Only one week to Christmas. I wrote the introduction for this week's newsletter yesterday but upon rereading it today, I didn't like the cynical tone so I erased the whole thing and started over. The problem (solution?) is that Christmas time puts me in the 'giving' mood. I know the bad stuff is still happening all around me but I actually get addicted to finding creative presents for my kids and grandkids, and friends, and I don't FEEL like being cynical. They say it's better to give than to receive and I think that is the real value of Christmas (at least for me). A good excuse for another mystical journey into givingness. I'm putting together a gala holiday issue once again for next Friday so send me any quirky stuff that comes your way. It is already getting a little out of control with strangeness but a little more won't hurt!
So now that I've got the giving issues out of the way, back to business. I've created two new awards that I will be handing out periodically in the newsletter:
FAVOURITE READER FEEDBACK OF THE WEEK
I dont know who you or what these useless emails are for. Please remove my email address from your distribution list!!!!!!!!!! G.V.
(Note: Folks, that really wasn't one of my favourites but I thought I'd just mess with your heads a little.)
I was wondering if I could ask a question about your recording history. I've owned a copy of an album by the band Sugar Creek for years. It's one of the treasures in my collection. There are a couple of songs credited to a J. Dolce on the LP. From a little bit of digging on the net I know that you went to school with a couple of the Sugar Creek band members. Anyhow, did you actually record with the group? I ask because you're not listed on the scanty liner notes. Also, have you kept in touch with any of the other members? Happy holidays, Scott
(Note: Sugar Creek (aka The Headstone Circus) was the band I formed with Jonathan Edwards, and Malcolm and Todd McKinney, when we all went to Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio, in the late 60s. The album that Scott is referring to is called 'Please Tell a Friend,' and I was suprised to see that it is now a collector's item on the internet at $US 200 a copy. I only have one copy myself. I guess that means I can increase my net worth by approx. $A 265. I knew if I held on to that thing long enough . . . I left the band straight after we made that album (all my equipment got stolen from our breadtruck band vehicle and I was ready to move on anyway, so . . .) - that's probably why my photo and liner notes were expunged from the cover. (Is expunged the right word? Anyway, that's what it felt like. Like someone x'd my sponge. But I showed them all, eh? Now I'm making hundreds of dollars a year.) I just found out that Jonathan Edwards and I are both showcasing at the US National Folk Alliance in Austin, Texas, in February. I haven't seen that geezer in about 30 years. Edwards has recorded five of my songs on three separate albums. It will be good to catch up and play some music with the old preacher again. Here's the site where you can read all about Sugar Creek:)
Re: Jeffrey Archer in Australia
A charming story, but the very THOUGHT of that appalling congenital liar Archer, just brings me out in a rash. Pity you cannot keep him in Oz. And as for that fascinating anecdote Joe, about the book inscription you wanted, and Archer being too thick to cotton-on, well that speaks VOLUMES about this fifth-rater, and all his political chums who helped him get to the heights of Deputy Chairman of the Tory Party. Blairescu said he would strip him of his Title, but "Lord" Archer he still remains . . . another broken promise from Antonio. I am amazed that [you] bought an autobiography by this total scoundrel. If any reader . . . wants to know about this shameless and tedious individual, I suggest they go to this site.
Actually, come to think of it, this bloke lets him off rather lightly. Archer was Member of Parliament for the neighbouring Parliamentary constituency to my home here in Grimsby. I recently drove through Brigsley (4 miles from my home) and stopped to show a friend the house Archer lived in during the years when he was the local MP. To think that this fellow came fairly close to getting to live in 10 Downing Street. It would have been like Walter Mitty getting to the White House. But, as I recall, James Thurber's Mitty had CHARM. Archer has SMARM. Dai Woosnam
(Note: Well, Dai, it wasn't really an autobiography I bought from The Great Brain Robber, it was a work of FICTION, but, perhaps, same difference. Here's a quote you might like:)
(Note: Please take time to read these slowly. If you pay attention to the first two judges, the reaction of the third judge is even better. For those of you who have lived in Texas, you know how true this is. They actually have a Chili Cook-off about the time Halloween comes around. It takes up a major portion of a parking lot at the San Antonio City Park. Judge #3 was an inexperienced Chili taster named Frank, who was visiting from Springfield, IL.)
Frank: "Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table asking for directions to the Coors Light truck, when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili wouldn't be all that spicy and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted".
I have scattered the scorecard notes from the event throughout the rest of the newsletter. Here's the first heat (boom boom!) -
Chili Cookoff # 1 - MIKE'S MANIAC MONSTER
Judge # 1 -- A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick.
Judge # 2 -- Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.
Judge # 3 (Frank) -- Holy shit, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope that's the worst one. These Texans are crazy.
