Goodwill to all…from the Ambassador of Goodwill!

December 24, 2007 at 1:04 am (Christmas, good people, jazz, Jim D, liberation, music, United States)

Larkin put it well (in a 1971 obituary, entitled “What Armstrong Did”):

“‘Whereas Louis Armstrong by his artistry has through the universal language of music brought comfort, pleasure and understanding to people throughout the world…’ The quotation is from a 1958 citation in the Massachusetts House of Representatives at the State House in Boston, and demonstrates that the recent acclamation of Armstrong in the press and on radio and television was not something it took death to evoke. Long before his end, Louis had conquered the world, even America.

“For his fans, throughout whose lives Armstrong had been something inexhaustible and unchanging like the sun, this universal endorsement of him as a great artist and a good man was some small consolation. We had given him our allegience in the teeth of our elders’ contempt: ‘jungle music…and why doesn’t he clear his throat?’ Now we were shown to be right. Armstrong was an artist of world stature, an American Negro slum child who spoke to the heart of Greenlander and Japanese alike. At the same time he was a humble, hard-working man who night after night set out to do no more than ‘please the people’, to earn his fee, to pay back the audience for coming.

“The plaudits will continue for some time yet. But the sift of time is unceasing: soon we shall be looking back at Louis over a gap of five years, then ten. The books will come out (how about a selection of his letters?); the wilful tide of taste will turn. Armstrong will become as distant as Oliver. What will the twenty-first century say of him?

“It is only by imagining such a perspective that one can organize one’s thoughts. As an artist, Louis was first of all inclusive; he was the deep river into which flowed all the tributaries of jazz. He was never original in the sense that Parker was original: he simply did what everyone else was doing twenty times better. Nevertheless, he outdistanced them. From playing with a band he changed to playing in front of a band: it played the tune, he sang the words, then blasted the roof off with his golden obligato. He listened to what the audience applauded, and tried to give it to them.

“There is no doubt that in the Thirties he went through a period of exhibitionism that was as tedious as it was astonishing. To think of all that inventiveness, all that power, going into hitting 350 high C’s on ‘Shine’ is heartbreaking, yet that was all America encouraged Louis to do. Why wasn’t it Armstrong who brought about the New Orleans revival? He had the youth, the knowledge, the stature – but he was as much in the grip of his managers as his slave grandparents had been in the grip of theirs. When it came, and he was sent out on the road with the All Stars, his playing could not meld with them. Ten years older, Bunk Johnson could sway like a reed among reeds: Armstrong was an alp among villages. So the All Stars dropped away: Teagarden and Bigard became Young and Hucko, then Big Chief Russell Moore and Joe Darensburg. Only Armstrong remained, like a great chef putting on the same meal every night.

“Yet the greatness was slow to fade. When after a severe bout of emphysema the trumpet could no longer maintain even the ‘straight lead’ Louis so advocated, his singing – perfectly pitched, perfectly timed – could bring tears to the eyes. That all-inclusive talent had hardened, and narrowed, and grown isolated, but it still contained the essence of jazz. The records are there to prove it. Let us be thankful for their permanence.

In the great ironical takeover of western popular music by the American Negro (and remember the saying ‘Let me write a nation’s songs, and anyone you like may write its laws’), Armstrong stands with Ellington and Waller as one of the Trojan horses that brought it about. Mick Jagger at Altamont in 1969 is the logical outcome of Louis bringing the house down with ‘Ain’t Misbehavin” in 1929, and the process isn’t finished yet. When it is, the chances are that Armstrong will be remembered as much as an agent for replacing one culture with another as an individual artist. If so, it won’t be his fault: nothing, in this line, is ever anyone’s fault”.

(21 August, 1971)

Here’s Louis, re-united with old friend Jack Teagarden, toward the ends of both of their careers, and lives:

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Fairytale of New York

December 23, 2007 at 11:37 am (Christmas, music, Pogues, voltairespriest)

Come on now Jim, surely there are two Chrimbo songs that don’t turn your guts?

