keresaspa: (Starry Plough)
There's very little left to say about Martin McGuinness that I haven't said already but suffice to say I won't be mourning him. As John Stephenson's stooge and then Provisional IRA Chief of Staff he oversaw indiscriminate bombing campaigns that did nothing to advance the cause of Irish unity but instead brought death to civilians. I don't condemn armed struggle as a motor of revolution but McGuinness's strategy of untargeted mayhem accomplished little or nothing. Then he single-handedly brought the peace process (so the obituaries will claim) and in doing so opened up a glorious future of kowtowing to monarchy whilst continuing to (occasionally) call himself a republican and administering Tory rule in the North to the benefit of himself and his own little coterie (equally true of all the parties here admittedly but Sinn Fein are the self-described republicans). On top of that he happily worked alongside a hate preacher like Ian Paisley and propped up the radical right Democratic Unionist Party in government, while also trying to court the feminist and LGBT vote when it suited him. There is also the small matter of the Fisherman business, the truth of which I really hope will come out now that he's dead (although I doubt it as the myth of McGuinness is still important in ensuring that republicans continue to serve their masters in Westminster).

I've already seen comparisons to Michael Collins and I think they're apt. Both firmly belonged to the old Catholic wing of republicanism and ensured that the left was silenced, despite courting the British left (many of whom are now wringing their hands over a man who happily signed off on Troy welfare reform and bedroom tax plans). Both also did their best to ensure that partition continued as long as they were alright, Jack and in that aim both were highly successful. In the final analysis McGuinness was no more a republican than his great mate Paisley and his major achievement was finishing off Irish republicanism and replacing it with a compliant, fiercely pro-British population in Northern Ireland, one part of which happens to watch silly games with sticks and talk a bit of Goidelic now and then. If the taming of the Taigs and their rebirth as nodding dog soft Unionists are to be celebrated then McGuinness is rightly to be lauded as a hero but a hero of Irish republicanism? About as much as Vidkun Quisling is a hero of Norway.
keresaspa: (Starry Plough)
With what moral authority can they speak of human rights — the rulers of a nation in which the millionaire and beggar coexist; the Indian is exterminated; the black man is discriminated against; the woman is prostituted; and the great masses of Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, and Latin Americans are scorned, exploited, and humiliated? How can they do this — the bosses of an empire where the mafia, gambling, and child prostitution are imposed; where the CIA organizes plans of global subversion and espionage, and the Pentagon creates neutron bombs capable of preserving material assets and wiping out human beings; an empire that supports reaction and counter-revolution all over the world; that protects and promotes the exploitation by monopolies of the wealth and the human resources of whole continents, unequal exchange, a protectionist policy, an incredible waste of natural resources, and a system of hunger for the world?

keresaspa: (Nina looking a tad pertubed)
Back at the tail-end of 2013 I briefly touched on the UDA internal feud in north Belfast but at that point it hadn't really advanced too far beyond "aye, yer ma" and "i'll knack yer ballix in". But on Sunday night shit just got real as veteran racketeer and former UDA brigadier John "Bonzer" Boreland got whacked by one of his own. By my reckoning he is the first loyalist to be killed by his own since the UVF bumped off Bobby Moffet outside the Ballygomartin Tesco (where I had been a few hours earlier) in 2010 and the first UDA man to be killed in an internal dispute since former East Belfast brigadier was lured to his death in 2005 by a gang that apparently included not only several former friends but even his ex-boyfriend. Even in death Doris Day had to be over the top. Either way it could lead to a spell of fun and games involving loyalist paramilitaries killing each other at a level not seen since the days when Johnny Adair was looking a one-man war with the UVF.

So, just who was Boreland? Well his Wikipedia page summarises the main points pretty well (it should do - I wrote about 95% of it and I'm so good at Wikipedia that even the South Side Advertiser has taken to plagiarising me). It should be added that the buzz on the street was Boreland and Shoukri had effectively re-established a puppet regime in the North Belfast Brigade, installing some unidentified loser who had made his name at those moronic flag protests around the same time as this all began. Said loser is apparently now in Scotland having made enemies of both the notorious Mount Vernon UVF* (who have been flexing their muscles of late) and Shankill-based veteran UVF top dog (and long-term British agent) John "Bunter" Graham. I'm sure it's entirely coincidental that after his faction made such powerful enemies Bonzer is now a goner. And pigs will fly.

