" Madam Miaow Says: August 2009

Monday, 31 August 2009

John Sinclair and Crosstown Lightnin' in Kingston


A couple of weeks after the event but I like this photo.

Half of Crosstown Lightnin' (Charles Shaar Murray and Max 'Dee' Doray) and friends in The Grey Horse smoking room waiting to go on for the second half. Taken 11th August 2009, Kingston, South London.

Video of the night's encore with guests John Sinclair and Marc Jeffries (The Plague).

Sam 'n' MM

John Sinclair and Crosstown Lightnin' in Kingston


A couple of weeks after the event but I like this photo.

Half of Crosstown Lightnin' (Charles Shaar Murray and Max 'Dee' Doray) and friends in The Grey Horse smoking room waiting to go on for the second half. Taken 11th August 2009, Kingston, South London.

Video of the night's encore with guests John Sinclair and Marc Jeffries (The Plague).

Sam 'n' MM

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Hurricane Katrina expert who warned levees would break is fired



What better way to commemorate then fourth anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina disaster than sack the expert who warned that the levees protecting New Orleans would break?

Greg Palast reports that Deputy Director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, Dr Ivor van Heerden, has now been "dumped along with the chief of the Hurricane Center who led the academics who supported van Heerden's research".

Dr Van Heerden also blew the whistle that the Bush government knew ahead of anyone else that they'd cracked the night Hurricane Katrina hit the region, resulting in the deaths of 1,500 people.
"By midnight on Monday the White House knew. Monday night I was at the state Emergency Operations Center and nobody was aware that the levees had breeched. Nobody."

Palast continues:
Van Heerden was told by University officials that his complaints jeopardized funding from the Bush Administration. ... It didn't matter to Bush, to the State, to the University, that van Heerden was right- devastatingly right. Exactly as van Heerden predicted, the levees could not stand up to the storm surge. ... the Bush White House did nothing about the levees, despite warning after warning.

The only plan in place called for the evacuation of New Orleans by car. Survivors who were forced to flee on foot were turned back on a bridge out of the city by armed police in one notorious incident. Those who made it to the Superdome had to exist for a week without any state aid.

Since the disaster on 29th August 2005, speculators and cronies have grown even richer while the poor black residents have seen their homes destroyed and stolen, some physically evicted from the homes they rebuilt at their own cost by marshals.
... it is also the fourth year of exile for more than half of the low-income Black residents who once lived in the Crescent City. In the Lower Ninth Ward, 81% have yet to return.

This never happened to the boy who stuck his finger in the dyke. But I guess it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

More Greg Palast here

Great piece by Rebecca Solnit in the Guardian, reminding us that the marauding thieves and murderers were police and white suburbanites and not the poor black victims who were their quarry.
The majority in Katrina took care of each other, went to great lengths to rescue each other – including the "cajun navy" of white guys with boats who entered the flooded city the day after the levees broke – and were generally humane and resourceful. A minority that included the most powerful believed they were preventing barbarism while they embodied it.

UPDATE: Van Heerden was sacked in April but this is a timely reminder that heroes are trashed while villains are rewarded. Two videos on the Katrina debacle here and here (thanks to Mrs M)

Hurricane Katrina expert who warned levees would break is fired



What better way to commemorate then fourth anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina disaster than sack the expert who warned that the levees protecting New Orleans would break?

Greg Palast reports that Deputy Director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, Dr Ivor van Heerden, has now been "dumped along with the chief of the Hurricane Center who led the academics who supported van Heerden's research".

Dr Van Heerden also blew the whistle that the Bush government knew ahead of anyone else that they'd cracked the night Hurricane Katrina hit the region, resulting in the deaths of 1,500 people.
"By midnight on Monday the White House knew. Monday night I was at the state Emergency Operations Center and nobody was aware that the levees had breeched. Nobody."

Palast continues:
Van Heerden was told by University officials that his complaints jeopardized funding from the Bush Administration. ... It didn't matter to Bush, to the State, to the University, that van Heerden was right- devastatingly right. Exactly as van Heerden predicted, the levees could not stand up to the storm surge. ... the Bush White House did nothing about the levees, despite warning after warning.

The only plan in place called for the evacuation of New Orleans by car. Survivors who were forced to flee on foot were turned back on a bridge out of the city by armed police in one notorious incident. Those who made it to the Superdome had to exist for a week without any state aid.

