" Madam Miaow Says: August 2010

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Lang Lang plays Chopin, Berlin Philharmonic 31 Jan 2009



For the Crosstown Lightnin' detractor who wrote to me saying Jeff Beck is a "pub band", here is a musical interlude of a classical persuasion to help you focus your thoughts while you bone up on your genres.

The sublime double-monikered One plays Chopin Etude No. 3, Op. 10 in E major as an encore at the Berliner Philharmoniker on January 31st in Berlin.

Lang Lang plays Chopin, Berlin Philharmonic 31 Jan 2009



For the Crosstown Lightnin' detractor who wrote to me saying Jeff Beck is a "pub band", here is a musical interlude of a classical persuasion to help you focus your thoughts while you bone up on your genres.

The sublime double-monikered One plays Chopin Etude No. 3, Op. 10 in E major as an encore at the Berliner Philharmoniker on January 31st in Berlin.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Crosstown Lightnin' On The Road Again



I enjoyed immensely last night's Crosstown Lightnin' gig, the first with new drummer Pete Myles who joined Charles Shaar Murray, Buffalo Bill Smith and Marc "The Exorcist" Jefferies for the Abbey festival weekend. Pete brought a sensitive interplay to the performance and a strong sense of dynamics making Canned Heat's On The Road Again a hypnotising mesmeric experience.

I managed to video proceedings despite being strangely drawn to the Caribbean food stall. Several times. The curried goat with rice and beans was delicious but incredibly bony. However, the jerk chicken was only £2 for a fat succulent grilled quarter. £6 with rice and beans. Go figure.

Had to miss out on the super-talented Peter Conway's gig tonight where I was to provide guest vocals on one song. Sadly, the stage at The Good Ship in Kilburn is minuscule and wouldn't hold Peter's band and guest musicians who were to include Phil Ryan and Charles Shaar Murray as well as myself.

It was the stages that got small! But we will do more.

So I stayed in and edited a backlog of videos instead for your pleasure. Others are going up on my Madam Miaow YouTube page.
Have a look at Crosstown Lightnin' play Bourbon, Beer and Barbecue at the same gig.

Poetry this coming Thursday at Farrago.

Crosstown Lightnin' On The Road Again



I enjoyed immensely last night's Crosstown Lightnin' gig, the first with new drummer Pete Myles who joined Charles Shaar Murray, Buffalo Bill Smith and Marc "The Exorcist" Jefferies for the Abbey festival weekend. Pete brought a sensitive interplay to the performance and a strong sense of dynamics making Canned Heat's On The Road Again a hypnotising mesmeric experience.

I managed to video proceedings despite being strangely drawn to the Caribbean food stall. Several times. The curried goat with rice and beans was delicious but incredibly bony. However, the jerk chicken was only £2 for a fat succulent grilled quarter. £6 with rice and beans. Go figure.

Had to miss out on the super-talented Peter Conway's gig tonight where I was to provide guest vocals on one song. Sadly, the stage at The Good Ship in Kilburn is minuscule and wouldn't hold Peter's band and guest musicians who were to include Phil Ryan and Charles Shaar Murray as well as myself.

It was the stages that got small! But we will do more.

So I stayed in and edited a backlog of videos instead for your pleasure. Others are going up on my Madam Miaow YouTube page.
Have a look at Crosstown Lightnin' play Bourbon, Beer and Barbecue at the same gig.

Poetry this coming Thursday at Farrago.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Wikileaks Assange sex smear: no condom or not taking no for an answer?

Al Jazeera grills the Swedish prosecutor over the defamation of Julian Assange
"I'm not bovvered." The Swedish prosecution puts up an appallingly weak defence in the above Al Jazeera interview. Has to be seen to be believed.

More about the dropped sex charge against Julian Assange raising suspicion that this is the US authorities pursuing their vendetta through dirty tricks.

Consensual sex may have taken a turn when Assange neglected to use a condom. Amid subsequent health checks and accusations, Assange was never asked for his side of the story.

At the moment, I'm hoping this intelligent and socially-aware man did not coerce his partners into having unprotected sex — which is a far cry from rape but a violation nevertheless. I'm waiting to see if he emerges as yet one more progressive figure who can't apply his high principles to his personal life, with the likes of whom I have found the left to be littered. Certainly, the timing is most convenient for the Pentagon. Julian, I am willing you to come through this with your reputation intact, because I can't imagine someone in your position being so stupid as to do what these women have claimed. And we need people like you.

In Nick Davies's report, Assange says, "I never, neither in Sweden nor in any other country, had sex with someone in a way that is not built on total consent from both sides." On the other hand, one of the two women says he "has a twisted attitude to women and a problem with taking 'no' for an answer." I do question, though, why these women who purport to be supporters and who freely entered into sexual contact with him exactly at a time when he is a hunted man, are wreaking maximum destruction. It's not as if he has a track-record in these matters. Prosecutors are due to decide today on their immediate course of action.

