Sunday, December 03, 2006


SECTARIAN 19.11.06

What about THE RIGHT TO NOT BELONG to a group defined by ethnos, nation, religion, gender?

DON COVAY--What's In The Headlines
One of the great singer-songwriters with a lament that fluctuates between resignation and bitter irony about the stuff that doesn't make it to the news writ large. Some media studies types used to call this agenda setting or gatekeeping. Features a disturbing kazoo.

I was thinking about that recent film Death of a President with that Zabruder-type fake still of GWB getting a bullet. This song is a gospel number about Lee Harvey Oswald and his buddies. But a week after I'd dubbed it Gemayal was killed in Lebanon and that former Soviet spy received the radioactive poisoned chalice. Weird. I suppose assassins are always at work, the norm rather than the extraordinary.

JACK PALANCE--The Meanest Guy That Ever Lived
Could have been written for Pinochet or Osama Bin Laden or any number of dead presidents. Reminds me of the recently deceased thespian's fantastic turn as the hired gun in Shane (see image above). I love the way he grins when he mows down Elisha Cook Jnr. The malevolent spirit of the Wild West is still alive and well beyond the western frontier. You don't have to watch Deadwood to appreciate that. I met Jack Palance once. I must have been about 10 years old. It was the early 70s and Majid this drinker friend of my Mum and Dad's--the only serious drinker friend they had I think--was walking with us around Hyde Park near Speaker's Corner one Sunday. Art vendors were peddling their wares, as they say. Majid shouted Jack Palance and rushed up to the actor with a smile on his face. Can't recall the words exchanged, just a shake of the hand and a nod our way.

SUICIDE--Ghost Rider (Live)
This is the ride of the valkyries after the apocalypse. Sounds like the buzz of a hundred helicopter gunships ready to land on your head.

JOHNNIE TAYLOR--Rome (Wasn't Built In A Day)
A crackly almost northern soul tune about the repair work needed for a relationship. Could work just as easily as a neocon fable for the reconstruction of Iraq.

THE WILD TCHOUPITOULAS--Big Chief Got A Golden Crown
It's ready to get knocked off though. Allen Touissaint with that whoozy Nawlins sound. Tribal.

EDDIE KIRK--Them Bones
There's a lotta dem bones scattered around the soil. Eddie Kirk's are still moving.

CANDI STATON--As Long As He Takes Care Of Home
Domestic policy is more important. It's the economy, stupid. That's what they said. If he fixes that, then all the stuff overseas is forgiven. Not--as Borat might say.

JAMES BROWN--Don't Tell A Lie About Me And I Won't Tell The Truth About You
Honesty in short supply. Make a deal.

DR WHO DAT?--March To Viberia
If only we could do that instead of leaping into Narnia or another tract of sand.

BEF--Groove Thang
We don't need that fascist g-thang. Heaven 17 without the vocals.

NICKODEMUS--Cleopatra in New York (Zim Zam remix)
Yes, she's a flaneur on Fifth Avenue.

NICOLETTE--No Government (In The Jungle)
What if, rather than the anarchist impulse of this anthem for the rave generation

Haven't heard KRS One so on point for a while.

LIL' LOUIS--Blackout
Is it global warming or the failure to manage the grid around the world? Mr French Kiss gives a fundamental(ist) warning about the almighty's possible actions.

BOIKUTT--Sabe3 Nomeh
Ramallah hip hop instrumental. So stark, so brutal, the meaning's in the space between the notes.

This isn't the Old Testament punisher of Lil' Louis's track, but power defined by a benevolent surveillance. That's the way conscience is pricked. The fear of god works many ways.

THE DEAD TEXAN--A Chronicle Of Early Failures (Part One)
Yes, that's GWB's presidency and his political fate. Music to drown the past and present.



Another slice of Americanismo. I've been meaning to post this playlist for ages but Saghir (newly American with freshly minted blue passport) was visiting from San Diego, so it got sidelined. I do really love his country. Thanks again to the audioblogosphere which is primarily responsible for my ongoing musical education. This comp's loosely inspired by the fallout after the kickout of the Republicans from Congress and all that reconciliatory baloney. I hope that in the new year several committees will begin to investigate with rigour, purpose and speed the Republican administration's corporate mismanagement of the War on Terror (not just Iraq) along with the associated corruption. Loadsamoney. Not sure how much the change in the personnel will make to foreign policy. It's too late with scores of people being killed in Iraq every day. The Iraq Study Group's report (rather an inocuous academic name for a policy fink tank) has produced an old Republican spin on the neo-con strategy in Iraq and the Middle East. Back to the Texas/CIA nexus that have supported George Sr. for decades. (That reminds me of the time I bought the Dallas 1963 shooter team's getaway vehicle when I lived in Texas. Will save that one for another post though. ) The media is hyping the Iraq report as a major indictment of Bush and a new way forward, but as someone from the Institute for Policy Studies in the US said on the BBC today, it really doesn't have any clear plan for withdrawal. It doesn't acknowledge the illegality of the invasion and occupation. The Report is meant to show the US public that the Republicans have sorted themselves out, given Georgie Boy a slap on the wrist and got rid of the neo-cons in the administration. Georgie Boy is probably hoping for the compensation of Saddam's swinging corpse as a Xmas present before he departs the Oval office for good, having got the US into another war that it has lost. Georgie was always up for an execution, as we know from his time as the Governor of Tejas.

GROUCHO MARX--I'm Against It
I'm not sure if this is from Duck Soup (which may the greatest political satire in Hollywood history--certainly more anarchic than Chaplin's more acclaimed The Great Dictator)--but whichever movie it's from I'm increasingly appreciative of Groucho's Marxist commentary about political offices and hallways. Included here for its juxtaposition with the two-faced term that is the title of this playlist.

If we're still thinking cinematically, I'm conjuring up an early 1940s musical directed by Frank Capra in which a black janitor, played by Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson, steals the film from the white folks with some taps and a mop to sweep the incumbent losers of the Republican Party out of the corridors, down the steps and out on to the street.

Amazing NYC song about 'fabricating authenticity'. Just a great city slicker tune. Thought this fit Georgie since he's always going on about being so Texan and a ranching dude when he's really a spoilt east coast frat boy who tried to sound really western.

Not possible as a political or sexual formation when you've got it locked down by the Republicans and Democrats. Western swing vote.

FLOYD TILLMAN--Drivin' Nails In My Coffin
If only we could. More honky tonk.

DON GIBSON--Oh Lonesome Me
Yep, you should be dispatched back to your ranch in Crawford. Don't ever bother coming back.

LINDA LANE--Tribute To America
With a title like this, and on a country-ish collection, you'd expect this to be female redneck fare, but no it's a remarkably bipartisan paean to all that is great about the greatest country in the whole fucken world. They take the immigrants. They've given so many things to the rest of the world, like freedom and democracy.

Madame Clinton voted for the war, remember. She lurves Israel. Lots of anti-abortionists among the Democrats too.

KITTY WELLS--A Woman Half My Age

One for that Senator who wrote those emails to his interns.

JOHNNY CASH--That's Enough
Cut the bullshit. Only Jesus can save our boys in Iraq.


Yes, he will. A Lieber & Stoller Spanish Harlem-ish take on the Jim Reeves hit

THREE J's--Chalito, Part Two
Moody organ for that border fence.

Nuyorican boogaloo to hook up all interested parties for a diplomatic solution.

Can't forget the Latin sphere of influence and the canal in Uncle Sam's back yard.

SESAME STREET & THE POINTER SISTERS--Pinball Number Count (DJ Food remix)
This might help those counting the votes in the elections, especially if they hail from Florida or Ohio.