Since the disaster on 29th August 2005, speculators and cronies have grown even richer while the poor black residents have seen their homes destroyed and stolen, some physically evicted from the homes they rebuilt at their own cost by marshals.
... it is also the fourth year of exile for more than half of the low-income Black residents who once lived in the Crescent City. In the Lower Ninth Ward, 81% have yet to return.

This never happened to the boy who stuck his finger in the dyke. But I guess it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

More Greg Palast here

Great piece by Rebecca Solnit in the Guardian, reminding us that the marauding thieves and murderers were police and white suburbanites and not the poor black victims who were their quarry.
The majority in Katrina took care of each other, went to great lengths to rescue each other – including the "cajun navy" of white guys with boats who entered the flooded city the day after the levees broke – and were generally humane and resourceful. A minority that included the most powerful believed they were preventing barbarism while they embodied it.

UPDATE: Van Heerden was sacked in April but this is a timely reminder that heroes are trashed while villains are rewarded. Two videos on the Katrina debacle here and here (thanks to Mrs M)

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Stop Sex Trafficking, Buy Hand Cream: politics for girls


Spotted in the window of the Hampstead branch of Body Shop, is this the most ludicrous bit of marketing ever? For once words almost fail me. But not quite.

The poster reads:
NNOO Stop sex trafficking of children & young people.

Wanna know how? Read further down below the "SALE CONTINUES IN-STORE" sticker embazoned across their message:
NEW Soft Hands Kind Heart Hand Cream
£3.45 from your purchase is donated to our campaign partner, ECPAT, who are actively working to stop the trafficking and sexual exploitation of children and young people in the UK and around the world. Their future is in our hands.
thebodyshop.com/stop

Great! Stop sexpoloitation with your soft hands. Give silky smooth hand-jobs with this cream — hey, as long as they're free, gurls. Maybe sex workers can combat their own oppression by purchasing Body Shop cosmetics. One product buying another? Compassion as commodity? What a brilliant illustration of the objectification of human beings under capitalism.

Of course, if you don't buy it then you are a hatchet-faced scumbag who might as well be taking the tenners at the door while whey-faced adolescents get gang-banged by armies of swarthy paedos.

I was told by the Body Shop's very own Hall Monitor, an imperious assistant, that I'm "not allowed to take photographs of their shop", even from the street! Which only pissed me off even more. She had been told to enforce this by the company (under new management since Anita Roddick sold out to L'Oreal because She Was Worth It), so does that mean they KNOW their campaign will be a source of derision?

Cynical? Just nuts? I couldn't possibly comment.

Stop Sex Trafficking, Buy Hand Cream: politics for girls


Spotted in the window of the Hampstead branch of Body Shop, is this the most ludicrous bit of marketing ever? For once words almost fail me. But not quite.

The poster reads:
NNOO Stop sex trafficking of children & young people.

Wanna know how? Read further down below the "SALE CONTINUES IN-STORE" sticker embazoned across their message:
NEW Soft Hands Kind Heart Hand Cream
£3.45 from your purchase is donated to our campaign partner, ECPAT, who are actively working to stop the trafficking and sexual exploitation of children and young people in the UK and around the world. Their future is in our hands.
thebodyshop.com/stop

Great! Stop sexpoloitation with your soft hands. Give silky smooth hand-jobs with this cream — hey, as long as they're free, gurls. Maybe sex workers can combat their own oppression by purchasing Body Shop cosmetics. One product buying another? Compassion as commodity? What a brilliant illustration of the objectification of human beings under capitalism.

Of course, if you don't buy it then you are a hatchet-faced scumbag who might as well be taking the tenners at the door while whey-faced adolescents get gang-banged by armies of swarthy paedos.

I was told by the Body Shop's very own Hall Monitor, an imperious assistant, that I'm "not allowed to take photographs of their shop", even from the street! Which only pissed me off even more. She had been told to enforce this by the company (under new management since Anita Roddick sold out to L'Oreal because She Was Worth It), so does that mean they KNOW their campaign will be a source of derision?

Cynical? Just nuts? I couldn't possibly comment.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Spartacus's grandson arrested for selling Crystal Meth: Cameron drugs scandal


From the BBC website:
Actor Michael Douglas says his family is "devastated" by the arrest of his son on drugs charges.

Cameron Douglas allegedly made thousands selling methamphetamine, one of the nastiest drugs ever. (In)Hailing from the Douglas acting dynasty, he's not exactly your average poverty-stricken street-corner dealer struggling to survive. He's likely to get ten years to life for this one — I'm not surprised the family is devastated.