Unlike some loyalists killed by their own (the aforementioned Jim Gray springs readily to mind) Boreland had friends as well as enemies. It seems unlikely that those friends will just shrug their shoulders at this and a lack of retaliation seems at best unlikely. It may be an isolated incident but the demand for some comeback is bound to be loud and these things have a nasty habit of spiralling once they begin. "Interesting" times ahead for the residents of Ballysillan, Tigers Bay and the Shore Road it seems. I may have to give Seaview a miss for a while.

* During their heyday of violence and drug dealing the Mount Vernon UVF were led by the malevolent Mark Haddock. And, you guessed it, he was a British agent too. Still don't believe the Troubles was being directed from Westminster?
keresaspa: (Nina looking a tad pertubed)
Whilst I can undoubtedly recongise the influence he had on what came after him (although his tendency to see new trends and copy them was, like that Nazi phase, often ignored or written off as his "staying relevant" where for other older performers they would be labelled "desperate") I've never been a fan of anything David Bowie did. As such, whilst I acknowledge he deserved a period of public mourning despite my personal tastes, can we please wrap it up now? We get the point, a 69 year old with cancer died and you liked his music so boo-hoo but you didn't know him so let's move on. it was eleven days ago but a good proportion of the internet still seems to be acting like they've just watched their granny melt before their very eyes.

I really do suspect I'm alone in this as I've yet to meet any other genuine music fans who didn't at least partially worship at the altar of old Odd-Eye but enough already.
keresaspa: (Giant Haystacks pissed as a frt!)
When I was but a boy and before Greg Dyke swung his malevolent axe I used to religiously watch the British wrestling on ITV every Saturday afternoon (World of Sport wrestling as it's invariably thought of as, although that particular show pre-dates my memory and it was the stand-alone show with "Yankee Doodle" as the theme tune that I watched). As a child one was expected to worship Big Daddy but I loathed the fat, lazy bastard with every fibre of my being. It wasn't just that his lazy, ultra-patriotic gimmick was offensive to somebody who had been raised in a nationalist/republican household (although that was a big part of it) it was that his bouts were so obviously fixed and that he buried every one of his opponents with the same old belly butt-reverse posting-splash three moves of doom. As an older man obviously I realise that wrestling is entirely fixed but Big Daddy's presence in retrospect looks even worse to me as I can now see that he was one of the single lamest workers in the history of the game (seriously, the Great Khali looks like the Great Sasuke compared to him), he completely destroyed the game by insisting that every possible contender had to job to him and had to do it quickly because he was far too broken down to work a proper match and he was only getting his push because his brother was the promoter and booker. It's no word of a lie to say that Big Daddy's presence killed British pro wrestling as a fixture on TV by stripping it of every shred of credibility and Dyke's decision to axe it was more than justified.

Still I WAS a child nevertheless and so I persevered. His nemesis Giant Haystacks (himself a really crap worker too, but never mind) became my number one but I generally rooted for those whom Daddy opposed as a matter of course. One particular tag team forced to lie down for the standard team of the big blubber-bucket and some talented young lad whose only role was to take a kicking whilst Crabtree stood on the ring apron fighting for a breath caught my eye and I made them my joint second favourites. One was my countryman the former Johnny Howard, wrestling as Rasputin and sporting wild hippy hair and beard whilst his partner was Scotland's Drew McDonald. Two great bears of men who nonetheless could still throw a few moves together without totally blowing up, they spoke volumes to a rather tall and beefy youngster for whom a career in professional wrestling was a given. Inevitably they got nowhere, sacrificed to Big Fatty a few times before the axe fell. The team seemed to drift, although McDonald in particular remained a mainstay of the TV-less British wrestling scene and soon after it was axed I even managed to see him in the flesh when a card made of top British talent, unknown Americans and PN News pitched up at the Ulster Hall.

And there he remained, plugging away to small crowds and for small money, sticking to his guns as a stalwart of the British wrestling scene as well as a trainer of the future generations. But no more. Given that Haystacks and Rasputin are both already dead, Drew McDonald was the last of my great childhood wrestling heroes still standing so I'm sorry to see the Highlander from Hell going. By all accounts a stand-up bloke too and a strong influence on a domestic wrestling scene that has finally more or less recovered from the shadow of Big Daddy and his belly. RIP the Spoiler, you were one of my icons as a kid.
keresaspa: (Giant Haystacks pissed as a frt!)
Let's not go buck mad about Greece. Syriza are hardly the ultra left party that sections of the media in this part of the world are making them out to be (the same media that seems determined to paint the extreme right Marine LePen as a sensible conservative) and their new government is to involve a coalition with a right-wing rabble in the Greek Independents who spent the entire election making the usual noises about immigration, multiculturalism and Greek identity politics. Still, you have to take comfort where you can find it and the decision by such a sizeable section of the Greek electorate to show their displeasure with the existing political order by going to the left rather than the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn is a heartening one. If only the British left could stop wasting so much time attacking each other and organise they might present a genuine alternative to Farage's rabble but I've been saying that for years and it still hasn't happened. Given that their government is relying on the right for its existence and given that they are within the EU and the Euro it's unlikely that Syriza will be able to deliver very much in the way of change but neo-liberal monetarism has brought Greece to its knees so any alternative will be better than the present crap. Good luck to them either way and I hope they can somehow affect real change but I suspect a combination of the EU and NATO will smoosh them down and ensure they can go no further than the standard "ethical capitalism" crap that seems to be the order of the day for modern social democracy. Still, who knows, it might all turn out great in the end so let's at least try to be positive.

