" Madam Miaow Says: November 2009

Saturday, 28 November 2009

John Mendelsohn: "My Country Tortured" video song


I just received the above from my friend, John Mendelsohn (Christopher Milk, Sparks, critic on Rolling Stone).

John wrote and performed My Country Tortured, a haunting song about the realisation of what America did under the Bush administration.

Another excellent track is The Afghanistan Song by Superbia, a two-man outfit I met at the St Ives Arts Festival in September. I have the band's permission to post it here but Blogger appears not to have the facility to upload mp3s.

In the meantime, please enjoy John's musical comment.

John Mendelsohn: "My Country Tortured" video song

video
I just received the above from my friend, John Mendelsohn (Christopher Milk, Sparks, critic on Rolling Stone).

John wrote and performed My Country Tortured, a haunting song about the realisation of what America did under the Bush administration.

Another excellent track is The Afghanistan Song by Superbia, a two-man outfit I met at the St Ives Arts Festival in September. I have the band's permission to post it here but Blogger appears not to have the facility to upload mp3s.

In the meantime, please enjoy John's musical comment.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Miaow now a drug as well as Madam's ace blog


Of all the things in the world and beyond that could be named after this blog's author, I never imagined it would be drugs. ("Oh yes you did," says Evil Self. "And you love it.")

"Miaow" is a plant food sold on the internet but newly discovered as having some sort of inebriant qualities. I've always wondered what flaming hoops early drug pioneers had to go through to find out that model plane adhesive, Benzadrex inhalers soaked in cola (doesn't work — just makes you puke, so I'm told) and now flower fertiliser can give you a high.

"Ooh, there's a pretty poppy seed pod. I wonder what happens if I slice it here and gather the sap ... and stick it into a vein."

"Just got to water the plants, love. Ah, sod the skunk, just nick their food."

The Telegraph says:
Apart from the euphoria and alertness it is said to induce anxiety, paranoia and a risk of fits.
Unlike Scotch, gin, vodka, rum, brandy which Telegraph journos all know is good for you, rejuvenates your liver, sweetens the breath and improves your mood the more you drink, Miaow kills you.

A scientist writes.

I wonder if I can get a sponsor.


Miaow now a drug as well as Madam's ace blog


Of all the things in the world and beyond that could be named after this blog's author, I never imagined it would be drugs. ("Oh yes you did," says Evil Self. "And you love it.")

"Miaow" is a plant food sold on the internet but newly discovered as having some sort of inebriant qualities. I've always wondered what flaming hoops early drug pioneers had to go through to find out that model plane adhesive, Benzadrex inhalers soaked in cola (doesn't work — just makes you puke, so I'm told) and now flower fertiliser can give you a high.

"Ooh, there's a pretty poppy seed pod. I wonder what happens if I slice it here and gather the sap ... and stick it into a vein."

"Just got to water the plants, love. Ah, sod the skunk, just nick their food."

The Telegraph says:
Apart from the euphoria and alertness it is said to induce anxiety, paranoia and a risk of fits.
Unlike Scotch, gin, vodka, rum, brandy which Telegraph journos all know is good for you, rejuvenates your liver, sweetens the breath and improves your mood the more you drink, Miaow kills you.

A scientist writes.

I wonder if I can get a sponsor.


Iraq war inquiry into Bomber Blair's role begins


Remember "Yo, Blair!"?

I was going to bring you video footage of a graphic novel launch on Sunday at the ICA where German comics star Reinhard Kleist brought out his first English language book, Johnny Cash: I See A Darkness, but battles with my new Final Cut Express 4 and a stupid new iMovie version which has no timeline means I won't get it edited until the weekend. I just want to mention the event was sponsored by Chivas Regal ... Oh my poor head.

Meanwhile, back at the funny farm ...

The Chilcot inquiry into the British role in the Iraq war gets under way today. There's an excellent minute-by-minute update by Andrew Sparrow at the Guardian of proceedings at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Hall in Westminster. A tellingly bad opening established that there weren't enough seats for the relatives of dead soldiers, let alone all the press that needed access. Only ONE seat for the Guardian?