At least he's still alive. A few years back, Michael's less talented half-brother, Eric, died of suspected substance abuse. I saw him die onstage at the Edinburgh Fringe of audience abuse when his stand-up bombed and all he could do was sneer and grunt at us, and then sadly he got the real thing.

"I am Cameron". "No, I am Cameron." "No, I am Cameron, and so is my drug dealer."

Spartacus's grandson arrested for selling Crystal Meth: Cameron drugs scandal


From the BBC website:
Actor Michael Douglas says his family is "devastated" by the arrest of his son on drugs charges.

Cameron Douglas allegedly made thousands selling methamphetamine, one of the nastiest drugs ever. (In)Hailing from the Douglas acting dynasty, he's not exactly your average poverty-stricken street-corner dealer struggling to survive. He's likely to get ten years to life for this one — I'm not surprised the family is devastated.

At least he's still alive. A few years back, Michael's less talented half-brother, Eric, died of suspected substance abuse. I saw him die onstage at the Edinburgh Fringe of audience abuse when his stand-up bombed and all he could do was sneer and grunt at us, and then sadly he got the real thing.

"I am Cameron". "No, I am Cameron." "No, I am Cameron, and so is my drug dealer."

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Mrs Bono copyrights the word "nude": "the" and "and" under threat as Stella McCartney sued

Mr and Mrs Bono

The wife of world-famous humanitarian and tax expert Bono is suing Stella McCartney for the use of the word "nude" in her latest perfume, Stella Nude.

Ali Hewson, a charity campaigner or "chugger" as they are sometimes fondly known, had previously named her company "Nude Skincare", rendering "nude", "skin" and "care" off limits to everyone in perpetuity.

Similarly, Nina Ricci presciently bagged "air" and the concept of time when she named her scent, "L'air du temps". Luckily, this was in a foreign language and isn't liable under British law, but French physicists and philosophers have been having a helluva time. Cake enthusiast Marcel Proust was forced to retitle his book which now roughly translates as "The Search for Lost Clocks", although the makers of the TV series "Lost" are keeping an eye on developments.

In Ohio, Mr Walt Furffenhower has filed a claim stating that his grandfather invented the ampersand and the @ sign in 1848, and has threatened a law suit against everyone on the planet with an email address. "A buck apiece'll do me fine," he gummed in his trailer. "First thing ah'll do is git ma teeth fixed."

Unrelated but in the same ballpark, Joel Tenenbaum has been fined $675,000 for uploading 30 music tracks.

Scientists estimate that due to the Linguistics Enclosures Acts, the English language will be rendered "someone else's" by the year 2075.

Mrs Bono copyrights the word "nude": "the" and "and" under threat as Stella McCartney sued

Mr and Mrs Bono

The wife of world-famous humanitarian and tax expert Bono is suing Stella McCartney for the use of the word "nude" in her latest perfume, Stella Nude.

Ali Hewson, a charity campaigner or "chugger" as they are sometimes fondly known, had previously named her company "Nude Skincare", rendering "nude", "skin" and "care" off limits to everyone in perpetuity.

Similarly, Nina Ricci presciently bagged "air" and the concept of time when she named her scent, "L'air du temps". Luckily, this was in a foreign language and isn't liable under British law, but French physicists and philosophers have been having a helluva time. Cake enthusiast Marcel Proust was forced to retitle his book which now roughly translates as "The Search for Lost Clocks", although the makers of the TV series "Lost" are keeping an eye on developments.

In Ohio, Mr Walt Furffenhower has filed a claim stating that his grandfather invented the ampersand and the @ sign in 1848, and has threatened a law suit against everyone on the planet with an email address. "A buck apiece'll do me fine," he gummed in his trailer. "First thing ah'll do is git ma teeth fixed."

Unrelated but in the same ballpark, Joel Tenenbaum has been fined $675,000 for uploading 30 music tracks.

Scientists estimate that due to the Linguistics Enclosures Acts, the English language will be rendered "someone else's" by the year 2075.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Tube Love: short story on the dangers of public snogging by Madam Miaow



Above the great metropolis the sky was blue, the breeze was light and the trees were in bloom. It was the first day of the year that felt like spring had arrived and they were in love. The kind of love that throws up that magical bubble of crazy happiness around your nation of two and renders you invisible to your fellow citizens. At least that’s how it felt. The thought that people weren’t looking out of politeness, embarrassment or had just eaten breakfast and didn't want to lose it, never entered their collective mind as it floated somewhere over north London.

