RIP Cy Grant: calypsonian and war hero

February 28, 2010 at 10:35 pm (BBC, good people, Jim D, media, music)

Cy Grant has died.

One of my earliest memories is watching Tonight on BBC television (the only channel then available, apart from ITV, which our house didn’t receive)  with Cliff Michelmore and Cy Grant’s topical calypsos. Come to think of it, he probably played a part in getting me involved in politics – but please don’t hold that against him.

I didn’t know he’d also served his adopted country with heroism in WW2, and spent time as a POW:

During his wartime captivity, Grant began making notes for a memoir, which was published 60 years later as Blackness and the Dreaming Soul (2007). As a West Indian who had lived in Britain for many years, Grant wrote from an unusual perspective: that of an insider perceived as a perpetual outsider.

In 2008 he helped to set up an online archive to trace and commemorate Caribbean aircrew from the Second World War; and to the end of his life he was a firm supporter of the Bomber Command Memorial Appeal which still seeks to raise a monument to aircrew in London (from the Daily Telegraph obit).

He also helped Captain Scarlet  defeat the Mysterons

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The sad story of Clarence Armstrong

February 28, 2010 at 5:50 pm (Disability, good people, jazz, Jim D, mental health, sport, United States)

Like all the best jazz writing, the Jazz Lives blog is about humanity as well as music:

This is Tom Cosentino’s incredibly touching piece on Clarence Armstrong, Louis’s adopted son — someone Tom knew in his Bronx childhood.  Blessings on Tom, on Clarence, on Louis, and on Ricky Riccardi for letting us know about this essay:

Clarence 'Hatfield' Armstrong


Last night I watched a documentary on the Ovation television network on jazz legend Louis Armstrong. I’ve always been fascinated with the man known as “Satchmo,” not only because of his music, which I love, but because of a boyhood tie that I have to him.

During the course of the documentary, reference was made to Louis’ adopted son, who was retarded. No name was given, but I knew what they were talking about, for he was my friend Clarence, a person I first knew as a little boy as Ooga Booga.

I grew up in the northeast Bronx on a street called Oakley. The cross street was Fenton Ave, and a few house up that block was a woman named Miss Lillian. That was the house that Clarence lived in as well. Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of friends until I was 8 and I was allowed to start playing in the street and nearby school yard of my boyhood school, P.S. 78. From my backyard, I would see Clarence pass my house every day, wearing his Mets cap. I never really talked with him. Then, when I started playing ball in the street with the other kids up my block, I heard them call him by another name, that of “Ooga Booga.” The kids were afraid of him and would tease him for chewing on his tongue. When they would see him they would taunt him with the cry of “Hey, Ooga Booga, Hey Ooga Booga” and then run. I’m ashamed to say, I joined in.

Then, one day, Clarence called me out and said he would tell my father. When I was home that night, I asked my parents about Clarence. They then told me that he was the son of Louis Armstrong. They even told me that Louis used to come up to the house to see Clarence when they first moved in. I knew Louis Armstrong was a musician, and knew him from television and the song, Hello Dolly. What I didn’t know was that Miss Lillian had married Clarence under an arrangement with Louis Armstrong. They had a son who used to play the trumpet out of his window all the time. However, he later died, although I do not know the reasons.

Knowing now the background of Clarence, I was carrying the guilt of being one of the abusive kids taunting him. The next time I saw him, I didn’t run but said hello. Clarence started talking to me about his love, baseball. This would begin years of dialogue on the Mets. Even though I was a Yankees fan, Clarence knew I loved baseball too. He would make up trades for the Mets, ringing my door bell to tell me the Mets got Reggie Smith from the Red Sox or Tony Perez from the Reds and other such All-Stars. Of course, they never traded anyone for these players, but I caught on and just kept the discussion going. Many times, he would ring my doorbell to tell me his news. My dad or mom would have to rescue me by coming out to tell me to finish my home work or have dinner.

I remember the one trade that was really made that thrilled Clarence was when the Mets got Willie Mays from the Giants. Clarence was literally jumping for joy that day. He would often jump up and down when he was excited, yelling as loud as he could. He was a little boy in a grown man’s body.

