Thursday, March 17, 2011

A rare win for humanity (Or: 'Hey mack, take the handcuffs off, I think he's a hall of famer')

Good news is all too rare in this godforsaken FUCKING world.

In Libya, the butcher Gaddafi is drowning the revolution in blood with his Western-supplied weapons. This is emboldening other US client dictators to use their Western-supplied weapons to bloodily repress their people.

And now the West is taking advantage of Gaddafi's crimes and using his regime's violence against ordinary people, which the West cares so greatly about, to begin a bombing campaign already being criticised even by those who supported a "no-fly zone" for attacking civilians.

Then there is Japan, which goes to show our governments and corporations can always make a terrible situation utterly catastrophic.

It is further evidence of how we can destroy the world in one very easy step: let the rulers continue ruling.

(On a side note, I have a question for my great multitude of fans: Do any of you support nuclear power?

If you answered yes, please be kind enough to email me your names and home addresses to so I can kill you for the sake of humanity. Just stay at home and I’ll get to each of you in due course.)

And it is not like I don’t know firsthand the terrible injustices of this world.

Hell, just the other I went, happily whistling as is my quaint habit, to the fucking inner-west train station in Sydney closes to my own abode — only to find the station overrun with FUCKING PIGS.

For some reason in Sydney these days, they get actual proper pigs — not just the wannabe pigs who failed the entrance exams — to be deployed checking people’s tickets.

(I did see three of the wannabe pigs on Friday night at Central station showing why they probably deserve to be let in to the police force proper. Two of them had some poor bastard pinned to the ground as he shouted in protest while the third repeatedly kicked him.

Possibly, it might be the fact the bastard being kicked wasn’t black? You gotta get these little things right to be let into the NSW Police Force.)

But the pigs at my station were not just checking tickets. They also had a sniffer dog. At some small, pokey little fucking station at 9am in the fucking morning.

And they were there dishing out fines to people, no doubt with disappointment in their hearts that they had only found them without the appropriate train ticket and not half a kilo of smack up their arses.

My concern was simply that, this being just short of pay day, I had enough coins for a concession ticket only. And believe me, the fuckers won’t give Carlo Sands a concession card, no matter how threateningly I wave my machete.

So I had to turn around, trudge home and scour the fucking joint until I found enough ten cent pieces to make up the $3.20 I needed. Which I managed by finding the very last ten cent piece there was to be found anywhere in the house.

Then I had to trudge back and hand a very unhappy train ticket seller a big pile of ten cent pieces and then go past the fucking pigs and their fucking dog only, by now, they had given up checking tickets and DIDN'T EVEN ASK to see my FUCKING TICKET.

As a result of all of this, I was late for my meeting.

(Admittedly, I shouldn't complain as had I not found that last ten cent coin, I would have had to give apologies for the meeting on the grounds that it was impossible to leave my suburb without accepting a $200 fine... hang on, that means I would not have had to attend the meeting... GOD DAMN IT!)

I mean, what a fucking hassle. So believe me when I tell you, it's tough all round.

But, just when everything seems dark and the horror never-ending — or about to end all too soon in a horrific apocalyptic environmental catastrophe — something decent happens that reminds you that there is hope.

Hope that there is some good in the world. That it is not all bad and there can be progress.

Sometimes, our side actually wins something.

Yes, finally, the God Who Walks Among Us But Has Criminally Failed to Tour Australia Since 1979 was inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame.

Neil Young with Tom Waits at Waits’ induction into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.

It might be argued that someone of the genius of Tom Waits, who truly seems to be able to do anything as a songwriter and musician, does not need recognition from an industry that has consistently pushed him out to the margins.

Sure, but it is a sign of something positive when the ultimate Bard of the Underdog, possibly the greatest storyteller in the history of popular music, gets some fucking well-deserved credit.

There is a common cliche when it comes to dealing with Waits, one that lets the music industry off the hook. (Neil Young actually repeats it in his intro when he describes what Waits does as "indescribable", though I have sympathy for someone trying to describe Waits at something like that.)