But it didn’t matter. They were as one and, in this moment, would always be as one. This was ninja love, invisible to all but the most elect sensate beings. Lips velcroed, tongues araldited, eyes shuttered, osculation making ambulation an exciting game of chance with only a few bruises to show for it, they drifted slo-mo in their alien time-scale, oblivious to the waves of homicidal rage from the city commuters with somewhere to be, something to do, looming deadlines and all the rest of the baggage a cruel world could impose. The poor lost fools. If only they took time out and tuned in to the love radiating from the couple with the mashed faces, human relations would be revolutionised overnight.

On this bright spring-like morning — or was it around lunch, time being a moveable feast under the influence of Aphrodite and her chubby cherub with the pointy projectiles — they headed off to the tube station to take in a day of culture. They would dine on a picnic of bargain sushi from the chain of Japanese automats, their love immunising them from gastric complications. They looked forward to their stroll across Hungerford Bridge, a name still indelibly associated in the minds of many with an unfortunate slaughter in the west of England, but not for the lovers, whose clear vision of humanity’s capacity for beauty and compassion in glorious technicolour eclipsed all monochromatic ugliness.

They would immerse themselves in the high art of the South Bank where they would embrace in front of the Bacons, tremble by the Twombleys, and rudely view the Rodin. OK, on this stretch the street performers lacked the expertise, artistry and verve of their New York counterparts, the theatre was full of crowdpleasing schlock, the cinema screened Beowulf in 3D, the concert halls aired the greatest TV themes and a Liberace retrospective, but it was their playground and they would be happy.

The tube train was almost empty. Great! More kissing opportunities. His unspoken mission was to snog her until she bled. She’d already swooned like a delicate Victorian Miss with an 18-inch waist and the blood-pressure of a dormouse. The fact that she was built like the Mongol Horde and dressed like a yeti at this tail end of winter made his ambition all the more touching.

They took the seats along the side of the carriage and turned to each other, him with his back to the engine in case of accidents – you couldn’t be too careful but he always managed it somehow – her facing front, because it kept at bay the projectile vomiting that occasionally threatened to overwhelm her in moments of moderate excitement.

He pulled out his bottle of Carex antibacterial hand-gel because he had touched the button of the tube train door, and offered her a squirt. She smiled gratefully and accepted his kindness, appreciating the metaphor. Thus both cleansed they moved in for the kiss.

Stretching time: that’s what they did well. Each two-minute journey between stations drawn out into a here-and-now never-ending tube of Big Love.

Their faces meshed, tongues probed, vacuum-packed gobbage puckered up as lungs sucked out all the air. She knew it showed off her cheek bones and pulled in her facial chub, rendering her beautiful in his eyes from even this close a vantage point. To him, his stereoscopic vision shot by a childhood malady, she was as huge as a 60-foot movie goddess on the silver screen, only without the merciful lighting craft of masters. But true love soft-focuses you, polyfillas every tiny crease, airbrushes every enlarged pore, photoshops every stray hair missed in your daily depilation. Would there ever come a day when they would betray her under the relentless interrogation of the searing searchbeam of the clarity of his vision once sanity reasserted itself? Never mind. For now, they were as one.

No one could have foreseen the accident, least of all the driver, with his nose in The Sun and his cheddar and pickle sandwiches wedging the dead-man’s handle at Go position.

Up ahead, the hedge-fund manager, whose triple-height riverside apartment carved from a red-brick warehouse that was once a thriving hub of employment for East End dockworkers had just gone into negative equity and who faced meltdown of his fat assetts, ate his last meal of lobster and roquette croquette washed down with a nice Krug, abandoned his Beamer on a double-yellow and made his way to Southwark underground station. Folding his copy of the FT and placing it in his foetal pigskin attaché case alongside his Mont Blanc pen, he moved to the platform’s edge. Taking a deep breath of the underground air made up largely of skin particles sloughed off by aeons of commuters, he allowed himself to topple slowly into the path of the oncoming train.

The driver hit the brakes; the new enhanced hydraulic braking system, installed only that month by the private company and their subsidiaries and subcontractors on pain of a fine that stretched into two figures. Four, if you counted the thirty-two pence. Cheese and Branston and water cress garnish flew up in a cloud of crumbs and into his eyes, blinding him to the tragedy credit-crunching and ripping away underneath him.

And behind him.