I communicated my discovery of Clarence’s background and love for baseball to my friends and they quickly caught on too. Soon Clarence began hanging out with us, watching us play. We’d even let him coach some times. He quickly became our mascot and lookout, watching for kids from other blocks that might look to start trouble with us.

Not only was I able to get to know Clarence, but I would visit and say hello to Miss Lillian nearly every day. Sometimes she would even give me a present.

When Louis Armstrong died in July, 1971, I remember WPIX carrying the funeral live on television. There, I got to see Clarence getting into a limousine. It confirmed for real, his relationship with the famed trumpeter.

As the years progressed and we all got older, we continued playing ball all the way through our college years. Clarence was there with us, watching and cheering us on as always. He was still making up trades. In fact, if the Mets hired Clarence, they may have won a few more pennants.

Clarence was Catholic and I would often walk and attend Mass with him at St. Phillip & James Church on Boston Road. Many parishioners would shy away, but I would sit with him in a side pew.

Sometimes when Clarence would ring my bell it wasn’t always about baseball. I can remember one time when he called on me to tell me a member of his daddy’s band had died.

After watching the documentary last night, I decided to look up information on Louis Armstrong, hoping to find mention of the adopted retarded son I knew as Clarence. Why I never did this earlier, I don’t know, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a link in the Wikipedia entry to a story written by Gary Giddins in the Village Voice in 2003

that outlined the history of Clarence. It turns out; Clarence was the son of Louis Armstrong’s cousin Flora. As Giddins’ account, posted below, points out, Louis began supporting Clarence when Louis was just 14. It became a lifelong pursuit, as Clarence was Louis’ only child.

“A few steps into the archive I was stopped dead by a pasteboard blowup of a photograph that had never been published, showing Armstrong and his adopted son, “Clarence Hatfield.” I had never given Clarence much thought, having heard he was mentally retarded and died a long time ago, hidden away.

But here he was: beaming backstage at the Band Box, a club in Chicago, in the 1940s, nattily dressed in a double-breasted suit not unlike the pinstripe tailored for Armstrong, who also beams, with unmistakable paternal pride (see the photo above – JD). Clarence and their relationship sprang to life, sending me back to Armstrong’s account in Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans, to appreciate for the first time its affectionate candor regarding his only venture into paternity. Clarence was born in 1915 to Louis’s teenage cousin, Flora, apparently after she was molested by an old white man her father felt powerless to challenge. Louis’s first sight of the baby washed “all the gloom out of me.” He took it upon himself, at 14, to get a job hauling coal (immortalized in the 1925 “Coal Cart Blues”) to support the baby and the ailing mother, and assumed full responsibility after Flora’s death, marrying his first wife and adopting the three-year-old at 17. In that period, Clarence fell off a porch and landed on his head; doctors judged him to be mentally impaired. When Louis married Lil Hardin in Chicago, Clarence joined them, and Louis never forgave Lil—who claimed that Clarence was never legally adopted—for her impatience with him. When he left Lil for Alpha, he brought Clarence along.

Eventually, Clarence was set up in the Bronx, where he was married in an arrangement of convenience financed by Louis.”

Miss Lillian eventually passed and I got married and moved to New Jersey, losing any connection I had with Clarence. My dad and brother who were still living there told me that his house had been boarded up and Clarence taken away one day. They never knew what happened. After reading Gary Giddins’ story, I now know he died in 1998. I now have to read Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans and learn more.

Clarence Armstrong forever changed my life for he taught me how to deal with others. Appearances and background don’t matter. It’s what’s inside a person that counts. It’s something I’ve tried to carry through on throughout my professional career.

I can still see him cheering for us, tongue hanging from his mouth and his Mets cap hanging sideways on his head as he jumped up and down. “Tommy, Tommy” I can hear him yell. “The Mets just got Albert Pujols. They gonna have a bad ass team this year!”

Tom Cosentino

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Liam Byrne in hell: is this the vilest “Labour” leaflet ever?

