Sinatra: the intelligent swinger’s guide

December 12, 2015 at 7:08 pm (Jim D, music, song, thuggery, twat)

Frank Sinatra was born 100 years ago today.

He wasn’t the 20th century’s greatest singer: that accolade must go to either Enrico Caruso or Bing Crosby (or, maybe, Louis Armstrong).

But he was the first real pop star.

His unpleasant relationships with gangsters cannot, and should not, be ignored: but that should not prevent us from admiring his artistry in interpreting a song.

Despite stints with Harry James (his first band leader) and Tommy Dorsey (of whom Sinatra said something like, “He tought me everything about how to phrase a song”), Frank was never, really, a jazz singer. But this session with vibist Red Norvo, is probably the closest that Sinatra came to singing jazz:

Wised-up reads:

Richard Williams in the Guardian: A Very Long Retirement

Ian Penman in the London Review Of Books: Swoonatara

Ludovic Hunter-Tilney in the Financial Times: Sinatra’s Way

Gary Giddins (always worth reading) on Jazz singers in general

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Andrew Fisher’s comedy career is over

November 9, 2015 at 2:27 am (comedy, labour party, plonker, posted by JD, reblogged, twat)

  • class war
  • By David Osland (at Left Futures)
  • I hate to break it to him, but Andrew Fisher is just going to have to accept that the second career he so obviously yearns for as a fulltime gag-writer for Frankie Boyle is never going to happen for him. He’ll just have to stick to being Britain’s best young left-wing economist instead.

Rumour is that Russell Howard cruelly sent back one of Andrew’s scripts with a pro-forma rejection slip, probably because he just didn’t think he could get a laugh out of the one-liner describing the Miliband frontbench as  ‘the most abject collection of complete shite’.

Billy Connolly did briefly consider incorporating the sketch about thumping James Purnell into one of his famous Glasgow football violence routines, but in the end decided that it just wasn’t funny enough.

To cap it all, Fisher is a pretty lousy anarchist agitator, too. Proper anarchists throw bombs, assassinate US presidents, or at least get drunk and trash cereal cafes in Bethnal Green. ‘Ni Dieu, ni maitre, ni cornflakes’, as the slogan runs. All Croydon’s answer to Emma Goldman can come up with is a Tweet in apparent support of Class War.

On the other hand, Jimmy Carr hasn’t written too many incisive critiques of neoliberalism, and relatively few Black Block hoodies are able to proffer counsel on macroeconomic policy. Indeed, the striking paucity of economics PhDs in either the comedy community or the ranks of contemporary British Bakuninites makes it best that Jeremy Corbyn picks somebody who knows his r > g from his elbow, without necessarily be able to deliver wisecracks while he’s about it.

But Fisher is now heavily under fire for some of the frankly idiotic things he has Tweeted and said, many of which are as asinine as his economic writings are profound. As I write this, he has been suspended from Labour Party membership, and the right are seeking his expulsion in the next few days.

Some Labour leftwingers have said privately that Fisher should fall on his sword. Jeremy needs to pick his battles, they maintain, and fighting to keep one young aide with a propensity for shooting his mouth off on board just can’t be a priority right now.

I think they are rather missing the point. As Left Futures has consistently argued, this whole affair is not about Fisher’s sporadic outbursts, for which he has quite properly apologised.

No, this manufactured controversy is part of the ‘shelling of Fort Sumter’ proclaimed by Blairite former MP Tom Harris in the Telegraph this week, effectively an open declaration of civil war by the Labour right on the Corbyn leadership.

As can be seen by reading the rightwing press this morning, all of this has been choreographed and the Labour left is facing heavy opening salvoes. The machine evidently doesn’t like being raged against.

We can let those who have proclaimed themselves our enemies, by way of explicit military analogy, to get away with salami slicing tactics. First they want to take out Fisher, a young and relatively low-ranking man. But make no mistake, the ultimate targets are John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn himself.

In these opening skirmishes of what might prove a protracted conflict, keeping Fisher in place is a key defensive task. Indeed, it is right to make it one of our side’s initial priorities.