Drifting ever deeper into their reverie where time stopped and hearts slowed in unison, she’d felt a slight increase of pressure and given into it, even as it continued in a wave of bliss. He must be riding an even bigger wave of passion that usual, she thought, and opened herself to him, relaxing as he pressed further … and further.

First the teeth went, cracking and splintering through the cushion of lips. Then jaw and cranial bone. Their noses collapsed, cartilage leading bone. Cheeks and brow ridges collided and continued in their inexorable momentum. His was tougher as he had the solid caucasian ridge closer to Homo Sapiens’ Australopithecus past while the flatter more highly evolved profile of her Asiatic origins offered her less protection. But it only mattered for a nanosecond. They’d had but one mind and now they were joined in a single brain.

Yes, this all took place in a split second, but, y’know, time was stretched out like the skin on a bubble of gum blown by a bored teenager at half-term. Their hearts slowed. She waited for the next beat. But it never came.

They were found in the wreckage of the concertinaed carriage, like a Man Ray or a Chapman Brothers exhibit they might have seen that very afternoon in the Tate. Their hair perfect: his fine and fair, hers long, raven cables. In the fireman’s torchlight they could be made out. One perfect sphere of neverending love.

And that is the risk you run when you snog in public.

(c) Anna Chen, April 2009

(If you liked this, try Greased Up And Ready To Go)

Tube Love: short story on the dangers of public snogging by Madam Miaow



Above the great metropolis the sky was blue, the breeze was light and the trees were in bloom. It was the first day of the year that felt like spring had arrived and they were in love. The kind of love that throws up that magical bubble of crazy happiness around your nation of two and renders you invisible to your fellow citizens. At least that’s how it felt. The thought that people weren’t looking out of politeness, embarrassment or had just eaten breakfast and didn't want to lose it, never entered their collective mind as it floated somewhere over north London.

But it didn’t matter. They were as one and, in this moment, would always be as one. This was ninja love, invisible to all but the most elect sensate beings. Lips velcroed, tongues araldited, eyes shuttered, osculation making ambulation an exciting game of chance with only a few bruises to show for it, they drifted slo-mo in their alien time-scale, oblivious to the waves of homicidal rage from the city commuters with somewhere to be, something to do, looming deadlines and all the rest of the baggage a cruel world could impose. The poor lost fools. If only they took time out and tuned in to the love radiating from the couple with the mashed faces, human relations would be revolutionised overnight.

On this bright spring-like morning — or was it around lunch, time being a moveable feast under the influence of Aphrodite and her chubby cherub with the pointy projectiles — they headed off to the tube station to take in a day of culture. They would dine on a picnic of bargain sushi from the chain of Japanese automats, their love immunising them from gastric complications. They looked forward to their stroll across Hungerford Bridge, a name still indelibly associated in the minds of many with an unfortunate slaughter in the west of England, but not for the lovers, whose clear vision of humanity’s capacity for beauty and compassion in glorious technicolour eclipsed all monochromatic ugliness.

They would immerse themselves in the high art of the South Bank where they would embrace in front of the Bacons, tremble by the Twombleys, and rudely view the Rodin. OK, on this stretch the street performers lacked the expertise, artistry and verve of their New York counterparts, the theatre was full of crowdpleasing schlock, the cinema screened Beowulf in 3D, the concert halls aired the greatest TV themes and a Liberace retrospective, but it was their playground and they would be happy.

The tube train was almost empty. Great! More kissing opportunities. His unspoken mission was to snog her until she bled. She’d already swooned like a delicate Victorian Miss with an 18-inch waist and the blood-pressure of a dormouse. The fact that she was built like the Mongol Horde and dressed like a yeti at this tail end of winter made his ambition all the more touching.

They took the seats along the side of the carriage and turned to each other, him with his back to the engine in case of accidents – you couldn’t be too careful but he always managed it somehow – her facing front, because it kept at bay the projectile vomiting that occasionally threatened to overwhelm her in moments of moderate excitement.

He pulled out his bottle of Carex antibacterial hand-gel because he had touched the button of the tube train door, and offered her a squirt. She smiled gratefully and accepted his kindness, appreciating the metaphor. Thus both cleansed they moved in for the kiss.

Stretching time: that’s what they did well. Each two-minute journey between stations drawn out into a here-and-now never-ending tube of Big Love.