WILLIE BOBO--Fried Neck Bones & Some Homefries
Homefries are freedom fries, not French fries. Mmm, fried neck bones...

ENNIO MORRICONE--Death Rides A Horse (II)
It wishes to take the evildoers dead or alive.

Franz wrote Amerika without every having visited there. I wonder if this European starlet wrote Kafka without ever having visited Prague.

HANK SNOW--I've Been Everywhere
A round-the-country travelogue. 50 states in his truck. Hawa'ii, just. Even beyond, following the Monroe doctrine.

Also covered by the Everly brothers. I can smell the blue grass.

DIXIE CHICKS--Travelin' Soldier
It's always Vietnam in these songs though we know they're talkin' about this war.

JOSH RITTER--Girl In The War
'Talkin to Jesus is like asking Laurel to give Hardy a gun'. I know a girl in the war.

BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE--Lazarus (Dead Or Alive)
Back from the grave. Buffy is an angel of history here.

STAN FREEBERG--Heartbreak Hotel

Echo & reverb ad absurdum in this Elvis spoof.

13th FLOOR ELEVATORS--May The Circle Remain Unbroken

Echo & reverb ad absurdum in this psychedelicized country myth

BLUE SKY BOYS--I'm Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail
Should be matched up with another great prison song, The Zombies' 'Care of Cell 44'. I want more songs about female prisoners. Guantanamo, here we come.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Imagine the climax of a film directed by George Romero or David Cronenberg.

Vaguely human figures are swathed in cloth, ready to bite pieces out of Tony Blair, John Reid and other parliamentaries in Westminster.

The horde of hooded women runs rampant through central London, knocking down statues of England's finest.

They enter the Abbey where they ululate at a high pitch and impale a bishop on a holy candlestick as the plaster cracks around them.

The evacuation of Downing Street is too little too late as a gaggle of these monsters overcome the PM in his hallway. They asphyxiate him with yards of cloth, then wrap him up like a pupa.

These living dead are not identikit mummies.

In this shariah splatter movie we follow one character home to her terrace after some grocery shopping for eggplant and chillies. Her capped husband expects the meal on the table at the right time, and the timely completion of other necessary duties that become a Muslim woman. May they be carried out mercifully without friction, he thinks. Several sociologists, professional psychologists and other experts will later state that this marital stress is the source of Muslim female aggression rather than Britain's ambient Islamophobia.

The burqa women meet regularly in high-street shops such as Boots the Chemists to mutter in their own languages. They tend to frequent the chippies not the hammams. Groups of mothers pray together. They share babysitting duties. Despite these banal activities, something compels them to a medley of sudden and highly choreographed violent acts.

Tourists are shocked when a small phalanx of these ladies begin yodelling and waving their arms in Piccadilly Circus after Jummah Prayers, just a couple of days after the Baqr Eid. The object of their wrath is unclear, but the Metropolitan police keep their distance.

The next day a chubby right-wing politician who has recently exercised his freedom of speech is found hacked to death with a crescent moon and star cut into his face. The forensics identify the weapons as very long manicured fingernails. The nail polish is traced to a brand sold exclusively at Harrods.

A few days later the naked, bloated bodies of three Cockerney skinheads float to the surface of the Thames to the screams of mothers pushing prams on the South Bank. The puffy white corpses have been wrapped in black burqas.

Paranoia stalks the streets of London. Spit rains down from the top deck of red buses on to many a woman in a burqa.

One such case engenders panic in the away supporters section at the Emirates Stadium, until police discover that she is the wife of one of the Arsenal team's sponsors. She is only carrying the Gunners' colours--no guns, grenades or strap-on bombs.

In the coming weeks, billboards featuring scantily clad women and alcohol are found almost every morning vandalized with blood red paint and Arabic slogans.

Pet dogs mysteriously disappear and reappear daily as mangled roadkill.

Muslim pundits appear on the news to tell the British public that those responsible are an extremist minority of militants, and not representative of the modest and homebound majority of British Muslim women.

The next morning the imam of the city's central mosque is found naked, dead and mutilated at the bottom of the number one minaret. He has been repeatedly slashed with knives and swords. The scars form geometric patterns that match the Islamicate designs lining the main door of the mosque. The victim's long beard has been shaved and bits of hair have been glued together crudely on the concrete beside his body. The dense grey bush of Arabic calligraphy reads 'Astaghfirullah' ('May Allah Forgive Me') . The imam's throat has been cut halal-style. In the fear-gripped capital, rumours of his castration circulate.

The soundtrack for Niqab Zombies! was assembled for October 31 but I've been finessing its fear quotient since Halloween. Giorgio Agamben via Nikos Papastergiadis on 'zombie multiculturalism' inspired the finishing touches.


LEADBELLY--Where Did You Sleep Last Night?
LITTLE ANN--Deep Shadows
LOMBARDO TWINS--Arabian Nightmare
PINCH--Qawwali V.I.P.
TORTOISE--TNT (Nobukazu Takemura remix)
BOLA--Ballast (Triangle)
SUBTLE--F.K.O. (Console remix)
ISOLEE--Hermelin (Original Mix)
CHURCH UNIVERSAL & TRIUMPHANT, INC.--Invocation For Judgement Against And Destruction of Rock Music
SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON--Your Funeral & My Trial

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Well did you hear, there’s a natural order.
Those most deserving will end up with the most.
That the cream cannot help but always rise up to the top,
Well I say: Shit floats.
If you thought things had changed,
Friend you’d better think again,
Bluntly put in the fewest of words,
Cunts are still running the world,
Cunts are still running the world.

Now the working classes are obsolete,
They are surplus to society's needs,
So let ‘em all kill each other,
And get it made overseas.
That’s the word don’t you know,
From the guys thats running the show,
Lets be perfectly clear boys and girls,
Cunts are still running the world,
Cunts are still running the world.

Oh feed your children on crayfish and lobster tails,
Find a school near the top of the league,
In theory I respect your right to exist,
I will kill ya if you move in next to me,
Ah it stinks, it sucks, it’s anthropologically unjust,
But the takings are up by a third, Oh So
Cunts are still running the world,
Cunts are still running the world.

Your free market is perfectly natural,
Or do you think that I’m some kind of dummy,
It’s the ideal way to order the world,
Fuck the morals, does it make any money?
And if you don’t like it? Then leave.
Or use your right to protest on the street,
Yeah, use your rights but don’t imagine that it’s heard, Oh no no,
Cunts are still running the world,
Cunts are still running the world.

Of course, Natural's not in it, as The Gang Of Four put it some decades ago. Music is mainly used to sell stuff these days, so it's great to hear a song that cuts through the bullshit so economically.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


The director of The Battle of Algiers has gone to that world where everything's in 16mm and black-and-white. Thank you, Gillo. BOA is not just a Third Worldist film for a bygone era of anticolonial nationalism. Viva Insurgent Cinema!


I've been finessing this playlist since the end of August and am finally happy with it. Shuchi and I were in court in Austin, Texas on 31st August 1996.