February 26, 2010 at 11:40 pm (asylum, Champagne Charlie, elections, immigration, labour party, Racism, thuggery)

Liam Byrne, the Labour MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, last year produced a leaflet entitled “Immigration Update.” In it Byrne repeatedly reminds voters that he used to be “Immigration Minister” and accuses his Lib Dem opponent Tariq Khan of being in favour of “soft borders.” In general I’m in favour of a Labour vote at the next election, but I have to say I’d find it difficult to actively campaign for a candidate who can put out this sort of filth:

A New Points System Like Australia’s: Lots of people said to me – why can’t we have a tough system like the Australians? So I studied how it works Down Under – and stole their idea. The new points system started in November, on time, as promised. I’ll reduce the number of economic migrants – and ban low skilled migration from outside the EU altogether. Only those with the skills we need can now come – and no more.

Compulsory ID Cards for Foreign Nationals: ID cards for foreign nationals is an obvious idea. So I changed the law to make them compulsory for all foreign nationals. The Government started issuing them last month on time and on budget. Now, everyone will know who has the right to be here – and who doesn’t.

Huge Fines For Employing Illegal Immigrants: Hodge Hill was united that we need to hit dodgy businesses hard if they undercut British wages and employ illegal immigrants. So I introduced £10,000 on the stop fines. The results? We’ve hit 20 times as many businesses as last year – and raised £7 million which will be going back to fund public services. And for visitors I proposed a £5,ooo fine if a sponsor breaks the rules and doesn’t make sure their family member goes home.

Earn Your Stay: I think British people admire hard work and people who play by the rules. So when I was Immigration Minister I drew up plans to change the law so if a newcomer wants to become a British citizen, they’ve got to earn their way. That means proving they speak English, work hard and pay tax and obay the law, and make an effort to integrate. All acceess to benefits – especially housing – should be BANNED until this is proved. The law goes to Parliament in 2009 – I’d like your views on it before it does.

Too Late? Lots of people say to me, ‘but isn’t it all a bit late?’ I’ll be frank. We should have acted sooner – so when I was immigration minister I delivered the biggest shake-up of the system for 45 years. Now  * we’ve the lowest number of asylum claims for 15 years  * we deport an illegal immigrant every eight minutes  * abroad, we check everyone’s fingerprint against crime databases before we issue a visa. 

Action, as they say, speaks louder than words. 

Mr Byrne  encourages voters to get in touch with him, and his leaflet gives “3 Ways to contact Liam”:

Phone 0121 789 7287; Email:; Write: House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.


For those who want to vote and campaign for Labour on a decent basis:

Socialist Campaign to Stop the Tories and Fascists – sign this statement!

A new campaign organising to stop the Tories, for a workers’ voice in 
politics and for a working-class fight back against whichever 
government is elected.

To sign, for a speaker or for more information email

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Gordon: you’re a bully but you’re no Buddy Rich

February 25, 2010 at 9:05 pm (Gordon Brown, insanity, jazz, Jewish music, Jim D, labour party, mental health, thuggery, wild man)

From The Basement Rug

I guess none of us will ever know the real Buddy Rich, but regardless of whether or not this represents the real Buddy, it sure is entertaining! The  transcription below was taken from an original recording, which is also on Youtube. Note that Mr Rich says the f-word 132 times. click here for full size image

Buddy Rich, The Person

Buddy Rich may have been the world’s greatest drummer, but in his dealings with his bandmembers off the stand, he might be described as a total prick with ears. Rich had an ego that fed a perverse sense of perfectionism and the need to control and dominate the players in “HIS” bands. Below is a little compilation of some of Buddy’s tirades that took place at different times and in different venues. It would appear that these “conversations” were transcribed from tapes that were made to document Buddy’s explosive and sometimes verbally abusive behaviour. If Buddy had known that there were tape recorders being snuck into the rooms, I’m confident that he might have hurt someone. Please note that this little document contains GRAPHIC EXPLITIVES.

(In a dressing room for the band)

BR-You think I’m runnin’ fifteen fuckin’…Close that door. (musician slams door) What kind of playing is being played here the past two nights? What is this? New phrasing, new bending, new sounds, no time! What the fuck do you think I’m running here? What kind of playing do you call this? What kinda shit is going on in the fuckin’…(turns to the bass player) What kinda, what kinda setting do you got on the bass tonight?

Bass Player-Setting?

BR-I feel that’s fairly much english.

Bass Player-It’s the same as I’ve always had out there.

BR-What’s with this, what’s with this bending?