The idea is Waits is so "out there" that there is nothing comparable, he is total maverick, doing something so different from everyone, out there on the margins etc, etc.

There is some truth, of course, but actually, what Waits does is neither indescribable nor is it so disconnected from popular music understood broadly.

It is just Waits takes popular music as an art form seriously and seeks use the form to present stories, images and themes in a way that is original - in order to better express the stories, images and themes.

That is, he takes the form serious and seeks to use his creative powers to advance it. Which is really what artists should do.

But is exactly what the capitalist music industry has *no interest* in. More than that, it has an interest in *not* promoting this, because the safe and least offensive sells easiest.

Waits can clearly be seen to be working within the broad parametres of popular music, drawing (as Young notes) not just from rock'n'roll but blues, jazz, country and more.

But Waits both pushes the form's boundaries and uses it as a vehicle for his remarkable story-telling abilities. The music and lyrics work to reinforce each other, and the music plays the role of providing atmosphere for the stories and images he conjures with his (usually amazing) words.

Waits is far from the only artist to do this, he just happens to do it especially well.

For some reason, this is not generally what songwriters are expected to do. Filmmakers, on the other hand, are expected and allowed (within a different sets of constraints) to cover a fuller range of themes and genres.

Waits covers a broad scope of themes in his music over his nearly four decade-career that take themes ranging "romcom" (I Never Talk to Strangers, duet with Bette Midler from Foreign Affairs), "film noir" (Small Change, in which Waits appears to be channelling hardboiled crime novelist Raymond Chandler, from Small Change and Dead and Lovely from Real Gone), through to horror (Murder in the Red Barn from Bone Machine, How's it Gonna End? from Real Gone).

And a lot in between.

Any decent popular culture would not see Waits off on the margins; an eccentric, if brilliant maverick. It would seek to place the likes of Waits at its centre so other artists can build on the work done by such innovators in advancing the popular music form.

But that is something capitalist culture cannot do, because it does not care about the art form or creativity, only what it can mass produce and sell with ease.

It is in this context that any serious recognition of Waits, who is very highly regarded by other musicians, is a victory for humanity and our FUCKING RIGHT to a decent culture to help us survive ths GODDAMN FUCKING WORLD!

'Thank you, thank you. [Holding up the award] Is there a lighter version of this? ... They say I have no hits and I am difficult to work with. And they say that like it s a bad thing!' Footage of Waits being introduced by Neil Young, followed by Waits' speech.

The version of Waits' speech put up at his website ended with this line: "Someday, I hope to hear, 'Hey Mack, take the cuffs off him, I think he’s a Hall of Famer!'"

The report on Waits' website ended with this piece of news: "Meanwhile, Waits has been hard at work in his studio on his highly anticipated forthcoming album of new songs."

For christ's sake, let there not be a nuclear apocalypse right now. Not while Tom Waits is in the fucking studio.

'I'm just another sad guest on this dark earth. I want to believe in the mercy of the world again...' Waits performs 'Make it Rain' followed by 'Rain Dogs' at his induction.

'He couldn't make her love him, couldn't make her stay. But tell the good Lord that he tried'. Waits performs 'Get Behind the Mule' with Neil Young at his induction.

I wanted to put some of Waits songs up, but it is almost impossible to pick songs, much less pick songs that give an representative overview of his astonishing output over almost four decades, so I just picked particular songs that I have always especially loved, and love almost more than life itself, or have been listening to too much of in a recent period.

The alternative songs I could have picked, and would have in any different week, are about as long as Waits back catalogue.

'But you can't take your eyes off her, get another cup of java. It's just the way she pours it for you, joking with the customers. "Mercy mercy, Mr. Percy, there ain't nothing back in Jersey But a broken-down jalopy of a man I left behind. And the dream that I was chasing, and a battle with booze. And an open invitation to the blues"'. "Invitation to the Blues", from Waits classic 1976 album Small Change, probably the best album I have ever heard.

