" Madam Miaow Says: October 2009

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Water into whine: PepsiCo fined $1.2 BILLION for court no-show


I hate capitalism, that great big behemoth squishing us all into a greasy smear while a global super-aristocracy floats off into some platinum-plated diamond-studded dimension of their own where hopefully they choke on their million-pound handbags (I kid you not — see pic below). So I welcome those rare victories when you think, yes, there is a God.

I'd like to go down on my knees and thank US Circuit Judge Jacqueline R. Erwin for handing down a righteous judgement that is so awesomely fitting, fair and fantastic that I am writing this through tears of glee.

Lucky plaintiffs Charles A. Joyce and James R. Voigt have performed a miracle and turned water into over a billion dollars, sticking it to one of the biggest corporations in the world. In 1981 they went to Pepsi with the bright idea of selling bottled water, an idea considered so ludicrous at the time that they were laughed out of the offices of Pepsi products distributor Wis-Pak Inc. and Carolina Canners Inc., but not before securing a confidentiality agreement.

Cut to years later when Pepsi catches on and starts selling Aquafina. Joyce and Voigt's lawsuit claims that PepsiCo used information it knew was secret when it began selling its posh water.

What could have dragged on for years and maybe netted our heroes a few million was neatly truncated when Pepsi failed to show up to defend themselves on September 30th despite the case being filed since April. According to the Wisconsin Journal Sentinel:
One of the reasons for PepsiCo's delayed response, according to court documents, was that a secretary in PepsiCo's legal department was so busy she did not tell anyone about a letter regarding the case or enter it into a log that tracks such matters.
I feel sorry for the secretary who I'm guessing is looking for a new job. But thanks for inadvertently striking a blow for the little guy. Perhaps the little guys in question will buy her one of those handbags as a thank you gift out of their loot.

The million-pound handbag made of platinum and over 2,000 diamonds

(Yes, I know, the judgement will probably be reversed when Pepsi appeal but I can dreeeeam, can't I?)

Water into whine: PepsiCo fined $1.2 BILLION for court no-show


I hate capitalism, that great big behemoth squishing us all into a greasy smear while a global super-aristocracy floats off into some platinum-plated diamond-studded dimension of their own where hopefully they choke on their million-pound handbags (I kid you not — see pic below). So I welcome those rare victories when you think, yes, there is a God.

I'd like to go down on my knees and thank US Circuit Judge Jacqueline R. Erwin for handing down a righteous judgement that is so awesomely fitting, fair and fantastic that I am writing this through tears of glee.

Lucky plaintiffs Charles A. Joyce and James R. Voigt have performed a miracle and turned water into over a billion dollars, sticking it to one of the biggest corporations in the world. In 1981 they went to Pepsi with the bright idea of selling bottled water, an idea considered so ludicrous at the time that they were laughed out of the offices of Pepsi products distributor Wis-Pak Inc. and Carolina Canners Inc., but not before securing a confidentiality agreement.

Cut to years later when Pepsi catches on and starts selling Aquafina. Joyce and Voigt's lawsuit claims that PepsiCo used information it knew was secret when it began selling its posh water.

What could have dragged on for years and maybe netted our heroes a few million was neatly truncated when Pepsi failed to show up to defend themselves on September 30th despite the case being filed since April. According to the Wisconsin Journal Sentinel:
One of the reasons for PepsiCo's delayed response, according to court documents, was that a secretary in PepsiCo's legal department was so busy she did not tell anyone about a letter regarding the case or enter it into a log that tracks such matters.
I feel sorry for the secretary who I'm guessing is looking for a new job. But thanks for inadvertently striking a blow for the little guy. Perhaps the little guys in question will buy her one of those handbags as a thank you gift out of their loot.

The million-pound handbag made of platinum and over 2,000 diamonds

(Yes, I know, the judgement will probably be reversed when Pepsi appeal but I can dreeeeam, can't I?)

Friday, 30 October 2009

Fu Manchu knighted: Arise Sir Christopher Lee


That master incarnator of exotic uber-villainy, Christopher Lee (87) — Dracula, Scaramanga (The Man With The Golden Gun), Saruman (Lord Of The Rings), Hammer's first Frankenstein's monster, Lord Summerisle (The Wicker Man), Willy Wonka's scary Dad and Dr Fu-Manchu (erk!) — gets his richly deserved gong at long, long last.

No relation to Bruce, Stan, Ang, Stewart, Ho Fook, Robert E., Addison or Sara, he was knighted by Prince Charles today but promises that he will never be billed as "Sir" Christopher Lee in a movie, unlike Sir Ben Kings Lee.

Loved One once interviewed him at his Eaton Square home and Chris sang grand opera in his grand baritone and demonstrated martial arts kicks whilst keeping his fangs resolutely sheathed. No blood was shed, no sheds were bled ...

And you know he only comes out at knight.

Fu Manchu knighted: Arise Sir Christopher Lee


That master incarnator of exotic uber-villainy, Christopher Lee (87) — Dracula, Scaramanga (The Man With The Golden Gun), Saruman (Lord Of The Rings), Hammer's first Frankenstein's monster, Lord Summerisle (The Wicker Man), Willy Wonka's scary Dad and Dr Fu-Manchu (erk!) — gets his richly deserved gong at long, long last.

No relation to Bruce, Stan, Ang, Stewart, Ho Fook, Robert E., Addison or Sara, he was knighted by Prince Charles today but promises that he will never be billed as "Sir" Christopher Lee in a movie, unlike Sir Ben Kings Lee.

Loved One once interviewed him at his Eaton Square home and Chris sang grand opera in his grand baritone and demonstrated martial arts kicks whilst keeping his fangs resolutely sheathed. No blood was shed, no sheds were bled ...

And you know he only comes out at knight.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The Noisettes review: "Atticus" and Shingai's death-defying balcony scene at Shepherds Bush Empire


Madam Miaow's video shot from three seats away

Well, that's divas for you. Lucky she has circus skills.

We had top seats for Monday's Noisettes gig at the Shepherds Bush O2 Empire thanks to Bill and Rachel, guitarist Daniel Smith's parents. Ah! Nuthin' like sitting in comfort sipping Strongbow from a plastic mug, I'm that sophisticated.

The band opened with Don't Upset the Rhythm and singer Shingai Shoniwa cavorting on top of a silver-draped platform in an explosive blaze of light under a giant scarlet love-heart. A wild leap onto the stage began Wild Young Hearts, then Don't Give Up, the first track off their first album. Their third big hit, Never Forget You, came later in the set. Songs from their first album, What's the Time Mr Wolf?, are quirkier and closer to their indie rock roots than the poppier numbers off Wild Young Hearts but the audience loved it all, not least because this band puts on such a good show.

Shingai is a phenomenon. Sexy without being ingratiating, she prowls the stage like a big cat and stalks her audience, barefoot and mischievous, long-limbed and natural. Draping herself across Jamie Morrison's drum kit, you believe the world, like the stage, is her own.

