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Friday September 14th, 2007

Suitcases for Russia

"The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them." Lenin


Dear folks,

I hear that now Australia is going to be supplying Uranium to the Russians.

Did I miss something? What happened to all the commie bastards we were taught to hate for the last fifty years? Before Islamic terrorists were in vogue, almost 100% of villains were Soviet. James Bond's entire career was based on fighting them. Most of the rogue nuclear weapons that appear today in popular film thrillers come from renegade Soviet generals. Every other villain in the current US series '24,' now in its sixth season, is a Soviet military nutcase with a suitcase bomb.

So, now Australia is going to be SELLING uranium to the Russians.
(I'll bet the comrades are having a good laugh at that one over at Trades Hall.)

What's next - are we going to sell them the bloody suitcases, too?

I guess now that we're on speaking terms with the communists, we can ponder the wisdom in these classic Nikita 'The Pounding Shoe' Khrushchev quotes:

"When you are skinning your customers, you should leave some skin on to heal, so that you can skin them again." Khrushchev

"If one cannot catch the bird of paradise, better take a wet hen." Khrushchev

"Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river." Khrushchev

This gradual morphing of political philosophy reminds me of a lyric I once wrote:

"I grew a long Pigtail,
And memorized the Little Red Book.
I went to two Communist Rallies,
And now, well . . . I'm working as a Chinese Cook.

God is Dead, Marx is Dead,
And I'm Not Feeling that Good Myself."
(full lyrics)



I love your big juicy brain. XOXO Beverley

(Note: God, I admire people that talk dirty.)

Hi Joe,
Reckon you might like these. Cheers, Justine Stewart (creative cards) - site


Hey Joe,
Enjoy your newsletter. I'm another one of those people who has no idea how I got on your subscription list (couple of years back?).
 Q: how do I subscribe someone else so I can stop forwarding it on to them?
 PS: I re-sent the cow jokes to a couple of people and added this one just for fun. Cheers, John

You have two cows.
Your version of their milk is popular.
You poo poo the other guy's cows' version of milk.
You realise you can make more money by selling the other guy's version of milk so you claim it as yours and re-sell it.
You milk all the cows for a very long time...
... a veeeeerrrrryyyyy long time......
People finally prefer water.
You try to sell your cow's milk as water.

(Note: John, it's always best to get the person you want to receive the newsletter to email but if you know them well and you know they like what you have been forwarding them, then send me their email address and I will add it. I'm sure you will use good judgement. There are no hard and fast rules. Look on it as a kind of 'gift'! Now as far as your 'Johnny Howard Cow' piece: what have you been smoking, mate? - but, hey, IT WORKS FOR ME!)

Another fascinating read! Re: RSI - as someone who has been playing professionally (keyboards primarily--acoustic piano a lot) for over 35 years, I do suggest that everyone who is still playing full-time into middle age take MSM and hyaluronic acid supplements.  it really does make a difference to many people.
re: Cows - laugh-out-loud funny! here is a limerick i wrote which won a Stephen Leacock Award for Humour here in Canada where i live...

The cow is the baby calf's mudder;
She gives us cheese, yoghurt and budder.
This remarkable friend
Just puts grass in one end
And the good stuff comes out of the udder!! 

re: neil finn song - (and please don't take this to mean that i don't love songs which have great lyrics from top to bottom--believe me--i do!): great observations...but in another way of looking at it, it seems true to me of this song, as is true of quite a few other popular songs, that when it comes down to it, the whole song is really about those two lines, "hey now hey now, don't dream it's over".  it's in both the melody and the "mouth feel" of those lyrics that the power lies.    what those two lines actually mean, and, in a certain way, the whole rest of the song are practically irrelevant. i think pop music just works that way sometimes.  sometimes, even when the rest of the song has good lyrics, the hook drowns them out! look at the case of springsteen's "born in the u.s.a".  much to bruce's consternation, that song was co-opted by the republican party as a convention theme song.  yet the rest of the lyrics are an unmistakable,  well-expressed anti-government protest cry from an ill-treated vietnam veteran.
it's clear that the sheer power, both melodically and lyrically, of that hook line completely trumped the whole rest of the song in order for a misunderstanding of the intent of the song to have taken place at the level that it did. my friend eddy schwartz, who wrote pat benatar's "hit me with your best shot", will tell you that the song is a very specific story about a very real and painful relationship situation he was in.  but i'll bet you for the greatest percentage of listeners, the whole song is just about "hit me with your best shot--fire away", and they don't know another lyric in it.   like steamrollers, the combination of melody and lyric feel rather than meaning in certain hooklines sometimes simply flatten everything around them.
 john lennon seemed to have (and dylan has) the uncanny ability to consistently come up with songs which have both the killer hooks and beautiful lyrics top to bottom.  it's a holy gift and an inspirational high bar for all of us who try to write songs. great writing exercise! cheers, a la prochaine, dove