However it turns out, damage has been done to the man who has done more than most to expose the hypocritical murderous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Cui bono?

UPDATE: NYT report here. If it does transpire that Assange was merely a two-timing creep who got caught out by his lovers, then the women are not only guilty of trivialising serious misogyny and are no sistahs in any definition of mine, but they have discredited a courageous organisation which is trying to halt mass murder.

UPDATE: From Craig Murray, no stranger to the sex smear himself.

The women's story.

Anna Ardin:alleged links with CIA here and here.

No condom, no freedom? China should offer political asylum to Assange.

Even better, China should nominate Assange for Nobel Peace Prize.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Wikileaks' Julian Assange victim of dirty tricks rape accusation


Utter bastards! We knew US officials were out to get Julian Assange of Wikileaks, a hero of our sad times, but this scrapes the bottom of the barrel and breaks through to a whole new bottom we never knew existed.

One worry was that the US would kidnap Assange through the blandly named "rendition" process for his public service in exposing the murders of civilians in the Afghanistan conflict. But now the Swedes have issued a warrant for the arrest of the Australian for rape! So if they can't shut him up by fair means or foul, the authorities will smear his reputation in a plot riffing on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

John Pilger documents Assange's brave work in a recent article:
In file after file, the brutalities echo the colonial past. From Malaya and Vietnam to Bloody Sunday and Basra, little has changed. The difference is that today there is an extraordinary way of knowing how faraway societies are routinely ravaged in our name. WikiLeaks has acquired records of six years of civilian killing in both Afghanistan and Iraq, of which those published in the Guardian are a fraction.

What Pilger makes clear is that Assange held back on papers that would endanger anyone, in the absence of any help from the US authorities who refused to even acknowledge his request to say which files jeopardised people's lives. Because of this, many files are still not in the public domain and yet the very forces who have killed innocent people accuse Assange of endangering lives. How perverse is that?

Read The New Yorker's profile of Julian Assange.

UPDATE: Johan from Sweden has just left a comment here where he says something very interesting:
The two women actually went to police in order to try to make sure Assange was NOT accused of rape!
Because the prosecutors had decided to go for a rape case without asking the supposed victims! This is not the first time prosecutors in Sweden have taken orders from Americans, a similar thing happened with the famous Pirate Bay case some year ago which is a small issue for the US compared to this. What they did that time was to say that the Pirate Bay was full of child porn, even though they couldn't actually find any. Also the standards for sentencing someone for rape have often been criticized in Sweden for not really being appropriate. In many cases the accused has to prove his innocence rather than the other way around. So it's a pretty obvious choice of crime if you want to throw dirt on someone in Sweden.


UPDATE: News is breaking on CNN, Sky and others (16:30 Saturday) that the arrest warrant has been revoked and the prosecutor says there is no reason to believe Assange committed rape.

Wikileaks' Julian Assange victim of dirty tricks rape accusation


Utter bastards! We knew US officials were out to get Julian Assange of Wikileaks, a hero of our sad times, but this scrapes the bottom of the barrel and breaks through to a whole new bottom we never knew existed.

One worry was that the US would kidnap Assange through the blandly named "rendition" process for his public service in exposing the murders of civilians in the Afghanistan conflict. But now the Swedes have issued a warrant for the arrest of the Australian for rape! So if they can't shut him up by fair means or foul, the authorities will smear his reputation in a plot riffing on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

John Pilger documents Assange's brave work in a recent article:
In file after file, the brutalities echo the colonial past. From Malaya and Vietnam to Bloody Sunday and Basra, little has changed. The difference is that today there is an extraordinary way of knowing how faraway societies are routinely ravaged in our name. WikiLeaks has acquired records of six years of civilian killing in both Afghanistan and Iraq, of which those published in the Guardian are a fraction.

What Pilger makes clear is that Assange held back on papers that would endanger anyone, in the absence of any help from the US authorities who refused to even acknowledge his request to say which files jeopardised people's lives. Because of this, many files are still not in the public domain and yet the very forces who have killed innocent people accuse Assange of endangering lives. How perverse is that?

Read The New Yorker's profile of Julian Assange.

UPDATE: Johan from Sweden has just left a comment here where he says something very interesting:
The two women actually went to police in order to try to make sure Assange was NOT accused of rape!
Because the prosecutors had decided to go for a rape case without asking the supposed victims! This is not the first time prosecutors in Sweden have taken orders from Americans, a similar thing happened with the famous Pirate Bay case some year ago which is a small issue for the US compared to this. What they did that time was to say that the Pirate Bay was full of child porn, even though they couldn't actually find any. Also the standards for sentencing someone for rape have often been criticized in Sweden for not really being appropriate. In many cases the accused has to prove his innocence rather than the other way around. So it's a pretty obvious choice of crime if you want to throw dirt on someone in Sweden.