As well as being an ace guitarist (see his Hendrix homage, complete with teeth, on Don't Give Up), Daniel Smith is essentially musical director  and adds stability to the show so that Shingai can do her thang.

The band is occasionally backed by a brace of singers plus a string quartet, a keyboard player and a bass player who deputises for the multi-talented Shingai on most of the songs, freeing her up to perform to the max. Yet they never sound sparse when it's just the three members on stage. Meaning "the bollocks" in French, The Noisettes are a lively, ballsy likeable trio with seriously good musical content.

They're an overnight phenomenon that's taken twelve years to break through. Their music can be heard everywhere from The Sopranos (Scratch Your Name), St Trinians (Don't Give Up) and Bionic Woman to Timberland and Mazda ads. They've already been in Vogue and I bet fashion and beauty companies will be chasing the stunning black singer. This is a woman who should never have to pay for her skin-care again. Personally, I wish Créme De La Mer would chuck some product at me.

Not that Shingai hails from a tradition of frivolity. Her mother was imprisoned in her native Zimbabwe at the age of 17 as a freedom fighter under the odious Smith regime. And her uncle Thomas Mapfumo is a respected musician/activist, known as "the voice of the revolution".

The NME may snottily write them off as a pop sellout but Shingai is at least fifth-generation Mbira musician, popular across Southern Africa, while Daniel's Dad is a music writer and accomplished blues harmonica player, currently with Charles Shaar Murray and the Queens of Funk in Crosstown Lightnin'.

Long may they thrive.










The Noisettes review: "Atticus" and Shingai's death-defying balcony scene at Shepherds Bush Empire


Madam Miaow's video shot from three seats away

Well, that's divas for you. Lucky she has circus skills.

We had top seats for Monday's Noisettes gig at the Shepherds Bush O2 Empire thanks to Bill and Rachel, guitarist Daniel Smith's parents. Ah! Nuthin' like sitting in comfort sipping Strongbow from a plastic mug, I'm that sophisticated.

The band opened with Don't Upset the Rhythm and singer Shingai Shoniwa cavorting on top of a silver-draped platform in an explosive blaze of light under a giant scarlet love-heart. A wild leap onto the stage began Wild Young Hearts, then Don't Give Up, the first track off their first album. Their third big hit, Never Forget You, came later in the set. Songs from their first album, What's the Time Mr Wolf?, are quirkier and closer to their indie rock roots than the poppier numbers off Wild Young Hearts but the audience loved it all, not least because this band puts on such a good show.

Shingai is a phenomenon. Sexy without being ingratiating, she prowls the stage like a big cat and stalks her audience, barefoot and mischievous, long-limbed and natural. Draping herself across Jamie Morrison's drum kit, you believe the world, like the stage, is her own.

As well as being an ace guitarist (see his Hendrix homage, complete with teeth, on Don't Give Up), Daniel Smith is essentially musical director  and adds stability to the show so that Shingai can do her thang.

The band is occasionally backed by a brace of singers plus a string quartet, a keyboard player and a bass player who deputises for the multi-talented Shingai on most of the songs, freeing her up to perform to the max. Yet they never sound sparse when it's just the three members on stage. Meaning "the bollocks" in French, The Noisettes are a lively, ballsy likeable trio with seriously good musical content.

They're an overnight phenomenon that's taken twelve years to break through. Their music can be heard everywhere from The Sopranos (Scratch Your Name), St Trinians (Don't Give Up) and Bionic Woman to Timberland and Mazda ads. They've already been in Vogue and I bet fashion and beauty companies will be chasing the stunning black singer. This is a woman who should never have to pay for her skin-care again. Personally, I wish Créme De La Mer would chuck some product at me.

Not that Shingai hails from a tradition of frivolity. Her mother was imprisoned in her native Zimbabwe at the age of 17 as a freedom fighter under the odious Smith regime. And her uncle Thomas Mapfumo is a respected musician/activist, known as "the voice of the revolution".

The NME may snottily write them off as a pop sellout but Shingai is at least fifth-generation Mbira musician, popular across Southern Africa, while Daniel's Dad is a music writer and accomplished blues harmonica player, currently with Charles Shaar Murray and the Queens of Funk in Crosstown Lightnin'.

Long may they thrive.








Monday, 26 October 2009

Support the striking posties: save Royal Mail


It always depresses me when otherwise smart, kind, compassionate people put those qualities on hold when it comes to strikes. Knee-jerk union-bashing abounds with few asking exactly why it is that a postal worker would sacrifice thousands of pounds in salary and overtime in order just to have a barney with the management and annoy the public.

Victoria Coren wrote a brilliant piece in yesterday's Observer arguing powerfully for supporting the posties as they fight to save yet another bit of the family silver from being privatised by greedy bosses and a discredited Lord nobody voted for.

When the dickheads who run Royal Mail cancelled second deliveries, sacked postmen and made a £321 million profit from a crap service made even crappier, did they pass this on to the hard-working posties or the public? Did they invest? Did they heck! They froze wages and awarded themselves giant bonuses with the proceeds. Coren writes:
'So the profit benefited neither the postmen nor we hapless post-receivers – all of whom are, technically, the owners of the Royal Mail. It's a national company. It's ours. But we'd have been better off if our business had carried on making a loss. The profit simply inspired further cuts and a worse service. It's like telling your wife: "I got a juicy £5,000 bonus this year, so we had better cancel that holiday."'
When will the anti-union public geddit, that the much vaunted "modernisation" as promoted by Lord Mandelson of the Dark Side, means cutting spending by running down the service and treating workers like coolie labour, calling the money they save "profit" and then awarding it to themselves. What sort of society puts up with that?

Some 76 per cent of posties voted for the strike. Is three-quarters of the workforce mad, bad and masochistic? Or is there something else happening that we never get to hear?

Luckily, most people have wised up to yet another privatisation scam and support the strikers. Good luck, guys and gals. Save our Royal Mail.

Hat tip Bill Greenwell

Thanks to Hagley Road To Ladywood for this great piece by a postie on the causes of the strike and the myth of shrinking mail volume as claimed by Fraud Mandelson, and the true nature of the competition.
'None of these companies has a universal delivery obligation, unlike the Royal Mail. In fact they have no delivery obligation at all.'
And Harpy Marx provides this link to John Pilger's New Statesman article, The postal strike is our strike.
'Since coming to office, New Labour has done its best to destroy the Post Office as a highly productive public institution valued with affection by the British people. ... The truth is, the Royal Mail offers a quality service at half the price of its privatised rivals Deutsche Post and TNT. ... Postal workers deserve the support of all honest, decent people, who are reminded that they may be next on the list if they remain silent.'

Support the striking posties: save Royal Mail


It always depresses me when otherwise smart, kind, compassionate people put those qualities on hold when it comes to strikes. Knee-jerk union-bashing abounds with few asking exactly why it is that a postal worker would sacrifice thousands of pounds in salary and overtime in order just to have a barney with the management and annoy the public.