Sparrow reports this from Michael Howard on this morning's BBC Radio 4 Today programme:
Tony Blair told the House of Commons that the intelligence he received on weapons of mass destruction was 'detailed, extensive and authoritative'. What he had actually been told by the intelligence community was that the information they had was 'limited, sporadic and patchy'. He translated those words 'limited, sporadic and patchy' into 'detailed, extensive and authoritative' and ... that is a clear example of how he misled the House of Commons and the nation.
Pretty bloody damning.

And it looks as if Gordon Brown — a key member of Team Bomber Blair — will refuse to testify. This is our form of "Pleading the Fifth".

In the Daily Mail the other day, Peter Oborne wrote this powerful piece on Blair and why he was so desperate to get that EU Presidency job.
Tony Blair looks haunted, but with new claims that he was behind torture and war lies he's got a lot to be haunted by ... For the truth is that evidence continues to amass that, under the Blair premiership, the British state was responsible, at times, for some illegal actions which, on occasions, could be considered to be barbarism.
Precisely.

Tony Blair's World War Tour: Iraq 1998, Serbia 1999, Sierra Leone 2000, Afghanistan 2001, Iraq 2003

Former British diplomat Craig Murray on the first day of the Chilcot inquiry.

See also Madam Miaow on President Blair: The Great Escape

Iraq war inquiry into Bomber Blair's role begins


Remember "Yo, Blair!"?

I was going to bring you video footage of a graphic novel launch on Sunday at the ICA where German comics star Reinhard Kleist brought out his first English language book, Johnny Cash: I See A Darkness, but battles with my new Final Cut Express 4 and a stupid new iMovie version which has no timeline means I won't get it edited until the weekend. I just want to mention the event was sponsored by Chivas Regal ... Oh my poor head.

Meanwhile, back at the funny farm ...

The Chilcot inquiry into the British role in the Iraq war gets under way today. There's an excellent minute-by-minute update by Andrew Sparrow at the Guardian of proceedings at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Hall in Westminster. A tellingly bad opening established that there weren't enough seats for the relatives of dead soldiers, let alone all the press that needed access. Only ONE seat for the Guardian?

Sparrow reports this from Michael Howard on this morning's BBC Radio 4 Today programme:
Tony Blair told the House of Commons that the intelligence he received on weapons of mass destruction was 'detailed, extensive and authoritative'. What he had actually been told by the intelligence community was that the information they had was 'limited, sporadic and patchy'. He translated those words 'limited, sporadic and patchy' into 'detailed, extensive and authoritative' and ... that is a clear example of how he misled the House of Commons and the nation.
Pretty bloody damning.

And it looks as if Gordon Brown — a key member of Team Bomber Blair — will refuse to testify. This is our form of "Pleading the Fifth".

In the Daily Mail the other day, Peter Oborne wrote this powerful piece on Blair and why he was so desperate to get that EU Presidency job.
Tony Blair looks haunted, but with new claims that he was behind torture and war lies he's got a lot to be haunted by ... For the truth is that evidence continues to amass that, under the Blair premiership, the British state was responsible, at times, for some illegal actions which, on occasions, could be considered to be barbarism.
Precisely.

Tony Blair's World War Tour: Iraq 1998, Serbia 1999, Sierra Leone 2000, Afghanistan 2001, Iraq 2003

Former British diplomat Craig Murray on the first day of the Chilcot inquiry.

See also Madam Miaow on President Blair: The Great Escape

Friday, 20 November 2009

Peru's Tyler Durden harvests human fat for European cosmetics


Waiter, there's a tramp in my soap. Oh, what price will we pay for beauty?

I read gruesome news from Peru where a team of serial killers, who probably smoked too much crack while watching Fight Club, have nicked (or influenced) Tyler Durden's macabre business plan, harvested the fat from scores of victims over the past  30 years, and sold it to the European cosmetics industry. Oh, yes, the victims had to be dead in order to extract every bit of fatty goodness from their cadavers.