Bass Player-I decided…

BR-(interrupting) Who decided?

Bass Player-I did.

BR-Your deciding is wrong!

Bass Player-I didn’t do it on purpose. I…

BR-(interrupting again) You’re deciding what kind of phrasing. You’re deciding who and what the leader is. You’re gonna watch who you wanna watch…(turns to the rest of the band). Everybody’s on two weeks notice tonight. I’m telling you, everybody gets two weeks notice tonight. I can’t handle this anymore. You’re all…(pauses thoughtfully) you’re not my kind of people, at all. I don’t understand this fuckin’ kind of music at all. I don’t understand what anybody is doing up there. I’m workin’ my fuckin’ ass off…(turns to a trumpet player) You put that fuckin’ mouthpiece into that bell again, I’m gonna take that fuckin’ horn and break it across my knee! Do you understand that?

Trumpet Player-I’ll stay away, you can’t hear a note though.

BR-I can hear everything! I don’t give a fuck what you hear. I hear it, and all I know is that you’re blowin’ my fuckin’ eardrum out! (turns to the saxophones) The saxophones, you can play the flute, there’s no sound in flutes. All I hear is noise. If you get any fuckin’ closer you’ll electrocute yourselves. What do you think I got a man with a sound system out there for? Sit down and play some fuckin’ music! You afraid you won’t be heard, is that it? I’ll turn the motherfucker off all of you, then see what kind of a band you got up there, without all the assistance. You can’t play shit! I’m accustomed to working with number one musicians. I’m not accustomed to working with half-assed fuckin’ kids who think they wrote the fuckin’ music business. You got a long way to go. You got a long way to go. Every one of you got a long fuckin’ way to go. Do you understand what I’m sayin’? You can’t play shit up there for me. What the fuck you’re doin’ up there doesn’t deserve to be called a “name” band. The fuckin’ kids out at the park there, they sounded fifty times better than any one of you! And that’s without a rhythm section. Maybe they enjoy what they are doin’ here. If you don’t enjoy it here, fuck you! And get off my band. Or we can find other ways to settle it. I’m just so fuckin’ tired of having to go through speeches with you guys. You’re all a fuckin’ bunch of children. There’s not a man among you, not one man who can go out there and play the job like a man. You’re all up there, fuckin’ high school, bullshit jive artists. You jived me for the last fuckin’ time. You got two sets to make up your fuckin’ mind or I get me an all L.A. band tomorrow night. Don’t think that’s not impossible. It’s very fuckin’ possible. I’ve had it with you guys. I ought to give each one of you motherfuckers a cut in salary before I get out of this fuckin’ room!

(Exit Buddy, slamming the door behind him)

(In the bus between sets)

BR-You guys are gonna be back in New York on the bread line so fast you won’t even know that you were on this fuckin’ band. How dare you play a fuckin’ set like that. Since when did the fuckin’ trumpet players become the leader of this fuckin’ band and decide how long they’re gonna hold a chord? What the fuck do you think you’re doin’? You think you’re playin’ with some kid up there? I expect one-hundred-and-ten percent fucking perfection every fuckin’ tune, you got that? If you can’t do it, get off my fuckin’ band to-NIGHT! You had a day off yesterday and you come back like this and you suck! What the fuck kind of music do you think you’re playing here anyhow? And who do you think you’re playing for? You think I’ll tolerate that shit? You’re worse than any fuckin’ high school band I ever heard. You come in wrong because you leave one fuckin’ beat out, you can’t find one!? I don’t know what kind of drummers you think you’re playin’ with, but you’ll play with me or you’ll get out! And I mean NOW! I don’t need this shit. I have a home in Palm Springs and I can go sit on my ass the rest of my life and not worry about a fuckin’ thing…and don’t have to meet your fuckin’ payroll, and pay you for playin’ like a fuckin’ high school dropout! How dare you do that! ASSHOLES!! You can’t play a simple fuckin’ tune; you can’t hold a chord; you can’t play time when you play solos. What kind of solos am I hearing tonight? (as he turns to the Trombonist) You want to rehearse and practice, get a fuckin’ band in Sydney and play the kind of shit you want. Over here you play TIME! You don’t like what I play get the fuck out. I’m tired of putting up with you, I’m tired of signing for ya, I’m tired of you period! And I’m tired of you all you guys that can’t go up and play a fuckin job for 45 fuckin minutes.