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A Message From Mhd. Rashid

December 23, 2007 at 1:29 am (good people, Guardian, Jim D)

There have been some interesting views about Christmas expressed recently, from the out-and-out “bah humbug”, through to the conciliatory atheistic.

I have just received this, from Mohammed Rashid, a good friend:

“Jim mate – I am in a quandary, namely:-

“Do these annual rituals we humans are engaged in have a significance or are we just going through the motions without a purpose?

“Is there a lasting inner fulfilment to this merry-go-round? Who or what is dictating this behaviour in us? What’s the driving force?

“Are we junkies waiting for the next ritual fix?

“Or are we just like an empty vessel on the ocean of life, drifting aimlessly towards oblivion, only occasionally having its momentum interrupted by the buffeting waves (these rituals).

“Since the dawn of time mankind has indulged himself in rituals and yet still sailed into the abyss.

“Are we making the same mistake today, or will our God, at the alter of consumersism, protect us?

“Jim, respecting your status as a lettered man of great knowledge and wisdom (which, no doubt flows copiously after a drink – a compliment), I would be honoured to share your thoughts on these questions.

“I am – in solidarity – with you at all times –

“M. Rashid. (Thoughts for Xmas ’07)”

Well, I don’t know how to answer that: do you?

Meanwhile, just to bring a tear even to Will’s eye,  here‘s what the Observer‘s Philip French calls:

“…Made in that small window of hope between the end of the Second World War and the onset of the Cold War, it’s the greatest ever reworking of A Christmas Carol, the greatest ever Christmas tale“:

…if only Northern Rock could be sorted so easily.

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Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree

December 22, 2007 at 5:15 pm (climate change, Jim D, music, trivia, wild man)

Things have been a bit heavy and nasty round here for a while (I didn’t start it, your Honour)…so here’s about the only Christmas song that doesn’t turn my guts:

…I’ve only just discovered that it’s by Brenda Lee: for years I’ve assumed it was by Keely Smith, mainly because the sax solo sounds like Sam Butara…

Anyway, that doesn’t stop me telling my Keely Smith story:

When Keely and her husband, the jazz trumpeter Louis Prima (the voice of “King Louis” in the Disney ‘Jungle Book’) were performing in Las Vegas, a leading mobster shagged Keely (entirely consensually) in her dressing  room: Prima entered the room, saw what was going on (difficult not to notice), got on top of the mobster and started shagging him… that put a stop to it…

Here’s Keely (with a brief appearance by a leering Prima):

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In support of Clegg!

December 22, 2007 at 3:30 am (Free Speech, Jim D, politics, religion, secularism, truth)

Savour this moment, because it will never reoccur: I salute Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg! When asked, on BBC Radio 5 Live, whether he believed in God, he answered, simply,  “No”.

Under pressure from his political minders, he later tried to back-track by emphasising his Catholic background, and the (sad) fact that because his wife is a Catholic, his children are being brought up in that foul, reactionary religion.

But still, the importance of  Clegg’s admission of non-belief cannot be over-stated: since that reactionay God-botherer Blair flaunted his religiosity (despite Alistair Campbell’s wise, but actually untrue claim that “we don’t do religion”), no senior political figure in Britain has dared to come out as anything but a Christian believer.

Clegg’s honesty puts all those New Labour “Christians” to shame, and will also -hopefully – start reversing the Christianisation of British politics that was given such a boost by Blair and his entourage.

It would also be encouraging if the far-left took a leaf out of Clegg’s book , and rediscovered  its own secularist and atheistic principles.

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A Message of Hope to Trade Unionists in Iran

December 21, 2007 at 7:53 pm (anonymous, Civil liberties, class, Free Speech, good people, Human rights, Iran, Jim D, liberation)

Following Tami’s appeal on behalf of Iranian students, here is a message (via Bruce Robinson) from the IFTU on behalf of two Iranian trade unionists (and when the statement refers to “transport unions” and “affiliates”, I think we can safely assume it really means all of us):

Onsanloo and Salehi

The ITF is calling on transport unions to send a message of hope to Monsour Osanloo and Mahmoud Salehi, who remain in detention in Iran for their trade union activities.