Victoria Coren wrote a brilliant piece in yesterday's Observer arguing powerfully for supporting the posties as they fight to save yet another bit of the family silver from being privatised by greedy bosses and a discredited Lord nobody voted for.

When the dickheads who run Royal Mail cancelled second deliveries, sacked postmen and made a £321 million profit from a crap service made even crappier, did they pass this on to the hard-working posties or the public? Did they invest? Did they heck! They froze wages and awarded themselves giant bonuses with the proceeds. Coren writes:
'So the profit benefited neither the postmen nor we hapless post-receivers – all of whom are, technically, the owners of the Royal Mail. It's a national company. It's ours. But we'd have been better off if our business had carried on making a loss. The profit simply inspired further cuts and a worse service. It's like telling your wife: "I got a juicy £5,000 bonus this year, so we had better cancel that holiday."'
When will the anti-union public geddit, that the much vaunted "modernisation" as promoted by Lord Mandelson of the Dark Side, means cutting spending by running down the service and treating workers like coolie labour, calling the money they save "profit" and then awarding it to themselves. What sort of society puts up with that?

Some 76 per cent of posties voted for the strike. Is three-quarters of the workforce mad, bad and masochistic? Or is there something else happening that we never get to hear?

Luckily, most people have wised up to yet another privatisation scam and support the strikers. Good luck, guys and gals. Save our Royal Mail.

Hat tip Bill Greenwell

Thanks to Hagley Road To Ladywood for this great piece by a postie on the causes of the strike and the myth of shrinking mail volume as claimed by Fraud Mandelson, and the true nature of the competition.
'None of these companies has a universal delivery obligation, unlike the Royal Mail. In fact they have no delivery obligation at all.'
And Harpy Marx provides this link to John Pilger's New Statesman article, The postal strike is our strike.
'Since coming to office, New Labour has done its best to destroy the Post Office as a highly productive public institution valued with affection by the British people. ... The truth is, the Royal Mail offers a quality service at half the price of its privatised rivals Deutsche Post and TNT. ... Postal workers deserve the support of all honest, decent people, who are reminded that they may be next on the list if they remain silent.'

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Blog appreciation for Madam Miaow: art and politics

A few strokes from web folks. Look what the nice people at Politics.co.uk have to say:
"One thing stands out above all from this blog: the excellence of Madam Miaow's writing.
Her commentary is consistently strong, especially on Chinese cultural and political issues, and unsurprisingly - given her comedic background - the sense of humour is top-class.
We really enjoy reading this blog not because of its political insight - but simply because it's really, really good."
Aw, shucks. I've gone giggly and pink. And a bit moist. Like cake.


The Manchester-based arts blog, Creative Tourist, have me marked as Number 14 in their Top 25 Art Blogs.
"A fascinating mix of culture and political commentary."
I would like to thank everyone who made this moment possible. But in the meantime check out the others in Creative Tourist's impressive list:

1. We Make Money Not Art
Set up in 2004 by the hugely knowledgeable Régine Debatty, We Make Money Not Arthas taken the arts world by storm with its eclecticism, style and above all, detailed and fascinating content.
2. Feeling Listless
A surprise high entry for this independent blog from Liverpool that has been running since 2000. Feeling Listless covers every aspect of culture from arts and museums to politics and film.
3. Things Magazine
Describing itself as ‘an online journal about objects and meanings’, Things Magazinewas originally set up by writers based in the V&A and Royal College of Art and now exists at this engaging website and blog.
4. Making a Mark
Artist and author Katherine Tyrrell draws and writes about art for artists and art lovers.
5. Jonathan Jones on Art (Guardian)
Needing little introduction, this blog by established critic Jonathan Jones is always worth a read.
6. Frieze Blog
Clearly a major player in the art world, the Frieze blog allows the editors chance to cover smaller and, at times, more quirky subjects.
7. Charlotte Higgins (Guardian)
Another site from the Guardian’s stable of popular blogs, Charlotte Higgins gives her opinions on a wide range of topics from the Royal Opera, to the outbursts of famous artists, our national museums and Barack Obama’s taste in art.
8. Saatchi Blogon
Part of the Saatchi powerhouse, this blog is packed to bursting with videos, features, news, reviews and interviews.
9. Amelia’s Magazine
With an appealing style and a host of contributors, Amelia’s Magazine describes itself as covering ‘the best underground creative projects in the worlds of art, fashion, music, illustration, photography, craft and design’.
10. Art of the Estate
A fascinating blog about graffiti and smaller and more underground exhibitions in and around London, Art of the Estate is exciting, inspiring and refreshing.
11. Culture Wars
The online review of the Institute of Ideas in London covering books, films, theatre, art and talk events, with a particular angle of looking how political and other ideas filter through the culture.
12. Telegraph culture blog
From Cheryl Cole to architecture, art to Jazz, The Telegraph culture blog is nothing if not eclectic!
13. UK Street Art
Covering street art, graffiti and exhibitions in galleries across the UK, this blog has bags of enthusiasm, spark and intelligent commentary.
14. Madam Miaow Says
A fascinating mix of culture and political commentary: ‘Madam Miaow casts a sharp eye over the political and cultural landscape and takes a scalpel and a shotgun to the guilty parties.’
15. Art in Liverpool Blog
This jam-packed blog has been running since the Liverpool Biennial in 2004 and now has thousands of posts that cover arts news and events in and around Liverpool and sometimes further afield.
16. Follow the Yellow Brick Road
Writer and blogger, Katherine Woodfine runs this delightful blog about arts, literature and culture around Manchester and London (as she flits between the two).
17. Artasty
Describing itself as ‘the meeting point between sellers and buyers’, Artasty showcases forthcoming exhibitions and previews as well as highlighting less well-known artists and projects.
18. The FACT Blog
Run by Liverpool’s Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, the FACT blog focuses on stories about art and creative technology.
19. Art Sleuth
Some lovely writing about galleries, launches and artists largely (although not solely) in and around London. This blog also appears here.
20. Arts Blogs: The Independent
A series of blogs from The Independent, their use of the platform LiveJournal allows anyone to get involved and post, discuss or share content about culture and the arts.
21. Art & Things
Run by a group of artists, writers and musicians who work together to create interesting and events for creatives of all kinds to get involved in.
22. Where’s Runnicles?
From an Edinburgh based blogger, Where’s Runnicles is a review-based blog covering both performance and the visual arts.
23. Culture Vulture
Based in Leeds, these bloggers cover wide-ranging and varied topics; all under the heading: of writing about the ‘juiciest morsels of culture’.
24. View from the South Bank
Pauline McLean is BBC Scotland’s arts correspondent, and she blogs about arts events and issues happening across the country.
(*NB, we did look at including the BBC’s Culture Show blog but unfortunately this hasn’t been updated since April 2009.)
25. Intelligent Naivety
‘Where blog culture meets consumer culture.’ This blog showcases the best artist-designed and limited-edition products from over 60 leading galleries, museums, artists and culture institutions.