LES NUBIANS--Tabou (featuring Casey)
DJ /RUPTURE--In Front Of You
PRINCE PAUL--Sucker For Love
EDDIE KENDRICKS--Intimate Friends
J.R. BAILEY--Love, Love, Love
DOROTHY ASHBY--Come Live With Me
CHUCK JACKSON--I Like Everything About You
HANK JACOBS--Playboy Penthouse
MAREVA (GALANTER)--Bang Bang (Avec Jacno)
HELENA--Can't Get You Out Of My Head
LUKA BLOOM--Dancing Queen
THE BOSWELL SISTERS--Coffee In The Morning And Kisses At Night

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Holiday weekend here. I realize that I write so little about where I live: Mt Albert in Auckland. There's a part of me that's very much in the now and here. I like my neighbourhood and most aspects of my everyday life. I'm local as. I find the free suburban paper in the letterbox quite comforting, but I almost never look at the rag that calls itself a national daily. I'm detached from the search for a national identity. I suspect that many people in the land of the long white cloud share that boredom with New Zealandish hype, though we're not supposed to say this in public. I've been a guestworker here for 10 years and made it to citizenship. Give me a warm home, some friends, a job that pays the bills, works the mind, and a government that cares for the welfare of the people and the environment without having to brand the territory or big up some unitary cultural identity. But make me believe in a national fantasy and I couldn't care less. These feelings--never far below the surface of routine--bubbled up again as I watched a smidgeon of the New Zealand music awards. Various local pop culture celebrities and musicians desperately tried to sound funny as they gave out awards for a mediocre miscellany of the last year's sounds. Chug a chug chug. I'd rather listen to 1960s tunes by Montreal ye ye groups.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Thanks to Shirin Neshat who I've 'bitten' with the picture here.

I've decided that when I next go to Inglan which, to paraphrase LKJ and Snoop, is certainly a beeeeeaaaatch right now, then I'm going to wear a veil. Not one of those wimpy scarves with forehead exposed but the serious Ninja niqab so that no one can see my face. Not even my eyes. When the blancmanges make you visible only according to their scopic regimes, then it's better to be invisible. This look or should I say veil-style will be even more severe than the sistahs who sneaked their bombs through to kill the French occupiers in the Battle of Algiers. Sorry forgot my etudes cinematique. They actually disrobed to deliver the bombs, integrated into western culture as Jack Straw would have it. Jackass is angling for a job in the next PM's cabinet. Oh you're so hard, Jackie boy. Thank you for protecting the deep-rooted fashion values of Great Britain. Winston Churchill would be proud of you. I'm surprised the Strawman's constituents haven't asked him to don the niqab himself. That way they wouldn't have to see his ugly visage. The sight of Fiery Jack certainly upsets my cultural sensibilities. I like to see an honest open face when I meet a member of parliament, not a liar's mug. I guess if you help send troops and bombs to kill Iraqis and occupy their country based on the WMD lie it will eventually appear on your face. 655,000 and still counting. So let's cover that face. At least wear sunglasses so we don't see your dishonest pupils. It's all in the face, as you said. In yer face.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Highlight of the week may have been Status Quo playing Rockin' All Over The World on Coronation Street.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Gary Younge hits the nail on the head.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Absolutely knackered today. A staff-student consultative meeting, followed by a seminar (excellent) given by a PhD student I co-supervise, a hastily guzzled and impromptu lunch with sociologists, sugarless V, students at door, tutor discussion, a two-hour lecture on two films (thank the gods for V), tech hassles and then more emails to send. Just shattered though a lot was accomplished. Tomorrow I'm immersed in admin duties, some driving chores around Auckland and gearing up for the big push on a chapter about The Smiths that's due by the end of the month. I'm getting an early night.

Made dinner and watched the 52 minute documentary Made in Sheffield about The Human League, Cabaret Voltaire, ABC, Heaven 17 etc. Jarvis Cocker is great though he didn't appear in this film that much. His recent track 'Cunts Are Still Running the World' should become a football anthem at the very least.

I loved Cabaret Voltaire so much back in the day when I lived in Ilkley. Always liked that idea of musicians who didn't really play musical 'instruments' much, but messed about with tapes and electronics. I guess because I didn't have any musical ability myself. I've never quite forgiven this friend of mine who in 1979 or 80 went down to their studio Western Works on the train without telling me, even though he knew I was also a fan. Anyway, the documentary wasn't spectacular but it grasped that post-punk feeling of a burst of creativity that may not last long, may not eventuate in a musical career, but still leaves a deep mark on all the participants. The 'losers' and the 'winners' were there but it didn't make you feel sorry for those who didn't 'make it' in the biz. I liked that. But the film could have gone deeper. NME journalist Andy Gill was really banal and lazy with his comments. The provinces struck back but the Sheffield scene was telescoped from 1977 to 1982. Weird to think that The Human League supported Def Leppard when they were both just local acts.

The Cabs music with its chewed up news and current affairs sound bites and Middle Eastern noise seems more relevant than ever.

About a week ago, I finally got around to seeing Scorsese's documentary on Bob Dylan: No Direction Home. I'm no Dylanologist and I've read it's been vetted by His Royal Grumpiness. But it was still moving and really well put together. Amazing old footage and an interesting structure that kept returning to that UK tour when the folk nazis booed him, one shouting 'Judas' at him from the audience. Thank you Pennebaker and all those other filmmakers. The recent interviews with Dylan weren't that enlightening, but much of the material on the folk scene was new to me.

I was struck by how they had workshops for 'topical songwriting' at the Newport Jazz Festival each year in the early 1960s. Dylan eventually reacted against being a spokesman for his generation. The press conferences here make you want to strangle journalists.

I like the idea of a diffuse sort of topical that doesn't depend on being too literal (though I do start this comp with a track called Towering Inferno!). Something more like a structure of feeling is what I try to achieve, not in songwriting obviously, but in the ordinary art of the compilation. The titles may be a bit more suggestive of course. First and foremost the music has to be topnotch.

One of the things about the beats and folkies reminiscing about the late 50s and early 60s was that they felt completely like aliens in America. The Eisenhower Dream and then the Cuban missile crisis seemed so crazy. These freaks felt thoroughly at odds with the way that 'context' was being understood in the American mainstream. Ginsberg is good value in this film, in archival footage and as an ailing man in the near present. He's smarter than the rest. I love his memory of landing in Dylan's London hotel room in 1966 where the Beatles were hanging out. He sat in Lennon's lap and was surprised that these young men with so much power and influence were so unsure how to use their power. He was older and had just got kicked out of Cuba for protesting against Castro's record on gay rights and also Czechoslovakia where he had been involved in carnivalesque demonstrations.

Woodwork squeeks and out come the freaks, sang Was Not Was in their own Vietnam boogie many years ago.

I connect very little to the daily non-fictions that are supposed to make sense of now.

The music is more attuned.

Yesterday or the day before I finished this playlist from borrowed, bought and downloaded music (see links on left) to capture a post 911 paranoid vibe. That doesn't just mean the homeland environment of fear created by the holy trinity of Bush-Blair-Benedict but the Mozzies feeling the surveillance back home in the UK. Paranoid Time, to quote The Minutemen. This keeps me occupied. I know I'm repetitive but as long as the music isn't then that's OK I figure.

There's a bit of dis and a bit a dat as usual: African funk pop, slice-a-life surrealist hip hop, slapping basslines, Londinium glossalalia, reservation revolution, Chicano fatback drums, San Pedro punk slam dunk, explosive surf guitar, 80s lyrical implosion, a fatal bus accident, yearning soul, spare cabaret versions, percussive strings, gospel steel and slide, folkie utopianism, electro-orientalism, a haunting mash-up, croc hunter cover, selassie I, and another Dylan interpretation.

Most of it you can find in the nooks of the network and the crannies of cyberspace, so there's no need to post it in MP3 form here. The title's a nod to USAnian vernacular and Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now. I'm sure that line about loving the smell of napalm in the morning was written by that Nietzschean rightwinger John Milius. He went on to direct the paranoid Red Dawn. I'd expect him to be shooting and editing torture footage for the US government, but don't have a clue what he's up to these days. Probably surfing.