And so capitalism crawls into its final decrepit stage where it's gone gaga as well as sclerotic. In Fight Club, Chuck Pahlaniuk's magnum opus, Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) finances his bid to bring down the whole sorry edifice by stealing liposuction fat from cosmetic surgeries. Not only the finest fat there is, but also one of the finest metaphors for what capitalism is doing to us.

"We're taking their own fat and selling it back to them," he gloats — posh hand-made soaps that he supplies to department store beauty counters at the silly prices silly women will pay.

The authorities have arrested the perps but are still seeking the middle-men who bought the fat off them.

So I cast a sharp eye over the rows of oils and unguents cluttering my vanity shelves and ask myself — who's in this?  Puh-leaze don't let it be the Clarins ...

Peru's Tyler Durden harvests human fat for European cosmetics


Waiter, there's a tramp in my soap. Oh, what price will we pay for beauty?

I read gruesome news from Peru where a team of serial killers, who probably smoked too much crack while watching Fight Club, have nicked (or influenced) Tyler Durden's macabre business plan, harvested the fat from scores of victims over the past  30 years, and sold it to the European cosmetics industry. Oh, yes, the victims had to be dead in order to extract every bit of fatty goodness from their cadavers.

And so capitalism crawls into its final decrepit stage where it's gone gaga as well as sclerotic. In Fight Club, Chuck Pahlaniuk's magnum opus, Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) finances his bid to bring down the whole sorry edifice by stealing liposuction fat from cosmetic surgeries. Not only the finest fat there is, but also one of the finest metaphors for what capitalism is doing to us.

"We're taking their own fat and selling it back to them," he gloats — posh hand-made soaps that he supplies to department store beauty counters at the silly prices silly women will pay.

The authorities have arrested the perps but are still seeking the middle-men who bought the fat off them.

So I cast a sharp eye over the rows of oils and unguents cluttering my vanity shelves and ask myself — who's in this?  Puh-leaze don't let it be the Clarins ...

Monday, 16 November 2009

It's how you look at things


Unforeseen design problems on one of London's bridges ... or was it?

I'm checking out Blackfriars Bridge toot sweet. They hang mobsters there. Does that make this a well hung bridge?

Thanks to Claire for this. (Trust you. Arf!) How's that for a superior architectural nob gag?

UPDATE: I should have realised that this motif should be adorning (Prince) ALBERT Bridge. Har, har!

It's how you look at things


Unforeseen design problems on one of London's bridges ... or was it?

I'm checking out Blackfriars Bridge toot sweet. They hang mobsters there. Does that make this a well hung bridge?

Thanks to Claire for this. (Trust you. Arf!) How's that for a superior architectural nob gag?

UPDATE: I should have realised that this motif should be adorning (Prince) ALBERT Bridge. Har, har!

Wicker Man star Edward Woodward dies


Sergeant Howie Rest In Peace. The man with the legendary name said to resemble a fart in the bath will cut capers no more. Edward Woodward, star of The Wicker Man and The Equalizer, has died in Cornwall aged 79.

Woodward did English neurosis better than most even though his best-known film role was the sexually repressed Scottish policeman, Sergeant Howie, in The Wicker Man (1973), starring opposite Christopher Lee and lusting guiltily after Britt Ekland.

You always felt there was a lot going on under the surface barely concealed by his trained tenor voice that was perfect for expressing strangulated non-expression. A RADA actor who carved out a respectable stage career, his stardom began with the 1960s TV detective series Callan. Among a string of film roles, he gave an acclaimed performance in the Australian movie Breaker Morant (1980), and in 2007 fan Simon Pegg cast him in Hot Fuzz.

He was a British actor who will be sorely missed.

All together now, "The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want ... Sweet Jesus, it's getting hot in here ..."

Read an original analysis of The Wicker Man at Madam Miaow Says by guest poster Babeuf.