Blog appreciation for Madam Miaow: art and politics

A few strokes from web folks. Look what the nice people at Politics.co.uk have to say:
"One thing stands out above all from this blog: the excellence of Madam Miaow's writing.
Her commentary is consistently strong, especially on Chinese cultural and political issues, and unsurprisingly - given her comedic background - the sense of humour is top-class.
We really enjoy reading this blog not because of its political insight - but simply because it's really, really good."
Aw, shucks. I've gone giggly and pink. And a bit moist. Like cake.


The Manchester-based arts blog, Creative Tourist, have me marked as Number 14 in their Top 25 Art Blogs.
"A fascinating mix of culture and political commentary."
I would like to thank everyone who made this moment possible. But in the meantime check out the others in Creative Tourist's impressive list:

1. We Make Money Not Art
Set up in 2004 by the hugely knowledgeable Régine Debatty, We Make Money Not Arthas taken the arts world by storm with its eclecticism, style and above all, detailed and fascinating content.
2. Feeling Listless
A surprise high entry for this independent blog from Liverpool that has been running since 2000. Feeling Listless covers every aspect of culture from arts and museums to politics and film.
3. Things Magazine
Describing itself as ‘an online journal about objects and meanings’, Things Magazinewas originally set up by writers based in the V&A and Royal College of Art and now exists at this engaging website and blog.
4. Making a Mark
Artist and author Katherine Tyrrell draws and writes about art for artists and art lovers.
5. Jonathan Jones on Art (Guardian)
Needing little introduction, this blog by established critic Jonathan Jones is always worth a read.
6. Frieze Blog
Clearly a major player in the art world, the Frieze blog allows the editors chance to cover smaller and, at times, more quirky subjects.
7. Charlotte Higgins (Guardian)
Another site from the Guardian’s stable of popular blogs, Charlotte Higgins gives her opinions on a wide range of topics from the Royal Opera, to the outbursts of famous artists, our national museums and Barack Obama’s taste in art.
8. Saatchi Blogon
Part of the Saatchi powerhouse, this blog is packed to bursting with videos, features, news, reviews and interviews.
9. Amelia’s Magazine
With an appealing style and a host of contributors, Amelia’s Magazine describes itself as covering ‘the best underground creative projects in the worlds of art, fashion, music, illustration, photography, craft and design’.
10. Art of the Estate
A fascinating blog about graffiti and smaller and more underground exhibitions in and around London, Art of the Estate is exciting, inspiring and refreshing.
11. Culture Wars
The online review of the Institute of Ideas in London covering books, films, theatre, art and talk events, with a particular angle of looking how political and other ideas filter through the culture.
12. Telegraph culture blog
From Cheryl Cole to architecture, art to Jazz, The Telegraph culture blog is nothing if not eclectic!
13. UK Street Art
Covering street art, graffiti and exhibitions in galleries across the UK, this blog has bags of enthusiasm, spark and intelligent commentary.
14. Madam Miaow Says
A fascinating mix of culture and political commentary: ‘Madam Miaow casts a sharp eye over the political and cultural landscape and takes a scalpel and a shotgun to the guilty parties.’
15. Art in Liverpool Blog
This jam-packed blog has been running since the Liverpool Biennial in 2004 and now has thousands of posts that cover arts news and events in and around Liverpool and sometimes further afield.
16. Follow the Yellow Brick Road
Writer and blogger, Katherine Woodfine runs this delightful blog about arts, literature and culture around Manchester and London (as she flits between the two).
17. Artasty
Describing itself as ‘the meeting point between sellers and buyers’, Artasty showcases forthcoming exhibitions and previews as well as highlighting less well-known artists and projects.
18. The FACT Blog
Run by Liverpool’s Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, the FACT blog focuses on stories about art and creative technology.
19. Art Sleuth
Some lovely writing about galleries, launches and artists largely (although not solely) in and around London. This blog also appears here.
20. Arts Blogs: The Independent
A series of blogs from The Independent, their use of the platform LiveJournal allows anyone to get involved and post, discuss or share content about culture and the arts.
21. Art & Things
Run by a group of artists, writers and musicians who work together to create interesting and events for creatives of all kinds to get involved in.
22. Where’s Runnicles?
From an Edinburgh based blogger, Where’s Runnicles is a review-based blog covering both performance and the visual arts.
23. Culture Vulture
Based in Leeds, these bloggers cover wide-ranging and varied topics; all under the heading: of writing about the ‘juiciest morsels of culture’.
24. View from the South Bank
Pauline McLean is BBC Scotland’s arts correspondent, and she blogs about arts events and issues happening across the country.
(*NB, we did look at including the BBC’s Culture Show blog but unfortunately this hasn’t been updated since April 2009.)
25. Intelligent Naivety
‘Where blog culture meets consumer culture.’ This blog showcases the best artist-designed and limited-edition products from over 60 leading galleries, museums, artists and culture institutions.

Friday, 23 October 2009

BBC Question Time: fascist news round-up




Catherine at Dolphinarium has posted this great interview with Suresh Grover at the BBC demonstration against Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time.



In another video, everything you (didn't) want to know about Nick Griffin plus part one of last night's Question Time.

Cassette Boy vs Nick Griffin on Question Time video. Very funny.

Front line account and pictures of the demo from Harpy Marx

Barry Kade, among other left blogs, observes that the three mainstream politicians all agreed that immigration was the big problem, and no-one challenged their assumptions. Nothing about bankers, privatisation (postal strike) or Afghanistan.

Sean at The Soul of Man Under Capitalism has a guest post from Nick Griffin.

A debate at Socialist Unity.

An extensive blog round-up at The Daily Maybe.

Did Griffin lie about his father's war service in the RAF?

The BBC basks in the attention from the rest of the media with a round-up and links to mainstream press reviews of the spectacle. The BBC tripled its normal audience to 8.2 million. It's an ill wind, etcetera.

It quotes today's Guardian editorial describing the BBC as:
a ratings-hungry corporation [which] failed to defend the values embodied in its own equality policies; it confused ultra-relativism with a proper commitment to free speech.
At the risk of repeating myself, do read Gary Younge's excellent appraisal of the circus, asking who started this?

Griffin's presence did all the parties a favour in that they were bound to look good in comparison. Want to imporove your standing with the electorate? Share a platform with Nick. Didn’t the Baroness do well? Sharp, articulate, very impressive. Unfortunately, as a Tory Warsi got away with murder because we’re measuring her against him. Would you rather eat poo or poison?

We can congratulate ourselves that he is a buffoon (as I did in my last post). But Griffin was a lardy John the Baptist. My worry is about who comes next.

BBC Question Time: fascist news round-up




Catherine at Dolphinarium has posted this great interview with Suresh Grover at the BBC demonstration against Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time.



In another video, everything you (didn't) want to know about Nick Griffin plus part one of last night's Question Time.

Cassette Boy vs Nick Griffin on Question Time video. Very funny.