You got it too fuckin easy goddam it. I’ll make it so fuckin tough, you won’t be able to breath around here. How many fuckin bands you think you got to go to work in? If I decide to quite, you’d all suck. You got nothin. Try it. You think I’m foolin you can quite tonight. I’m up there knockin my fuckin brains and I gotta carry you and pay you at the same time? Fuck you!

When I go back in side, I better hear one hundred and ten percent perfection. Or I’ll leave ya here. I’ll take you as far as Detroit and you got it. Try me. Fuckers. Try me this next set and see if you get away with one piece of shit. You try it. I’ll fire ya on the fuckin band stand. You don’t only insult me but you insult yourselves. Don’t you have any more pride? Where’s your fuckin pride, where’s your professionalism? Assholes. That’s what…that’s what you play like. Where’s your own fuckin pride in yourself? Or don’t you have any cause your so fuckin dumb that you don’t have any pride? Get outta here, right now. I’ll have nothin to do with you. You get up on that band stand and you play your ass off.

(In the tour bus between sets)


What the fuck do you think is goin’ on here? You had too many fuckin’ days off and you think this is a fuckin’ game!? You think I’m the only one that’s gonna work up there while you motherfuckers sit out there and clam all over this fuckin’ joint!? What do you think this is anyhow? What kind of playing do you think this is? What kinda miscues do you call this? What fuckin’ band do you think you’re playin’ on, motherfuckers? You wanna fuck with me on the bandstand?…Shut that fuckin’ door! I’m up there working my balls off, trying to do somebody a favor, and you motherfuckers are suckin’ all over this joint. What kind of trumpet section do you call this tonight? And saxophones…you gotta fuckin’ be kidding me! How dare you call yourselves professionals. Assholes! You’re playin’ like fucking children up there. You got your fuc…(distracted momentarily) where the fuck are you? Where is Peneke? (turns to the Trombonist) You’ve got your fuckin’ horn so far deep in the fuckin’ bell, we don’t need to have a band here tonight. You afraid you won’t be heard? Everybody can hear your fuckin’ clams out there. You don’t need a mike for that. You’re takin’ up too much fuckin’ time blowin’ what? Shit!! You stand out here all night tryin’ to blow your fuckin’ brains out; when it comes time to play, what do you play? Clams!! You got nowhere to fuckin’ go tonight the next set because if I hear one fuckin’ clam from anybody, you’ve had it! One clam and this whole fuckin’ band is through…tonight!! Try me! You got some fuckin’ nerve. Nights off, nothin’ to do, and you come in and play this kind of shit for me…Fuck all of you!!

You’re not doin’ me any fuckin’ favors, you’re breakin’ my heart up there. I gotta go up there and be embarrassed by you motherfuckers? I’ve played with the greatest musicians in the world. How dare you play like that for me! How dare you try to play like that for me. Assholes!! I get fifteen fuckin’ kids in rehearsal. The fuckin’ time in this band is incredible! We don’t play two fuckin’ bars in one fuckin’ tempo. Not one! You can’t keep fuckin’ time and play, there’s too many things to do, isn’t there? You can’t pat your fuckin’ foot and play. You’re all over the fuckin’ place. Miscue after miscue…You try one fuck up the next set, and when you get back to New York you’ll need another fuckin’ job. Count on it! Now get out of my fuckin’ bus! Right now!

(Band members shuffle out)

(In a tour bus traveling to the next gig. Buddy is pacing up and down the aisle of the bus, searching for a victim)

BR-Two fuckin’ weeks to make up your mind whether you want a beard or you want a job. I’ll not have this trouble with this band. This is not the goddamn House of David fuckin’ baseball team. This is the Buddy Rich Band; young people…with faces! No more fuckin’ beards. That’s out! If you decide to do it, you’re through. Right now! This is the last time I make this announcement. No more fucking beards. I don’t want to see it. If you guys don’t want to shave it off, I’ll treat you just like they treat you in the fuckin’ Marine Corps. This is the way I want my band to look. If you don’t like it, get out! You’ve got two weeks to make up your mind. This is no idle request. I’m telling you how my band is gonna look. You’re not telling me how you’re gonna look, I’m telling you. You’ve got two weeks to make up your fucking mind, if you have any mind. (pause) There’s too much freedom in this band. It’s taken away. You’re not going to do what you want to do, but what I want to do, as long as you’re takin’ my fuckin’ money. I’m presenting my kind of band. The image I present is what I want, not what you want (turns to Dave Peneke, one of the trombonists). You seem to be giving me more trouble than anyone else. Do you want to do something about it? It’s up to you. Do you want to do something about it?