By Andrew Walker
' . . . Thus began Project Paperclip, the US operation which saw Werner von Braun and more than 700 other scientists spirited out of [Nazi] Germany from under the noses of the US's allies. Its aim was simple: "To exploit German scientists for American research and to deny these intellectual resources to the Soviet Union."
Events moved rapidly. President Truman authorised Paperclip in August 1945 and, on 18 November, the first Germans reached America.
There was, though, one major problem. Truman had expressly ordered that anyone found "to have been a member of the Nazi party and more than a nominal participant in its activities, or an active supporter of Nazism militarism" would be excluded.
Under this criterion even von Braun himself, the man who masterminded the Moon shots, would have been ineligible to serve the US. A member of numerous Nazi organisations, he also held rank in the SS. His initial intelligence file described him as "a security risk".
And von Braun's associates included:
* Arthur Rudolph, chief operations director at Nordhausen, where 20,000 slave labourers died producing V-2 missiles. Led the team which built the Saturn V rocket. Described as "100 per cent Nazi, dangerous type".
* Kurt Debus, rocket launch specialist, another SS officer. His report stated: "He should be interned as a menace to the security of the Allied Forces."
* Hubertus Strughold, later called "the father of space medicine", designed Nasa's on-board life-support systems. Some of his subordinates conducted human "experiments" at Dachau and Auschwitz, where inmates were frozen and put into low-pressure chambers, often dying in the process.
All of these men were cleared to work for the US, their alleged crimes covered up and their backgrounds bleached by a military which saw winning the Cold War, and not upholding justice, as its first priority. ' (article)
Chili Cookoff # 2 - AUSTIN'S AFTERBURNER
Judge # 1 -- Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight jalapeno tang.
Judge # 2 -- Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.
Judge # 3 -- Keep this out of the reach of children. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.
Lost John Lennon and Yoko Ono Interview
Power to the People
By TARIQ ALI
and ROBIN BLACKBURN
(Editors' Note: It was twenty-five years ago today that John Lennon was murdered outside the Dakota building on Central Park West in New York City. We doubt many have read the following 1971 interview with Lennon done by CounterPunchers Tariq Ali and Robin Blackburn. It's a lot more interesting that the interminable Q and A with Lennon done by Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner. Tariq and Robin allowed Lennon to talk and spurred him on when he showed signs of flagging. Lennon recounts about how he and George Harrison bucked their handlers and went on record against the Vietnam War, discusses class politics in an engaging manner, defends country and western music and the blues, suggests Dylan's best songs stem from revolutionary Irish and Scottish ballads and dissects his three versions of "Revolution". The interview ran in The Red Mole, a Trotskyist sheet put out by the British arm of the Fourth International. As you'll see, those were different days. The interview is included in Tariq Ali's Streetfighting Years, recently published by Verso.)
Tariq Ali: Your latest record and your recent public statements, especially the interviews in Rolling Stone magazine, suggest that your views are becoming increasingly radical and political. When did this start to happen?
John Lennon: I've always been politically minded, you know, and against the status quo. It's pretty basic when you're brought up, like I was, to hate and fear the police as a natural enemy and to despise the army as something that takes everybody away and leaves them dead somewhere.
I mean, it's just a basic working class thing, though it begins to wear off when you get older, get a family and get swallowed up in the system.
In my case I've never not been political, though religion tended to overshadow it in my acid days; that would be around '65 or '66. And that religion was directly the result of all that superstar shit--religion was an outlet for my repression. I thought, 'Well, there's something else to life, isn't there? This isn't it, surely?'
But I was always political in a way, you know. In the two books I wrote, even though they were written in a sort of Joycean gobbledegook, there's many knocks at religion and there is a play about a worker and a capitalist. I've been satirising the system since my childhood. I used to write magazines in school and hand them around.
I was very conscious of class, they would say with a chip on my shoulder, because I knew what happened to me and I knew about the class repression coming down on us--it was a fucking fact but in the hurricane Beatle world it got left out, I got farther away from reality for a time.
TA: What did you think was the reason for the success of your sort of music?
JL: Well, at the time it was thought that the workers had broken through, but I realise in retrospect that it's the same phoney deal they gave the blacks, it was just like they allowed blacks to be runners or boxers or entertainers. That's the choice they allow you--now the outlet is being a pop star, which is really what I'm saying on the album in 'Working class hero'. As I told Rolling Stone, it's the same people who have the power, the class system didn't change one little bit.
Of course, there are a lot of people walking around with long hair now and some trendy middle class kids in pretty clothes. But nothing changed except that we all dressed up a bit, leaving the same bastards running everything. (13 pages more)
Chili Cookoff # 3 - FRED'S FAMOUS BURN DOWN
THE BARN CHILI...
Judge # 1 -- Excellent firehouse chili. Great kick.
Judge # 2 -- A bit salty, good use of peppers.