MC LYTE--Cappuccino
ESG--Keep On Moving
LADY SOVEREIGN--Public Warning
LEWIS CLARK--Red Man's Revenge
MINUTEMEN--Mr Robot's Holy Orders
THE BAGDADS--Livin' In Fear
LA MAISON TELLIER--Toxic (Rough mix)
DAMIEN RICE--Seven Nation Army
CHAD MITCHELL--Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream
DOLLAR--Shooting Star
THE WHO BOYS--In Every Ghost Town A Heartache (The Specials vs. Roxy Music)
MAX ROMEO--Melt Away
THE WHITE STRIPES--One More Cup Of Coffee

Friday, September 15, 2006


The Casino or Foodtown or inbetween?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


You can only go beyond this point if you are a passenger. Take your shoes off, remove your belt, jacket, keys and wallet in the plastic tray, laptop out of the bag. Raise your arms, please.

If your name is Muhammad, Ali or Khan, more questions at the border or just boarding (even without that t-shirt embossed with foreign calligraphy).

When did you last visit Pakistan? Or should I say Pawkeestawn?
10 years ago for my brother's wedding.
Did he kidnap the bride? Or was it a shotgun wedding?
Ha ha ha. No they're back in England.
Do you have a Pakistani passport?
No, I only have this British passport.
Have you ever had a Pakistani passport?
No I travelled once as a child on my mother's Pakistani passport.
Are your parents Pakistanis?
They have British passports. All my family is British. They don't have Pakistani passports anymore. Not since 1973. We were naturalized as UK citizens.
Do you consider yourself Pakistani?
I have a British passport.
Do you consider yourself Pakistani, Yes or No?
Just answer the question. Do you consider yourself Pakistani?
I might have to put you on a special registration list which means that the officers over there will ask you more questions. Hmm... But since you've been to the States several times I'll let you go this time.
Thank you very much, Sir.

'Consider yourself one of the family' sang Fagin. This compilation of songs, mainly from the network of audioblogs that I've grown to love deeply and widely, is the kind of mix I'd want to listen to soothe me on the plane or even the train when I know the above can happen at the border. No plans to go far for some months so this is my vicarious travel listening for the easiest ride possible. Well, there are a few unforeseen surprises. Can't always be smooth sailing. You hit 'mild turbulence' once or twice.


MOACIR SANTOS--Coisa Número 9
MARTIN DENNY--Martinique
JOANNA NEWSOM--Sawdust & Diamonds
SUSANA BACA--The Anchor Song
THE GLENRAYS--Egyptian Nightmare
ELVIS PRESLEY--Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce
VAN DYKE PARKS--Blue Snake & Zebras
BOOKER T. & The MG's--Sarasota Sunset
ROXY MUSIC--India (Tropical Computer Edit)
L'ALTRA, PHIL RANELIN & SLICKER--Hefty Naked Ninja (Eliot Lipp Remix)

Monday, September 11, 2006


Despite the spin and hype, I wanted to make a playlist that, without irony, was a minor but heartfelt memorial to the victims and those who grieve for them. I was drawn to tunes that carry the United States' churchical traditions.

You'll never walk alone...

The outline of a figure emerges from the dust, the phantom image of Walter Benjamin standing at Ground Zero, surveying the rubble and ashes.

The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the “emergency situation” in which we live is the rule. We must arrive at a concept of history which corresponds to this. Then it will become clear that the task before us is the introduction of a real state of emergency; and our position in the struggle against Fascism will thereby improve. Not the least reason that the latter has a chance is that its opponents, in the name of progress, greet it as a historical norm.

There is a painting by Klee called Angelus Novus. An angel is depicted there who looks as though he were about to distance himself from something which he is staring at. His eyes are opened wide, his mouth stands open and his wings are outstretched. The Angel of History must look just so. His face is turned towards the past. Where we see the appearance of a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe, which unceasingly piles rubble on top of rubble and hurls it before his feet. He would like to pause for a moment so fair, to awaken the dead and to piece together what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise, it has caught itself up in his wings and is so strong that the Angel can no longer close them. The storm drives him irresistibly into the future, to which his back is turned, while the rubble-heap before him grows sky-high. That which we call progress, is this storm.


Wicked Path of Sin
Where We'll Never Grow Old
Hymn Medley: Abide With Me/Just As I Am Without One Plea/What A Friend We Have In Jesus/Amazing Grace
Open Our Eyes
Roses And Revolutions (extract)
4 Women/Save Me (Live at Antibes 1969)
Aretha Sing One For Me
Save Their Souls
Heaven On Their Minds
God is Love
Don't Feel Right
New Ghosts
I'm A Soldier In The Army Of The Lord
Sweet Inspiration
I Say A Little Prayer
Wisdom Eye

Saturday, September 09, 2006


So rapped Public Enemy more than five years ago.

'Don't Believe the Hype' might be more appropriate.

Simon Jenkins cuts through the propaganda:

Terrorism is 10% bang and 90% an echo effect composed of media hysteria, political overkill and kneejerk executive action, usually retribution against some wider group treated as collectively responsible. This response has become 24-hour, seven-day-a-week amplification by the new politico-media complex, especially shrill where the dead are white people. It is this that puts global terror into the bang. While we take ever more extravagant steps to ward off the bangs, we do the opposite with the terrorist aftershock. We turn up its volume. We seem to wallow in fear.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


THE BEACH BOYS--'Til I Die (alternative mix)
KRZYSZTOF KOMEDA/MIA FARROW--Rosemary's Baby (Main Title)
CLAUDINE LONGET--Until It's Time For You To Go
HARPERS BIZARRE--Cotton Candy Sandman
LOVE--She Comes In Colors (Stereo)
VINCENT PRICE--Pickled Mushrooms
PETER COOK--Bedazzled
PINK FLOYD--Lucifer Sam
OS MUTANTES--Bat Macumba
LOVE--Maybe The People Would Be The Times Or Between Clark And Hilldale
JIMI HENDRIX--Like A Rolling Stone (Live Spoken Intro)
THE FOUR SEASONS--Like A Rolling Stone
BILLY TAM--Happy Together
LOVE--Wonder People (Do I Wonder)
BOBBY DARIN--Darling Be Home Soon
RICHARD TWICE--If I Knew You Were The One
SYD BARRETT--Bob Dylan Blues
HARRY NILSSON--Many Rivers To Cross


A reality check on the death of the Crocodile Hunter from Germaine Greer


BIBIO--London Planes
GOTAN PROJECT--El Capitalismo Foráneo (Antipop Consortium Remix)
CHEB I SABBAH--Toura Toura (The Medina Remix)
FAIRUZ--Ana La Ansake Palestine
BIKRAM SINGH & GUNJAN--Kawan (Drum'n'Bass Remix)
CSS--Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above (Spank Rock remix)
QUANTIC--Bomb In A Trumpet Factory
PIGMEAT MARKHAM--Here Comes The Judge
D-STYLES & DJ FLARE--Turntable Circumcision
DR OCTAGON--Al Green (Chapter 2, Verse 908 remix)
M.I.A.--Sunshowers (Surkin Remix)
KODE9 & DADDI GEE--Spit (vox)
THE HUMAN LEAGUE--Once Upon A Time In The West (Funeral March)

