritagised elite searching for something they feel happy with, the Grammys don't matter. But Britain should feel ashamed of its cringe on every possible level.
*I notice - admittedly only as an aside - an attempt by Reynolds in Word magazine to partially rehabilitate the early '60s trad jazz revival as part of a continuum of "white people getting the funk" long before Tony Wilson said they did, seemingly because the Daily Mail dissed it in 1962. To invoke such ancient cuttings today is unhealthily reminiscent of the way those for whom "Pirate Johnnie Walker" is the highlight of their weekend continue to regard themselves as somehow inherently rebellious - whatever the Mail may or may not have said very nearly half a century ago, it doesn't change the fact that trad jazz was as much part of the post-Suez stasis as the Mail itself. The paper's outrage back then was partially because the music's fans (as Reynolds himself concedes, and c.f. also Raymond Durgnat's remarks in Standing Up for Jesus - itself a fine example of an astoundingly strong piece of rhetoric which nevertheless would make no sense at all if translated to the present) were largely middle-class (and therefore the Mail cared more about keeping them within its own confines than it did about the largely working-class tribes who would create much more inventive youth cultures throughout the '60s, who were prole scum beyond salvation as far as they were concerned), and partially because - I suspect - it stll employed many of the same writers who had been around when trad jazz wasn't trad, when the Mail had said hurrah for the Blackshirts, when indeed a fear of this new, intimidating sound was a crucial factor in their Nazi sympathies. These writers are long since dead, and for all those of their ilk today, trad jazz has been completely neutralised through the passing of time. As it was Reynolds himself who rightly likened Britpop to the trad revival (and thus, by implication, to the era of the Last Aristocratic Government, before Harold Wilson's emergence) back in the mid-1990s, when such a comparison genuinely seemed blasphemous to Britain's dominant pop-cultural arbiters, it is depressing to see him attempting to reclaim it as part of a continuum with the genuinely inventive white British reinventions of black American music that have followed, rather than see it for what it actually was, the antecedent of both Britpop and Heritage Soul.
Tuesday, 10 February 2009
been listening all day
those 50-years-ago flashbacks have such heat on them in every sense
also check the sMoKio tracks on basslineskanka's sadly (but symptomatically) neglected channel
Peter Mandelson was recently quoted as "supporting" the idea of a "people's bank" to be run as part of the Post Office. Funnily enough, we once had such a thing, started by the Wilson government on a widely-used European model, and privatised at the end of the Thatcher administration. Now I'm not quite sure who was the ideological leader of the smear campaign against those who supported the renationalisation of what had been Girobank (which by the time NuLab came to power was owned by Alliance & Leicester, but retained its own name and was still a separate business within A&L) as "conservatives who did not understand that the world had changed", but I could have sworn that someone called Mandelson was every bit as much its architect as Keith Joseph had been for Thatcherism. Funny the things.
The Daily Mail, and others of its ilk, have recently been up in arms about what they claim to have been an organised campaign to remove Carol Thatcher from The One Show, led by people who would never have watched the show and inspired by remarks which were not actually broadcast. Funnily enough, the Mail was recently behind a successful organised campaign to remove a very popular broadcaster, made up almost entirely of people who would never have listened to his show, for something which, while undoubtedly crass and childish, was what his audience were used to and which therefore attracted precisely two complaints when it actually went out. Having delightedly set the precedent of the BBC instantly following organised demands for certain broadcasters' removal, the Mail cannot complain when it (allegedly) merely does the same thing, only this time following a campaign led by people with different political views who read different newspapers and find different things offensive, any more than it could complain when its calls for the destruction of trade union power in broadcasting led, indirectly, to a substantial reduction in programming that its readership found acceptable.
The only possible response to the Thatcher affair is "now at least you bastards know how Russell Brand fans feel". Since his enforced departure, Brand - originally placed on Saturday nights to keep hip-hop-hating Moyles fans in the BBC fold when Westwood was on - has had more in common with Westwood than not, in a way he did not have before. You will note that, where he used to be, we now have Johnnie Walker with a (yawn) recreation of offshore radio, which is precisely where the institutionalised humbug and double standards of the modern Right have their roots. This is precisely what was intended.