Still, whilst Greece is facing a potential new dawn (and thankfully not a golden one) there is a definite sadness in the air with the other big news out the country: the death of Demis Roussos. Inevitably he's remembered now as a big hairy fat man in a kaftan singing uber-cheesey pop songs in a strangely falsetto voice but as vocalist and bassist of the mighty Aphrodite's Child Demis played a leading role in one of the most creative and original bands to emerge from the psychedelic and progressive rock scenes in Europe. Inevitably Vangelis was the maestro behind their work but for me it was the very peculiar vocals that Roussos delivered which helped to mark them out as distinct from the other bands to emerge around that time. And, whisper it, but I reckoned some of his 70s solo stuff was fine too, despite its undoubted kitsch-ness. Let's enjoy the legend one last time:

keresaspa: (Türkan Şoray)
Passing bells for everybody's favourite good time girl as our Christmas has been made that little bit bleaker with the death of Mandy Rice-Davies. Regardless of what they were, her and Christine Keeler will always deserve a tip of the hat for finally exposing the seedy licentiousness of our so called masters and betters. It may have only been the tip of the iceberg and the real juicy details will always be held back (the full extent of Keeler's knowledge of the sordid goings-on of Phil the Greek will probably not be known until long after the old bigot has finally carked it) but after centuries of the misdemeanours of the rich and powerful being hushed up it took somebody to finally lift the lid a touch.

Keeler might have been the looker of the dynamic duo (you can't really blame old Profumo can you, I mean hubba hubba!) but dear Mandy was probably the gamer of the pair, even leaving us her passable go at being a sultry siren.

Janie Jones probably did it better (er, the music that is), but a good effort nevertheless. Either way, farewell to Randy Mice. As long as there are dirty old men in positions of power may there always be a stock of whistleblowers.
keresaspa: (Starry Plough)
I already gave my assessment of Ian Paisley when he retired and I stand by it now that he's dead so I'm not going to waste any words on him here, especially when the Socialist Worker has it covered for me. Equally I'm sure you can guess my reaction to Martin McGuinness's inevitable gushing tribute so I'll waste no words on that ball-licking fuckpot either. The sooner he joins him in Hell the better.
keresaspa: (Starry Plough)
There are few characteristics more becoming in humanity than compassion. One of the side-effects of Thatcherism has been the gradual elimination of compassion in many people, leaving behind a bunch of warmongering nimbys, turning their hatred on the poor and the immigrant simply because they're weak and can't fight back, the sort of people who will say with a straight face that an odious little bastard like Nigel Farage "seems like a good bloke". One of the very few people in public life to demonstrate compassion as a matter of course was Tony Benn and as such his death is a huge blow to the increasingly quaint notion that it is possible to enter politics without being a total piece of vermin. We may not have agreed on everything (his ideal of democratic socialism would never have been an end in itself to my mind, rather a staging point on the way to proper communism) but I can think of no figure in British politics that I admired more, a man of the utmost principle, a tireless friend of the republican community at a time when many of his countrymen viewed us as untermensch to be repressed as brutally as possible and above all somebody whose thought processes were always informed, not by concerns for himself or his powerful chums, but by what would help the people most.

Driven by principle above all, Benn sacrificed the easy life of the House of Lords for the simple reason that he didn't agree with its existence. There are plenty of posh boys who like to play at being lefties but fall into line when the time comes but not Wedgie, who told them where they could shove it and devoted much of his energies to attacking patronage, the monarchy and the whole corrupt lot of them. A tireless opponent of monetarism, which he rightly warned would lead not to greater freedom but to greater authoritarianism from the right, it's just a crying shame that his warnings were ignored and instead petty selfishness and an anti-humanity outlook was adopted as the norm. Equally shameful has been the increasing lurch towards militarism but that didn't for a second stop Benn from opposing war and the suffering it engenders with all his might. As the man so rightly said "if you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people".