Monday, September 04, 2006


Underwhelmed by Martin Amis's fictionalization of Mohammad Atta's last days. I guess the white boys get a hard-on imagining the cool nihilism and depilation/ablution regimes of suicidal mass murderers. In cold blood. If only they'd shagged more, there'd be peace in the valley of death. Yep nice n easy reasons. 'T were only so simple. More 911 BS to follow I'm sure as we approach the day. I remember on September 11, 2002 I was shopping in Selfridges with Shuchi and Mama. We suddenly realized we were the only ones talking in the food court. Everyone was stumm due to two minutes of official silence for the dead in the USA. Two minutes of silence for Pinochet's victims? Two minutes for Srebernica? Two minutes for Sabra and Chatila? Let me pick up that designer sandwich and talk about it puh-leeze. Heard someone has published a graphic novel of the 9/11 Commission's Report. That should be better reading than Martin's literary jihad. AllahuAkbar Martin. I like how 'Amis's' sounds more like the London Jewish diction of Alec Guiness's Fagin than just plain old English Amis'. Martin remiss. You're no Truman Capote.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Twas only this week that I got around to seeing a whole episode of HBO's Mormon polygamy drama Big Love with Bill Paxton. Really enjoyed it. Harry Dean Stanton and Bruce Dern are particularly unsavoury in the Fathers and Sons flavoured episode. Was pleasantly surprised with the simple and subtle choreography for the title sequence which uses the Beach Boys' God Only Knows from that holiest of pop texts, Pet Sounds, as each of Bill's three wives hold his hand in turn and then form a closed circle. Like the girls in The Crucible (Arthur Miller) as much as good country folk. Only a day late I spot this 1967 Rehearsal album of 8 tracks on An Aquarium Drunkard, with some amazing lo-fi less ornamented interpretations of the Beach Boys' finest. God Only Knows and Surfer Girl are breathtakingly drop dead gorgeous. Absolutely sublime. Download from here before they disappear. Just beautiful. I could bathe in these songs forever, even drown.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


'I did not try to eat the ball, Mister Daryl'

'But I can see the teethmarks, fellah'

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Monday, August 21, 2006


Academic writing is terribly fun. You move swiftly through a few paragraphs like an Israeli tank division in Southern Lebanon, with your air force intellect scattering cluster bombs of snappy phrases across a couple of pages. But then you become stuck in a river of referential anxiety and can't go any further. Where's my voice gone? Instead of name that tune, it's name that scholar? Is there any of me here at all? But don't I need these guys to make me sound learned. And you've got to give props to those who came before... And before you know it you are bogged down in the syntax of a sentence. What are you doing here? Sit there looking at it for a few minutes, adjust the posture at the keyboard. Go to the bathroom. Nada. So you backtrack through the sludge to finesse earlier adequate passages in the hopes that will unstick you. Ah these read well, but this one needs to be changed. Click click click type type type. And suddenly you lose your footing as you go over what you thought was familiar and safe ground. You shouldn't have tinkered with that clause. You're in quicksand and you're drowning in the word count and can't see the outline of the argument you'd mapped on so many bits of paper with your favourite rollerball pens. Hasn't it all been said before, you wonder. Am I just rewriting something I did years ago? Have I moved on so little in my thinking? Are my obsessions, guffaw scholarship, so narrow? Shouldn't I be doing something useful like working at the UN instead? Suspend the mission and withdraw for a little while to take stock. Shall I surf the web for related content, check email, fine tune the iTunes? Maybe that way, the path I am seeking will suddenly come into my peripheral vision and I can adjust my direction. Have another coffee or sugary drink to avoid that tempting nap. New resolve. Then you remember the worst part--the soldiers of the academic citation regime (MLA this time) are waiting with their orders to dot and cross and number correctly. But they're still in the distance, like snipers on rooftops ready for an ambush.


Buy This War?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Journalist: How will the deaths of Israeli soldiers today affect your plans?

Israeli Army Spokesman: You saw that massacre of 12 Israelis .. it will ...

Journalist: Massacre you said? But those were soldiers and this is war.

Spokesman: No, it was a massacre because the people who fired the missiles weren't targeting soldiers. They were targeting Israeli civilians but killed the soldiers by accident.

Journalist: But you also committed massacres in Qana and elsewhere.

Spokesman: No, there was no massacre in Qana. Hizbullah fighters were the targets of the bombardment but civilians were hit by accident.

It is symptomatic of Western racism that Israel and its sympathisers are blind to what it is ordinary Arabs find admirable in Hizbullah, writes Azmi Bishara


planes took you away, but every time I see them I pray. And if my prayers can cross the sea. The trains and boats and planes will bring you back, back home to me.


Funny, but only couple of days after my All is War entry which ended on the cricket match and Sajid Mahmood's role in England's victory, Sarfraz Manzoor comments on the variation in British Pakistani identifications. He doesn't buy the 'alienation' argument completely either. He points out that many of the fundies are converts and reverts. They tend to be more zealous than those of us who have grown up with ambient Islam.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Slavoj Zizek on Israel

Thursday, August 10, 2006

ALL IS WAR the intriguing new album from Fun-Da-Mental which has caused a bit of a furore in the UK. Tabloids have called for group leader and Bradford/Bradistan celebrity Aki Nawaz to be jailed for violation of anti-terror laws because of some of the tracks. 'Cookbook DIY' is a rap about the preparation of dirty bombs. And there's a song juxtaposing Che Guevara with Osama Bin Laden. I wrote about the group in Sounds English: Transnational popular music (2001). John Hutnyk, Sanjay Sharma, Ted Swedenburg, Dave Hesmondhalgh and Rehan Hyder have also analysed Fun^Da^Mental's work from an academic perspective. Islamopop rather than Islamofascism, methinks. Pressing plants have refused to handle the music as if it's explosive, so the group has resorted to the download option and will have the albums pressed up in a distant country and released by the end of August. Maybe the Syrians or Iranians will oblige. I'm joking, aiiight. I've just downloaded the album from the group's website (for eight quid). I'll be playing some of these tunes out on The Basement. Here are a couple of the more sober reports about the album from The Observer and The Times.

There are many more creative possibilities to be had in imagining 'angry young Muslims' in Inglistan. Muslimgauze must be turning in his grave, since he is unable to seize the time to disturb. Fun^da^Mental give voice to these positions. We may or may not like the music, but stifling its exposure is unhelpful and exposes some of the current hypocrisies about freedom and democracy.

It was timely that I spotted a rather naive piece in The Guardian from quintessential liberal Timothy Garton Ash about the 'alienation of British Muslims'. They don't give a monkey's about being British, according to a Pew survey that we're all meant to believe 'just like that', to quote the late great comedian Tommy Cooper. Surveys have to be taken with a pinch of salt or garam masala. The Pew report suggests that British Muslims are the most alienated from nationhood in Europe, the most conservative in relation to women's rights and the most worried about the influence of secular popular culture.

However, nothing in the survey and Garton Ash's editorial tells you anything about the regional aspect of this so-called alienation. The July 7 bombers came from the north of England which has had the most success with fascist parties and a deep deep racism amongst ordinary white folks that refuses to change despite decades of Desi settlement. Desis up north have also been more prone to hick Mullahs who have dominated the community leadership. That's one reasons that young lads have been attracted to the extra-Masjid activities of activists, including Islamists with their CDs and DVDs of Muslim suffering in Palestine, Bosnia, Chechnya, Iraq and now Lebanon. Global yet local: Bradford, Blackburn, Oldham, Dewsbury have gone through a long period of economic decline, high unemployment, riots, a growing segregation of neighbourhoods and tensions around scarce resources that are given a racial/ethnic slant.