'Is there a light up ahead, I can't hold on very long.' I would say this was the sweetest, most genuinely heartfelt love song ever written, but that would be ignoring Waits' Jersey Girl.

'The sun is up, the world is flat. Damn good address for a rat. The smell of blood, the drone of flies. You know what to do if the baby cries ... Hoist that rag!'
War is fun. Let's have more of it!

'We're chained to the world, and we all gotta pull ... Ask a king or a beggar, and the answer they'll give, is we're all gonna be just dirt in the ground ' Somewhat timely, in a disturbing sort of way.

'It's harder to get rid of than tattoos.' Waits hooks up with Keith Richards to produce this.

For this blogger, the existence of Tom Waits is the number one reason not to let the bastards destroy this world.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Conehead, again. On rocks, marathon runners and rare-done goats liver

Well, after Conehead the Barbituate's first report, which deconstucted the signficance of airports in the degeneration of late monopoly capitailsm (I think that was his point), the international man of mystery logged his latest observations in the comment section of that post.

I feel it is only proper to post the comments in full here, if only because it gives my blog content without me having to do any of the hard fucking work of writing (which I find a fucking annoying distraction from beer).

Surprisingly, Conehead confirms the rumour he has been in Western Sahara. Which, for the record, has been occupied by Morocco since 1975, despite a 1991 UN deal for a referendum on self-determination. Not that stops Australian capitalists from buying phosphate stolen from the Saharawi people.

(Kids, don't ever say this blog is not fucking educational. Carlo Sands is a regular fucking encyclopedia.)

Conehead returns to his favourite theme of airports and, bizarrely, accuses Carlo Sands of making things up.

I post his comments below:

I'm pleased to report that I've found an airport where you can smoke cigarettes after you've gone through security: Tindouf, in one of the more remote parts of Algeria, in the middle of the Sahara Desert in fact.

I was happy to see not only were plenty of people lighting up inside the terminal buildings but many of them were uniformed officials. So I happily smoked the last of my fake Marlboros.

All in all, quite an atypical airport. Looks very old-world, kind of expected to see Humphrey Bogart wandering past (with a cigarette in his mouth of course.)

Going through the first security my carry-on bag was taken apart. At first I couldn't work out what they were looking for, but they then they asked "Do you have any rocks?"

And when they said "rocks" they meant rocks — this was not a code-word for drugs or anything like that — they meant stones, pebbles, boulders, that sort of thing.

They were also looking for sand.

Two things occurred to me. One was why the fuck would anyone want to put rocks in their luggage, the other was why would anyone care.

Weirdly enough, however, the dilligent security officers seemed to uncover all sorts of rocks, pebbles, stones, and sand in the bags of marathon runners, which were duly confiscated (the stones and sand not the bags).

The motivation for this attempted crime I think can be understood by the mentality of marathon runners.

They like challenges. These are the sort of people who think running 42km is not enough of a challenge so they run 42km in the Sahara Desert. They're planning one in the Arctic next year.

So obviously lugging lots of bags and suitcases around remote airports is way too unchallenging, so they fill any space in their bags with rocks and sand to make them heavier.

Why the authorities try to stop them is harder to explain.

Someone said something about them wanting to protect their natural resources, but I didn't observe any shortage of stones. And sand seemed quite plentiful: I don't think they are in much danger of running out even if they let every visiting marathon runner take as much as they want.

In case anyone is wondering what I was doing at a provincial Algerian airport with a planeload of marathon runners, the answer is pretending to be a journalist. I didn't manage to convince many people, however, except for Algerian immigrations authorities (who seem a bit unwelcoming towards journalists, not that I blame them).

It goes without saying that all the rumours Carlo posted about me are … FUCK! THERE'S A WORD LIMIT FOR POSTS!

Yes, Google can be fucking pricks. Conehead returned to his tale in a fresh comment:

It goes without saying that all the rumours Carlo posted about me are untrue, but I am interested if anyone knows of any NGOs who would be willing to sponsor some Parisian beggars to go to Australia to give workshops on entrepreneurial skills to our local beggars.