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Eff off, Morrissey

February 16, 2014 at 7:37 pm (Asshole, Beyond parody, celebrity, comedy, crap, cults, gloating, jerk, music, posted by JD, twat, wankers)

We don’t particularly like A.A Gill here. But his award-winning hatchet-job on that pretentious pillock Morrissey, is much to our liking…

… here ’tis:

Morrissey Autobiography

A A Gill on Autobiography by Morrissey

THE SUNDAY TIMES

AS NOËL Coward might have said, nothing incites intemperate cultural hyperbole like cheap music. Who can forget that the Beatles were once authoritatively lauded as the equal of Mozart, or that Bob Dylan was dubbed a contemporary Keats? The Beatles continued to ignore Covent Garden, and Mozart is rarely heard at Glastonbury; Dylan has been silently culled from the latest edition of the Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry in English.

The publication of Autobiography was the second item on Channel 4’s news on the day it was released. Krishnan Guru-Murthy excitably told the nation that Morrissey really could write — presumably he was reading from an Autocue — and a pop journalist thrilled that he was one of the nation’s greatest cultural icons. He isn’t even one of Manchester’s greatest cultural icons.

This belief in high-low cultural relativity leads to a certain sort of chippy pop star feeling undervalued and then hoitily producing a rock opera or duet with concert harpsichord. Morrissey, though, didn’t have to attain the chip of being needily undervalued; he was born with it. He tells us he ditched “Steve”, his given name, to be known by his portentous unimoniker because — deep reverential breath here — great classical composers only have one name. Mussorgsky, Mozart, Morrissey.

His most pooterishly embarrassing piece of intellectual social climbing is having this autobiography published by Penguin Classics. Not Modern Classics, you understand, where the authors can still do book signings, but the classic Classics, where they’re dead and some of them only have one name. Molière, Machiavelli, Morrissey.

He has made up for being alive by having a photograph of himself pretending to be dead on the cover. The book’s publication was late and trade gossip has it that Steve insisted on each and every bookshop taking a minimum order of two dozen, misunderstanding how modern publishing works. But this is not unsurprising when you read the book. He is constantly moaning about record producers not pressing enough discs to get him to No 1. What is surprising is that any publisher would want to publish the book, not because it is any worse than a lot of other pop memoirs, but because Morrissey is plainly the most ornery, cantankerous, entitled, whingeing, self-martyred human being who ever drew breath. And those are just his good qualities.

The book falls into two distinct passages. The first quarter is devoted to growing up in Manchester (where he was born in 1959) and his schooling. This is laughably overwrought and overwritten, a litany of retrospective hurt and score-settling that reads like a cross between Madonna and Catherine Cookson. No teacher is too insignificant not to be humiliated from the heights of success, no slight is too small not to be rehashed with a final, killing esprit d’escalier. There are pages of lists of television programmes he watched (with plot analysis and character criticism). He could go on Mastermind with the specialist subject of Coronation Street or the works of Peter Wyngarde. There is the food he ate, the groups that appeared on Top of the Pops (with critical comments) and the poetry he liked (with quotes).

All of this takes quite a lot of time due to the amount of curlicues, falderals and bibelots he insists on dragging along as authorial decoration. Instead of adding colour or depth, they simply result in a cacophony of jangling, misheard and misused words. After 100 pages, he’s still at the school gate kicking dead teachers.

But then he sets off on the grown-up musical bit and the writing calms down and becomes more diary-like, bloggish, though with an incontinent use of italics that are a sort of stage direction or aside to the audience. He changes tenses in ways that are supposed to be elegant but just sound camp. There is one passage that stands out — this is the first time he sings. “Against the command of everyone I had ever known, I sing. My mouth meets the microphone and the tremolo quaver eats the room with acceptable pitch and I am removed from the lifelong definition of others and their opinions matter no more. I am singing the truth by myself which will also be the truth of others and give me a whole life. Let the voice speak up for once and for all.” That has the sense of being both revelatory and touching, but it stands out like the reflection of the moon in a sea of Stygian self-justification and stilted self-conscious prose.