(Note: Thanks, Dove, for the nicely thought out letter. Brilliant Cow poem. What a kicker! The Neil Finn song IS about those two lines in the hook - hence why they irritate me so much. Like I said last week, I still don't know what he is saying. Either it's : Don't DREAM that it's over because it's not - (which is a poor way of saying it) or it means the opposite - Stop dreaming because it's OVER! - which is something too discouraging to want to go about humming all day. And re: the sound of the words as an end in themselves: I used to be into Sound without Meaning - that's why I bought a Fuzztone when they came out. Now about Springsteen's 'Born in the USA' - the trouble with these kind of generic hooks - they can be hijacked and given contrary intent. (It would pretty hard for the Republikan Right to hijack a song with a title like 'Get the US the Fuck Out of Iraq, NOW!!!' for instance.) The days are long past for generic songs that mean all things to all people. That used to be one of the goals of songwriters: the use of wide metaphor and scope to create multiple layers of meaning - so you could make everyone happy. Blame Sinatra. Blame Dylan. But unless you want to end up like Hendrix or Wagner and have your songs played while helicopters are bombing villages, the responsible songwriter today needs to adhere to Daniel Berrigan's advice: 'Know where you stand, and STAND THERE!'.)

Russia Tests Powerful 'Dad of All Bombs'
by Vladimir Isachenkov

MOSCOW - The Russian military has successfully tested what it described as the world's most powerful non-nuclear air-delivered bomb, Russia's state television reported Tuesday. It was the latest show of Russia's military muscle amid chilly relations with the United States.
Channel One television said the new weapon, nicknamed the "dad of all bombs" is four times more powerful than the U.S. "mother of all bombs."
"The tests have shown that the new air-delivered ordnance is comparable to a nuclear weapon in its efficiency and capability," said Col.-Gen. Alexander Rukshin, a deputy chief of the Russian military's General Staff, said in televised remarks.
Unlike a nuclear weapon, the bomb doesn't hurt the environment, he added. article


: Henrietta Byrd Subject: MBA Diploma Grows Cervix


As Sunnis Flee, Shiites Now Dominate Baghdad
By Babak Dehghanpisheh and Larry Kaplow

Shiites now dominate the once mixed capital, and there is little chance of reversing the process. It was their last stand. Kamal and a handful of his neighbors were hunkered down on the roof of a dun-colored house in southwest Baghdad two weeks ago as bullets zinged overhead. In the streets below, fighters from Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army fanned out and blasted away with AK-47s and PKC heavy machine guns. Kamal is a chubby 44-year-old with two young sons, and he and his friends, all Sunnis, had been fighting similar battles against Shiite militiamen in the Amel neighborhood for months. They jumped awkwardly from rooftop to rooftop, returning fire. Within minutes, however, dozens of uniformed Iraqi policemen poured into the street to support the militiamen. Kamal ditched his AK on a rooftop and snuck away through nearby alleys. He left Amel the next day. "I lost my house, my documents and my future," says Kamal, whose name and that of other Iraqis in this story have been changed for their safety. "I'm never going back."
Thousands of other Sunnis like Kamal have been cleared out of the western half of Baghdad, which they once dominated, in recent months. The surge of U.S. troops - meant in part to halt the sectarian cleansing of the Iraqi capital - has hardly stemmed the problem. The number of Iraqi civilians killed in July was slightly higher than in February, when the surge began. According to the Iraqi Red Crescent, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has more than doubled to 1.1 million since the beginning of the year, nearly 200,000 of those in Baghdad governorate alone. Rafiq Tschannen, chief of the Iraq mission for the International Organization for Migration, says that the fighting that accompanied the influx of U.S. troops actually "has increased the IDPs to some extent."
When Gen. David Petraeus goes before Congress next week to report on the progress of the surge, he may cite a decline in insurgent attacks in Baghdad as one marker of success. In fact, part of the reason behind the decline is how far the Shiite militias' cleansing of Baghdad has progressed: they've essentially won. article