Their faces meshed, tongues probed, vacuum-packed gobbage puckered up as lungs sucked out all the air. She knew it showed off her cheek bones and pulled in her facial chub, rendering her beautiful in his eyes from even this close a vantage point. To him, his stereoscopic vision shot by a childhood malady, she was as huge as a 60-foot movie goddess on the silver screen, only without the merciful lighting craft of masters. But true love soft-focuses you, polyfillas every tiny crease, airbrushes every enlarged pore, photoshops every stray hair missed in your daily depilation. Would there ever come a day when they would betray her under the relentless interrogation of the searing searchbeam of the clarity of his vision once sanity reasserted itself? Never mind. For now, they were as one.

No one could have foreseen the accident, least of all the driver, with his nose in The Sun and his cheddar and pickle sandwiches wedging the dead-man’s handle at Go position.

Up ahead, the hedge-fund manager, whose triple-height riverside apartment carved from a red-brick warehouse that was once a thriving hub of employment for East End dockworkers had just gone into negative equity and who faced meltdown of his fat assetts, ate his last meal of lobster and roquette croquette washed down with a nice Krug, abandoned his Beamer on a double-yellow and made his way to Southwark underground station. Folding his copy of the FT and placing it in his foetal pigskin attaché case alongside his Mont Blanc pen, he moved to the platform’s edge. Taking a deep breath of the underground air made up largely of skin particles sloughed off by aeons of commuters, he allowed himself to topple slowly into the path of the oncoming train.

The driver hit the brakes; the new enhanced hydraulic braking system, installed only that month by the private company and their subsidiaries and subcontractors on pain of a fine that stretched into two figures. Four, if you counted the thirty-two pence. Cheese and Branston and water cress garnish flew up in a cloud of crumbs and into his eyes, blinding him to the tragedy credit-crunching and ripping away underneath him.

And behind him.

Drifting ever deeper into their reverie where time stopped and hearts slowed in unison, she’d felt a slight increase of pressure and given into it, even as it continued in a wave of bliss. He must be riding an even bigger wave of passion that usual, she thought, and opened herself to him, relaxing as he pressed further … and further.

First the teeth went, cracking and splintering through the cushion of lips. Then jaw and cranial bone. Their noses collapsed, cartilage leading bone. Cheeks and brow ridges collided and continued in their inexorable momentum. His was tougher as he had the solid caucasian ridge closer to Homo Sapiens’ Australopithecus past while the flatter more highly evolved profile of her Asiatic origins offered her less protection. But it only mattered for a nanosecond. They’d had but one mind and now they were joined in a single brain.

Yes, this all took place in a split second, but, y’know, time was stretched out like the skin on a bubble of gum blown by a bored teenager at half-term. Their hearts slowed. She waited for the next beat. But it never came.

They were found in the wreckage of the concertinaed carriage, like a Man Ray or a Chapman Brothers exhibit they might have seen that very afternoon in the Tate. Their hair perfect: his fine and fair, hers long, raven cables. In the fireman’s torchlight they could be made out. One perfect sphere of neverending love.

And that is the risk you run when you snog in public.

(c) Anna Chen, April 2009

(If you liked this, try Greased Up And Ready To Go)

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Park Bench poetry: North vs South London

Madam Miaow with Park Bench genii Stephen and Charlotte

Noel not reading his short story

South London victory

Last night saw the North versus South slam-dunk poetry playoff between Norf and Sarf London at the ingenious Park Bench installation in an empty shop in Camden Town.

Inspired by Anthony Gormley's Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square which is proving wrist-slittingly boring (surely we can do better that this, people!), Camden's Park Bench is an inspiring chance to get up and do something. Anything! Express yourself and make it amusing. Or not. Hey, it's Art.

Madam Miaow held up North London's end in her mistressful hands by reading her epic Wreath Lecture nice and early when she was fresh as a daisy, and later reciting a slurry Anna May Wong Must Die! following Becks, Dunkerton's Perry, and K cider (8.5%!!!).

South London deserved their easy win by producing several spoken word talents for the occasion. Award-winning Clarissa Pabi (18) and Raphael Blake excelled in their delivery and sharp poetry. I'll be remembering Clarissa's eensy-weensy spiders that, being American, were obese and not so fleet-footed when climbing drains, for a long time to come.

There was also a cheeky put-down of all things Camden, based on John Cooper-Clarke's Chicken Town, by another of their compadres, Anthony Shuster, who was hilarious.

So much talent in such a tiny space.

Only two more days to go. it comes down tomorrow so hurry-up!

C22, 22 Chalk Farm Road opposite the Stables Market. More pix and info here

Thanks to Stephen and Charlotte. More like this, please.