That the very fact he was a man of principle was used against him during his life (and no doubt will be in the right-wing press tomorrow) is a sure sign of just how cancerous British society has become. That someone should ever face criticism for putting the welfare of the people, not one group, not certain sections, but ALL the people, above money and capitalism is a revolting reality to have to face. The passing of one of the true greats and I look around and see no one even close to him who can take his place. Rest in peace Tony, we'll never see your like again and that's the greatest shame of all.
keresaspa: (Miki Sugimoto)
There can few, beyond the worst kind of hell-bound vermin, that cannot find much to admire about Nelson Mandela. A man who opposed one of the most iniquitous regimes in history, who served the sort of prison sentence that would drive most of us to the grave, who finally saw the putrid edifice of apartheid driven to its grave and who nonetheless went out of his way to shield the Afrikaans from the bloody vengeance that many felt they had coming. A symbol of defiance and the strength of resistance, Mandela has left behind an unparalleled legacy of facing down injustice that few of his contemporaries, or indeed few from any point in history, can come close to matching. Inevitably he was a massive disappointment as President and he had his flaws in his personal life but none of that should be allowed to overshadow this titan of resistance whose passing leaves the world in a genuinely poorer state. There's little I can add that hasn't already been said about the man other than rest in peace comrade for you were truly an inspiration to all right-thinking human beings.

keresaspa: (Edwige Fenech)
How much of a homophobe must somebody be to blow their own brains out in the middle of a cathedral because France is about to legalise gay marriage? No tears from me for Dominique Venner, the fascist historian who did just that. A doyen of the neo-fascist Nouvelle Droite tendency of the French extreme right, Venner was a member of the Organisation de l'armée secrète that launched attacks during Algeria's struggle for independence before becoming a big wheel in GRECE, a think tank that sought to unite Europe as a racist superstate and still has a big influence on the self-declared "intellectual" extreme right to this day, not least the National Front in Britain during its weirdo 80s period under Nick Griffin and his pals. Subsequently dropping out of active politics to become a revisionist historian his recent bugbears seemed to be gays and Muslims and seemingly the rights about to be afforded to the former proved a little too much for him. Poor diddums. Inevitably the ever so moderate Madame Le Pen was the first to rush to his praise like the good, gentle, compassionate conservative that she claims to be these days. The apple hasn't fell far from the tree there.

But enough about those rotters for something much more newsworthy happened today.

He was a four time holder of the European Middleweight Championship, with one British title and two British Welterweight titles to his name. He was one of the few British wrestlers to find his way into the prestigious Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame despite not competing on the American circuit. His rivalry with Jackie Pallo kept the fans interested for years before eventually spilling over into real life as his old school sensibilities were offended by Pallo's kayfabe breaking autobiography. Even long after his retirement he was a regular at independent wrestling shows up and down Britain, his presence lending credibility to any card on which he appeared. Not to mention that he possessed the blackest hair known to man well into his 80s and steadfastly continued to appear in public in just his trunks even when his physique went west. Yes if anybody summed up all that was good about the grand old days of the British scene (and thus was the antithesis of Big Daddy) it was Mick McManus who died today at the age of 93. A true legend of wrestling. Let's all enjoy him wrestling a long-dead Jimmy Savile lookalike.

keresaspa: (Eric Campbell)
Christina Amphlett and Richie Havens in one day? Bugger.

keresaspa: (Karl Marx laughing)
So farewell then, Margaret Thatcher. The hagiography already began several years ago and will no doubt be enshrined as fact now by the right-wing media along with such bollocks as "Enoch was right" but even I would never seek to deny how powerful an influence she has had on British politics. To destroy wilfully the industrial backbone of the economy and replace it with a monetarist system based on debt and the rewarding of people that we could easily do without is some accomplishment. To destroy solidarity and compassion and replace it with a country that even now follows her atavistic template and wherein the default setting for everybody seems to be one of uncaring selfishness and where a bunch of sadistic bastards laud constant attacks on the poor and vulnerable and constant support for the rich and corrupt as "strong government" is also some accomplishment. The destruction of party politics and its replacement with a knob measuring contest in which a bunch of privileged bastards who bend over backwards to support the rich and crucify the poor compete with two other groups that are exactly the same is some accomplishment. Yes, undoubtedly Thatcher's shadow looms large over the political landscape but it is a shadow that has wreaked destruction and frankly made Britain an at-times horrible place to exist in.