(thanks to Stefan Abeysekera)


Amnesty Film Shows Agony of US Detention Techniques
by Terri Judd

Forced on to the balls of his feet, bent double with his hands handcuffed behind his back, the near-naked man shook violently. From beneath the hood, muted moans were audible. It seemed obscene to stare at this apparently frail, vulnerable man, caught in a stress position reminiscent of the images of Iraqi prisoners being interrogated by US soldiers at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison. Yet this was not torture. It was art.
In an attempt to draw attention to human rights abuses, Amnesty International has filmed a dancer in the positions captives have been forced to adopt by US troops. The resulting film makes shocking viewing. During a break in filming, Jiva Parthipan, a Sri Lankan performance artist, appeared relieved as he rubbed his limbs, which were aching after just a couple of minutes in a position that suspects in President George Bush's "war on terror" are expected to endure for hours.
The star of the Amnesty International film, which is being released online next month to highlight the agony of such interrogation techniques, said he found the experience painful, both physically and psychologically. In secret jails across the world, Amnesty insists, captives in the fight against terrorism are expected to maintain these poses. They are not considered torture, simply "enhanced interrogation techniques". Alfred McCoy, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, argued recently that the photographs from Abu Ghraib reflected standard CIA torture techniques of " stress positions, sensory deprivation, and sexual humiliation". article




Black Stereotypes
Examples of black stereotypes from vintage films and cartoons. These images were shown daily on television for over 30 years. Many episodes of the Little Rascals have been "ethnically cleansed" over the years. Some 20 minute episodes were edited down to a mere 8 after removing all racial images/slurs. Several episodes were removed completely from the series. Warner Bros. Cartoons were filled with racial/ethnic stereotypes. Bugs Bunny will never be seen in black-face again. These studios are not alone...over the years, EVERY studio, depicted stereotypes on a regular basis. Even films made by black FOR blacks, featured stereotypes.
(thanks to Frank Dolce)


NGOs Unite on Earth's Greatest Crisis
by Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS - A three-day meeting of over 2,500 delegates from more than 500 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and representing 80 countries affirmed that climate change "is potentially the most serious threat humanity and our environment have ever faced."
A declaration adopted Friday warns that global warming can possibly have a devastating impact on virtually all aspects of life in the planet, including "catastrophic effects on our earth's ecosystem, biodiversity and infrastructure."
Among other potential threats singled out were: the significant reduction of available food, water, energy and transport; massive migration of populations and the possible destruction of entire cultures and small island nations; significant damage to economic, political, cultural and social bases; and irreversible harm to the lifestyles of indigenous peoples.
The meeting, described as one of the largest single gathering of NGOs, was organized by the U.N.'s Department of Public Information, which has been hosting similar conferences over the last 59 years. article



Giant Steps
This is what John Coltrane's landmark tune and solo look like when they come to life on paper.
(thanks to WaylandN)



Genius, Masterpiece, Criticism and 'THE ROCKS OF BAWN'

I was honoured to introduce Judy Small's 25 Anniversary Tour last Saturday night at The Artery in Fiztroy with an eight minute talk combining bits of her musical biography with select extracts from my newsletters. It's been twenty-five years since she recorded her first album. It was a shock to realize that I had a Number One hit two years before Judy Small had even recorded! I've always considered her one of MY mentors in some ways. It was a beautiful concert. I saw something in Judy's supremely warm performing skill that I hadn't noticed before. The way she sings a protest song almost sounds as if it's a love song. And why shouldn't it?

Before the concert, Judy told me she considered one of my own songs, 'Death of Bach' a masterpiece. That shaddaped my face in such a way that I had to sit down and get myself focused before I could do the introduction. (A shot of Irish whisky helped.) You don't expect to hear this kind of comment from another artist you respect so much especially before one of THEIR shows. Now, personally, I'VE always know 'Death of Bach' was one of my masterpieces! I'm not being arrogant here. Because the term masterpiece, for me, is merely a term of self-measurement. It usually takes me five years or more to separate the wheat from the chaff in my writing. When the emotion has cooled and I have moved on into other Lives and Issues, only then can I look back and see the glittering little stones scattered all amongst the song-pepples I've collected. Then I pluck them out and put them in my 'masterpiece scrapbook'. That's it. That's the height of the Pedestal. It doesn't matter to me if anyone else agrees with me either. This scrapbook belongs to me and it is for my own use.