Madam Miaow and Charles Shaar Murray

Park Bench poetry: North vs South London

Madam Miaow with Park Bench genii Stephen and Charlotte

Noel not reading his short story

South London victory

Last night saw the North versus South slam-dunk poetry playoff between Norf and Sarf London at the ingenious Park Bench installation in an empty shop in Camden Town.

Inspired by Anthony Gormley's Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square which is proving wrist-slittingly boring (surely we can do better that this, people!), Camden's Park Bench is an inspiring chance to get up and do something. Anything! Express yourself and make it amusing. Or not. Hey, it's Art.

Madam Miaow held up North London's end in her mistressful hands by reading her epic Wreath Lecture nice and early when she was fresh as a daisy, and later reciting a slurry Anna May Wong Must Die! following Becks, Dunkerton's Perry, and K cider (8.5%!!!).

South London deserved their easy win by producing several spoken word talents for the occasion. Award-winning Clarissa Pabi (18) and Raphael Blake excelled in their delivery and sharp poetry. I'll be remembering Clarissa's eensy-weensy spiders that, being American, were obese and not so fleet-footed when climbing drains, for a long time to come.

There was also a cheeky put-down of all things Camden, based on John Cooper-Clarke's Chicken Town, by another of their compadres, Anthony Shuster, who was hilarious.

So much talent in such a tiny space.

Only two more days to go. it comes down tomorrow so hurry-up!

C22, 22 Chalk Farm Road opposite the Stables Market. More pix and info here

Thanks to Stephen and Charlotte. More like this, please.



Madam Miaow and Charles Shaar Murray

Thursday, 6 August 2009

All's Well That Ends Well at the National Theatre: review

Parolles and Helena

This is one of the rarely-staged Shakespeare plays that has eluded me thus far but I'm glad I got to see this three-hour production at the National Theatre Olivier auditorium at long last thanks to their £10 Travelex scheme.

All's Well That End's Well is a light romcom with an ironic punch hinted at in the title that's driven home in the final flash-photography horrorstruck pose from our loving couple, Helena and Bertram.

Blond handsome Bertram (George Rainsford), son of the recently widowed Countess of Rossillion (Clare Higgins) really is a dick with his floppy hair and slappable boyish charm. It's a wonder that the perky Helena wants him in the first place, but then I never found Hugh Grant a dish, either.

Played by Michelle Terry, who does a great job of filling in the spaces within the text with her appealing effervescence and would make a terrific Dr Who assistant, Helena is the orphaned daughter of the late Count's physician and has fallen in love with the brat. The Countess has taken her under her wing and facilitates her introduction at court where she treats the King of France (Oliver Ford Davies) who's been ill with a fistula.

Even though the King gives us a clue as to what a fistula is by clenching his hand into a claw (I had images of certain exotic activities hopping into my smutty mind), I just had to search and got " ... an abnormal connection or passageway between two epithelium-lined organs or vessels that normally do not connect."

None the wiser, I'll accept the hand job.

Anyhow, fist unclenched, we know that Helena has cured this powerful dude and now claims her reward. A lesser being would have demanded title, treasure, a palace or three, but values they are a changin'. Helena keeps it real in a society that now has room for romance and asks for marriage to Bertram.

Shallow and spoilt, he rejects her for being common, and goes off to war to avoid consummation, stating that should she manage to get his magnificent ring, handed down through generations, and fall pregnant with a child of his, he'll fulfill his duty.

There follows a comedy of mistaken identity and subterfuge wherein men are revealed to be treacherous snakes in the grass, cowardly liars and deeply closeted. It leaves you wondering why any fabulous woman would spend so much time and suffering in order to lock themselves into a lifelong relationship with them.

Duh! Oh, yeah, I geddit. Money and power, romance being but the superstructural offspring of the economic base. And this, comrades, is why capitalism (OK, the last days of feudalism where aristos are being displaced by merchants and professionals) distorts the human soul.

The burgeoning bourgeoisie has triumphed and secured its position but at what cost?

If that makes it sound like a flat polemic, it wasn't. That's just me cutting to the chase of what it was about. This production is actually a lot of fun and a special mention goes to Parolles (Falstaff lite played by Conleth Hill), a hilarious vain repository of everything sluggish and snailish in the male of the species dressed up as a superannuated heavy metal peacock who gets his humiliating comeuppance at the hands of his brother soldiers.

