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I’ve told you once and I’ve told you twice

Wednesday, 12 August, 2015 0 Comments

Our intermittent series on the great songs of 1965, that pivotal year in modern music, continues with The Last Time, the first Rolling Stones single written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. It became the band’s third song to reach No. 1 in the UK charts, spending three weeks at the top in March and early April that year and although it’s credited to Jagger and Richards, “Keef” has admitted that it was based on a traditional gospel song called This May Be The Last Time, recorded by The Staple Singers in 1955.

That was a material fact in 1997, when the former Rolling Stones business manager Allen Klein, whose company ABKCO Records owns the rights to all the band’s material from the 1960’s, sued The Verve for using a sample of The Andrew Oldham Orchestra recording of The Last Time in their Bitter Sweet Symphony hit. The Verve had obtained a licence to use the sample, but Klein successfully argued in court that the band used more material than the licence allowed. The Verve had to relinquish their royalties to ABKCO and the songwriting credit was changed to Jagger/Richards. Following this, Andrew Loog Oldham, who owns the copyright on the orchestral version that was sampled, also sued The Verve. Litigious lot, eh?

BTW, the footage here proves that the distinctive Last Time riff was played by Brian Jones, while the chords and solo were played by Keith Richards. Oh, and look out for legendary Manchester United footballer George Best jiving at 1.37.

Alphabet: abc.xyz

Tuesday, 11 August, 2015 0 Comments

“We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search!” Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet, the new Google “Operating Structure”.

The domain name abc.xyz is clever as it indicates that Alphabet will cover everything from A to Z. And the alphabet offers endless food for Alphabet wordplay as Jean-Marie G. Le Clézio illustrates in Mondo et autres histoires. Snippet:

“At the same time, he spoke to Mondo about everything there was in the letters, about everything you could see in them when you looked and when you listened. He spoke about A, which is like a big fly with its wings pulled back; about B, which is funny, with its two tummies; or C and D, which are like the moon, a crescent moon or a half-full moon; and then there was O, which was the full moon in the black sky. H is high, a ladder to climb up trees or to reach the roofs of houses; E and F look like a rake and a shovel; and G is like a fat man sitting in an armchair. I dances on tiptoes, with a little head popping up each time it bounces, whereas J likes to swing. K is broken like an old man, R takes big strides like a soldier, and Y stands tall, its arms up in the air, and it shouts: help! L is a tree on the river’s edge, M is a mountain, N is for names, and people waving their hands, P is asleep on one paw, and Q is sitting on its tail; S is always a snake, Z is always a bolt of lightning, T is beautiful, like the mast on a ship, U is like a vase, V and W are birds, birds in flight; and X is a cross to help you remember.”

Irish seaside signage

Monday, 10 August, 2015 0 Comments

Ireland sea sign

Home Is So Sad

Sunday, 9 August, 2015 0 Comments

On this day in 1922, the English poet Philip Larkin was born. “I can’t understand these chaps who go round American universities explaining how they write poems,” he once said. “It’s like going round explaining how you sleep with your wife.” The savage brilliance of Larkin’s epigrams continues to impress: life (“slow motion dying”), sex (“almost as much trouble as standing for parliament”), health (“Depression hangs over me as if I were Iceland.”).

In Home Is So Sad, Larkin says that our home protects us and is a safe haven. When you leave your home, it feels empty and it is only complete when you return.

Home Is So Sad

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft

And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.

Philip Larkin (1922 – 1985)

That vase

Porto

Saturday, 8 August, 2015 0 Comments

“After walking camino in spain , i went to porto for having a break time in portugal. And then, i fell in love with its scenery, people, colors and so on. I decided to capture its beauty and stay more than i expected.” So writes Lee Hang Gab, a South Korean film/design artist with an eye for beauty and an ability to capture it.

Andy Warhol buys Brillo

Friday, 7 August, 2015 0 Comments

“We spend much of our life working to reach some kind of better place: to have a nicer house, to buy better things, perhaps to move to a different country. We are often down on average things and positive about the exotic: a meal from Panama with Japanese infusions, a holiday in Tbilisi. It is normal to feel that the exciting things are not where we are. Andy Warhol aims to remedy this by getting us to look again at things in everyday life.”

That’s according to the Book of Life, which is an offshoot of the School of Life, which is the brainchild of Alain de Botton. As regards Andy Warhol and Brillo, de Botton says:

“Warhol wants us to realise that we are already living an appealing life — to stop being down on ourselves, and ignoring ordinary experiences — filling up a car with petrol, dropping something off at the dry cleaners, microwaving a pre-made meal… We don’t need to fantasise about other places. We just need to see that the things we do all the time and the objects around us have their own merits and are enchanting in their own ways.”

Warhol

Why Paul Fussell thanked God for the Atom Bomb

Thursday, 6 August, 2015 1 Comment

The great American cultural and literary historian, author and academic Paul Fussell landed in France in 1944 as a 20-year-old second lieutenant with the 103rd Infantry Division and was wounded while fighting the Germans in Alsace. When his Thank God for the Atom Bomb (PDF) essay appeared in The New Republic in August 1981 it was received with howls of rage by leftist revisionists who accused Fussell of justifying a “war crime”. Unlike his detractors, however, Fussell knew whereof he wrote.