Trombonist-(in an Australian accent)I would definitely not suggest you touch me.

BR-Then I definitely tell you one thing. You keep your fuckin’ mouth shut, get the fuckin’ beard off, or get off the band, right now. Now what do you think of that? Now that’s a definite suggestion. When you go to work tonight, if I catch the fuckin’ beard on you, i’ll throw you off the fuckin’ bandstand, O.K.?

Trombonist-I’m not taking it off.

BR-You’re what?

Trombonist-I’m not taking it off.

BR-You’re through.


BR-Right now. You don’t tell me what to do, I tell you. You don’t like it, get off.

Trombonist-When and where?

BR-Get off! Get your fuckin’ clothes and get off! Right now! (to the bus driver) Pull the fuckin’ bus over!

Trombonist-Have you got two weeks pay for me?

BR-Have I got what?

Trombonist-Two weeks pay for me.

BR-I got nothin’ for you. I got a right hand to your fuckin’ brain if you want it. I’ll give you two weeks…two weeks for what? You learn the rules of my band. You don’t like it, that’s it. You get off. And try to take me to the fuckin’ union. I’d love it. You get no two weeks pay, you get two weeks time. Get off. (aside) He was waiting for this for a long fuckin’ time.

Trombonist-No I haven’t.

BR-Yes you have…

Trombonist-No I haven’t at all.

BR-(continuing)…ever since you opened your fuckin’ mouth because I don’t like the way you write…(pausing), and I still play your fuckin’ charts, for you. You understand that…not for me.

Trombonist-I think you play my charts becau…

BR-Because what?

Trombonist-…because, in particular, “Manhattan” is the best chart in the book.

BR-It is?


BR-Then take “Manhattan” and get off. I’m a success without you and without your writing.

Trombonist-I know that.

BR-Alright. So don’t tell me what the best chart in my book is.

Trombonist-Well, it certainly goes over the best.

BR-Goes over the best?

Trombonist-Sure it does. People appreciate…

BR-(interrupting) Go back to Sydney and, uh, whatever you do over there, good luck. Not over here. (to others in the area) I want him off my fuckin’ bus right now.

Trombonist-It’s a pleasure to be off.

BR-Keep talkin’…keep talkin’. (Buddy’s voice begins to tremble with rage) You wanna, you wanna start some shit with me? Hmm? Keep talkin’…

Trombonist-Not particularly.

BR-Then keep your fuckin’ mouth shut! Right now! Or I’ll close it for you. Keep it shut…or try me!

Trombonist-I don’t need to try you, Buddy.

BR-Then shut up!

Trombonist-Well, I’d just appreciate, you know, being talked to like a human being.

BR-I try to talk to you like a human being and you talk back all the time…

Trombonist-I don’t think you do.

BR-…now keep your fuckin’ mouth shut or I’ll show you what it’s like! That’s all!

Trombonist-O.K., but you have no right to threaten me.

BR-I’m not threatening you, I’m telling you. You don’t want to do what I want in my band. I’m telling you!


BR-Then shut up!

Trombonist-I will.

BR-Alright. (turns to the rest of the band) Let’s get that understood by everybody. I want him off. I don’t want him on the bandstand tonight. Two bones…(Buddy resumes cruising the aisle, looking for other targets of opportunity) I’m warning you for the last time. You wanna…right now…anytime you’re ready…Close your fuckin’ eyes. I’ve done had it with you. Sit down and keep your fuckin’ eyes and your mouth to yourself. Grow up. You’re not a tough guy so why don’t you just sit down. You better start learning to act like one. (Eyes the trombonist) I am one, you are not. So shut up!

Trombonist-Don’t threaten me.