Front line account and pictures of the demo from Harpy Marx

Barry Kade, among other left blogs, observes that the three mainstream politicians all agreed that immigration was the big problem, and no-one challenged their assumptions. Nothing about bankers, privatisation (postal strike) or Afghanistan.

Sean at The Soul of Man Under Capitalism has a guest post from Nick Griffin.

A debate at Socialist Unity.

An extensive blog round-up at The Daily Maybe.

Did Griffin lie about his father's war service in the RAF?

The BBC basks in the attention from the rest of the media with a round-up and links to mainstream press reviews of the spectacle. The BBC tripled its normal audience to 8.2 million. It's an ill wind, etcetera.

It quotes today's Guardian editorial describing the BBC as:
a ratings-hungry corporation [which] failed to defend the values embodied in its own equality policies; it confused ultra-relativism with a proper commitment to free speech.
At the risk of repeating myself, do read Gary Younge's excellent appraisal of the circus, asking who started this?

Griffin's presence did all the parties a favour in that they were bound to look good in comparison. Want to imporove your standing with the electorate? Share a platform with Nick. Didn’t the Baroness do well? Sharp, articulate, very impressive. Unfortunately, as a Tory Warsi got away with murder because we’re measuring her against him. Would you rather eat poo or poison?

We can congratulate ourselves that he is a buffoon (as I did in my last post). But Griffin was a lardy John the Baptist. My worry is about who comes next.

BBC Question Time: fascist fat boy goes into meltdown

Griffin screws pooch. Mystique blown. Martyrdom status denied. Looked like David Cameron played by Ricky Gervais. Cubed.

Nick Griffin on forced changes to the BNP's constitution: "It's not about colour."

Bonnie Greer: "If I was your membership, I'd be scared."

Har!

Be warned. One day they may find someone who's good at this.

BBC Question Time: fascist fat boy goes into meltdown

Griffin screws pooch. Mystique blown. Martyrdom status denied. Looked like David Cameron played by Ricky Gervais. Cubed.

Nick Griffin on forced changes to the BNP's constitution: "It's not about colour."

Bonnie Greer: "If I was your membership, I'd be scared."

Har!

Be warned. One day they may find someone who's good at this.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

BBC Question Time: fascists allowed on British television


British fascist Oswald Mosley behind a microphone. Nick Griffin won't look any prettier tonight.

So the BBC breaks with a decades-old policy and allows British fascists onto the airwaves with an appearance by British National Party leader Nick Griffin on the prestigious Question Time tonight. Ever since World War II there has been an abhorrence in this country for fascism and all its followers. Members of my family lived through the Blitz and even died fighting in the war. And now it's back and getting stronger partly thanks to Mark Thompson who, like Pontius Pilate, washes his hands and says it's a matter for the government.

I can't say I warm to the idea of giving publicity to people who would discriminate against me on the basis of my ethnicity. It's like sticking the Chief Orc on telly while the Hobbits have to listen to him laying out what he would do with the little people with the furry feet.

Nothing's changed. They still hate non-whites. They attack lovely Bonnie Greer as being a "black history fabricator" (along with the fabricators of the Holocaust, I suppose) and still Nick Griffin is allowed his moment in the limelight. Strange how libertarian Thompson is on this topic and yet he took it upon himself to ban the charity broadcast for the Gazans earlier this year. No censorship there, then.

Peter Hain challenges Thompson, pointing out:
"He is dodging the fact the BNP is a racist, fascist party in complete contradiction to the BBC's own equal opportunities and anti-racist policies. The BBC are in total denial about their gifting of a massive early Christmas present to the BNP. "
Why is the establishment doing this now just as the economy goes belly-up? Perhaps wary of the threat that the British working class may wake up and see what government and big business is doing to them they need the far-right as a safety valve so that uppity workers don't start agitating for their rights. Oh, yes, good luck to the posties on strike today defending our postal service from the predations of those very forces.

Hmm. Weren't the fascists in 1930s Germany swept to power through support from a ruling class more scared of the united might of the progressive working-class than Hitler and his mob?

In today's Guardian Gary Younge cuts through the BS and asks some pertinent questions, the most revealing one being: who started all this? New Labour played a dirty game and breathed life into the far right.
"And so Muslim women passed, in the public imagination, from being actually among the group most likely to be racially attacked to ostensibly being a primary cause of social strife – roaming the land in search of white teenagers to physically harass."
In 1997 the left seemed to have learnt from history. They anticipated this development and set out to build a strong left during the window of opportunity before events pushed the white working class into the arms of the right. But thanks to ego, malice, personal ambition and rank stupidity we have a minuscule and fragmented movement in no shape to take on the right beyond the usual demonstrations.

It's now up to others to expose the BNP for what they are. Go get 'em, Bonnie.

BBC Question Time: fascists allowed on British television


British fascist Oswald Mosley behind a microphone. Nick Griffin won't look any prettier tonight.

So the BBC breaks with a decades-old policy and allows British fascists onto the airwaves with an appearance by British National Party leader Nick Griffin on the prestigious Question Time tonight. Ever since World War II there has been an abhorrence in this country for fascism and all its followers. Members of my family lived through the Blitz and even died fighting in the war. And now it's back and getting stronger partly thanks to Mark Thompson who, like Pontius Pilate, washes his hands and says it's a matter for the government.

I can't say I warm to the idea of giving publicity to people who would discriminate against me on the basis of my ethnicity. It's like sticking the Chief Orc on telly while the Hobbits have to listen to him laying out what he would do with the little people with the furry feet.

Nothing's changed. They still hate non-whites. They attack lovely Bonnie Greer as being a "black history fabricator" (along with the fabricators of the Holocaust, I suppose) and still Nick Griffin is allowed his moment in the limelight. Strange how libertarian Thompson is on this topic and yet he took it upon himself to ban the charity broadcast for the Gazans earlier this year. No censorship there, then.

Peter Hain challenges Thompson, pointing out:
"He is dodging the fact the BNP is a racist, fascist party in complete contradiction to the BBC's own equal opportunities and anti-racist policies. The BBC are in total denial about their gifting of a massive early Christmas present to the BNP. "
Why is the establishment doing this now just as the economy goes belly-up? Perhaps wary of the threat that the British working class may wake up and see what government and big business is doing to them they need the far-right as a safety valve so that uppity workers don't start agitating for their rights. Oh, yes, good luck to the posties on strike today defending our postal service from the predations of those very forces.

Hmm. Weren't the fascists in 1930s Germany swept to power through support from a ruling class more scared of the united might of the progressive working-class than Hitler and his mob?

In today's Guardian Gary Younge cuts through the BS and asks some pertinent questions, the most revealing one being: who started all this? New Labour played a dirty game and breathed life into the far right.
"And so Muslim women passed, in the public imagination, from being actually among the group most likely to be racially attacked to ostensibly being a primary cause of social strife – roaming the land in search of white teenagers to physically harass."
In 1997 the left seemed to have learnt from history. They anticipated this development and set out to build a strong left during the window of opportunity before events pushed the white working class into the arms of the right. But thanks to ego, malice, personal ambition and rank stupidity we have a minuscule and fragmented movement in no shape to take on the right beyond the usual demonstrations.