During the storm, Fussell remained firm in his conviction that the two bombs ended World War II. Along with saving the hundreds of thousands of American lives that would have been lost in a protracted invasion, they also saved millions of Japanese lives that would have been sacrificed in defending Nippon. Snippet:

“John Kenneth Galbraith is persuaded that the Japanese would have surrendered surely by November without an invasion. He thinks the A-bombs were unnecessary and unjustified because the war was ending anyway. The A-bombs meant, he says, ‘a difference, at most, of two or three weeks.’ But at the time, with no indication that surrender was on the way, the kamikazes were sinking American vessels, the Indianapolis was sunk (880 men killed), and Allied casualties were running to over 7,000 per week. ‘Two or three weeks,’ says Galbraith.

Two weeks more means 14,000 more killed and wounded, three weeks more, 21,000. Those weeks mean the world if you’re one of those thousands or related to one of them. During the time between the dropping of the Nagasaki bomb on August 9 and the actual surrender on the fifteenth, the war pursued its accustomed course: on the twelfth of August eight captured American fliers were executed (heads chopped off); the fifty-first United States submarine, Bonefish, was sunk (all aboard drowned); the destroyer Callaghan went down, the seventieth to be sunk, and the Destroyer Escort Underhill was lost. That’s a bit of what happened in six days of the two or three weeks posited by Galbraith. What did he do in the war? He worked in the Office of Price Administration in Washington. I don’t demand that he experience having his ass shot off. I merely note that he didn’t.”

The atom bomb was a a terrible weapon, but it was used to prevent a more terrible slaughter.

Robert Conquest RIP

Wednesday, 5 August, 2015 0 Comments

“There was an old bastard named Lenin
Who did two or three million men in.
That’s a lot to have done in
But where he did one in
That old bastard Stalin did ten in.”

Robert Conquest, born 15 July 1917, died 3 August 2015.

“Of his many works on the subject, perhaps the most important was The Great Terror, published in 1968 and detailing the full enormity of what Stalin had done to the Russian people in the 1930s and 1940s. The Mexican writer Octavio Paz paid the most succinct tribute to this book when he said in 1972 that The Great Terror had ‘closed the debate’ about Stalinism.”

That’s a snippet from the Telegraph obituary for the late Robert Conquest, who died yesterday aged 98. In the foreword to The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine, Conquest noted: “By the deeds that are recalled here, it was not 20 people per word, but 20 people per letter in this book who were killed.” And this was the ideology that was idealized by the Left?

Georgi Derluguian’s recast of Russia in 2001

Tuesday, 4 August, 2015 0 Comments

“If Putin emerges as even a moderately successful ruler, the likely outcome over the next ten years will be a protectionist, semi-authoritarian, inescapably corrupt but somewhat better-off Russia, helping to police the remnants of an unstable former empire. The West has every reason to look to it for assistance in keeping this part of the world under the lid. Naturally, whatever else endures on either side of the Oxus, it is unlikely to be freedom.”

Prophetic words, indeed, and all the more impressive when one considers that they were written in the late autumn of 2001 by Georgi Derluguian. His “Recasting Russia” appeared in the New Left Review. Here’s another valuable snippet:

“The Russian state faces perhaps uniquely acute dilemmas today, not simply because of its abrupt shrinkage in size, but because its major assets and traditional orientations have been devalued. Capitalism in its globalized mode is antithetical to the mercantilist bureaucratic empires that specialized in maximizing military might and geopolitical throw-weight—the very pursuits in which Russian and Soviet rulers have been enmeshed for centuries.”

Those who where such enthusiastic proponents of the failed “reset” should consider a realistic “recast”.

No smoking

Monday, 3 August, 2015 0 Comments

“Who knows whether, if I had given up smoking, I should really have become the strong perfect man I imagined? Perhaps it was this very doubt that bound me to my vice, because life is so much pleasanter if one is able to believe in one’s own latent greatness.” — Italo Svevo

No smoking

Smoking in public in Ireland was banned on 29 March 2004, making it the first country in the world to enact an outright ban on smoking in workplaces. Under the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts, it is illegal to smoke in bars, restaurants, clubs, offices, public buildings, company cars, trucks, taxis and vans. The law exempts private dwellings, prisons, nursing homes and psychiatric wards.

Carver’s grief

Sunday, 2 August, 2015 0 Comments

In a New York Review of Books article, Thomas R. Edwards described the fictional world of Raymond Carver as a place where “people worry about whether their old cars will start, where unemployment or personal bankruptcy are present dangers.” The diagnosis of lung cancer inspired him to write verse and his poems are characterized by a reliance on storytelling and sentence sounds. Raymond Carver died on this day in 1988.

Grief

Woke up early this morning and from my bed
looked far across the Strait to see
a small boat moving through the choppy water,
a single running light on. Remembered
my friend who used to shout
his dead wife’s name from hilltops
around Perugia. Who set a plate
for her at his simple table long after
she was gone. And opened the windows
so she could have fresh air. Such display
I found embarrassing. So did his other
friends. I couldn’t see it.
Not until this morning.

Raymond Carver (25 May 1938 – 2 August 1988)