This is no excuse for violent Euro-Islamism. As Rafia Zakaria notes, many European Muslims live in denial about the pernicious currents within the ummah and fail to criticize their fellow believers. They want to brush the negatives under the carpet and avoid vigorous criticism of Muslim beliefs and practices that need to change. Going on about Islamophobia, the plight of the Palestinians, and the decline of the Muslim world at the hands of the west are essential, but they can also function as mechanisms that avoid a robust debate about Jihadi terrorism, violence against women, homophobia and other 'problematic' issues. I find that kneejerk defensive reaction among many believers in the UK. For example, it's always the Americans' fault, or there's a conspiracy against Muslims, or the Muslims doing the bad stuff are a few who have misinterpreted the Quran and the other holy teachings. Apparently, they are not 'true Muslims' or do not practise the 'true Islam'. Of course, many believers think they carry the real true Islam with themselves. What about hermeneutics? There's a belief in a reified Quranic text with the delusion that its living reality exists independently of interpretation, even when believers say someone else has a wrong interpretation and they have the right one! People quote whatever suits them from this patchwork document--and I say that acknowledging that all documents are patchwork--without considering the really unpleasant and frankly stupid things written in the holy book alongside the poetically rendered statements of worldly understanding.

I yearn for something akin to a secular current, akin to the secularisation undergone by Judaism. Many are Jewish without believing in any tenets of the religion or its ethno-nationalist manifestations like Zionism. Is there a way to rearticulate 'being Muslim' in terms that dump the doctrinal nonsense and, at least for Sunnis, the appeal to some 7th century ideal that didn't exist in the first place? That PBOH (peace be upon him) respectfully cited after every mention of the Prophet Muhammad's name might be evidence of the failure of Muslims to historicize. Let's have a political analysis of what happened in the Arabian Peninsula back in the day? If there's a broadly variegated ummah, isn't there also room for Muslim atheism that isn't simply dismissed as apostasy? Surely Islam in many locations and across so many populations for centuries has developed myriad trajectories that have given us a million ways of thinking, feeling and doing that cannot be contained by the statement of faith that There is Only One God and His Messenger is Muhammad.

Having said all of that, the war on terror has made Muslims angry. Say I was a youth questioned by some smarmy pollster with a ringbinder in the 'hood or even more remotely through the internet. I would respond with answers that essentially conveyed my sentiment that Tony Blair was a wanker and for extra wind up I might say that we should have shariah law in the UK. So answering certain questions in a poll in a particular way does not mean that is what people really think. It can simply be a gesture of resentment or a contingent and momentary statement of solidarity or sympathy with 'my peeps'. Vote Hezbollah! It might just be a sudden ejaculation of affect that may or may not reflect a realpolitical perspective.

I thought we'd moved beyond simple positivism, but social scientists and media types like to see neat qualititative categories translated into even tidier quantitative information. Muslims in The West are now getting so used to being categorized, surveyed and surveilled by the state and the media for 'representative opinions' or simply to satisfy the preconceptions of non-Muslims. Many are tempted to play language games and give the run-around to those who want to define and regulate their identities and subjectivities. Even I, as a born-again atheist, feel this urge to be a trickster and play with the discourses that attempt to reify Muslim identity. The imagined audience is sometimes Muslims themselves, other times non-Muslims. Maybe that's one of the ways we step through and ultimately beyond the categories we inherit from all sides, and one method to modify or modulate Islam and Muslimness (whatever that is) in our own ways.

British Muslims feel British and/or Muslim in a number of different ways. When the UK is conducting at least one illegal war and supporting the US on a number of military fronts, UK Muslims are going to be 'unpatriotic', just like many of their white native fellow citizens. A whole range of 'unpatriotic' responses, both legitimate and illegitimate, ensue from private frustration to public protest to terrorist violence.

On the other hand, to take a mundane and banal example, British Muslims like Sajid Mahmood can also play cricket for England against Pakistan, and help win the match. I have to admit that I always supported the other team when I went to Headingley. We always wanted England to lose whether it was the West Indies, India, Pakistan or Australia. That's part of our postcolonial birthright. It's a small gesture of defiance rather than 'the Empire strikes back'. Let's not take it all too seriously like Norman Tebbit's cricket test for Englishness. Some of us feel loyal, others don't, but it all depends on the activity and the context. For example, I looked askance at my religiously Muslim brother and my other non-practising brother who both supported England in the World Cup football this June. I hated the St George's cross fluttering everywhere when I was in England in June. It didn't bother them.

But I'm also English and British in innumerable gestures and conversations. I'm shaped by growing up in dear old Blighty and cannot get over it. Just like Morrissey, I suppose. And why should I. You can't shed identities just like that, though you might take the coat off for a while. Sajid Mahmood, himself a UK northerner, has a sense of humour about these 'divided loyalties' or 'multiple loyalties', when confronted just the other day by the insults of British Pakistani supporters (of Pakistan) in the crowd:

Mahmood also had the strength of character to deal with some barracking from the stands that, at times, was less than friendly, making play of his Pakistan roots as the English-born son of immigrants, albeit a family that has been in Britain for 40 years. "The banter with the crowd was light-hearted at first but then it started to get a bit personal," he said. "I heard the word traitor in a couple of chants but I did not let it affect me. To be honest I tried to ignore it and concentrate on bowling. It helped fire me up." His success clearly made it easier to bear, even to the extent of joking about who might be behind it when his family's mixed allegiances were brought up. "My father and brother were here watching," he said. "I don't know, maybe it was my dad who instigated it!"
Who is 'alienated' here? Sajjid or his father? I just find the term a little glib in its subsumption of so many positions on being Muslim and being British. It's become a media cliché. All is not alienation and war.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


I guess this is what Deleuze and Guattari meant by the nomadic war machine: pro-Hezbollah television station.

Could it be that Blair is an extremist?

Yep, the end times is a comin', Lordy Lordy Lordy.

India bans Arab satellite television.

George Galloway vs. Stupid Sky propaganda

Monday, August 07, 2006


No not the Spanish Inquisition: cue red dressed Pythons bursting into the room. But Tony Benn on the broadcast news & current affairs interviewers and their aggressive styles. One for Kim Hill and John Campbell to ponder, since they slavishly follow the lead of Paxman, Humphrys et al.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


David Bowie--London Bye Ta Ta
The Kinks--Do You Remember Walter
The Zombies--Care of Cell 44
The Sandpipers--Guantanamera
Caetano Veloso--London London
Slowdive--When The Sun Hits
Boards of Canada--Under The Coke Sign
Joy Division--From Safety To Where...?
Scott Walker--Jesse
Burial--You Hurt Me
Muslimgauze--Pale Elegant Egyptian
The Mitchell Brothers featuring Kano & The Streets--Routine Check
Loefah--Goat Stare
Unknown--I'm Never Gonna Dance Again [Careless Whisper mashed & cored]
Linton Kwesi Johnson--Independent Intavenshan
Israel Vibration--Terrorist
The Slits--Man Next Door
Burial--South London Boroughs
Kode9 & The Spaceape--Fukkaz (vocal)
Jarvis Cocker--Cunts Are Still Running The World

Friday, August 04, 2006


Geez, and that's Jesus, it's hard to keep up. What is the value of information, when there's so much of it AND it's so dispersed that giving it unity is impossible? Maybe that's the point. And then again we may be informed but we're powerless. The wars go on. The NZ government remains equivocal. Better to just dig our hands in our pockets and send money to the damaged. I feel like screaming.

But here goes anyway:

Thanks to all those at the Department of Film, Television and Media Studies, University of Auckland who responded to my call for media resources on the War on Lebanon and the 'New Middle East' to quote Dr Condoleezza Rice. Special big ups to Roger for most of these links, and thanks to Nick, Nick, Rebecca, Kevin, David, Virginia, Bruce, Damien, for other citations.

I'm not experienced at this sort of archival thing so this is what I've done so far in considering the last couple of days e-mails and links.

I figured I would just put those sites that feature regular commentary on politics and the war(s) on/of terror from a 'left-democratic-progressive' perspective in the links section. So I/you can just look left. The list will get longer quite quickly, I imagine.