It's now up to others to expose the BNP for what they are. Go get 'em, Bonnie.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

End of the Twirlies: pensioner bus passes threatened



With a slew of friends passing 60 and collecting their free bus passes, this was one thing I looked forward to in old age when my teeth are lost due to prohibitively expensive dental treatment and all my lovers are dust.

I  might have known it wouldn't be around by the time I was old enough to qualify. Local councils are bleating that they can no longer afford full universal transport for our elderly even though bus profits have made fortunes for the Brian Souters of this world. I suppose all those stupid council investments in Iceland are at last taking their toll.

The London Government Association accuses the pensioners, costing on average only £100 per year, of "taking advantage" of the free travel scheme. But isn't this a marvel? That we have a generation of energetic old people able to get about and keep themselves healthy and stimulated? I wonder how much they are saving the NHS by staying active. Or would the government rather have them indoors and ga-ga in front of their tellies?

The government won't fund the scheme properly. Yet it had billions to spend on bailing out the banks and has left plenty of perks in place for MPs while one of the few remaining marks of a civilised society is threatened. How about subsidising the poor for a change? Add up how much the non-doms, business and bankers have cost the public purse during the UK's richest decade ever and it dwarfs the £1 billion expense of looking after a hard-working generation who helped make the wealth of this country. RBS, 70 per cent owned by us, is set to pay out £1.8 billion in bonuses this year alone.

We surely need an emergency supertax in our hour of need.

Elsewhere on the transport front, Boris Johnson pleads poverty and plans to save £125 million by raising bus fares, mostly used by the poor, by a whacking 20 per cent while losing the same amount by letting off gas guzzlers from a higher congestion charge and aiding his Kensington and Chelsea friends when the West London congestion zone is scrapped. How's that for a reverse Robin Hood? See? I told you not to vote for Boris.

On a positive note, here's one MP I'd vote for. John Mann on why "greedy MPs" should shut up and pay up.

End of the Twirlies: pensioner bus passes threatened



With a slew of friends passing 60 and collecting their free bus passes, this was one thing I looked forward to in old age when my teeth are lost due to prohibitively expensive dental treatment and all my lovers are dust.

I  might have known it wouldn't be around by the time I was old enough to qualify. Local councils are bleating that they can no longer afford full universal transport for our elderly even though bus profits have made fortunes for the Brian Souters of this world. I suppose all those stupid council investments in Iceland are at last taking their toll.

The London Government Association accuses the pensioners, costing on average only £100 per year, of "taking advantage" of the free travel scheme. But isn't this a marvel? That we have a generation of energetic old people able to get about and keep themselves healthy and stimulated? I wonder how much they are saving the NHS by staying active. Or would the government rather have them indoors and ga-ga in front of their tellies?

The government won't fund the scheme properly. Yet it had billions to spend on bailing out the banks and has left plenty of perks in place for MPs while one of the few remaining marks of a civilised society is threatened. How about subsidising the poor for a change? Add up how much the non-doms, business and bankers have cost the public purse during the UK's richest decade ever and it dwarfs the £1 billion expense of looking after a hard-working generation who helped make the wealth of this country. RBS, 70 per cent owned by us, is set to pay out £1.8 billion in bonuses this year alone.

We surely need an emergency supertax in our hour of need.

Elsewhere on the transport front, Boris Johnson pleads poverty and plans to save £125 million by raising bus fares, mostly used by the poor, by a whacking 20 per cent while losing the same amount by letting off gas guzzlers from a higher congestion charge and aiding his Kensington and Chelsea friends when the West London congestion zone is scrapped. How's that for a reverse Robin Hood? See? I told you not to vote for Boris.

On a positive note, here's one MP I'd vote for. John Mann on why "greedy MPs" should shut up and pay up.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Chinese serial killer tamed: Turandot first night review


Puccini gives us the other half of his Orientalist pairing in the opera Turandot, first performed in 1926. Having sweetened up audiences with Madama Butterfly's selfless lotus blossom character, he shocks the bourgeoisie with a tale of a wicked serial-killer Princess who kills her innocent male suitors when they fail to answer her three riddles.

The latest ENO production has decided not to subvert depictions of the Chinese as barbarian torture-mongers, but instead reinforces it with images of cannibalism which I suspect are absent from the original libretto — roasted decapitated bodies of Turandot's victims hanging from the kitchen ceiling like barbecued duck, and stared at by a row of heads. Very appetising if you're planning an after-show dinner round the corner in Chinatown. Perhaps they took their (barbe)cue from More Light at the Arcola this summer, where another yellowface production made much of Chinese cruelty. High art seems to be going all out to link China's most popular benign contribution to world culture, its food, with old colonialist fantasies of the Chinese as subhuman.

The visuals are effective if predictable; blacks and reds contrasted with Turandot's arctic white. The first half takes place in a decadent Chinese restaurant where a Peter Blakean cavalcade of western social types and slebs includes Chelsea Pensioners, three Elvises, an Uma Thurman Kill Bill Bride, hippies, clowns, Mexican wrestlers, golfers and Marilyn Manson are whipped into order by a quartet of black sequinned vamps. I particularly liked the cute identical fembots who looked like Blade Runner refugees in their Priss make-up and see-through mini-macs.

Princess Turandot (Kirsten Blanck) has been made cruel by the humiliation of a past princess by triumphalist foreign conquest (read decadent feminised old China). She's also the creation of a set of writers who, as with Conrad's Heart Of Darkness and Ryder Haggard's She, see the ultimate horror, the most fearful element of a fearful society, as being the female of colour: the spider at the centre of the web. Apart from what this says about Western male paranoia about broads abroad, it's a denial of their own cruelty. Any guilt concerning the imposition of opium and the degradation of an entire nation finds no outlet here (see my last post). As long as the foreigner can be smarter and bring the decadent bee-atch to heel through sexual union, it'll be OK. In the ultimate humiliation, not only must she eat it, she must like it as well.

ENO attempts a bloodily Tarantinoesque solution to the problem that this is an unfinished work. The Writer (Scott Handy) has been an unseen presence throughout, visible only to us. He pushes the story forward through actions such as sounding the gong that summons the dreadful Turandot and choosing the decrepit old hippy to play her father, the Emperor (Stuart Kale). He is inadvertently killed in the kitchen by Turandot's sword when the hero (Gwyn Hugh Jones as Calaf)) has answered the riddle but must make the Princess fall in love with him before daybreak. This is the point where Puccini stalled. The Writer writhes in agony for the duration like Tim Roth in Reservoir Dogs, presumably having to listen to the dog's dinner being made of his story. It might have been the suicide of his maidservant lover that made Puccini abandon the opera, or just the realisation that there is no elegant way to make the Big Thaw believable.