UPDATE: News is breaking on CNN, Sky and others (16:30 Saturday) that the arrest warrant has been revoked and the prosecutor says there is no reason to believe Assange committed rape.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Racism for fun: Fu Manchu producer pleads irony on the BBC


Well, call me Kafka.

My contribution to today's Feedback programme on BBC R4 ended up as a cutting-room floor job in favour of a letter from another listener making similar points, which was good. At least it shows someone else could be bothered to write in about the god-awful throwback Fu Manchu In Edinburgh programme I wrote about the other week.

The Feedback producer had phoned me to record 45 seconds of my response for today's programme (13 minutes in — which I'm posting below) but didn't use the salient arguments. I KNEW the producers were going to plead "irony". Now, the word "irony" actually means something, and is not an all-purpose get-out-of-jail-free card. It means saying something literal but meaning its opposite.

There was no such device used on the Fu Manchu programme. Miles Jupp and his producer obviously thought it would be a great wheeze to play it straight, tapping into something dark lurking beneath the skin of a civilisation in decline (ours) and indulging it. Only, context is everything and there are real human beings — as opposed to the simian subhumans luridly gloated over in the programme — who are affected by this relentless poisonous drip. (And I don't just mean Jupp.)

Feedback presenter Roger Bolton introduced the item as being about "a factional documentary about a fictional character", which is fine in a vacuum. But the Yellow Peril scare never did operate in a vacuum. While the yellow press were vilifying the yellow man in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, contemporary voices were pointing out the racist nature of Sax Rohmer's writing which even his widow and biographer described as "obsessive".

Jupp naturalised these hateful representations while the producer used the lamest jargon on Feedback in an attempt to blind with science. They said, "The programme was deliberately ironic in tone." Oh, right. That old chestnut. Irony meaning, " The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning"? (Free Dictionary) Where in the programme were Jupp's expressions or utterances "marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning"?

In yet more slipperiness with the verité, they said the programme was "used to explore the cultural effects of the opium wars, the pattern of Chinese immigration in the 1870s, and the history of the Chinese students who studied at British universities." All subjects comprehensively covered in my Chinese In Britain series for Radio 4, but here turned on their head and exploited to "orientalise" and make "other" a group of people in dehumanising terms that went unchallenged. And today, it emerges, they want to have their cake and eat it: to have their fun with a racial group but plead that it was actually a social service.

Only a bit of fun? Yes, that's fine for a bunch of white males to say.

In the end, I was relieved they hadn't used my contribution. The producer's patronising last word appeared designed to make the correspondent, Tia Yang, sound under-educated and ignorant (which she is not) of the workings of such artistic endeavours, through the use of a barrage of buzzwords and critical theory terms such as "deconstruction", and questionable claims of "rigorous analysis".

May I say, this is the sheet of the bull? Ms Yang's instincts were right on the money.

How is restating the stereotypes the same as "deconstructing" them? Got in himmel, is the BBC seriously going to let them get away with a dissembling that relies, IMHO, on the hoped-for ignorance of the Radio 4 audience? Talk about dumbing down! A GSCE media studies student could deconstruct this flummery.

To cap it all, the producer claimed, "The programme takes racist stereotypes apart." And it was at this point, dear reader, that this little corner of the BBC transformed into the Ministry of Truth, where truth is lies and lies are truth. Where they state the opposite of what is real ... with no discernible irony whatsoever.

A Big Fat Fail.

Here's the text of my contribution. I'm going for a walk!
Fu Manchu In Edinburgh gleefully revived racist stereotypes of the Chinese I'd hoped were long-buried, and could have been subtitled, Racism For Fun.

Why present a Yellow Peril figure as if he was a real person complete with lurid wallowing in the very worst racism, dehumanising the Chinese as a race, linking us with filth, and presenting us as Bin Laden-like Western-civilisation-hating sub-humans?

There was no irony. No attempt to subject these prejudices and stereotypes of a bygone era to any kind of modern interrogation. Instead, they were re-imported, intact, into the present day. I can't imagine the BBC vilifying any other minority group like this.

The author Sax Rohmer had never met a Chinese person and was writing from malice and ignorance — the "experts" on this programme only have one of those excuses.

There's a woeful absence of Chinese voices in the media, so when the BBC fills the vacuum with degrading Sinophobic depictions such as this one, they do a grave disservice to a significant licence-paying section of the population.