The hurt recrimination is sometimes risible but mostly dull, like listening to neighbours bicker through a partition wall, and occasionally startlingly unpleasant, such as the reference to the Moors murderers and the unfound grave of their victim Keith Bennett. “Of course, had Keith been a child of privilege or moneyed background, the search would never have been called off. But he was a poor, gawky boy from Manchester’s forgotten side streets and minus the blond fantasy fetish of a cutesy Madeleine McCann.”

It’s what’s left out of this book rather than what’s put in that is strangest. There is an absence of music, not just in its tone, but the content. There are emetic pools of limpid prose about the music business, the ingratitude of fellow musicians and band members and the lack of talent in other performers, but there is nothing about the making of music itself, the composing of lyrics, the process of singing or the emotion of creation. He seems to assume we will already know his back catalogue and can hum along to his recorded life. This is 450 pages of what makes Morrissey, but nothing of what Morrissey makes.

There is the peevishness at managers, record labels and bouncers, a list of opaque court cases, all of which he manages to lose unfairly, due to the inherited stupidity of judges. Even his relation with the audience is equivocal. Morrissey likes them when they’re worshipping from a distance, but he is not so keen when they’re up close. As an adolescent he approaches Marc Bolan for an autograph. Bolan refuses and Morrissey, still awkwardly humiliated after all these years, has the last word. But then later in the book and life, he does exactly the same thing to his own fans without apparent irony.

There is little about his private life. A boyfriend slips in and out with barely a namecheck. This is him on his early sexual awakening: “Unfathomably I had several cupcake grapples in this year of 1973… Plunge or no plunge, girls remain mysteriously attracted to me.” There is precious little plunging after that.

There are many pop autobiographies that shouldn’t be written. Some to protect the unwary reader, and some to protect the author. In Morrissey’s case, he has managed both. This is a book that cries out like one of his maudlin ditties to be edited. But were an editor to start, there would be no stopping. It is a heavy tome, utterly devoid of insight, warmth, wisdom or likeability. It is a potential firelighter of vanity, self-pity and logorrhoeic dullness. Putting it in Penguin Classics doesn’t diminish Aristotle or Homer or Tolstoy; it just roundly mocks Morrissey, and this is a humiliation constructed by the self-regard of its victim.

This article originally appeared in The Sunday Times on 27/10/13

Read all reviews for Morrissey’s Autobiography

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The right way to treat Farage

May 18, 2013 at 1:47 pm (Anti-Racism, Champagne Charlie, Europe, Galloway, populism, protest, scotland, twat, UKIP)

Nigel Farage is used to getting an easy ride. Most of the British press fawn over him and even political opponents (including Labour) have evidently decided to avoid direct attacks and criticism.

So the heckling and minor jostling he and his supporters received on Thursday in an Edinburgh pub, and some mildly critical remarks from a BBC Radio Scotland interviewer, seemed to come as a terrible shock: the saloon bar loudmouth suddenly turned into a priggish prima donna and left Scotland in a frightful huff.

Good

I don’t know who the people who organised the Edinburgh protest are. They have been described as “left wing nationalists” so I suspect I for one wouldn’t agree with them on Scottish independence. But their representative on last night’s Newsnight came over as quite reasonable, and another organiser, Liam O’Hare is quoted in today’s Graun saying: “The people who demonstrated were internationalist. We opposed Nigel Farage coming as we believe in a society that welcomes immigrants, that welcomes people from all walks of life, wherever they come from, but doesn’t welcome racists like Nigel Farage.”

Farage and Ukip are not (quite) fascists. But they are thoroughgoing racists and general-purpose ultra-reactionaries. The nearest recent UK precedent would be Enoch Powell and the semi-official movement he built round himself in the late sixties and early seventies. The left didn’t pussy-foot about when it came to Powell: so why are most of us so polite when it comes to Farage and Ukip?

P.S: Check out Mr Galloway’s craven comments, here.

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RomneyShambles

July 28, 2012 at 8:22 am (Champagne Charlie, comedy, Democratic Party, London, Republican Party, twat, United States)

The US Democrats have wasted no time in making capital out of Romney’s Olympian ineptitude in London. And who can blame them?