BR-Fuckin’ asshole, fuckin’ with me. I’ve got one for you. I own this fuckin’ band.

(Stage darkens while Buddy contemplates his power)

Thanks to: Rugrat

For a good comment and discussion on Brown’s dark side, visit Dave’s place.


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Here’s something you haven’t read here…

February 24, 2010 at 8:38 am (blogging, Catholicism, Champagne Charlie, Christianity, mental health, religion)

From a Catholic Nationalist blog called ‘Splintered Sunrise:’

Here’s something you won’t read on Shiraz Socialist

February 9, 2010 at 10:34 pm (Homophobia, Judaica)

It seems it’s not only Pat Robertson who has some weird ideas about the Haitian earthquake:

Rabbi Yehuda Levin, spokesman for the Rabbinical Alliance of America issued the following statement:

“When Americans are suffering economically and millions need jobs, it’s shocking that the Administration is focused on its ultra-liberal militantly homosexualist agenda forcing the highlighting of homosexuals and homosexuality on an unwilling military. This is the equivalent of the spiritual rape of our military to satisfy the most extreme and selfish cadre of President Obama’s kooky coalition.
We agree with Eileen Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness that this will hurt the cohesiveness of the military, cause many to leave the army, and dramatically lower the number of recruits, perhaps leading to the reinstatement of a compulsory draft.

“Thirteen months before 9/11, on the day New York City passed homosexual domestic partnership regulations, I joined a group of Rabbis at a City Hall prayer service, pleading with G-d not to visit disaster on the city of N.Y. We have seen the underground earthquake, tsunami, Katrina, and now Haiti. All this is in sync with a two thousand year old teaching in the Talmud that the practice of homosexuality is a spiritual cause of earthquakes. Once a disaster is unleashed, innocents are also victims just like in Chernobyl.

“We plead with saner heads in Congress and the Pentagon to stop sodomization of our military and our society. Enough is enough.”

Now, imagine the shitstorm if this had been a Muslim cleric…

NB: Why, exactly did “Splintered” think we wouldn’t publish such an item?

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Night Music

February 22, 2010 at 10:27 pm (music, Rosie B)

It’s the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth.  I learned enough classical piano when I was young, so as to be able to stumble through Nocturne Op 9 No. 1.  The left hand plays a regular run of twelve notes following the same pattern while the right ripples away and will occasionally play odd numbers of notes eg 11 in the right hand to 6 in the left, or 7 to 6.  So the left hand fixes the rhythm, like the bass in a band, while the right has an improvised feeling.  The piece is full of yearning.

Learning to play an instrument badly does increase your appreciation for those who can play it well.

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Vanessa and the Prince

February 22, 2010 at 1:11 am (Champagne Charlie, cults, media, perversity, sectarianism, strange situations)

I don’t begrudge Vanessa Redgrave her Bafta award – she’s a fine actress. Nor do I wish her any personal ill, especially following the death of her daughter Natasha.

But the sight of this former West End Revolutionary Party dogmatist and sectarian, who covered up the crimes of Gerry Healy,  denounced critics as “Zionists” and supported the WRP’s  spying on Libyan and Iraqi dissidents, bowing and scraping before Prince William last night…


Vanessa Redgrave curtseys to Prince William at the Bafta awards
Congratulations: Self-confessed republican Vanessa Redgrave greeted the Prince warmly 
…would have been hilarious, if it wasn’t simply nauseating.
Sean Matgamna on Gerry Healy and the collapse of the WRP in the 1980’s:
” With Vanessa Redgrave—a splendid actress politically short of more than a few of the pages necessary for a full shooting script—playing Cordelia to his Lear, Healy fled from the wrath of his political children. He died in December 1989, by now an enthusiastic supporter of Russia’s reforming Stalinist Tzar, Gorbachev. Asserting to the end his right to believe what he wanted to believe, he imagined that he saw Gorbachev carrying out Trotsky’s programme in the USSR! Thus the “Gerry Healy story” would have a happy ending!”