She has, after all, just had Liu (Amanda Echalaz), his adoring slave-girl, tortured to death in front of him in order to discover his true identity.

The opera's most famous aria, Nessun Dorma is, of course, lovely but surprisingly short. Such a shame it's been purloined by Football. Some of the opera's (English) lines had to be crowbarred in to fit the metre, and melodies from Madama Butterfly kept leaking through but it is a very pleasant listen. I was surprised to hear the unmistakeable strains of The East Is Red and I'm curious to know if Puccini was referencing a tune, already in existence, that would become China's national anthem.

The singing was fab. Liu's touching solos received a well-earned round of applause, and the two principals had a good set of lungs. Special mention to Ping, Pang and Pong, played as demonic chefs, and a cast fighting throat infections.

As an all-white minstrel show this was entertaining.

UPDATE: In case the director Rupert Goold and all at ENO assume there's no Chinese talent that could do this opera justice, here's a clip of the production of Turandot that's just premiered this week at Beijing's Birds Nest Stadium, directed by Zhang Yimou. Staged to mark China's 60th birthday, this Turandot had a mixture of Chinese and European talent. More here. It goes on an international tour of seven countries before coming to London.

UPDATE 2: Director Rupert Goold gives his response at Dimsum

Chinese serial killer tamed: Turandot first night review


Puccini gives us the other half of his Orientalist pairing in the opera Turandot, first performed in 1926. Having sweetened up audiences with Madama Butterfly's selfless lotus blossom character, he shocks the bourgeoisie with a tale of a wicked serial-killer Princess who kills her innocent male suitors when they fail to answer her three riddles.

The latest ENO production has decided not to subvert depictions of the Chinese as barbarian torture-mongers, but instead reinforces it with images of cannibalism which I suspect are absent from the original libretto — roasted decapitated bodies of Turandot's victims hanging from the kitchen ceiling like barbecued duck, and stared at by a row of heads. Very appetising if you're planning an after-show dinner round the corner in Chinatown. Perhaps they took their (barbe)cue from More Light at the Arcola this summer, where another yellowface production made much of Chinese cruelty. High art seems to be going all out to link China's most popular benign contribution to world culture, its food, with old colonialist fantasies of the Chinese as subhuman.

The visuals are effective if predictable; blacks and reds contrasted with Turandot's arctic white. The first half takes place in a decadent Chinese restaurant where a Peter Blakean cavalcade of western social types and slebs includes Chelsea Pensioners, three Elvises, an Uma Thurman Kill Bill Bride, hippies, clowns, Mexican wrestlers, golfers and Marilyn Manson are whipped into order by a quartet of black sequinned vamps. I particularly liked the cute identical fembots who looked like Blade Runner refugees in their Priss make-up and see-through mini-macs.

Princess Turandot (Kirsten Blanck) has been made cruel by the humiliation of a past princess by triumphalist foreign conquest (read decadent feminised old China). She's also the creation of a set of writers who, as with Conrad's Heart Of Darkness and Ryder Haggard's She, see the ultimate horror, the most fearful element of a fearful society, as being the female of colour: the spider at the centre of the web. Apart from what this says about Western male paranoia about broads abroad, it's a denial of their own cruelty. Any guilt concerning the imposition of opium and the degradation of an entire nation finds no outlet here (see my last post). As long as the foreigner can be smarter and bring the decadent bee-atch to heel through sexual union, it'll be OK. In the ultimate humiliation, not only must she eat it, she must like it as well.

ENO attempts a bloodily Tarantinoesque solution to the problem that this is an unfinished work. The Writer (Scott Handy) has been an unseen presence throughout, visible only to us. He pushes the story forward through actions such as sounding the gong that summons the dreadful Turandot and choosing the decrepit old hippy to play her father, the Emperor (Stuart Kale). He is inadvertently killed in the kitchen by Turandot's sword when the hero (Gwyn Hugh Jones as Calaf)) has answered the riddle but must make the Princess fall in love with him before daybreak. This is the point where Puccini stalled. The Writer writhes in agony for the duration like Tim Roth in Reservoir Dogs, presumably having to listen to the dog's dinner being made of his story. It might have been the suicide of his maidservant lover that made Puccini abandon the opera, or just the realisation that there is no elegant way to make the Big Thaw believable.

She has, after all, just had Liu (Amanda Echalaz), his adoring slave-girl, tortured to death in front of him in order to discover his true identity.

The opera's most famous aria, Nessun Dorma is, of course, lovely but surprisingly short. Such a shame it's been purloined by Football. Some of the opera's (English) lines had to be crowbarred in to fit the metre, and melodies from Madama Butterfly kept leaking through but it is a very pleasant listen. I was surprised to hear the unmistakeable strains of The East Is Red and I'm curious to know if Puccini was referencing a tune, already in existence, that would become China's national anthem.

The singing was fab. Liu's touching solos received a well-earned round of applause, and the two principals had a good set of lungs. Special mention to Ping, Pang and Pong, played as demonic chefs, and a cast fighting throat infections.

As an all-white minstrel show this was entertaining.

UPDATE: In case the director Rupert Goold and all at ENO assume there's no Chinese talent that could do this opera justice, here's a clip of the production of Turandot that's just premiered this week at Beijing's Birds Nest Stadium, directed by Zhang Yimou. Staged to mark China's 60th birthday, this Turandot had a mixture of Chinese and European talent. More here. It goes on an international tour of seven countries before coming to London.

UPDATE 2: Director Rupert Goold gives his response at Dimsum

Opium dealer fortune plundered by family: Brooke Astor's son guilty



So much for breeding and nobility. In a case that makes the Astors look like the Corleones, Anthony Marshall, the dastardly stepson of David Astor, has been found guilty of trying to steal millions from his mother, socialite Booke Astor, while she was gaga.

The Astors, who founded The  Observer, made their money from fur and opium. Nice.

Opium dealer fortune plundered by family: Brooke Astor's son guilty



So much for breeding and nobility. In a case that makes the Astors look like the Corleones, Anthony Marshall, the dastardly stepson of David Astor, has been found guilty of trying to steal millions from his mother, socialite Booke Astor, while she was gaga.

The Astors, who founded The  Observer, made their money from fur and opium. Nice.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Madam Miaow victory in Confucius debate



Well, we won. I and my charming co-speaker Grace Wang did the biz at last night's Confucius debate at Bloomsbury's Ah King restaurant.

Chaired by Peng Wenlan of the Meridian Society, it was an enjoyable evening for some sixty plus with good food and conversation only hampered by a dodgy microphone. Jenny and Laurence who supported the motion, This House believes Confucianism is the Chinese way of life, put up a spirited argument if a bit overdependent on the woolly notions of "morality", "goodness" and "happiness" which I pointed out could usually be rendered through drugs, so I'm told.

Grace and I were shooting fish in a barrel, especially as we'd done our research. Oh, and I won a nice black T-shirt emblazoned with the Chinese character, yi, meaning righteousness.