Judge # 3 -- Call the EPA. I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back, now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I'm getting shit-faced from all of the beer.
Squirrels Kill Dog
Russian squirrel pack kills dog
Squirrels have bitten to death a stray dog which was barking at them in a Russian park, local media report. Passers-by were too late to stop the attack by the black squirrels in a village in the far east, which reportedly lasted about a minute. They are said to have scampered off at the sight of humans, some carrying pieces of flesh. (article)
Chili Cookoff # 4 - BUBBA'S BLACK MAGIC...
Judge # 1 -- Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.
Judge # 2 -- Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.
Judge # 3 -- I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Sally, the beermaid, was standing behind me with fresh refills. That 300-LB woman is starting to look HOT... just like this nuclear waste I'm eating! Is chili an aphrodisiac?
Province of Inhambane
Ministry of Fish and Wildlife
Due to the rising frequency of Human-Lion Encounters, the Ministry of Fish and Wildlife, Inhambane Branch, Mozambique is advising hikers, hunters, fisherman and any motor-cyclists that use the out-of-doors in a recreational or work-related function to take extra precautions while in the bush.
We advise outdoorsmen to wear little noisy bells on clothing so as to give advanced warning to any lions that might be close by so you don't take them by surprise.
We also advise anyone using the out-of-doors to carry "Pepper Spray" with him or her in case of an encounter with a lion.
Outdoorsmen should also be on the watch for fresh lion activity, and be able to tell the difference between lion cub droppings and big lion droppings. Lion cub droppings are smaller and contain lots of berries and dassie fur. Big lion droppings have bells in it, and smell like pepper.
Enjoy your stay in
Chili Cookoff # 5 LISA'S LEGAL LIP REMOVER...
Judge # 1 -- Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.
Judge # 2 -- Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.
Judge # 3 -- My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. I wonder if I'm burning my lips off. It really p*sses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. Screw those rednecks.
Abdication of the Artists
by Larry Beinhart
I live in Woodstock, New York. In addition to being "that Woodstock," it has been host to an arts colony since 1903 and it's full of musicians and writers and photographers and others of that ilk. Every year the Woodstock Guild of Artists holds a particularly charming exhibit, the "5X7 show." That's inches. There's a $10 admission, all the pieces sell for just $100, and it raises money for the Guild. This year there were 152 pieces. Some were very clever. Some amusing. A few exhibited very precise draftsmanship. A couple used words and images. There were sculptures the only rule is size, there's no restriction on the number of dimensions you can try to reach into. There were hazy landscapes and precise landscapes and some portraits.
What struck me the most was what was not there.
Not a single piece was political. Or about economics or religion or the environment or mass delusion or science or the media.
Five Americans and seventy-eight Iraqis died violently today. The shoes on your feet were likely put together by workers on slave wages. Christian activists who went to Iraq to rescue people are being held hostage. The poppies are blooming in Afghanistan and the warlords are getting rich. In Bolivia a leading candidate is running on a platform of the legalization of coca growing. The polar ice cap is melting. New Orleans was destroyed this year. It will not be rebuilt under this administration. Nineteen billion dollars was lost, misplaced, stolen from Iraq while Paul Bremer III was in charge of it. He got the Medal of Freedom afterward. The treasury is being looted. We're living in the age of the crusades, Christian against Muslim, the 11th Century coming back in the 21st. The Catholic Church is opposing the use of condoms in a country where the rate of HIV infection is 38%. Suburban sprawl is not merely unchecked, it is accelerating. McMansions grow larger. SUVs have grown into Humvees and the price of gas goes up.
There will be people who freeze to death this winter due to the cost of oil. I don't know if any of them will be from our town, but I do know that there will be people who are wearing their long johns and sweaters inside their homes as December crawls through the cracks and they'll keep them on through the nasty fringes of March. Our public dialogue is anemic. The Right has hijacked the pulpits. Public relations speech and imagery are the order of the day. Public policy is sold the same way as cheap goods at Wal-Mart, with no regard for their quality or utility, or our need for them, but only to move product and contribute to the grosses of the grossest.
It would have been a relief if their had even been a piece celebrating Rush Limbaugh, or the advance of American Imperialism Bravissimo Pax Americana! - or in favor of the War in Terror, or to Support the Troops. Something to show that people who regard themselves as artists think that maybe, sometimes, art could be about something. (article)
Chili Cookoff # 6 - VERA'S VERY VEGETARIAN
Judge # 1 -- Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spices and peppers.
Judge # 2 -- The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb.
Judge # 3 -- My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. I shit on myself when I farted and I'm worried it will eat through the chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that Sally. Can't feel my lips anymore. I need to wipe my ass with a snow cone.