Wicker Man star Edward Woodward dies


Sergeant Howie Rest In Peace. The man with the legendary name said to resemble a fart in the bath will cut capers no more. Edward Woodward, star of The Wicker Man and The Equalizer, has died in Cornwall aged 79.

Woodward did English neurosis better than most even though his best-known film role was the sexually repressed Scottish policeman, Sergeant Howie, in The Wicker Man (1973), starring opposite Christopher Lee and lusting guiltily after Britt Ekland.

You always felt there was a lot going on under the surface barely concealed by his trained tenor voice that was perfect for expressing strangulated non-expression. A RADA actor who carved out a respectable stage career, his stardom began with the 1960s TV detective series Callan. Among a string of film roles, he gave an acclaimed performance in the Australian movie Breaker Morant (1980), and in 2007 fan Simon Pegg cast him in Hot Fuzz.

He was a British actor who will be sorely missed.

All together now, "The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want ... Sweet Jesus, it's getting hot in here ..."

Read an original analysis of The Wicker Man at Madam Miaow Says by guest poster Babeuf.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Maclaren buggy amputations acceptable say middle-class Brits


Maclaren buggies in the wars

A finger of fudge may be just enough to give your kid the digit they're missing after helping Mummy fold away their pushchair.

Is it me or are the middle classes getting madder?

The Telegraph asks if parents are overreacting because Maclaren buggies are amputating their children's fingers. One of their resident Mr Angries blames hysteria and "pressure groups" for anxiety over a device presumably designed for comfort and safe conveyence of your Precious Ones which turns out to have a wicked safety flaw resulting in children being maimed for life when their fingers are caught in the hinges.

Reminiscent of Tyler Durden's sleazy day job in Fight Club, working out the motor trade percentages involved in crashes and deciding when lawsuits hit critical mass making it more economic to issue a recall, Maclaren has only just now offered British parents the same safety cover they had to offer US consumers.

The Telegraph's columnist is joined by a chorus of commenters overflowing with the milk of human kindness when it comes to the poor corporation yet could pinch-hit for any number of Dickensian villains when it comes to child safety.

It's an acceptable percentage kinda thang. If children have the temerity to help Mummy fold the buggy then they deserve everything they get. Good for you Maclaren — chop off those interfering little fingers and teach them a lesson they'll never forget.

And then the parents have the cheek to complain. Overreaction and hysteria and not greedy irresponsible corporations are the plague of the modern age.

That Jonathan Swift had a nice recipe for babies ...

UPDATE: British parents to sue Maclaren — report in The Guardian

Maclaren buggy amputations acceptable say middle-class Brits


Maclaren buggies in the wars

A finger of fudge may be just enough to give your kid the digit they're missing after helping Mummy fold away their pushchair.

Is it me or are the middle classes getting madder?

The Telegraph asks if parents are overreacting because Maclaren buggies are amputating their children's fingers. One of their resident Mr Angries blames hysteria and "pressure groups" for anxiety over a device presumably designed for comfort and safe conveyence of your Precious Ones which turns out to have a wicked safety flaw resulting in children being maimed for life when their fingers are caught in the hinges.

Reminiscent of Tyler Durden's sleazy day job in Fight Club, working out the motor trade percentages involved in crashes and deciding when lawsuits hit critical mass making it more economic to issue a recall, Maclaren has only just now offered British parents the same safety cover they had to offer US consumers.

The Telegraph's columnist is joined by a chorus of commenters overflowing with the milk of human kindness when it comes to the poor corporation yet could pinch-hit for any number of Dickensian villains when it comes to child safety.

It's an acceptable percentage kinda thang. If children have the temerity to help Mummy fold the buggy then they deserve everything they get. Good for you Maclaren — chop off those interfering little fingers and teach them a lesson they'll never forget.

And then the parents have the cheek to complain. Overreaction and hysteria and not greedy irresponsible corporations are the plague of the modern age.

That Jonathan Swift had a nice recipe for babies ...