I'm not sure how best to archive other resources but I'll leave it to the limits of this particular software for the moment and rethink things at a later date.

Otherwise, I'll just comment or simply add links to stories that seem significant, useful or just interesting for other reasons. I will include stuff that I don't agree with, since this is part of the mediascape of conflict. Inevitably there will be a media focus in here so it might be helpful for potential researchers.

I probably won't have the time to comment at length or even cursorily on many of these links since my wife is ill, I'm teaching two courses this semester, and have several deadlines for academic writing. More screaming.


I see that there has been some commentary in the Arab media (also picked up by the New York Times and other 'western' publications) about Jordanian cartoonist Emad Hajjaj's cartoon of a building under an Israeli tank with the broken walls taking the shape of the Arab world. You can see this cartoon along with others at the Al-Jazeera site. Some amazing stuff here. I love another one on the same page that compares and contrasts Condi's visits to Tel Aviv and Beirut. The site gives a good idea of the graphic intensity of these cartoons and while it's almost all critical of Israel, its a useful reminder that anti-Zionism is not the same as anti-semitism. Many media reports a few months ago conflated the two (yet again) after anti-semitic cartoons were juxtaposed against the Danish cartoons.

Trust me to choose cartoons before the 'more serious' matters of war. To poetry...

Remi Kanazi is a Palestinian-American writer and poet who is the main writer at Poetic Injustice. This site is enlightening about the shifts in Arab-American political opinion. The vast majority supported Bush and the Republican Party before 9/11. The detentions and surveillance of Arab-Americans, and the war on Iraq and now Lebanon have alienated many of them.

Sidney Blumenthal on the US neo-cons' longterm 'Domino Diplomacy'.

A piece from a pro-Israel American publication, American Thinker, looks at the military strategy of the Israeli Defence Force. It's more Monty than Patton, apparently. The confidence about 'winning the day' over a well-organized guerilla force seems rather optimistic, given the details of Hezbollah's infrastructure.

Another perspective on Hezbollah's military preparation and Iran's hand comes from the Jamestown Foundation. Its Terrorism Monitor, which on a quick glance and scan of a few pages, began after September 11, 2001, looks like your usual Washington-based think-tank on the right, with a focus on Al Qaeda and the rise of Islamism in 'Eurasia', West and Central Asia. It also keeps an eye on China. The JF looks like it's also got a few 'house Arabs'. Man, there must be a ton of Arab and Iranian academics and journalists getting gigs in Washington right now. 'You speak Arabic or Farsee? Yes! You're in, bud.' Of course, the white Americans are the ones from this organization who are called in as experts on CNN and the other US networks.

If they came downunder these guys would also be approached by the Sunday Herald Sun, an Australian rag I know nothing about. But its prose style is familiarly nauseating. A story with photos of Hezbollah taken by a Melbourne resident that 'damn' the organization, since they show it waging war from suburbia. They are in the 'hood with missiles, so they're bringing death and destruction to the communities. What more could you expect from the Israelis than to bomb the houses around there. Haven't these Australians heard of guerrilla warfare?

In contrast, features a story on the 'Hiding amongst civilians myth'.

The media war or, should I say, wars. There have been a number of stories about how coverage has varied from country to country, network to network.

The Guardian's Washington correspondent, Julian Borger says It's like watching two different wars in the US and Europe.

Jamal Dajani, a US-based Arab television and documentary producer also remarks on the US and Arab network reportage.

In today's Media Guardian, John Plunkett surveys the coverage of US and UK networks.

Jonathan Cook, a writer in Nazareth, focuses on the militarization of the media in Israel, with critical voices absent from the television.

Had a quick scan of Abu Aardvark, a blog by Marc Lynch which is thorough and scholarly and focuses on the new Arab public and the role of the media in its formation. Much about the variation in Arab networks here and the 'revolutionary' impact of media in the region since the late 90s. Also gets to the Sunni-Shia mythologies currently being propogated as part of the imperial project.

I haven't watched that much of the coverage on the NZ media, turning instead to BBC World since I'm a Sky subscriber. But tonight Prime News seemed to be more fair in its coverage of both sides as compared with TV3's evening bulletin which concentrated on the shelling of Israelis and described the demonstration of a few hundred in Wellington as 'peaceful but rowdy'. The last shot was of a pile of placards on the ground. TV3 also failed to mention, unlike Prime, that Nasrallah said that Hezbollah would stop shelling if Israel withdrew its troops and stopped bombing.

Lara Deeb, a cultural anthropologist, and assistant professor of women’s studies at the University of California-Irvine, is author of An Enchanted Modern: Gender and Public Piety in Shi‘i Lebanon. She has a primer on Hezbollah which appears on many sites.

Quoted at Mike Toppa's blog, Chas Freeman, former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and former Asst. Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, gives a realpolitikal description of what he sees is the relationship of Hezbollah to Iran and Syria. You can judge for yourself though I think as a former US diplomat he underplays the Bush Administration's green light to the Israelis and their agenda to remap the region:

The assumption in Israel and here is that Iran and Syria put Hezbollah up to its provocative gesture of solidarity with the beleaguered Palestians in Gaza. The assumption in the Arab world is that the U.S. put Israel up to what it is doing in Gaza and Lebanon. Both assertions remain politically convenient assertions that are almost certainly wrong. There is no evidence for either.

The relationship between Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran is analogous to that between Israel and the United States. Syria is the quartermaster and Iran the external financier and munitions supplier to Hezbollah; we play all three roles in support of Israel.

There is no reason to believe that Hezbollah, which is an authentic expression of Lebanese Sh'ia nationalism birthed by the Israeli occupation of south Lebanon in 1982, is any less unilateralist or prone to consult its patrons before it does things it sees as in its interest than Israel, which is an authentic expression of Jewish nationalism birthed by European racism, is in relation to us.

Remember the assertions that Vietnamese expansionism was controlled and directed by the Chinese? similar stuff. Chinese backing for the Viet Minh and the Hanoi regime did not equate to Chinese control or direction of North Vietnam, its armed forces, or its agents in South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Consider the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese war.

The irony now is that the most likely candidate to back Hezbollah in the long term is no longer Iran but the Arab Shiite tyranny of the majority we have installed in Baghdad. But that will not mean that the successors of Nouri Al-Maliki control Sheikh Nasrullah. Sometimes clients direct the policies of their patrons, not the other way around. This is a point exemplified by the dynamic of Israeli-American relations but far from unique to them.


I don't read the New Zealand Herald very often because it isn't a good newspaper. Someone told me that the publication omitted the photograph above from the sequence of photos below (at least one of which was printed). This was a few days before the bombing of Qana/Cana. I don't buy the excuse that images of death will upset readers and viewers. Why have the western media been so careful to avoid images of dead people in Iraq and Lebanon and Palestine? They tend to opt for hospital bed scenes of the maimed instead, so we can still feel sorry for the living. In contrast, Al-Jazeera and Arab networks show death in all its ugliness. Some might say this is the Arab ease with death. They would be mistaken. Why would you want to sanitize war? Which is the more ugly picture here?

Thursday, August 03, 2006


The long view backwards and forwards from Aijaz Ahmad.

Monday, July 31, 2006


From the New York Times, an archive of editorials on the plight of farmers in developing nations.

Project leader: "Andrés Martinez has been an editorial writer at The New York Times since the summer of 2000. A native of Mexico, Mr. Martinez is a graduate of the Columbia Law School, where he served on Law Review."


Comedian Alexei Sayle said at a demo in Trafalgar Square: "While Israel has all the privileges of a state it behaves worse than a terrorist organisation."