UPDATE: Thursday 26th August 2010 Professor Greg Benton of Cardiff University writes to me on the subject. He wasn't impressed, either:
"Chinese are quite numerous in British society today, but ethnic Chinese are very underrepresented in the BBC and its programmes, which is a disgrace. This was not a very funny programme, and if it was meant to be ironic, the irony didn't work. If you're a young Chinese isolated in an overwhelmingly white school and community, as many if not most young Chinese are, you get a lot of mockery along these lines. Why not commission more work on that? First deal with the racist stereotyping - then we can perhaps afford to be ironic about it."


More sinophobic representations. Review of Sherlock Holmes Episode 2, The Blind Banker.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Beat It by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (reddish hue)



The Chinese People's Liberation Army performs "Beat It", probably directed towards assorted running dogs and capitalist roaders, not to mention the US navy currently in the middle of military exercises in the Yellow Sea off Korea.

Look at that erhu go! Nice solo, man.

I was brought up on this stuff and had to sit through Madam Mao's model operas as a child, for which social services were surprisingly never called in, so this video is a blast from the past but with added Jacko appeal.

Either that or it's the Long March Cycle.

Hat tip Anglo Noel and Sue Katz.

UPDATE: Interesting situation in China. Socialist Unity has the gen: Is there an underground Maoist party in China? And would it look like the video?

Beat It by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (reddish hue)



The Chinese People's Liberation Army performs "Beat It", probably directed towards assorted running dogs and capitalist roaders, not to mention the US navy currently in the middle of military exercises in the Yellow Sea off Korea.

Look at that erhu go! Nice solo, man.

I was brought up on this stuff and had to sit through Madam Mao's model operas as a child, for which social services were surprisingly never called in, so this video is a blast from the past but with added Jacko appeal.

Either that or it's the Long March Cycle.

Hat tip Anglo Noel and Sue Katz.

UPDATE: Interesting situation in China. Socialist Unity has the gen: Is there an underground Maoist party in China? And would it look like the video?

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Keiser Report: Splintered Sunrise was right



My good friend and blogger Splintered Sunrise has been praising someone called Max Keiser to the skies, describing the addictive phenomenon as "worse than crack". I take that to mean Class A powder and not builders' low pants line.

At long last I took a peek at Splinty's video of a recent programme on robot traders and he is absolutely right. It is fantastic. A very funny and in your face take-down of the crimos running the American economy into the ground as it is pillaged by the bankers, and a completely corrupt system destroying the world like some James Bond villain. SPECTRE rules in Wall Sreet.

I sat there agreeing like a nodding dog in the back of a car (which will mean precislely zilch to my younger readers). Suffice to say that Keiser and his lovely assistant Stacy Herbert articulate what you and I knew all along.

Sample comments from Max about Wall Street: "A psychotic gamblaholic with unlimited credit ... A rhesus monkey can make a billion dollars."

Yes, The Keiser Report is on Vladamir Putin's vanity channel but as Orwell said, even the Daily Telegraph is correct some of the time.

As civilisation sinks like a stone, at least we'll have some laughs along the way. Enjoy.

Keiser Report: Splintered Sunrise was right



My good friend and blogger Splintered Sunrise has been praising someone called Max Keiser to the skies, describing the addictive phenomenon as "worse than crack". I take that to mean Class A powder and not builders' low pants line.

At long last I took a peek at Splinty's video of a recent programme on robot traders and he is absolutely right. It is fantastic. A very funny and in your face take-down of the crimos running the American economy into the ground as it is pillaged by the bankers, and a completely corrupt system destroying the world like some James Bond villain. SPECTRE rules in Wall Sreet.

I sat there agreeing like a nodding dog in the back of a car (which will mean precislely zilch to my younger readers). Suffice to say that Keiser and his lovely assistant Stacy Herbert articulate what you and I knew all along.

Sample comments from Max about Wall Street: "A psychotic gamblaholic with unlimited credit ... A rhesus monkey can make a billion dollars."

Yes, The Keiser Report is on Vladamir Putin's vanity channel but as Orwell said, even the Daily Telegraph is correct some of the time.

As civilisation sinks like a stone, at least we'll have some laughs along the way. Enjoy.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Charles Shaar Murray's website: if you build it they will come

Charles Shaar Murray's web blogCharles Shaar Murray's spankin' new blog

Sorry I've been away for a while but I've been constructing Charles Shaar Murray's site which is now LIVE and it's a little beauty. (I think so, anyhow. But do let me know what you think.)

I know precious little about webdesign. I use Blogger because it sets it up for you and also has widgets, but you can also access the code and add little chunks of stuff various programmers give you. And there's a brilliant Blogger site that gives blogger tips and idiot-proof instructions for Search Engine Optimisation.

But WordPress.org does have a comprehensive dashboard and so many functions that are easier use. So I opted for the WP platform for CSM. Note that only WP.com is free — for the dot org platform you have to pay for web-hosting from a third party company.