UPDATE: British parents to sue Maclaren — report in The Guardian

Saturday, 7 November 2009

X Factor fans claim Chinese Ambassador among them


Holy ai caramba! First Gordon Brown and now China. My late communist Dad must be spinning at the news that UK Chinese ambassador Madam Fu Ying has declared herself a fan of The X Factor. Never mind China and human rights, what about Simon Cowell's crimes against humanity?

According to The Independent report:
'She praised twins John and Edward's "determination and spirit in the face of a lot of criticism", and wrote that Stacey had been "brave". The ambassador added that she thought Jamie's "sincere and energetic voice and dance really get the crowd going". She reserved praise for finalists Danyl and Olly, who were "great showmen", while Lloyd and Joe had "a lot of potential" and Lucie had a "lovely voice".'
I think I speak for many of us when I say, "Hunh?"

Is Madam Fu the new Ninotchka? Does she secretly wear Silk Stockings while studying the texts of Marx and Milton Friedman? Old-school communists regarded such frivolity as counter-revolutionary prolefeed churned out by machines for the pleasure of the human cogs in the capitalist machine but times they are a-changin'.

Here's what the spookily prescient George Orwell had to say about culture and social engineering in his novel 1984:
"And the Ministry had not only to supply the multifarious needs of the party, but also to repeat the whole operation at a lower level for the benefit of the proletariat. There was a whole chain of separate departments dealing with proletarian literature, music, drama, and entertainment generally. Here were produced rubbishy newspapers containing almost nothing except sport, crime and astrology, sensational five-cent novelettes, films oozing with sex, and sentimental songs which were composed entirely by mechanical means on a special kind of kaleidoscope known as a versificator. There was even a whole sub-section — Pornosec, it was called in Newspeak — engaged in producing the lowest kind of pornography, which was sent out in sealed packets and which no Party member, other than those who worked on it, was permitted to look at."
Whether this is a PR stunt to offset the row over the noisy fans camped outside the wannabe stars house next door to the ambassador's official residence in North London we'll never know, but populist much?

Other showbiz news — China's black pop idol Lou Jing.

X Factor fans claim Chinese Ambassador among them


Holy ai caramba! First Gordon Brown and now China. My late communist Dad must be spinning at the news that UK Chinese ambassador Madam Fu Ying has declared herself a fan of The X Factor. Never mind China and human rights, what about Simon Cowell's crimes against humanity?

According to The Independent report:
'She praised twins John and Edward's "determination and spirit in the face of a lot of criticism", and wrote that Stacey had been "brave". The ambassador added that she thought Jamie's "sincere and energetic voice and dance really get the crowd going". She reserved praise for finalists Danyl and Olly, who were "great showmen", while Lloyd and Joe had "a lot of potential" and Lucie had a "lovely voice".'
I think I speak for many of us when I say, "Hunh?"

Is Madam Fu the new Ninotchka? Does she secretly wear Silk Stockings while studying the texts of Marx and Milton Friedman? Old-school communists regarded such frivolity as counter-revolutionary prolefeed churned out by machines for the pleasure of the human cogs in the capitalist machine but times they are a-changin'.

Here's what the spookily prescient George Orwell had to say about culture and social engineering in his novel 1984:
"And the Ministry had not only to supply the multifarious needs of the party, but also to repeat the whole operation at a lower level for the benefit of the proletariat. There was a whole chain of separate departments dealing with proletarian literature, music, drama, and entertainment generally. Here were produced rubbishy newspapers containing almost nothing except sport, crime and astrology, sensational five-cent novelettes, films oozing with sex, and sentimental songs which were composed entirely by mechanical means on a special kind of kaleidoscope known as a versificator. There was even a whole sub-section — Pornosec, it was called in Newspeak — engaged in producing the lowest kind of pornography, which was sent out in sealed packets and which no Party member, other than those who worked on it, was permitted to look at."
Whether this is a PR stunt to offset the row over the noisy fans camped outside the wannabe stars house next door to the ambassador's official residence in North London we'll never know, but populist much?

Other showbiz news — China's black pop idol Lou Jing.