Here's a little piece of advice that has served me well:
The only thing an artist needs to hear after a performance is PRAISE. If you can't give them that, leave them alone. If you want to criticize them on something they did or didn't do, do it some other time. Not after the show.

Here are some of my thoughts on Ye Olde Ancient Art of Criticism:

Praise and Critical Comments from Others:
1. In order to perceive and acknowledge Genius in someone, you have to unconsciously acknowledge the potential for it in yourself. This is part of the unspoken deal.

2.Composer Richard Wagner said that unless a person can DO what you can do, they have no authority to criticise it.

3. German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, wrote, in Letters to a Young Poet, that the only criticism, of value, is criticism that comes from a person who loves you and your work.

So applying these three axioms to things that are said about me, I always ask:

1. Does the person making the comment have, or have the serious potential for, genius - in my opinion?
2. Are they capable of doing what I have done now - or with some effort?
3. Do they really care about me or my work?

If the answer is yes to all three, I pay very close attention to what they say, and try to learn from it, whether the criticism is negative or positive.

If the answer is no, I politely nod my head, and smile if the criticism is positive. Or add them to my official 'Fucking Idiot Xmas List' if the criticism is negative. (This list gets longer as I get older. FYI, on my website Review Page, I have placed every good review and every bad review I have ever gotten. It makes for entertaining reading. It also helps keeps me grounded - which is a necessary thing as hot air has a tendency to make things rise.)

On Personal Genius:
Personal Genius is not a democratic process.
The majority does not determine if Personal Genius exists.
A popular vote does not elect Personal Genius to its office.
Genius always has to be explained to the masses by the minority. (Does anyone really understand how E= MC 2 works? Would you've even noticed Einstein as more than someone with funny hair if someone hadn't told you he was a supernerd?

Genius Test: Name ten geniuses that presently exist whose names or work you do not know as of this moment. (Go find them. They are out there.)

Geniuses pass in front of us often but remain invisible because their Ideas vibrate at a higher frequency than we can perceive, like infrared. Sometimes when we speed up - or they slow down - we accidentally meet. In the 70s, LSD was particularly good for temporarily assisting with this tempo shift.

Attention Ye Critics Who Judge But Who Cannot Do But Crapola: Keep the above points in mind when you are noisily overlooking the next Van Gogh, JS Bach and Virginia Woolf who stand before you with Luminescent Souls while you are bestowing your Kmart Garlands on the Winner's of this Year's Cultural Popularity Contests. All of your choices - and even thee thyself, Sad Yorrick - will be but yellowing newsprint in fifty years during which time these outcast Visionaries will be just be coming into Wondrous Flower. (Now go find those Ten that you have been ignoring.)

So let's take a look at the great Irish traditional song, 'The Rocks of Bawn.'

There are three known lyric variations. Stubborn contention, too, over which version is the real one and which ones are the pretenders. Aside from a dozen internal verse options - and lack of clarity on whether it's 'from clear daylight to dawn' or 'from clear daylight of dawn,' or even 'from clear daylight to dark', or 'sitting by your fireside with your feet upon the hob' or 'With your dudgeen in your gob, ' the real stickler comes in the last verse. I suggest if you are interested in this topic, that you study the online links to the lyrics (or print them out) as it would take up too much space to do it within the context of this newsletter:

1. The Queen of England version

2. The Sergeant-Major version

3. The Peter Sarsfield version

I recorded the 'Sergeant-Major' version because I liked it better and I thought why bring the Queen into it when you don't have to. One reviewer said I had turned the song into a 'pro war' song. Now anyone who knows me knows I'm not that stupid. In fact, Nadia McCaffrey, a Gold Star Mother for Peace, in the US, who lost her son, Patrick, in Iraq, and is one of the most active anti-war activists in the States, wrote me that my version of 'Rocks of Bawn' reminded her of her son. I don't think Nadia thought it was pro-war.
There is also an opinion that because the legendary Irish sean nòs singer, Joe Heaney, and also Christy Moore, sang the 'Queen of England' variant, that makes it the definite version. However, there is even dispute about that:

" According to the singer Tom Lenihan - Joe Heaney's version of the song is the 'modern' one; the 'older' version having the following line, instead of the one about the Queen of England: 'I wish that Patrick Sarsfield would write to me in time . . .' Sarsfied (Earl of Lucan) was the Jacobite soldier who led the second flight of the Wild Geese.  After the Treaty of Limerick (October 1691) he joined the army of Louis XIV in the Spanish Netherlands and was killed fighting the English at Neerwinden, near Landen, on 19 August, 1693." article