The RomneyShambles saw the US presidential contender lurch from one fax pas to another, speaking of “looking out of the backside of 10 Downing Street”, disclosing what was meant to be a secret meeting with MI6 and appearing to criticise London 2012 on the eve of the Games. The ineptitude is especially memorable because visiting England should have been the easy bit of a Romney foreign tour.

Meanwhile US comedian Stephen Colbert urged Romney to “stay strong.”

“Remember, your next stop is Israel. Keep up the charm offensive. I say you open your speech to the Knesset with, ‘America will always stand behind you and so will Jesus Christ. Now where can a boy get some baby-back ribs in Palestine?’”

NB: we publish the above purely for the information and amusement of readers, not because we feel terribly strongly about what Romney said. Mind, you, as Jonathan Freedland writes in today’s Graun:

“This remember, is the party that slammed John Kerry for the crime of speaking French. Its antics, like those of the man it has chosen for the presidency, would be funny were the Republican party not aspiring to hold an office that is still mighty and, for the rest of the world, deadly serious.”

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Assange scarpers to Ecuador embassy

June 20, 2012 at 12:01 am (Afghanistan, apologists and collaborators, Asshole, asylum, Jim D, twat)

Julian Assange
.
Assange: facing extradition over alleged sex crimes

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is seeking political asylum at Ecuador’s London embassy, the country’s foreign minister has said.

“Ecuador is studying and analysing the request,” Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told reporters in Quito.

Last week the UK’s Supreme Court dismissed Assange’s bid to reopen an appeal against extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crimes he denies.

The Foreign Office says it will work with Ecuador to resolve the situation.

On 14 July the Supreme Court gave him until 28 June before extradition proceedings can start.

He says the allegations are politically-motivated.

Swedish prosecutors want to question him over allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two female former Wikileaks volunteers in mid-2010.

Mr Assange, whose Wikileaks website has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments and international businesses, claims the sex was consensual.

In a statement, Ecuador’s embassy said he had arrived there on Tuesday afternoon to seek asylum.

“As a signatory to the United Nations Universal Declaration for Human Rights, with an obligation to review all applications for asylum, we have immediately passed his application on to the relevant department in Quito,” it said.

“While the department assesses Mr Assange’s application, Mr Assange will remain at the embassy, under the protection of the Ecuadorean government.”

It said the decision to consider the bid for asylum “should in no way be interpreted as the government of Ecuador interfering in the judicial processes of either the United Kingdom or Sweden.”

NB: Assange’s Afghan victims never had the opportunity to seek asylum:

David Leigh of England’s Guardian newspaper has leveled a shocking accusation against Mr. Assange…

He recalls a meeting he was invited to about the publication of the war memos.  He remembers pleading with Assange to redact the names of tribal elders and U.S. informants who were exposed cooperating with the U.S. and could be the subject of deadly retribution.  He comments, “Julian was very reluctant to delete those names, to redact them. And we said: ‘Julian, we’ve got to do something about these redactions. We really have got to.'”

“And he said: ‘These people were collaborators, informants. They deserve to die.’ And a silence fell around the table.”

Mr. Assange seemingly denied the allegation calling it “absolutely false… completely false.”

But he qualifies, “We don’t want innocent people with a decent chance of being hurt to be hurt”-  from: Daily Tech

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George Galloway MP: an apology

April 30, 2012 at 1:17 pm (apologists and collaborators, Asshole, Catholicism, Galloway, Guardian, homophobia, islamism, Jim D, Respect, stalinism, twat)

Shiraz Socialist has on a number of occasions described Mr George Galloway, MP for Blackburn Bradford West, as a “Stalinist,” a term that implies a belief in a form of socialism, characterised by state control of the means of production and opposition to private property.

George Galloway in Dundee in 1978

Above: young Galloway while still a socialist… of sorts 

In view of Mr Galloway’s inteview with Ms Decca Aitkenhead in today’s Guardian G2, in which he states:

But my main political mistake, in retrospect, was that state ownsership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, in which I believed, and for which I campaigned, was a false God…Yes I’m not saying that everything in the private garden is rosy. There’s just more flowers than there were in the state garden. I’m sorry to say that, and, yes it is painful.”

