Sunday, October 30, 2016

cocking a snook at ye kynge

Is it a painting or a political cartoon? In the tradition initiated by Daumier ad followed by George Grosz, and Bob Crumb it's both.

As a depiction of the structure of contemporary neo-feudalism, & the way living under such a system feels in the first world, it's accurate. The third world is represented here too, with the 6 tiny figures at the bottom of the page standing in for the billions of India, Africa, Latin America, and all he various places on earth where the people feel as if they're the property of North American and/or western European corporations.

And most of these billions are cooperative, at least on the surface. Only in the far right bottom corner do we see the initial sign of rebellion, as a boy of 10 or 12, of undeterminable race & nationality, disobeys the instruction to salute and instead cocks a snook at the king.                                                                       

The King, sitting baby-like on his throne with feet dangling above the floor, is as far removed as possible from the billion or so children dying of starvation in his realm, all of them represented by this one insignificant figure who is nearly squeezed out of the picture, & to a lesser extent by the tiny waif clinging to her mothert's saari near he middle of the line of neofeudal serfs we used to call "peasants."


Thursday, October 27, 2016

litt'o asbo

For you yanks who don't speak that much English,
ASBO is a British acronym standing for Anti-Social Behaviour Order.

If an ASBO is broken or flagrantly disregarded, it can quickly be converted into an arrest warrant with a detailed list of particulars. For example, the ASBO recipient pictured above, Liam Wilkinson of Chorley, UK, a medium-size town about 20 miles northwest of Manchester, is forbidden by his ASBO from being drunk in public, or in possession of an open container, or pelting passers-by with eggs and/or stones(!). Legally, an ASBO is like a parole order without a conviction.

Wilkinson has become a cause celebre in England where he is known as Britain's smallest thug. At 19 years he's attained a stature of 3' 9" and is apparently through growing.

Under the circumstances, Liam Wilkinson would have to possess an unusual strength of character to avoid harboring
 antisocial feelings. The problem at this point in his life is keeping those feelings under control, and the answer lies in avoiding alcohol altogether.

It's a very tall order for a very short guy. I've Been There and DoneThat and it's never easy for anybody to quit drinking, especially one familiar with its anaesthetic effects in ameliorating negative social situations such as being bullied or harassed, and so forth. Even geography is working against young Liam; the northern shelf of Europe, the broad plain that runs from the frozen wastes of Siberia west to the Atlantic, then continues across the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, is home to the most hard-core rummies in the history of civilization. Alcoholics Anonymous is not a popular organization in northern Europe, with its antri-religous mass culture and near-universal aversion to the G-word.

Unpopular or not, AA is still there, still a possibility for the afflicted, and while Liam Wilkinson and millions of others may be repulsed by all the musing about God and AA happy talk at first, many will eventually return to listen and learn, and find a better way of life.

Something tells me this guy's case is worth following up. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

joey, the clown from london town, en tableau

                     Before there was drama there was tableau. It's amazing how little dialog is needed to convey a complete story in all its complexity, especially a universal tale like the one shown above.

          A popeyed baby stands in front of the group slightly to the left. A regular wellspring  of mucous and saliva, the little mocoso nonetheless is an object of diabolical lust for Old Ned, who hovers just to Joey's left, ready at the first opportunity to pounce on the child's innocent and spotless soul. Joey restrains the Devil slightly with his left shoulder, for he is fully aware of his own role here, and knows that if push comes to shove, he can expect little real assistance from the self-important, self-satisfied, and stupid policeman.

It's incredible to me how easily we recognize the archetypes on display here: Joey, the universal human, stares straight back at the viewer as if appealing for some relief in his struggle to protect innocence from the yellow-eyed evil on his left and the well-intentioned but inept "good" elements of society on his right.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

the fat babies

band  members

Beau Sample- string bass / leader
Andy Schumm-cornet
Dave Bock- trombone
John Otto - reeds
Paul Asaro - piano
Jake Sanders - banjo
Alex Hall - drums

For those of us who feel we've been wasting away in a culturally valueless universe this past half century, 'never fear,' b'cuz the cavalry is here. Fat Babies, drawn from the 20-40 age cohort, play a scholarly, wonkey, square jawed, and restrained version of the music that started in Chicago and migrated to New York City in the 20's. They render it carefully, with great precision, but leave plenty of  room for individual expression.

The Babies' organizaton is key to their approach; it's the brain child of bassist and front man Beau Sample. On the bandstand, the front line of horns appears to be directed  by Cornetist Andy Schumm, a talented & dedicated Beiderbecke devotee. 

It's the cornet which provides Z energy that propels this precision instrument called 'fat babies.' Check out the sounds AND the sources, and I think you'll agree.

"Stampede" by Miff Mole's and Red Nichols's Stompers  (1926) highlights the New York style at it most idiosyncratic. Fletcher Henderson wrote this tune when the Bix movement was waxing strong as a pop influence, AND Andy SCHUMM's superb re-invention (cue up yr tape player to 14:00 minutes to catch the beginning) is reverential enough 2 satisfy the strictest know-it-all purist; I only wish the Babies could get a drummer who doesn't need to read every stroke he plays. A little more starch in the rhythm section generally is in order if the Fat Babies are going to come up to the (very high), old - timey standards of our ancestors. 

Monday, October 03, 2016


Seems like to me the single politucal  party which dominates our daily lives these days consists of the "in" & the "out" crowds, and that the only real action occurring any more is the struggle of these two remaining elements for hegemony and domination.

The half called Demolicans have been on the outs 4 16 yrs, having been tarred with  the "liberal" label and brushed off immediately after the 9/11 attack. According to Dr. JOHNSON, This method of observation shows all religions 2 B equally false, whereas for the remnant of New Dealers they are equally true, and to ordinary American photojournalists, equally silly and childish.

Now  another election yr has come, and we've never seen a worse one. I plan 2 vote on all the down-ballot races; for the big prize, I plan to keep my opinion 2myself.