Another reason I chanced my arm on WP dot org rather than dot com (the freebie) is that there's a much-vaunted "one-click" installation that gets your site from the hosting company to the WP platform without you having to fiddle with code. Your eyes may be glazing over as you read this, but hark and heed my experience because you may need this one day.

I spent two days on the "one-click" installation. Did you hear that? TWO WHOLE FRAKKIN' DAYS caught in a nightmare loop. I completed everything at the web-hosting site and then got to the one-click install page. There, staring me in the boat-race, was the WordPress icon already highlighted and ready for me to click. I clicked, it took me to the WordPress page where there was a download button for the software. Funny, I thought I'd just done that. So I downloaded what was to be the first of many, many, MANY files. And then read the directions for WP's "Famous Five Minute Install".

Dear reader, as you may have guessed, it was "five minutes" like "one-click" was achieved by one click. It wasn't five minutes. It wasn't even five hours.

Two days later with only four hours sleep, my neck hurt, my eyes could barely focus, and all I could do was burble in the place of human speech. Being a stubborn sort of cuss, I wasn't giving up until victory was mine. It was around this time that in desperation I scrolled to the bottom of the "one-click" page. There I saw it. The blue button of sweet release that read: "Install it for me now!".

So there. Lesson learnt. Always look thoroughly, think laterally. And scroll down. The story of my life.

Now, please visit the blinkin' thing that was not so much source code as source of agony. And admire.

Charles Shaar Murray's website.

Charles Shaar Murray's website: if you build it they will come

Charles Shaar Murray's web blogCharles Shaar Murray's spankin' new blog

Sorry I've been away for a while but I've been constructing Charles Shaar Murray's site which is now LIVE and it's a little beauty. (I think so, anyhow. But do let me know what you think.)

I know precious little about webdesign. I use Blogger because it sets it up for you and also has widgets, but you can also access the code and add little chunks of stuff various programmers give you. And there's a brilliant Blogger site that gives blogger tips and idiot-proof instructions for Search Engine Optimisation.

But WordPress.org does have a comprehensive dashboard and so many functions that are easier use. So I opted for the WP platform for CSM. Note that only WP.com is free — for the dot org platform you have to pay for web-hosting from a third party company.

Another reason I chanced my arm on WP dot org rather than dot com (the freebie) is that there's a much-vaunted "one-click" installation that gets your site from the hosting company to the WP platform without you having to fiddle with code. Your eyes may be glazing over as you read this, but hark and heed my experience because you may need this one day.

I spent two days on the "one-click" installation. Did you hear that? TWO WHOLE FRAKKIN' DAYS caught in a nightmare loop. I completed everything at the web-hosting site and then got to the one-click install page. There, staring me in the boat-race, was the WordPress icon already highlighted and ready for me to click. I clicked, it took me to the WordPress page where there was a download button for the software. Funny, I thought I'd just done that. So I downloaded what was to be the first of many, many, MANY files. And then read the directions for WP's "Famous Five Minute Install".

Dear reader, as you may have guessed, it was "five minutes" like "one-click" was achieved by one click. It wasn't five minutes. It wasn't even five hours.

Two days later with only four hours sleep, my neck hurt, my eyes could barely focus, and all I could do was burble in the place of human speech. Being a stubborn sort of cuss, I wasn't giving up until victory was mine. It was around this time that in desperation I scrolled to the bottom of the "one-click" page. There I saw it. The blue button of sweet release that read: "Install it for me now!".

So there. Lesson learnt. Always look thoroughly, think laterally. And scroll down. The story of my life.

Now, please visit the blinkin' thing that was not so much source code as source of agony. And admire.

Charles Shaar Murray's website.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

BBC jumps the orientalist shark: Fu Manchu in Edinburgh



Even Radio 4 is at it. Hard on the heels of last week's Sherlock oriental hate-fest, my beloved BBC Radio 4 has just broadcast someone called Miles Jupp presenting a thinly disguised bit of sinophobia celebrating one of the most notorious exercises in colonialist literature: Fu Manchu In Edinburgh.

While it's valid to explore the imaginary world which an iconic literary creation inhabits, the unquestioning depiction of Chinese as dehumanised hate-figures in the almost utter absence of humanised Chinese in the culture is fairly loathsome, not to mention irresponsible. The (il)liberal peppering throughout of orientalised buzz-words such as "fiendish" and "diabolical" only reinforces the suspicion that they've dug up Leni Riefenstahl and hired her as executive producer.

So what were these stories of which Jupp is so fond?

Anglo-Irish author Sax Rohmer finally hit paydirt in 1913 with a nasty series of novels embodying paranoia and hatred for an entire race embodied in the character of evil Dr Fu Manchu. Rohmer (born Arthur Ward) rode the vicious Yellow Peril wave, presenting Chinese as subhuman, cruel and degenerate, although he was actually projecting the cruelty, degeneracy and inhumanity of a nation that could go to war in order to impose at gunpoint the consumption of opium on the Chinese in the nineteenth century.