…we accept that it was completely untrue to suggest that Mr Galloway is presently a “Stalinist” or, indeed, a believer in any ideology that could be described as in any remote way, however degenerate, as “socialist.” We unreservedly apologise to Mr Galloway for any distresss caused to himself, any of his wives, or Mr Ovenden.

We accept that Mr Galloway is a godly, religious man, perhaps a Catholic or possibly a Muslim, but either way he opposes secularism and seeks to re-introduce religiously-based communalism to British politics. As Ms Aitkenhead notes:

“We had talked a great deal about the role of religion in politics, and could not have disagreed more. I thought it outrageous to urge voters in Bradford, as he did, to vote for him or fear the wrath of judgment day. Galloway can’t see the problem at all: ‘I believe that, on judgment day, people have to answer for what they did.’ When I ask if he is troubled that many voters thought he had converted to Islam, he replies: ‘Well, I don’t think many of them are interested in my religion’ – which is pretty rich, considering he put out a leaflet all about which candidate was more of a Muslim. Contrary to every report I’ve read, he doesn’t deny writing the leaflet himself. I think he is ludicrously slippery about invoking religion, playing it both ways to suit his own purposes, but, as he says, we are never going to agree because he doesn’t think politics should be secular. ‘So it’s apples and pears, dear’.”

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Our last Galloway post for now – promise!

April 11, 2012 at 12:24 am (apologists and collaborators, Asshole, Beyond parody, Galloway, gay, islamism, Jim D, religious right, stalinism, thuggery, twat)

I guess that regular readers will have worked out by now that ‘Shiraz’ is not a George Galloway fan site. Unfortunately Mr Galloway has wormed his way back into mainstream politics and will soon be taking up his seat in parliament. We shall be watching him with our usual eagle eye.

In the meantime, I suspect that most readers have had enough of Mr Galloway, so I promise not to even mention him for at least one week.

Meanwhile, here is the twat, coming over like the ignorant, arrogant, fascistic arse he is; this really is worth viewing, believe me:

H-t: Monsuer Jelly est Formidable

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Galloway’s “Blackburn triumph”

April 1, 2012 at 5:27 pm (apologists and collaborators, Asshole, Beyond parody, Galloway, islamism, Jim D, populism, Respect, stalinism, twat)

Off to a good start as a constituency MP, then.

Galloway claimed that his Twitter account had been hacked. So, obviously, it was a “zionist” plot to discredit him.

On Radio 4 this morning someone commented, “Well Galloway has represented a lot of places beginning with “B”: Bethnal Green and Bow, Baghdad…”

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Tories put lives at risk, ignore safety laws

March 28, 2012 at 5:12 pm (Jim D, Tory scum, twat, Unite the union, workers)

Minister Francis Maude speaks out over possible tanker drivers’ strike

4:43pm Wednesday 28th March 2012 in News By Nigel Kerton

Minister Francis Maude during a visit to Chippenham
Francis Maude: fire hazard

Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service has issued safety advice after a suggestion that people could store petrol.

Cabinet office minister Francis Maude had said: “The greater extent to which people have fuel in their vehicles – maybe a little bit in the garage as well in a jerry can – the longer we can keep things going.”

But the fire service said: “Petroleum Regulations state that it is illegal to store more than two five-litre purpose built plastic containers (total of 10 litres) or more than two 10-litre purpose built metal containers (total of 20 litres) without a licence.

“These maximum amounts of petrol can be stored in your garage. It should not be stored within any living areas of your house. If you intend storing more than this you would require a licence from the Local Authority Petroleum Officer.

“The maximum content of a full ‘jerry can’ is typically 22 litres.”

Businesses would have to revisit fire risk assessment if storing petrol and the fire service said petrol had to be kept in appropriate containers and away from any potential ignition sources.

From an article in The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald (unchanged except for the photo caption)
 
Len McCluskey explains the issues here
  
Unite leaflet (pdf) here

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