The truth is I acquired some money through entirely legitimate but thoroughly dishonorable means (inheritance) so there was nothing to do but give up my lumpen lifestyle, buy a suit, and travel the world prentending to be various things that I'm not.

To get on the plane to Tindouf, journalist seemed a better option than marathon runner. I don't think I would have even convinced the Algerian airport officials of that — for one thing they didn't find any rocks or sand in my luggage.

While I may not have made a convincing journalist I did find out about the nightlife in the local Saharawi refugee camps. Drinking tea is the most important recreational activity.

But this is not your dunk a tea-bag in boiling water sort of tea, but an elaborately made brew whose preparation involves boiling tea-leaves on a little open fire and pouring the contents from glass to glass from a great hight for hours.

The result if you wait (& its extremely impolite not to wait) is very sweet and very strong. Among Bedouin people the most impolite thing you can do is refuse anything.

Which is good news if you like very strong, sweet tea, camel meat or rare done goat's liver. The latter is given to guests at baby-namings & refusal would be particularly offensive.

Baby-namings are a popular recreational pasttime whereby new-born babies are named by lottery — potential names being represented by necklaces pulled out of a bowl of camel's milk.

Rather cool culture if you ask me. I know you're not meant to put on weight in a refugee camp but I didn't want to offend anybody.

Like anywhere, of course, there is juvenile delinquacy, and it was explained to me in one of my interviews that there was a problem with young people sitting around all day drinking tea and smoking cigarettes. This problem is being proactively dealt with through organising youth to be more socially engaged, readers will be pleased to hear.

And it should be said that smoking cigarettes in these parts certainly qualifies as substance abuse.

The only readily available cigarettes in the camps is a brand called "American Legend" which says on the packet "real American flavour".

This is a lie. The flavour, similar to glue, unmistakenly points to Chinese origin. I should know, I used to live in Footscray.

You can get a higher class of Chinese counterfeit cigarette, fake Marlboro's, if you are willing to spend a lot more money. These cost 200 dinars ($2.75 in Australian money).

Ok, thank you Conehead. You can stop being so interesting and witty now. This is Carlo Sands' blog and I don't like the competition.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The problem with the fucking British... 30 years on from Bobby Sands' hunger strike

You know the thing about the fucking British? They fucking fuck shit up.

You can’t take the fucking Brits anywhere, they always insist on taking their fucking armed forces with them and invading and colonising the god damn place. I hear Cromwell was invited over to Ireland back in the 17th century for a FUCKING PINT OF GUINNESS.

Next thing you know, the entire place is blown to shit and the country bloodily subjugated. Again.

The British make the worst dinner party guests ever. More than anything else, they just never know when to fucking leave.

And when forcibly evicted, they insist on holding on to what they can. They grab at whatever bottles of wine and after dinner mints within their reach and won’t let go.

Possibly even more ink than blood has been spilled over the terrible violence during the Troubles in the six counties of Ireland the British insist on pretending are British despite the fact that a simple glance at a map would seem to indicate those six countries are actually IN FUCKING IRELAND.

And yet so little of what has been written starts from the basic premise that those six Irish countries... are... well... IRISH.

I realise this is a complicated concept. I realise when you brutally conquer and pillage someone else’s land all sorts of tricky moral issues arise such as “Is this our land? Or does it belong to the people we raped and pillaged?”

It is a tricky one, as we realise here in Australia. I mean yes, the land invaded and brutally colonised did belong to someone else.

But... did it really? I mean really? And what does ownership really mean?

These are the profound philosophical questions a brutal coloniser grapples with, but I'll tell you one thing, try and take Carlo Sands’ fucking beer and you will find out what ownership fucking means.

The Israelis also struggle with this question. Actually, they don’t. They have the charm of being refreshingly blunt and prefer to complain that the Arabs are breeding too fast.

And they don’t have any qualms about passing judgments that it is perfectly legal and justified to murder Palestinians in cold blood.