Clive Bloom writes in his 1996 investigation of pulp literature, Cult Fiction:
It is commonplace nowadays to note the inherent racism of English fiction at the beginning of the twentieth century. Sapper, Dornford, Yates, John Buchan, Edgar Wallace are targeted as the promulgators of a fearsome and totally irrational hatred of all things foreign. For them, the Black, the Chinese, the Argentinian, the Levantine and the Jew become sinister 'niggers', 'chinks', 'dagos', 'greasy Levantines' and 'oily Jews'. The race hatred of these authors employs a feverish conjunctivity, with oily Jews as both capitalists and 'bolsheviks', or Chinese who are both mandarin warlords and opium den keepers in Limehouse. Moreover, when not acting themselves these essentially cowardly employ peculiarly simian dacoits or things of a polyglot and nauseous origin.


This invention by a lower-middle-class writer for his similarly conservative-minded brethren diverted class anxieties and fears about an emerging working-class empowered by the unions onto an exotic Other. The desire for status quo and hierarchy was fought in the battles between hero Nayland Smith and the wily doctor.

The BBC blurb reads:
Miles Jupp investigates the hidden connections between Edinburgh and Sax Rohmer's criminal mastermind Fu Manchu. Did the 'Devil Doctor' get his doctorate at Edinburgh University?

Er, could the answer be 'no', because this was the invention of a propagandist hack? Jupp's dialogue with the scientist concerning the use of toxins derived from low forms of life — fungus and flies — by subhuman lowlife Fu Manchu sounds like a documentary about a real criminal mastermind and his baroque methods of assassination. He ends by urging Edinburgh University to mark the attendance of Dr Fu Manchu. Yes, nice to know where he learnt his homicidal trade, then.

I missed this programme when it was first broadcast in April, otherwise I would not have been backward in coming forward and vomiting all over this insidious crap at the time. I presume that it is the success of Sherlock which has prompted this repeat transmission.

Why are they trying to rehabilitate this lurid pulp as some sort of accurate representation of the Chinese? "It's only a bit of fun," cries the halfwit as he perpetrates some atrocity on a dehumanised minority. I'm not the first to note that there's no way they would get away with this sort of depiction of a racial or cultural group of people had it been Jewish, gay, black or south Asian, and quite rightly so. (I've excluded Muslims as they get shafted even worse.) So why is there a drive to do this to the Chinese? It's not the Chinese who have devastated the Middle East with wars for oil and dominance. What is the BBC's (and certain other media's) agenda in reviving these fantasies?

Clive Bloom quoting Cay Van Ash and Elizabeth Sax Rohmer in Master of Villainy: A Biography of Sax Rohmer:
And why is it that 'So vehement and repetitive were Sax Rohmer's references to Asiatic plotting against "white" civilisation that they cannot be explained simply as the frills of melodramatic narration. The man clearly was possessed by some sort of private dread'?

I can think of some others to whom that would apply.

Guess what? Africa was never full of cannibals. Transylvania was never full of vampires and werewolves. And Limehouse was never full of dacoits and opium dens. Get the hell over it.

I'm beginning to think that with the inexorable drip-drip-drip of poison (Hey! A cruel Western Media Torture!), there are those who won't be happy until there are anti-Chinese pogroms and race riots in Britain.

What was the point of me making Chopsticks At Dawn or Anna May Wong: A Celestial Star In Piccadilly for BBC Radio 4? Here's what I think of their orientalist clichés (the last two poems).

Friday, 6 August 2010

Farrago Poetry Slam: Anna Chen's bits



Last night's Farrago Summer Poetry Slam, hosted by the tireless John Paul O'Neill, was another wonderful evening of poetry from a wide range of performers. I love these events as they allow beginners to try their material in a friendly atmosphere, as well as veterans of the circuit like Fran Landesman, now in her 80s, to strut their magnificent stuff. I discovered Las Zorras, two Edinburgh-based super-talented women poets and musicians reminiscent of a multilingual Laurie Anderson. Hope to see a lot more of them.

Congratulations to joint winners Christopher Kraken & Richard Marsh.

Some of the young slammers are producing astonishingly good work so do try out the next one, next week on August 12th 7:30pm.

I was invited to perform as a featured poet so I did Poe, Daddy Freud, Yellowface and Anna May Wong Must Die! [especially apt considering the rehashing of the tired old stereotypes I lampoon in this poem, broadcast as Sherlock at the weekend]. Thanks to the audience for getting all my jokes and making it a thoroughly enjoyable night. The only thing that could improve it is if the RADA Café bring back Happy Hour. Thanks to the staff and everyone including AngloNoel and Loved One for support.