Mazen Kerbaj recorded a duet with the Israeli air force on his balcony on the night of 15/16 July. He plays trumpet. The Lebanese emergency services provide some backing too. The sound of war. Check out Starry Night. Also see his blog of gripping drawings, poems and prose. Given the cataclysmic events of the last 48 hours, this work is amazingly cheering for its stubborn spiritedness.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Electronic Intifada has an Electronic Lebanon site, just up this month: there's an interesting story by the following film studies academic who was in Beirut just before the bombing started. The photographs of Shatila refugee camp are great:

"Hamid Dabashi is the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York. He has travelled extensively in Palestine, Lebanon, and the rest of the Arab world. His previous travelogue to Palestine and Lebanon, "For a Fistful of Dust: A Passage to Palestine," was published in
al-Ahram Weekly (23-29 September 2004, Issue No. 709). He is the founder of Dreams of a Nation: A Palestinian Film Project. His edited volume, Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema (2006) will be released next month by Verso. His forthcoming book, Iran: A People Interrupted, is scheduled for publication in the Fall 2006 by the New Press."

Also check out:

Palestinian filmmakers respond to the Locarno International Film Festival. Israeli filmmakers on the opening of the Arab film biennial in Paris.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Just sick to my stomach--some days literally--about the war on Lebanon. I'm amazed, though a cynic shouldn't be, that the BBC reportage has gone to some lengths to justify Israel's military expedition by constantly going on about kidnapped Israeli soldiers and the bunker-bound popular support for yet another invasion of Lebanon. The Americans want to give Israel free reign (whoops, Freudian slip--I meant 'free rein') rather than go for an immediate ceasefire so they can ratchet up the pressure on Syria and Iran. The arrogance with which Condee Rice can blithely wave away calls for an immediate ceasefire is gobsmacking. The US doesn't want a democratic Arab government in the Middle East so it's scuppered progress on that front in Lebanon by taking out the infrastructure and killing civilians. Hezbollah may not be destroyed. More insurgents, terrorists, freedom fighters who hate Israel and the United States will emerge from shelled neighbourhoods and refugee camps. Islamist recruitment will only benefit. There's shitloads of media reportage out there at the moment and frankly it's depressing listening, watching and reading, so I haven't followed the crisis exhaustively. Besides I'm desperately trying to finish an overdue piece on black music and technology for a journal. And family illness has made that harder too. But these woes and commitments aside, in the comments pages of The Guardian, rather than the 'proper articles' you can find a piece about the 'framing of Hizbollah' by Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, assistant-professor at the Lebanese-America University. And stalwart of the British left, Tariq Ali comments about 'a protracted colonial war'. I'm no apologist for the authoritarian anti-democratic governments of Syria and Iran and their spheres of influence, but this war has not been 'started' by them. Make no mistake: this is an Israeli-American war. Biased.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Turned on the TV3 news to see the caption 'Lebanese War' on the screen. I note that the Vietnamese named the so-called 'Vietnam War', the 'American War'. So why isn't this latest disproportionate use of force by the Israelis called the 'Israeli war' or the 'Israeli-American war' or the 'Hezbollah War' if you want that westernese 'balance'? What price the 'Syrian-Israeli war' or the 'Muslim-Jewish war' or 'The War on Lebanon'?

DJ /Rupture's Gold Teeth Thief mix just doesn't date. For those who want to give shape to their current distress, disaffection, anger and muddled thoughts about the interstate we're in.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


So a lot of press this week over the Zidane-to-Materazzi headbutt. Marseilles' version of the Glasgow Kiss. I've never seen or heard about the headbutt to the chest before. Quite impressive in its rhinocerotic power. My partner fancies Zidane because he looks like Daniel Day Lewis, not because of the headbutt. I have to admit some simpatico feelings towards Zizou initially. I thought the World Cup wasn't that good. And the shot of Zidane walking off past the trophy into the dressing room summed up football today. I'm glad that event hijacked a crappy final. It was more interesting than most of the football. The refs were crap half the time. Too many theatrics from players who should be ashamed of themselves. I hated the one centre forward hoik the ball up in the air shit in the tournament. What are we? 1953! Apart from being super corrupt (Italia fixing, Nike-adidas sweatshop goods etc.) soccer in Europa is still a fucking racist environment in which to play or watch. I know a bit of argy bargy, sledging, call it what you will is a legit bit of the nastiness in contemporary gamesmenship but I'm sick of racists getting away with it on the field and terraces. When I were a lad in the 70s there was no shortage of little snotty English shits ready with the 'Paki cunt' comment when they were lunging in for the tackle. They were 10 and 11 years old. Can't blame football for this behaviour entirely. But why should the fair football field be a legit site for racist abuse? Take it away somewhere else if you have to. It doesn't have to be that way, to quote the Blow Monkeys. I guess I was dying for the headbutt to have some postcolonial validation and valence as Muslim retaliation. What price 'righteous anger'? If indeed the words 'terrorist' and 'Algerian' were uttered alongside the words 'mother' and 'sister' in the cluster of mumbled and spat sentences thrown by the tall Italian, then Zidane meted out a bit of the ole Marseilles street justice. I read the amazing variation in global lip reading on various websites and felt 'deaf' in many languages. I thought one of the more interesting points--forget where it was I'm afraid-- was that Zidane has some of that (subaltern) anger that comes from being a postcolonial subject in a racist society. 'Oh Look there's a Nigger/Arab' to borrow from Frantz Fanon. It leaves a mark even if you try and repress it. But that anger is diffused and not politicized. It gets you sent off on several occasions. Other people, myself included, give it a different kind of value. We use it for our own political imaginations. Zidane has been quiet, respectable and the good beur. But the headbutt incident proved that you can't rub the hurt of racism away completely, even if Jacques Chirac has an affectionate word in your ear on the palace balcony. Anyway, looks like the advertising contracts are safe. I'm glad he didn't apologize. Or it was a strange ambivalent apology. On the one hand, he apologized to all the kiddies who might have been watching. But then he refused to 'regret' and therefore to fully apologize for the actual headbutt. He would have done it again if his mother and sister were so impuned. That's what being a man is about. So Zidane's headbut reminded us of 'family values'. Ironic turn of events that. Je Ne Regrette Rien was The Guardian headline, recalling the Little Sparrow, Edit Piaf. Which sent my mind spinning to the turntables in the building overlooking a banlieu block in Paris, and the DJ in the film La Haine who cuts up that song by Piaf with hip hop beats and Nique La Police. Fuck the police. Will be interesting to see if Zidane speaks up for the disenfranchised French African/Arab/Muslim youth and communities in his post-footballing career.


That's the name of a Television Personalities' song. In many respects, they took a more suburban and reflexive turn but were in the tradition of Syd Barrett's English whimsy. They weren't aiming for interstellar overdrive and bliss, but little fragments of psychedelic insight to inform the quotidian. Has anyone remarked how the TV Personalities might have influenced Belle & Sebastian? I'm sceptical about the desire to sustain romantic myths about artists. Yes, these out-of-it lost Byrons have a spark of something that we rarely access in our everyday lives but is it worth it? What about the damage to the self and the people around these 'crazy diamonds'? Anyway, I'm not a big Pink Floyd fan, but I don't hate them Johnny Rotten style either. I do hate The Wall and that bloody education song. But I love those early Syd-penned singles like 'See Emily Play' and 'Arnold Layne'. And the first album Piper At The Gates Of Dawn is also excellent. Fantastic murky production with all kinds of little explosions. Syd is also one of that (first?) generation of male vocalists post Ray Davies that sang unashamedly in an English accent without hamming it up to the max for Yanks like Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits Here's a good obituary for Syd. See you in outer space, mate.