EARTH TO AMERICA - WILL FERRELL
Laugh-until-you-cry videoclip of 'George W Bush' at his ranch, trying to get his head around global warming, featuring Will Ferrell, from Saturday Night Live, as W. (video site)
Chili Cookoff # 7 - SUSAN'S SCREAMING SENSATION
Judge # 1 -- A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.
Judge # 2 -- Ho hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. **I should take note that I am worried about Judge # 3. He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is cursing uncontrollably.
Judge # 3 -- You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn't feel a thing. I've lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy, they'll know what killed me. I've decided to stop breathing it's too painful. Screw it; I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I'll just suck it in through the 4-inch hole in my stomach.
The Kinsey Report - Revisted
(Note: I was skimming through my old Kinsey Report, as one is wont to do before bedtime, and I reread the interesting section on sex with animals. (Chapter 22). They didn't really cover on this in the recent film about Kinsey. Can't understand why? Maybe 'cause they wanted the film to do well in the Red States. Here are some interesting excerpts:)
" No biologist exactly understands why males of a species are attracted primarily, even if not exclusively, to females of the same species. What is there to prevent insects of one species from mating with insects of any other species? What is there to prevent a frog from mating with frogs of other species? Why should mammals mate only with mammals of their kind?"
"It is know, of course, that [these] taboos were well established in the Old Testament and in the Talmud. Attention is also to be draw to the fact that in the older Hittite Code, which may have had some influence on the Hebrew codes, the taboos on animal intercourse were not clearly the moral issues that they subsequently came to be. Specifically in the Hittite code it is decreed that:
'If a man lie with a cow, the punishment is
'If a man lies with a hog or dog, he shall die.'
'If a bull rear upon a man, the bull shall die, but the man shall not die.'
'If a boar rear upon a man, there is no penalty.'
'If a man lies with a horse or mule, there is no penalty, but he shall not come near the king and he shall not become a priest.' "
"It is something between 40 and 50 percent of all farm boys who have some sort of animal contact in their pre-adolescent, adolescent and/or later histories . . . . in certain Western areas of the United States where animals are most readily available and social restraints on this matter are less stringent we have secured incident figures of as high as 65 percent in some communities.'
'The animals that are involved in these human contacts include practically all the species that are domesticated on the farm or kept as pets in the household. Because of their convenient size, animals like calves or, in the west, burros and sheep, are most often involved. Practically every other mammal that has ever been kept on a farm enters into the record and a few of the larger birds like chickens, ducks and geese.'
'Psychically, animal relations may become of
considerable significance to the [farm] boy who is having regular
experience. While his initial contacts may involve little more
that the satisfaction which is to be obtained from physical stimulation,
the situation becomes quite different for the boy who is having
frequent contacts with particular animals . . . . The psychic
significance of his experience is particularly evidenced by the
fact that animal contacts may become a regular part of his nocturnal
dreams. Moreover many a farm boy develops erotic fantasies of
himself in contact with some animal. In some cases, the boy may
develop an affectional relation with the particular animal with
which he has had his contacts and there are males who are quite
upset emotionally when situations force them to sever connection
with the particular animal. If this seems a strange perversion
of human affection it should be recalled that exactly the same
sort of affectional relationship is developed in many a household
where there are pets. . . . There are [also] records of male dogs
who completely forsake the females of their own species in preference
for the sexual contact that may be had with a human partner.'
The Kinsey Report: Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male
Alfred C. Kinsey, PhD Zoology 1948
Chili Cookoff # 8 - BIG TOM'S TOENAIL CURLING
Judge # 1 -- The perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili. Not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.
Judge # 2 -- This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge #3 farted, passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he's going to make it. poor feller, wonder how he'd have reacted to really hot chili?
Judge # 3 - No Report.
(thanks to al johns)
con Le Erbe
(Baccalà with Beet Greens - Livornese style)
* 1 3/4 pounds soaked baccalà
* 4 bunches beet tops, about 1 1/2 pounds
* 1/4 pound mild black olives
* 2-3 cloves garlic, a red pepper, and a bunch of parsley, minced
* 1-2 eggs, beaten with salt and pepper to taste
* Salt, pepper, and some tomato paste diluted with water.
* 1/2 cup Olive oil for frying
Soak the salted baccalà in water for 24 - 48 hours depending on how firm it is, and how much salt you like in the taste, changing the water 3 times per day. Drain and pat dry. Skin and debone the fish, then break it onto bite-sized chunks, stir them into the egg mixture, and let them sit for at least an hour. Meanwhile, mince the herbs, chop and wash the beet tops, and pit the olives. Dredge the fish in flour and fry it in a fairly deep pot until the pieces are a pretty golden color, then stir in the herb mixture, the olives, and the beet tops. Cook, stirring, until the beet tops wilt, then mix in a tablespoon or two of tomato paste diluted in a half cup of warm water. Season to taste, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes. Correct the seasoning, let the dish rest for about 10 minutes, and serve.