Maireid Sullivan, a fine Irish singer and Celtic historian, wrote me:

"As far as I know, the 'Queen of England' version has been sung by folkies forever. The other two versions are rarely heard. In the old days singers sang these songs because everyone knew them and could join in on the chorus, or viscerally follow the singer into familiar territory. I suspect the later versions were an attempt by new traditionalists to appear more erudite as collectors." website

Maireid is the person who originally inspired me to start writing my newsletter so I pay attention to her opinion and as usual she finds a way to connect the past with the present:

"To my mind, the 'Rocks of Bawn' is a protest against the take over of the global commons! The privatization of land - when before the English incursions, Ireland had a tribal system where everyone shared the land and the revenues from resources. The current desecration of the Hill of Tara - the entire Royal domain / Demesne of Tara is the concreting over of sacred land with a double-tolled freeway, that is several km longer and far more expensive that the alternative route would be, but the developers have decided that if they build the motorway on the alternative route, people will use both roads (the original winding country road that is there) and they will take less tolls! Simple as that! And, developers have bought up the land along the route, so you know it will be another New Jersey turnpike on the interchange at the foot of Tara!
What is happening to Tara has worse implications for Irish heritage than anything that has ever hit Ireland! At least when the people fell to the sword to save Ireland from the English incursions, their blood and bones nurtured the soil - and the soul of Ireland! That devastation didn't bury the land under concrete." more info

To close, I think the final word on the 'Rocks of Bawn' lyrical family squabble is in the following bit of simple common sense:

" Sergeant-Major/Queen of England - It matters not. It's written or sang in the hope that someone will recruit this guy to the army and free him of his burden - plowing the rest of his life. . . ." James R. Cowdery, The Music of Joe Heaney.



A New York man retired, wanted to use his retirement money wisely, so it would last, and decided to buy a home and a few acres in Portugal . The modest farmhouse had been  vacant for 15 yrs.; the owner and wife both had died, and there were no  heirs. The house was sold to pay taxes.  There had been several  lookers, but the large barn had steel doors, and  they had been welded  shut. Nobody wanted to go to the extra expense to see what was i n the  barn, and it wasn't complimentary to the property anyway......so, nobody made an offer on the place. 
The NY guy bought it at just  over half of the property's worth, moved in, and set about to tear into the barn.......curiosity was killing him. So, he and his wife  bought a generator, and a couple of grinders.......and cut thru the welds.  What did they find in the barn...............?  Have a look:
(thanks to Sahyma)



Smothered Steak

Smothered Soul Food Cooking. Here is a basic way of cooking meat which can be applied to pork chops, chicken, veal, or beef. Epecially good if you have a tough cut and don't want to spend hours slow cooking it. When I was in High School in the States (Years 9 -12) we used to get something similar on the cafeteria menus called 'Swiss Steak'. This variation is from the South and is much better because it uses a foundation mix of the three basic staples of soul food cooking: onions, green peppers (capsicum) and celery, similar to the Italian use of onions, carrots and celery for slow braising.

4 pieces of beef (placed between plastic wrap and pounded flat with a meat pounder)
2 tbles flour
1 onion
1 stick celery
1 small green pepper
olive oil
salt and pepper

Coat the beef in flour and fry in the oil until brown. Remove and keep warm. In the pan, fry the onions, celery and green peppers until soft. Move to the side of pan. Add two tables of flour to the other side of the pan. Cook the flour in the oil (add more oil if necessary) and add some water to make a gravy, Salt and pepper to taste. Mix the vegetables and gravy together and return the meat to the pan, cover and simmer for about fifteen minutes. Serve hot with mashed potatoes.




Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamn,
Raineth drop and staineth slop
And how the wind doth ram!
Sing Goddamn.
Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver
Damn you, sing: Goddamn.
Goddamn Goddamn, 'tis why I am,
So 'gainst the winter's balm
Sing Goddamn, damn, sing Goddamn
Sing Goddamn, sing Goddamn,
~ Ezra Pound ~







Interesting TIdbit in The Herald newspaper last week:

" A comic had to be rushed to the hospital after his penis got stuck to a vacuum cleaner at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Captain Dan the Demon Dwarf's vacuum attachment which he used as a prop broke before the performance and he glued it letting it dry for 20 seconds instead of 20 minutes before joining it to his organ."