The Federation is backing Amnesty UK’s annual greetings card campiagn, which takes place between November and the end of January, during which (time) activists send tens of thousands  of cards with messages of support to those who are imprisoned  or victimised for exercising their human rights.

This year Amnesty is highlighting the cases of Mansour Osanloo, President of the trade union representing workers of the Tehran and Suberbs  Bus Company, and  (also) Mahmoud Salehi, founding member of the Saqez Bakery Workers’ Association and of the Coordinating Committee to Form Workers’ Organisations. They have faced repeated persecution and periods of imprisonment for their efforts to establish free trade unions and to represent their fellow workers.

The ITF is joining the action and is asking affiliates to ensure that Mansour and Mahmoud, and their families, receive an overwhelming message of solidarity.

Full details of the greeting card campaign are available at:

http://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions_details.asp?ActionID=352

including labels with home addresses, labels with a suggested solidarity message in Farsi, and other practical information.

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Petition to Free Arrested Iranian Students

December 20, 2007 at 11:32 am (anonymous, Free Speech, Iran, students, TWP)

Please sign by sending an e-mail to the address listed and circulate widely:

Free the detained Iranian student activists!

As education workers and student activists, we condemn the detention of
over forty student activists by the Iranian regime since 7 December (16
Azar in the Iranian calendar). This date has been a day of student protest
in Iran for many years; it is now a symbol of Iranian students’ struggle
against the theocratic-capitalist regime of the Islamic Republic just as
it was against the dictatorship of the Shah. Activists were arrested in
the run up to the day of action, and following the demonstrations and
actions which took place in a number of cities. Many are now reportedly
being held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison and have been subjected to
torture.

This is just the latest act of repression meted out by the Islamic
Republic; it follows an intense crackdown on the Iranian workers’ movement
and the brutal victimisation of leading trade unionists such as Tehran
busworkers’ leader Mansour Ossanlou and Saqez bakers’ union activist
Mahmoud Salehi. The Iranian regime is acutely aware of the growing
alliance between Iran’s workers’ and student movements; meanwhile it is
using the threat of a US attack to legitimise itself and step up its
repression of dissent.

We call on the Iranian government to immediately release all detained
student, women’s and labour movement activists, and call on all
working-class, student, left and anti-war activists and organisations in
the UK for solidarity with Iranian workers, students and women against the
dual threats of US militarism and theocratic-capitalist oppression.

Sofie Buckland, NUS National Executive Committee and Education Not for Sale
Laura Schwartz, NUS Women’s Committee, University of East London
Sophie Lafayette, NUS Women’s Committee, University of Nottingham
Aled Dilwyn Fisher, London School of Economics Students’ Union executive
and Young Greens membership officer (pc)
Sacha Ismail, for Alliance for Workers’ Liberty students and youth
Heather Shaw, Bretton Hall Officer, Leeds University Union (2005-6)
Daniel Randall, NUS NEC (2005-6) & Secretary, University of Sheffield No
Sweat Society
Pat Murphy, National Union of Teachers NEC
Tom Unterrainer, Joint Secretary, Nottingham City NUT
Pete Radcliff, Branch Secretary, Derby University UCU
Pat Markey, Branch Secretary, Northampton Association NUT
Tim Cooper, Nottingham Trent University
Sam Ross, University of Sheffield SWSS
Daniel Perrett, Cambridge University
Clare Whitney, Cambridge University
Tom Bamford, University of Sussex
Richard Houguez, Byam Shaw School of Art
Stephen Wood, President, Hull University Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
Transexual Campaign (pc); Treasurer, Hull University Left Book Club
Daniel Fisher, SRC Science Representative, St. Andrews University
Molly Uzzel, SRC Representative for Women’s Issues, St. Andrews University
Terry Fulton, SRC Representative for Postgraduate Accommodation, St.
Andrews University
James Pollard, SRC Accommodation Representative, St. Andrews University
Harry Giles, SRC Representative for Absent Students, St. Andrews University
Alex Hayes, SRC Representative for Part-Time Students, St. Andrews University
Lukas Ross, SRC Representative for Ethnic Minorities, St. Andrews University
Marcus Mayo, SRC Representative for the School of Divinity, St. Andrews
University
Martin Schmier, SRC Reprentative without Portfolio, St. Andrews University
David Broder, Kings College London
Alois T Mbawara, Sussex University, Free Zim Youth activist
Laura Rogers, Institute of Education
Joe Flynn, Youth & Students Officer, Chingford and Woodgreen Constituency
Labour Party
Joe Wilson, Cambridge University
Ed Maltby, Camridge University
James Ross
Tami Peterson, Birkbeck College, Clubs & Societies Officer