The British, on the other hand, have finally decided it is not legal to shoot Irish people. The Brits can’t just go around shooting Irish people in Ireland any more — it’s been declared unlawful.

This is a true story. It happened just last year.

The context is the findings released last year in an inquiry into the January 30, 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry in which 26 unarmed Irish people were shot by British soldiers at a civil rights protest. Fourteen people died, seven of them teenagers.

It only took the British some 38 years to publicly acknowledge the fucking obvious: that British troops had, in fact, gunned down unarmed Irish people, in Ireland, while they took part in a civil rights march.

It was a 12-year long inquiry that cost British taxpayers £191.2 million to decide that responsibility for the bloodshed lay with those doing the shooting rather than those getting shot.

Such a rejection of a venerable English tradition no doubt caused quite a stir among sections of the British establishment: first fox-hunting, then shooting Irish people — they must be terrified they’ll ban polo next.

It is always sad to see a venerable tradition go by the wayside of relentless modernisation

The Irish, on the other hand, should probably be grateful.

After all, it took Britain 150 years to apologise for the so-called “Potato famine”, in which about a million Irish people starved to death and another million emigrated despite the fact that plenty of perfectly good food was being shipped out of Ireland at the same time ... by the FUCKING BRITISH.

Such a deliberate policy could, by some nasty, small-minded bigots who just can’t let go of an odd million or so people being condemned to a horrific death by starvation in a totally unnecessary fashion, be considered genocide.

Regardless, at the very least, you can’t say the British are not getting quicker at acknowledging their errors/crimes against humanity.

I raise all of this because March 1 marked the 30th anniversary of the start of a hunger strike a young Irish man called Bobby Sands. He died 66 days later. Nine other men died on hunger strike in the prison they were held in.

Sands was incarcerated in what was best described as a concentration camp called Long Kesh and, with other Irish republican prisoners, was tortured and beaten remorselessly. He had been sentenced in a trail without a jury to 14 years jail for possession of a gun — five other men were charged for possession of the same gun.

Sands was a young man who personally faced brutal persecution and wanted to defend his community from fascist gangs and British soldiers (sorry, that’s a tautology).

For his troubles, he got railroaded through a jury-less trial.

In prison, republican prisoners began to protest the denial of basic civil liberties. They wished to be recognised as what they were: prisoners of a war brought to their country by Britain.

They did not wish to be branded common criminals, and refused to wear prison uniforms. Then, they refused to wash or empty the buckets the prison authorities kindly gave them as toilets — and the prison authorities reduced them to sleeping on piss-soaked mattresses and smearing their own shit on the walls of their cell.

Seeing no other way to get their grievances heard, a hunger strike was organised. Sands was the first to start, on March 1, 1981.

In return, Sands copped relentless abuse by the Thatcher government for being a cold-blooded terrorist — of the sort Thatcher would not deign to negotiate with.

This being the same government that was backing the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

In the middle of Sands’ hunger strike, a by-election in the seat of Fermanagh and South Tyrone was held. Sands was put up as a candidate.

Running from within the conceptration camp, Bobby Sands won.

On May 5 1981, Bobby Sands, honourable representative for Fermanagh and South Tyrone in the British parliament, died. One hundred thousand people turned out for his funeral.

When Thatcher eventually, finally, fucking dies — millions will fucking celebrate.

‘Five simple things we asked of them. Five simple things denied. Thatcher would not compromise.’

Can you find Ireland on the map? I’ll give you a hint, it is not in Britain.

In the February 26 Irish elections that resulted in the Fianna Fail government getting lynched by voters for imposing savage austerity and handing the country over to the IMF, Sinn Fein candidate Dessie Ellis won a seat the Dail in the Dublin North West constituency.

Twenty-two years ago, a Fianna Fail government handed Ellis over to the British to face “justice” for resisting British occupation. On February 26, he took a seat belonging to Fianna Fail.

JUST IN: In a piece of even MORE satisfying news, the Irish just beat the English in a World Cup cricket match...

‘And THAT’S for Cromwell...’