Madam Miaow victory in Confucius debate



Well, we won. I and my charming co-speaker Grace Wang did the biz at last night's Confucius debate at Bloomsbury's Ah King restaurant.

Chaired by Peng Wenlan of the Meridian Society, it was an enjoyable evening for some sixty plus with good food and conversation only hampered by a dodgy microphone. Jenny and Laurence who supported the motion, This House believes Confucianism is the Chinese way of life, put up a spirited argument if a bit overdependent on the woolly notions of "morality", "goodness" and "happiness" which I pointed out could usually be rendered through drugs, so I'm told.

Grace and I were shooting fish in a barrel, especially as we'd done our research. Oh, and I won a nice black T-shirt emblazoned with the Chinese character, yi, meaning righteousness.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Mott The Hoople Hammersmith Apollo review: Madam Miaow ligs backstage




Curious how the significant places of one's childhood that once seemed vast appear so much smaller when you visit them years later. Last night (Monday 5th October), the Hammersmith's Apollo looked minuscule compared with the days when it was called the Odeon and I queued all night to get front row tickets for David Bowie and his Spiders From Mars.

Spider-in-Chief, blond bombshell and guitar supremo, Mick Ronson, was the ghost absent from the feast at last night's Mott The Hoople reunion gig, the penultimate in this run. I'd last seen Mott's Ian Hunter at the Odeon/Apollo in the 1970s when he was teamed up with Ronno, a match made in heaven for glamrock kiddies mourning the loss of Ziggy Stardust and still resistant to the Thin White Duke. But it never made the hoped-for sales impact, contracts clashed, and the project fizzled out.

Tragically, Ronson's liver went into meltdown in the early 1990s and he died of The Big C before his career as a producer had a chance to go stratospheric.

Ronson sort of made an appearance in the form of his daughter, Lisa, brought on to provide backing vocals along with Hunter's daughter who looked like a chip off the old block in her halo of platinum hair and shades.

The band played a set that thrilled hardcore Mott fans and kept them on their feet throughout in a packed auditorium. Tough on this junior admirer whose back was killing her and had to sit down for most of it. But what got me bopping along was when they reached the poppier favourites — All the Way From Memphis, Roll Away The Stone, and that glorious hit written by Bowie, All The Young Dudes. Note that Ian (a lively 70) has Billy rapping "about his suicide, how he'd kick it in the head when was ninety-five," and not twenty-five any more. Tee, hee!

Afterwards, off to the obligatory lig in the pint-sized VIP bar once Suzi Fussey, Ronson's widow and inventor of the Bowie Ziggy mullet, heroically mustered purple wrist bands for Charles Shaar Murray and myself, there to down a sophisticated plastic mug of cider while a host of 70s and 80s stars paid homage to Mott. I jostled for liquid refreshment with Madness's Suggs (sorry about banging into your bum, Suggs), Spandau's Gary Kemp, old friends Gene Loves Jezebel's James Stevenson and Patti Palladin, and Glen Matlock who supported the band that evening, plus an assortment of half recognised faces. All snapped by Mainman stalwart and Bowie in-house photographer, Leee Black Childers.

It was like being a kid again. Thanks, Mott The Hoople, for a great night.



UPDATE: There's a petition to get Mick Ronson into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio, as they've just opened up a new category for Side Man. Of course, Mick was to David Bowie what Keef Richards was to Jagger, as well as working with many other well know musicians. So do please sign.

Mott The Hoople Hammersmith Apollo review: Madam Miaow ligs backstage




Curious how the significant places of one's childhood that once seemed vast appear so much smaller when you visit them years later. Last night (Monday 5th October), the Hammersmith's Apollo looked minuscule compared with the days when it was called the Odeon and I queued all night to get front row tickets for David Bowie and his Spiders From Mars.

Spider-in-Chief, blond bombshell and guitar supremo, Mick Ronson, was the ghost absent from the feast at last night's Mott The Hoople reunion gig, the penultimate in this run. I'd last seen Mott's Ian Hunter at the Odeon/Apollo in the 1970s when he was teamed up with Ronno, a match made in heaven for glamrock kiddies mourning the loss of Ziggy Stardust and still resistant to the Thin White Duke. But it never made the hoped-for sales impact, contracts clashed, and the project fizzled out.

Tragically, Ronson's liver went into meltdown in the early 1990s and he died of The Big C before his career as a producer had a chance to go stratospheric.

Ronson sort of made an appearance in the form of his daughter, Lisa, brought on to provide backing vocals along with Hunter's daughter who looked like a chip off the old block in her halo of platinum hair and shades.

The band played a set that thrilled hardcore Mott fans and kept them on their feet throughout in a packed auditorium. Tough on this junior admirer whose back was killing her and had to sit down for most of it. But what got me bopping along was when they reached the poppier favourites — All the Way From Memphis, Roll Away The Stone, and that glorious hit written by Bowie, All The Young Dudes. Note that Ian (a lively 70) has Billy rapping "about his suicide, how he'd kick it in the head when was ninety-five," and not twenty-five any more. Tee, hee!

Afterwards, off to the obligatory lig in the pint-sized VIP bar once Suzi Fussey, Ronson's widow and inventor of the Bowie Ziggy mullet, heroically mustered purple wrist bands for Charles Shaar Murray and myself, there to down a sophisticated plastic mug of cider while a host of 70s and 80s stars paid homage to Mott. I jostled for liquid refreshment with Madness's Suggs (sorry about banging into your bum, Suggs), Spandau's Gary Kemp, old friends Gene Loves Jezebel's James Stevenson and Patti Palladin, and Glen Matlock who supported the band that evening, plus an assortment of half recognised faces. All snapped by Mainman stalwart and Bowie in-house photographer, Leee Black Childers.

It was like being a kid again. Thanks, Mott The Hoople, for a great night.



UPDATE: There's a petition to get Mick Ronson into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio, as they've just opened up a new category for Side Man. Of course, Mick was to David Bowie what Keef Richards was to Jagger, as well as working with many other well know musicians. So do please sign.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Is Confucius the Chinese Way Of Life? Madam Miaow in debate


Looks like I'm speaking at this on Wednesday. Here's hoping the good dinner and drink don't make me too sleepy to crackle like a spitfire. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Or is it dance like a hefferlump, sting like a tree?


The Meridian Society Dinner-Debate
Date: Wednesday, 7th October 2009
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Ah King Restaurant, 31-33 Bloomsbury Way, London, WC1A 2SA.
The Motion: This House believes Confucianism is the Chinese way of life.
Words will fly! So come listen and have your say!
Mainspeaker for the motion: Jenny Hao, medical student at Imperial College.
Mainspeaker against the motion: Anna Chen, actress 'Anna May Wong Must Die!'.
Meridian Society, SACU and Dimsum Members: £12
Non-members: £15
RSVP to themeridiansociety@gmail.com ASAP to reserve your place and send your cheque made out to “The Meridian Society” to 59A St Thomas Drive, Pinner, Middlesex, HA5 4SX.

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