The gag reflex and the urge to purge: comedy in the dock


A comic writes ...

As Britain goes the same way as the Roman Empire, things fall apart and the cultural superstructure collapses into the economic base, the Big Question is, what happened to our sense of humour?

Or as Ian Burrell asks today in his insightful piece in the Independent, Q: When is a joke not a joke? A: When it's offence.

Almost thirty years since alternative comedy came together at the Comedy Store, we've come full circle with the new taboos being broken and soft targets all the rage. I fully expect Jim Davidson to enjoy a revival very soon. But we've got ourselves in such a PC tangle that it's hard to know what's legitimate to attack and what's just lazy hackwork pandering to renewed social divisions.

In my last post about Tony Blair and his bid for the Presidency of the European Union I originally began the second para with, "I blame the Irish". Now, this was meant as an affectionate jibe at the country that had heroically put paid to Blair's ambition by holding out over the Lisbon Treaty and then given in. But I ended up censoring myself because I second guessed that some readers might never have got past this sentence without being upset. I was worried that some would read it literally when it's a reference acknowledging colonialist discrimination against the Irish and any subjugated people, something we trust is firmly in the past.

So was I wrong to cut the line? I'm actually up for offending some people, but it has to be the right people. And if I do mean to offend, I hope it's crystal clear that's what's going down.

The notorious Andrew Dice Clay used to crack a joke: "What do you call a fat Chinese? A Chunk."

That's not very nice, alluding as it does to the racist epithet "Chink", but it's pretty true to life, not to mention funny in a horrible squirmy way. Many's the night when my mother, whiter than Nick Griffin's big Aryan buttocks, would nurse a bottle of Emva Cream and tell me through a cloud of Senior Service smoke that I was "chunky". Not a very maternal thing to say to an averagely built five foot eight inch 8 1/2 stone adolescent who was the only Chinese-looking kid at her school, but she thought it was hilarious. "No, Mum. I defend your right to be racist against your own offspring but at least make it funny!"

Clay is the same comedian who said you can blindfold a Chinese person with dental-floss. Offensive, un-PC. But, inconveniently, it makes me laugh. At least you know where you are with Clay.

I find this far less offensive than official High Art which depicts the Chinese as monstrous and cannibalistic (see ENO's reworked Turandot at London's Coliseum, or More Light at the Arcola and backed by the National Theatre). You never hear a peep out of the Establishment when this crap comes from their own.

One joke I wish I had written and surely offends no-one is this from Gary Delaney, "The Punslinger".
"I went to my acupuncturist the other day. When I got home my voodoo doll was dead."
Genius. Short, elegant and a hoot. Unpack it and you'll find both a Chinese and an Africa/Caribbean reference in there. But only someone scarily cut-off from the human race could take offence at that.

It does disturb me, though, to hear minorities laying into other minorities. As if causing misery to another group will empower you somehow and alleviate your own pain. In contrast, early stand-up comic Lenny Bruce made his career on the American circuit at the time of the Civil Rights movement by sticking it to those with social, economic and political power who had their boots in the collective face, and that's the tradition I'd like to follow.

I can't say I like the new rats-in-a-sack humour emerging at a challenging time of meltdown. "I know, let's pick on each other and those weaker than ourselves while the exploiting scumbags stay off the radar." It's lazy, unintelligent, cowardly and, even worse, usually not very funny.

My own rules are quite simple. Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. You can take a pop at those with power in society who deserve all the satire and irony you can chuck at them. But leave the losers alone.

The gag reflex and the urge to purge: comedy in the dock


A comic writes ...

As Britain goes the same way as the Roman Empire, things fall apart and the cultural superstructure collapses into the economic base, the Big Question is, what happened to our sense of humour?

Or as Ian Burrell asks today in his insightful piece in the Independent, Q: When is a joke not a joke? A: When it's offence.

Almost thirty years since alternative comedy came together at the Comedy Store, we've come full circle with the new taboos being broken and soft targets all the rage. I fully expect Jim Davidson to enjoy a revival very soon. But we've got ourselves in such a PC tangle that it's hard to know what's legitimate to attack and what's just lazy hackwork pandering to renewed social divisions.