Winners Christopher Kraken & Richard Marsh by John Paul O'Neill

Farrago Poetry Slam: Anna Chen's bits



Last night's Farrago Summer Poetry Slam, hosted by the tireless John Paul O'Neill, was another wonderful evening of poetry from a wide range of performers. I love these events as they allow beginners to try their material in a friendly atmosphere, as well as veterans of the circuit like Fran Landesman, now in her 80s, to strut their magnificent stuff. I discovered Las Zorras, two Edinburgh-based super-talented women poets and musicians reminiscent of a multilingual Laurie Anderson. Hope to see a lot more of them.

Congratulations to joint winners Christopher Kraken & Richard Marsh.

Some of the young slammers are producing astonishingly good work so do try out the next one, next week on August 12th 7:30pm.

I was invited to perform as a featured poet so I did Poe, Daddy Freud, Yellowface and Anna May Wong Must Die! [especially apt considering the rehashing of the tired old stereotypes I lampoon in this poem, broadcast as Sherlock at the weekend]. Thanks to the audience for getting all my jokes and making it a thoroughly enjoyable night. The only thing that could improve it is if the RADA Café bring back Happy Hour. Thanks to the staff and everyone including AngloNoel and Loved One for support.

Winners Christopher Kraken & Richard Marsh by John Paul O'Neill

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Neo Nazis in Mongolia miss concept of Aryanism

Pic of Tsagaan Khas ('White Swastika') by Dan Chung, Guardian

Oh, bloody brilliant! That's all we need in east Asia: non-Aryans doing that turkey-voting-for-Christmas thang and celebrating a ideology that would send us all to a most unpleasant end.

Tania Branigan writes in the Guardian:
It is, by any standards, an extraordinary choice. Under Hitler, Soviet prisoners of war who appeared Mongolian were singled out for execution. More recently, far-right groups in Europe have attacked Mongolian migrants.

A case of if you can't beat them, join them?

A certain unfamiliarity with the history means the lads are unaware that it was the hordes who swept out of Mongolia that conquered and united China in the early 13th century (Genghis and Kublai Khan), giving it the foundations of its modern identity. And there's an element of confusion around race that is almost endearing:
Enthusiastically shaking hands, he says: "Even though you are a British citizen, you are still Asian, and that makes you very cool."

Perhaps some book-learning and a Nick Griffinesque rebranding is on the cards?
He says the younger members have taught him to be less extreme and the group appears to be reshaping itself – expelling "criminal elements" and insisting on a good education as a prerequisite for membership. One of the leaders is an interior designer.

So the uniforms should be pretty even if the wearers aren't.

Tsagaan Khass say it "works closely" with other organisations and is now discussing a merger. "Some people are in complete denial … [but] we can no longer deny this is a problem," said Anaraa Nyamdorj, of Mongolia's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Centre.

All together, now ... It's Springtime for Genghis in Ulan Bator, tra, la!

Watch out for a make-over by the West and sympathy for an interesting source of China destabilisation with identity politics as the gloss. They come over 'ere ...

Neo Nazis in Mongolia miss concept of Aryanism

Pic of Tsagaan Khas ('White Swastika') by Dan Chung, Guardian

Oh, bloody brilliant! That's all we need in east Asia: non-Aryans doing that turkey-voting-for-Christmas thang and celebrating a ideology that would send us all to a most unpleasant end.

Tania Branigan writes in the Guardian:
It is, by any standards, an extraordinary choice. Under Hitler, Soviet prisoners of war who appeared Mongolian were singled out for execution. More recently, far-right groups in Europe have attacked Mongolian migrants.

A case of if you can't beat them, join them?

A certain unfamiliarity with the history means the lads are unaware that it was the hordes who swept out of Mongolia that conquered and united China in the early 13th century (Genghis and Kublai Khan), giving it the foundations of its modern identity. And there's an element of confusion around race that is almost endearing:
Enthusiastically shaking hands, he says: "Even though you are a British citizen, you are still Asian, and that makes you very cool."

Perhaps some book-learning and a Nick Griffinesque rebranding is on the cards?
He says the younger members have taught him to be less extreme and the group appears to be reshaping itself – expelling "criminal elements" and insisting on a good education as a prerequisite for membership. One of the leaders is an interior designer.

So the uniforms should be pretty even if the wearers aren't.

Tsagaan Khass say it "works closely" with other organisations and is now discussing a merger. "Some people are in complete denial … [but] we can no longer deny this is a problem," said Anaraa Nyamdorj, of Mongolia's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Centre.

All together, now ... It's Springtime for Genghis in Ulan Bator, tra, la!

Watch out for a make-over by the West and sympathy for an interesting source of China destabilisation with identity politics as the gloss. They come over 'ere ...