In the name of the millions of industrial workers whose lives you destroyed, the victims of Operation El Dorado Canyon, the crew of the General Belgrano and the memories of Bobby Sands, Francis Hughes, Raymond McCreesh, Patsy O'Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty, Thomas McElwee and Michael Devine I condemn you. If there really is a Hell than Thatcher will be ensconced therein, being jabbed with roasting pitchforks as we speak. Now if you'll excuse me I think I'll hibernate for a while as the ongoing gushing of false emotion that is sure to continue for the next few is making me feel quite sick.

I'll leave the final words to Gerry Adams - I am, and remain, a harsh critic of the way you and your party have abandoned republicanism in pursuit of money, influence and personal power but today you have nailed it and I commend you for a rare rejection of an opportunity to sell out.
keresaspa: (Daffney)
First Hugo, then Paul and now this. Good God what a week!

See you all tomorrow for the next instalment in Celebrity Death Match.
keresaspa: (Tiger Jeet Singh)
First Hugo and now this Good God what a week!

keresaspa: (Communism)
I never fetishised him but it would be remiss not to toll the bell and raise the clenched fist for the passing of Hugo Chávez. I guess it's damning with faint praise to say that for a politician he was decent but its fair. He was rather fond of personal power and didn't always pick his friends well (their alliance was an expedient move but there's nothing left-wing about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) but with his reforms he actively sought to improve the lot of the Venezuelan poor and to close the huge wealth gap so typical of Latin American societies. Alongside that he was prepared to stand up to the bully-boy tactics of the US State Department and helped to encourage a continent-wide move to the left in a region so long dogged by far right military dictatorships. As a fellow enemy of my twin hates of monetarism and imperialism he is loss to his country and the world and I now fear that, like Cuba, the shiftless money men will get in and undo his good work chasing the almighty dollar. He only gets to 58 and George Bush and Maggie Thatcher are still alive - I guess it's true that only the good die young after all.

keresaspa: (Jethro Tull)
When it came to the noodling side of progressive rock there were few who could manage it quite like the Canterbury scene. No tune? Who cares as long as it sounds weird. Depending on my mood I either eat it up or give it a miss but undoubtedly the scene produced some greatly talented and enduring individuals who have left their indelible mark on my musical taste. Not least amongst these was Kevin Ayers and so I must bow my head because of his recent death. For me his finest hour as a solo artist remains 1971's "Whatevershebringswesing", one of a slew of stone-cold classics spewed out by the Harvest label at the time, so let's bid a fond farewell with one of the weirder cuts from that opus.

keresaspa: (Corporal Jones)

RIP Clive Dunn, a legend as Corporal Jones in Dad's Army. Considering he almost died as a boy after getting his third nipple removed (true story) making 92 is a heck of an achievement. Also a fellow traveller on the left whose political convictions were so deep that they almost forced the abandonment of Dad's Army at birth due to the constant arguments between himself and the right-wing Arthur Lowe (true story again). Good man. Say hello to Gretchen Franklin for me.
keresaspa: (Eric Sykes)
In British comedy there are a triptych/triumvirate/trinity (delete according to preference) of men whom I have always assumed to be immortal, based largely on the fact that they have all appeared to be elderly since the mid 1970s. Well apparently either that trio was actually a duo or Barry Cryer and Dennis Norden better start sweating as Eric Sykes has died. A real shame to see the back of the old man who has such a breadth of work behind him as both a writer and a performer that it is almost impossible to pick out a highpoint. From his eponymous sitcom, to his work on stage with Jimmy Edwards, to writing some of the finest routines that the likes of Frankie Howerd ever performed, to his tongue-in-cheek turns in Hammer horrors, to slapstick masterpieces like Rhubarb and The Plank I'm struggling to think of anybody who has left behind a comparable body of work. An unsung hero really and it's fair to say that the landscape of comedy would be very different, and very poorer, if he had not bestrode it like a scrawny colossus. Heck, even the very feat of being half-blind and deaf and yet still managing a career in entertainment that straddled eight decades takes some doing. He'll be missed and no mistake and maybe in death he can finally take his rightful place amongst the all-time greats.

Re-enacted in heaven as we speak.
keresaspa: (Max Miller)
Today we mourn a legend - the great Earl Scruggs has died. For me Flatt and Scruggs were rivalled only by Bill Monroe in terms of being synonymous with bluegrass and given that Lester Flatt and Bill Monroe are both long gone Earl Scruggs' death really does mark the end of an era. These were the boys who took the old timey template laid out by the likes of Uncle Dave Macon and Earl Johnson and turned it into the bluegrass we all know, love and hate to see Steve Martin pissing on so I'm sorry to see the old legend go. Play that banjo, son.


keresaspa: (Default)

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