In my last post about Tony Blair and his bid for the Presidency of the European Union I originally began the second para with, "I blame the Irish". Now, this was meant as an affectionate jibe at the country that had heroically put paid to Blair's ambition by holding out over the Lisbon Treaty and then given in. But I ended up censoring myself because I second guessed that some readers might never have got past this sentence without being upset. I was worried that some would read it literally when it's a reference acknowledging colonialist discrimination against the Irish and any subjugated people, something we trust is firmly in the past.

So was I wrong to cut the line? I'm actually up for offending some people, but it has to be the right people. And if I do mean to offend, I hope it's crystal clear that's what's going down.

The notorious Andrew Dice Clay used to crack a joke: "What do you call a fat Chinese? A Chunk."

That's not very nice, alluding as it does to the racist epithet "Chink", but it's pretty true to life, not to mention funny in a horrible squirmy way. Many's the night when my mother, whiter than Nick Griffin's big Aryan buttocks, would nurse a bottle of Emva Cream and tell me through a cloud of Senior Service smoke that I was "chunky". Not a very maternal thing to say to an averagely built five foot eight inch 8 1/2 stone adolescent who was the only Chinese-looking kid at her school, but she thought it was hilarious. "No, Mum. I defend your right to be racist against your own offspring but at least make it funny!"

Clay is the same comedian who said you can blindfold a Chinese person with dental-floss. Offensive, un-PC. But, inconveniently, it makes me laugh. At least you know where you are with Clay.

I find this far less offensive than official High Art which depicts the Chinese as monstrous and cannibalistic (see ENO's reworked Turandot at London's Coliseum, or More Light at the Arcola and backed by the National Theatre). You never hear a peep out of the Establishment when this crap comes from their own.

One joke I wish I had written and surely offends no-one is this from Gary Delaney, "The Punslinger".
"I went to my acupuncturist the other day. When I got home my voodoo doll was dead."
Genius. Short, elegant and a hoot. Unpack it and you'll find both a Chinese and an Africa/Caribbean reference in there. But only someone scarily cut-off from the human race could take offence at that.

It does disturb me, though, to hear minorities laying into other minorities. As if causing misery to another group will empower you somehow and alleviate your own pain. In contrast, early stand-up comic Lenny Bruce made his career on the American circuit at the time of the Civil Rights movement by sticking it to those with social, economic and political power who had their boots in the collective face, and that's the tradition I'd like to follow.

I can't say I like the new rats-in-a-sack humour emerging at a challenging time of meltdown. "I know, let's pick on each other and those weaker than ourselves while the exploiting scumbags stay off the radar." It's lazy, unintelligent, cowardly and, even worse, usually not very funny.

My own rules are quite simple. Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. You can take a pop at those with power in society who deserve all the satire and irony you can chuck at them. But leave the losers alone.

Monday, 2 November 2009

President Blair: The Great Escape



Which movie are we in? The final act of The Omen? Or maybe Goodfellas?

After heroically stalling the advance of Tony Blair by rejecting the Lisbon Treaty, which would (among other horrors) create the role of President of the United States of Europe, the Irish were told to vote again until the required result was reached. So they finally caved in and midwifed the birth of the monster like something out of The Omen and for a few moments it looked like only an act of God stood between us and a Blair shoo-in. Cue shrieking horror chords.

With his abasement before the rich and powerful, free holidays, dodgy dossiers and phantom weapons of mass destruction, dead government scientists, a mushrooming property portfolio, a million dead Iraqis and British soldiers returning in body-bags, first President of the US of E is not the final destination many of us find most appropriate for Blair, even if the imaginative demises in the Final Destination movies are suitably poetic.

Presiding over this country’s wealthiest decade ever, where the gap between rich and poor widened into a chasm with oceans of money siphoned off by various privatization schemes, millionaire status is hardly just desserts for someone who was supposed to be serving us as Labour Prime Minister. 