Of course, female ingenuity, wit and solidarity win out with a midnight tryst and Helena swapping identities with Diana, a great beauty who Bertram is crazy for. Helena fulfills Bertram's demands and wedlock can now ensue with celebrations and a wedding photographer to freeze the cast in a succession of telling tableaux.

All's Well That Ends Well, except for that very last shot ...

Bertram defies the King of France

All's Well That Ends Well at the National Theatre: review

Parolles and Helena

This is one of the rarely-staged Shakespeare plays that has eluded me thus far but I'm glad I got to see this three-hour production at the National Theatre Olivier auditorium at long last thanks to their £10 Travelex scheme.

All's Well That End's Well is a light romcom with an ironic punch hinted at in the title that's driven home in the final flash-photography horrorstruck pose from our loving couple, Helena and Bertram.

Blond handsome Bertram (George Rainsford), son of the recently widowed Countess of Rossillion (Clare Higgins) really is a dick with his floppy hair and slappable boyish charm. It's a wonder that the perky Helena wants him in the first place, but then I never found Hugh Grant a dish, either.

Played by Michelle Terry, who does a great job of filling in the spaces within the text with her appealing effervescence and would make a terrific Dr Who assistant, Helena is the orphaned daughter of the late Count's physician and has fallen in love with the brat. The Countess has taken her under her wing and facilitates her introduction at court where she treats the King of France (Oliver Ford Davies) who's been ill with a fistula.

Even though the King gives us a clue as to what a fistula is by clenching his hand into a claw (I had images of certain exotic activities hopping into my smutty mind), I just had to search and got " ... an abnormal connection or passageway between two epithelium-lined organs or vessels that normally do not connect."

None the wiser, I'll accept the hand job.

Anyhow, fist unclenched, we know that Helena has cured this powerful dude and now claims her reward. A lesser being would have demanded title, treasure, a palace or three, but values they are a changin'. Helena keeps it real in a society that now has room for romance and asks for marriage to Bertram.

Shallow and spoilt, he rejects her for being common, and goes off to war to avoid consummation, stating that should she manage to get his magnificent ring, handed down through generations, and fall pregnant with a child of his, he'll fulfill his duty.

There follows a comedy of mistaken identity and subterfuge wherein men are revealed to be treacherous snakes in the grass, cowardly liars and deeply closeted. It leaves you wondering why any fabulous woman would spend so much time and suffering in order to lock themselves into a lifelong relationship with them.

Duh! Oh, yeah, I geddit. Money and power, romance being but the superstructural offspring of the economic base. And this, comrades, is why capitalism (OK, the last days of feudalism where aristos are being displaced by merchants and professionals) distorts the human soul.

The burgeoning bourgeoisie has triumphed and secured its position but at what cost?

If that makes it sound like a flat polemic, it wasn't. That's just me cutting to the chase of what it was about. This production is actually a lot of fun and a special mention goes to Parolles (Falstaff lite played by Conleth Hill), a hilarious vain repository of everything sluggish and snailish in the male of the species dressed up as a superannuated heavy metal peacock who gets his humiliating comeuppance at the hands of his brother soldiers.

Of course, female ingenuity, wit and solidarity win out with a midnight tryst and Helena swapping identities with Diana, a great beauty who Bertram is crazy for. Helena fulfills Bertram's demands and wedlock can now ensue with celebrations and a wedding photographer to freeze the cast in a succession of telling tableaux.

All's Well That Ends Well, except for that very last shot ...

Bertram defies the King of France

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Web addict killed by rehab counsellors


Well, that's one way of dealing with it. In the absence of proven technique, method, rhyme or reason, rehab staff in Nanning, China, beat to death a fifteen year old who wouldn't get off his computer. Allegedly. As internet horror stories go, that's an effective one.

I'd say the milk of human kindness has curdled in a big withered worldwide teat and may not be flowing for a while yet.

They said I had to go to rehab, I said, FOR GOD'S SAKE, NO-O-O! NO-O-O-O! AAARGH!

Web addict killed by rehab counsellors


Well, that's one way of dealing with it. In the absence of proven technique, method, rhyme or reason, rehab staff in Nanning, China, beat to death a fifteen year old who wouldn't get off his computer. Allegedly. As internet horror stories go, that's an effective one.

I'd say the milk of human kindness has curdled in a big withered worldwide teat and may not be flowing for a while yet.

They said I had to go to rehab, I said, FOR GOD'S SAKE, NO-O-O! NO-O-O-O! AAARGH!

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