Please add your or your organisation’s name to this statement; it will be
translated and sent to activists in Iran. Email your name to Daniel at skillz_999@hotmail.com

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Life on the Fuck Circuit!

December 19, 2007 at 12:29 am (deviants, perversity, Respect, SWP, voltairespriest)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketCan this be true? It was revealed in the comments box on the comically misnamed Socialisty Unity Blog a few days ago by an ex-member of the SWP that she felt she had received bad treatment within the party because she was not on the “fuck circuit”, and I suppose therefore missed out on the fast-track to those in positions of power. Massive faith in SU’s sane and not at all bizarre collection of commenters that I have, I can only presume she’s recalling things with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

Firstly, a message to the SWP’ers with whom I attended university: You had a fuck circuit?! Well why the fuck did none of you people mention this to me at the time? Four fucking years in and around the AWL student section and all that time I could have been living a life of debauchery with the Cliffites? Sell out? Hell yeah, I’d have been stalking you for membership forms! Still, it does explain why you were all so bloody enthusiastic I guess – “Now then comrades, if you sell fifty or more papers today, there’s a special treat in store! Zzzt…”

Also, doesn’t it explain so much other stuff? Sideshow Ger expelled after all his hard work fucking over dissenters in Birmingham? Not on the fuck circuit (if you met him, you’d know why). Nooman joins RR? Not on the fuck circuit. AWL has 150 members? No fuck circuit.

Hell SWP comrades, I’ve grown some new Respect for you all as a result of this revelation. I therefore humbly offer you a suggestion for a theme song and video for Marxism 2008: the Fucker’s Cut.

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The Renewal of Respect in Our Society

December 17, 2007 at 11:33 pm (voltairespriest, wankers)

Further to my comment on Jim’s last post, I just wanted to make clear that I completely discount the idea that the following footage is true documentary evidence of Andy Newman, Sideshow Ger Francis and Ian Donovan (along with a mysterious guy playing Kevin Smith) working out how to deal with web critics:

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Nooman: being banned by you is a compliment

December 17, 2007 at 1:53 am (blogging, blogosphere, Blogroll, geeks, hell, insanity, Jim D, mental health, perversity, sectarianism, stalinism, thuggery, twat, wankers)

I recently read on Andy Newman’s hilariously misnamed “Socialist” “Unity” website, an attack upon my goodself, closing with this, from the site’s proprietor, Mr Andy Newman, hisself!:

“Jim: I would consider being called ‘reactionary scum’ a compliment from your lips. The AWL are a cancer in the labour movement, and you personally are the most malignant part of that cancer.”

Andy Newman (16 December 2007, @ 8.14 am).

Well, you have to get out of bed early to beat Mr Newman to it, eh?

Anyway: I have no particular objection to Mr Newman’s attack…except for this: he then, immediately switched off the “comments” facility on his blog, so that I couldn’t reply.

This from someone who quite happily allows a physically violent thug like Ger Francis, and a mentally-unstable woman-beater like Ian *******/******* (who needs help) to contribute on a regular basis to his blog…

Nooman: you’re a wanker:

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