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Support Simon Singh – and Dave Osler – tonight in London

February 22, 2010 at 12:35 am (Free Speech, good people, Jim D, science)

Cross-posted from Dave’s Part

MATHEMATICIAN and scientist Dr Simon Singh – the man getting sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association after writing about their particular brand of ‘alternative medicine’ – will find himself in the Court of Appeal on Tuesday. The case will be heard by three of the most powerful legal figures in the UK, namely Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger and Lord Justice Sedley.

Given my own impending appointment with Mr Justice Eady over a 2007 post concerning Baader-Meinhof suspect turned Tower Hamlets Tory activist Johanna Kaschke, I am extremely pleased to be one of the speakers at a solidarity meeting for Simon in London tonight (Monday 22nd Feb).

Also on the bill is consultant cardiologist Dr Peter Wilmshurst, who faces a libel action after criticising research by US company NMT Medical, in what is a test case for the freedom of scientists to engage in academic debate.

The other guest is Dr Ben Goldacre, author of the ‘Bad Science’ column in the Guardian, who successfully fought off a libel action from a vitamin manufacturer who promoted his pills to AIDS sufferers in South African townships.

I have over the years shared platforms with many luminaries of the left and the labour movement, including Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone, Peter Tatchell and Arthur Scargill. I have even addressed a 20,000-strong demo in Istanbul, made of up of angry Turkish ultraleftists raging at the state-directed murder of one of their comrades. But this gathering will be more daunting than even those rallies, not least because I will be the only bleedin’ thicko without a PhD.

The event kicks off on Monday night at 7.00pm, at the Monk Exchange pub in Strutton Ground, SW1. Nearest tube: Victoria. It’s two quid to get in. I’d love it if any Dave’s Part readers are able to get along. Wanna see four guys bricking it at the prospect of being homeless and bankrupt? This is the place to be.

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Staggering, tortuous

February 21, 2010 at 7:52 pm (Human rights, Jim D, media) ()

Can anyone tell me what, exactly, is objectionable about the following statement:

“The violation of basic human rights at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo…must be roundly condemned…But we reject the double standards by which too many on the left consider the violations …by democracies to be more serious than far worse infractions commited by other countries”?

…And why the Senior Editor (politics) of the New Statesman, if I follow him correctly, seems to think that it amounts to condoning the use of torture?

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Confronting far right terror

February 21, 2010 at 6:20 pm (anti-fascism, Max Dunbar)

There’s a report just out by the Centre for Social Cohesion and the antifascist blog Nothing British about the BNP. Written by Edmund Standing and Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, two formidable investigators of the far right, the report argues that the phenomenon poses a terror threat that we should take seriously.

Contrary to what I’ve argued before, the danger from white UK militants is not equivalent to that presented from Al-Qaeda – there are, for example, no known neo-Nazi training camps. Yet there are people infused with apolocalyptic racial ideology, they have been known to make bombs, they have demonstrable associations with the BNP. They have been encouraged by the recession but their beliefs are self-sustaining. In his foreword, Denis MacShane highlights examples of far right terror activity from last year:

  • In July, Yorkshire police raided a neo-Nazi terror cell with international links. They seized the largest suspected terrorist arsenal since the IRA bombings of the early 1990s. Twenty properties were raided and over 300 weapons and 80 bombs were discovered by counter-terrorism detectives. The hardware included rocket launchers, grenades, pipe bombs and dozens of firearms. Several people were charged, and over 30 were questioned over the incident.
  • In September, Neil Lewington, a follower of [Nazi network Blood and Honour], was jailed indefinitely for attempting to launch a bombing campaign against non-white Britons. In his flat, police discovered a bomb-making factory and neo-Nazi literature. Court reports said that Lewington wanted to emulate his ‘heroes’ – David Copeland, the Soho bomber, and Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber.
  • In May, Terence Gavan, a card-carrying member of the BNP, was arrested after police raided his home. In January 2010, he was convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to 11 years in prison, after a stockpile of nail and ball-bearing bombs, shotguns, improvised explosive devices and pistols was found at his house.

MacShane goes on to say this:

On the threat of far-right violence, a cautionary Sir Norman [Bettison, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police] also said that Yorkshire police were not prepared to wait for it to ‘first emerge into the public eye out of a critical incident like an explosion’. He is right. And if there is one lesson to be learned from the rise of extremist UK Islamism, it is that we should not simply wait for people to die. Action is needed now.


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