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Sherlock and wily orientals: Blind Banker, Episode 2 review


SPOILER ALERT

Having missed the curtain-raiser of the Sherlock series last week, boo-hooing over the rave reviews, and tonight's show — The Blind Banker — promising to be more Second Coming than second episode, Loved One and I settled in to watch, even forsaking our TV pals over at Channel 4 in the Big Brother house just as Josie's nemesis Sam Pepper enters the fray.

Episode Two began intriguingly enough. The robotic woman from the Bing ad emoted in similar fashion as she mysteriously and inscrutably demonstrated the tea ceremony. I did wonder why a modern young Chinese Miss would be wearing a chipao frock in present-day London, but Loved One sniffed that she needed it for her job entrancing the tourists and demanded to know why didn't I do tranquility and ancient wisdom like writer Stephen Thompson's creation? After yelling that I am frikkin' peaceful when not being wound up, I admiringly noted her noble struggle with the accent, as actress Gemma Chan evidently speaks Chinese as orfentically as I speak it — that is: not at all. But I put this down to the obvious imminent revelation that she was really a Terminator-style android sent by Moriarty to wreak devastation on our imploding civilisation and the accent therefore was deliberately gauged to be unlike any known human language. A sort of error of the tongues.

Ah, so sinisterly clever.

In this reboot of the Sherlock Holmes franchise for BBC1, Arthur Conan Doyle's characters stay in the same Baker Street location but move forward in time to the present. Thus Martin Freeman's John Watson, like the original, is a former military doctor, wounded in Afghanistan. Ooh, topical as well as clever. And Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a snotty skint smart-arse, verging on Withnail (only sober), perpetually dragging his friend into mischief. (Spot the borrow: Sherlock and Watson as Withnail & I — did Cumberbatch lose out on the Dr Who auditions and this is his consolation prize? — Blade Runner origami, Hammer Horror Fu Manchu, A Beautiful Mind graphics ...)

Suddenly, my heart sinks and I realise it's all Black Lotus, Tongs (you should see my Terror of the Curling Tongs), drugs and torture. For are we not a cruel race, as the clever programme-makers have noticed? A series of killings and a trail of yellow-themed clues lead our intrepid heroes into the dangers of Soho Chinatown where even the shop assistants are ... sinister. Very clever creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, and their resident Sax Rohmer Stephen Thompson, plus assorted producers, editors, BBC bods and friends, uncleverly fail to pull the mindset out of the 19th century along with the update and sadly jam their heads up their collective fundament.

"With a brow like Shakespeare and eyes like Satan", lordy, here's a heart-of-darkness Chinese circus with their uncanny abilities and deathly tricks. Sherlock morphs into Nayland Smith (hero of Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu books) and has to fight assorted Yellow Peril villainy that is so dastardly evil and fiendish that a brother can kill his own sister (she wasn't a Terminator-bot after all) without breaking into a sweat.

Gillian Facebooks me that she's looking forward to them doing one of those pentatonic scale thingies, such are our expectations by now. They don't do that but they do kill off the Chinese female lead character as they must according to the rules of Anna May Wong Must Die!: she's sexotic so she has to go. And life in these heah parts is cheap.

I too am rapidly losing the will to live. Still, I am at least relieved that Sherlock is not as frenetic and hysterical as its Joss Whedon-wannabe stablemates Dr Who and Torchwood. Eventually, clever Sherlock identifies the McGuffin as being a jade hairpin worth nine million dollars or pounds or yen (I was having trouble concentrating at this point as I had to go feed my vampire bats and torture someone) and defeats the cruel circus-mistress by doing something-or-other that's very clever.

For much of the programme I was hoping clever Mark Gatiss et al would do something remarkable and witty with the wily oriental clichés that would leave me gasping with delight and applauding their clever audacity. This is, after all, the 21st Century and we all do irony now. Evidently this was beyond their capabilities. Unaccountably, they omitted the obligatory Limehouse opium den scene. WHY?

The idea of updating Sherlock Holmes is a spiffing wheeze. Nevertheless, there are some Victorian values which should be locked in a hansom cab back with the swirling pea-soup fogs.

Sherlock: The Blind Banker. Episode 2.
BBC1 9pm, Sunday 1st August 2010


Have you seen the script for The Blind Banker? Soo Lin Yao "a fragile little doll".

Laurie Penny in New Statesman.

Here's my poetic answer to the lazy prejudice of these stereotypes in a poem I wrote a while back: Anna May Wong Must Die!. It's at the end of this set I performed at the Farrago Summer Poetry Slam the other day.

More orientalism on BBC: Fu Manchu in Edinburgh

View from America — Mark Watches

Monique blog

Sherlock BBC

Lyndsay Faye at CriminalElement.com

Jonathan McCalmont on Sinomania in Boomtron.com


LUCY LIU TO PLAY DR JOAN WATSON IN CBS SHERLOCK HOLMES SERIES "ELEMENTARY".

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