Garlanded with praise from powerful men welcoming the newbie into their club, swaddled in the warm embrace of the high-paying lecture circuit, honoured among the élite, the ego massage did enough damage for an army of wannabe Masters Of The Universe, and now they want to make him unelected President of Yurp? Move over, Pope Benny, 'cause soon he'll have his middle finger in your Big Ring. 

Blair has made his bones and claimed his dues. He's been having a high ol' time, travelling the world and hoovering up his rewards. Some £2.5 million a year from JP Morgan, the bank that co-ordinated the ‘revamping’ of Iraq’s financial system and made a fortune from the war he started. A million-dollar honorarium from an Israeli university for Britain’s Middle East peace envoy. Some might holler ‘conflict of interest’ and set the cops onto him but maybe they do things differently now.

When he looks in the mirror, does he know that it isn’t the beatific numinous aura of the martyr he’s beaming out? This is the thousand-yard stare of empty space. Blair may aspire to Gandhi as played by Ben Kingsley but he’s more like Sir Ben as Don in Sexy Beast.

If the unelected post of President had gone to this man, what would the rest of the world have made of our much-vaunted western civilization? ‘It would be a good idea,’ as Gandhi once said. Or is that the voice of Blair’s inner Don I hear, telling himself, ‘You got some fuckin’ neck, ain’t you? You should be ashamed of yourself. Who do you think you are? King of the castle? Cock of the walk?’


Feature also published at New Internationalist

President Blair: The Great Escape



Which movie are we in? The final act of The Omen? Or maybe Goodfellas?

After heroically stalling the advance of Tony Blair by rejecting the Lisbon Treaty, which would (among other horrors) create the role of President of the United States of Europe, the Irish were told to vote again until the required result was reached. So they finally caved in and midwifed the birth of the monster like something out of The Omen and for a few moments it looked like only an act of God stood between us and a Blair shoo-in. Cue shrieking horror chords.

With his abasement before the rich and powerful, free holidays, dodgy dossiers and phantom weapons of mass destruction, dead government scientists, a mushrooming property portfolio, a million dead Iraqis and British soldiers returning in body-bags, first President of the US of E is not the final destination many of us find most appropriate for Blair, even if the imaginative demises in the Final Destination movies are suitably poetic.

Presiding over this country’s wealthiest decade ever, where the gap between rich and poor widened into a chasm with oceans of money siphoned off by various privatization schemes, millionaire status is hardly just desserts for someone who was supposed to be serving us as Labour Prime Minister. 

Garlanded with praise from powerful men welcoming the newbie into their club, swaddled in the warm embrace of the high-paying lecture circuit, honoured among the élite, the ego massage did enough damage for an army of wannabe Masters Of The Universe, and now they want to make him unelected President of Yurp? Move over, Pope Benny, 'cause soon he'll have his middle finger in your Big Ring. 

Blair has made his bones and claimed his dues. He's been having a high ol' time, travelling the world and hoovering up his rewards. Some £2.5 million a year from JP Morgan, the bank that co-ordinated the ‘revamping’ of Iraq’s financial system and made a fortune from the war he started. A million-dollar honorarium from an Israeli university for Britain’s Middle East peace envoy. Some might holler ‘conflict of interest’ and set the cops onto him but maybe they do things differently now.

When he looks in the mirror, does he know that it isn’t the beatific numinous aura of the martyr he’s beaming out? This is the thousand-yard stare of empty space. Blair may aspire to Gandhi as played by Ben Kingsley but he’s more like Sir Ben as Don in Sexy Beast.

If the unelected post of President had gone to this man, what would the rest of the world have made of our much-vaunted western civilization? ‘It would be a good idea,’ as Gandhi once said. Or is that the voice of Blair’s inner Don I hear, telling himself, ‘You got some fuckin’ neck, ain’t you? You should be ashamed of yourself. Who do you think you are? King of the castle? Cock of the walk?’


Feature also published at New Internationalist

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