Regenerated

Because a hotel and shopping mall will have so much richer a cultural value…(and they say Britons don’t value the arts, some small irony that if the de-polticised strain of artists had not been so successfully neutered by the likes of Tory Saatchi this might not be happening, still you pays your money and you get fucked, capital is always scheming)

Beloved centre of London’s alternative art scene for a decade is set for demolition, but six-metre Banksy mural to be preserved

Pete Doherty used to host its poetry nights, the band Hot Chip formed there, and artists from Banksy to Gavin Turk have adorned its walls and propped up its bar.

But now the Foundry, an east London gallery and pub that for more than a decade has served as a focal point for the area’s alternative art scene, seems set to be demolished after the site’s owners drew up plans for an 18-storey hotel and retail complex.

Hackney council was today expected to approve plans to pull down the building which houses the much-loved if rather ramshackle space in Shoreditch close to the edge of the City, despite protests from the gallery’s founders that it performs a vital artistic function in the London borough.

In what its supporters regard as a particularly ironic twist, the council intends to salvage a wall painted with one of the biggest Banksy murals in Britain, even as the remainder of the building is demolished. The planned redevelopment, part of the Art’otel chain, will also incorporate gallery and retail space and a spa.

Foundry founders Tracey and Jonathan Moberly expect to be evicted by April, when the site will be cleared for the construction of a circular tower block by award-winning architects Squire and Partners. The Moberlys said they were “pretty resigned” to the fact that the art space would close, and had no objections to the conduct of the architects or the developers, Park Plaza hotels. “That’s fair enough. This isn’t our building, we’ve been renting, and they have been supportive in helping us look for another premises,” said Tracey Moberly.

But the couple are angry with Hackney council, which they accused of refusing to designate the Foundry as an artistic space, which they say would require the council to seek to resettle it in other premises, preferring to refer to it in planning documents only as a pub.

The council has also specified its intention in the planning officer’s report for the “safe removal and retention of ‘Banksy’ art work” – a six-metre high painting of a rat with a knife and fork over which the building’s owners have constructed a protective wooden covering. A spokeswoman for Squire and Partners said: “The aim of the client and design team is to permanently locate the artworks on site, in one of the public galleries at ground floor – this is to be agreed with Hackney council.”

Posted in Art, Capitalism, Culture(!), Neo Liberals. Tags: . Comments Off

Avatar From Someone Who Knows

Interestingly Avatar is extremely popular outside the US, seems they are enjoying the film’s right-to-resist action which some US reviewers sort of ignore…oddly (a Tweet from Ali Abunimah today- Going west to east from Palestine to Afghanistan, every other country is occupied by US or Israel. All in between except Iran are puppets). A review of Avatar from someone who daily fights actual fascists, imperialists, corporations and racists (so drop the liberal hand wringing) most of whom get some funding from the US government-

Evo Morales, Bolivia’s socialist president, said the blockbuster movie Avatar was an inspiration in the fight against capitalism and efforts to protect the environment, Latin American media reported on Tuesday. James Cameron’s 3D blockbuster is the story of a man sent to infiltrate an alien race – tall blue creatures inhabiting Pandora – who are in conflict with humans, who want to seize their planet’s resources.

The movie, featuring lavish special effects, has reportedly made more than $1.1 billion at the box office worldwide and is likely to become the biggest grossing film in history. “There is a lot of fiction in the movie, but at the same time it makes a perfect model for the struggle against capitalism and efforts to protect nature,” Morales said, according to regional media. Morales has said he wants the Bolivian revolution to be promoted in Africa to help the continent shed the “imperialistic manacles” and nationalize its natural resources. The UN General Assembly last year declared Morales a “World Hero of Mother Earth” for his efforts to protect the environment.

Morales, 50, watched the movie on Sunday with his 15-year-old daughter. It was just his third visit to a movie theater. He said the film impressed him and he shares many of its messages. (Ht’s2 Otto El Duderino)

And as ever-

Bolivian President Evo Morales’ 10 commandments to save the planet, life and humanity:

1-Acabar con el sistema capitalista/Stopping the capitalist system

2-Renunciar a las guerras/Renouncing wars

3-Un mundo sin imperialismo ni colonialismo/A world without imperialism or colonialism

4-Derecho al agua/Right to water

5-Desarrollo de energías limpias/Development of clean energies

6-Respeto a la madre tierra/Respect for Mother Earth

7-Servicios básicos como derechos humanos/Basic services as human rights

8-Combatir las desigualdades/Fighting inequalities

9-Promover la diversidad de culturas y economías/Promoting diversity of cultures and economies

10-Vivir bien, no vivir mejor a costa del otro/Living well, not living better at the expense of others

First:  a call to end the capitalist system.  The capitalist system was inhuman and encouraged unbridled economic development.  The exploitation of human beings and pillaging of natural resources must end, as should wars aimed at securing access to those resources.  Also, the world should end the plundering of fossil fuels; excessive consumption of goods; the accumulation of waste; as well as the egoism, regionalism and thirst for earning where the pursuit of luxury was taking place at the expense of human beings.  Countries of the south were heaped with external debt, when it was the ecological debt that needed paying.

Second, the world should denounce war, which brought advantage to a small few, he said.  In that vein, it was time to end occupation under the pretext of “combating drugs”, such as in South America, as well as other pretexts such as searching for weapons of mass destruction.  Money earmarked for war should be channeled to make reparations for damage caused to the Earth.
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Will Santa Be Bringing Death From Above This Year?

Three separate and independent parties have mentioned the NORAD Santa tracker to me with glowing silliness. They scowl at me like I just fist fucked Tiny Tim to death when I point out this is a PR exercise by the US military who otherwise are massacring people across the Earth with drones. They even enjoy recounting how it says he just overflew Afghanistan and Pakistan, not countries known for celebrating a Christian holiday but countries currently experiencing widespread intervention by our military, funny that eh? Here are two pictures of what a drone strike does to children-

But it’s Christmas‘ they say,’ be nice!‘ I am quite happy to be nice but fucking NORAD started it, when the military pushes into this season of peace on earth and goodwill to all men™ I am not the one in the wrong by pushing back. Oddly I really don’t remember much in the Bible about Jesus Hoo Haa-ing awesome air strikes. Why is it left to this atheist to remind these festive sorts that the birthday thing they are all allegedly celebrating was for a figure who other than kicking the ass of bankers was not in favour of war or summary execution by remote controlled flying robot.

A local official and a tribal source said 49 civilians, including 23 women and 17 children, were killed in that air strike. The civilian casualties sparked protests in Abyan and two people were killed by twin explosions after one such protest on Monday.

This is the way kewwwllll snuff video game young people are taught they are being heroic for playing on-

And the SantaTracker is just a bit of fun. Similar Santa silliness was the only response by US proxy Colombia when Venezuela spotted a drone in their airspace, the Empire never rests from being on the make, including PR efforts which allow their aggressive spying to be dismissed with a silly news item level of off handedness. Seems the real face of Santa might be that offered by Futurama-


He knows when you are sleeping,
He knows when you’re on the can,
He’ll hunt you down and blast your ass
From here to Pakistan

You better not breathe,
You better not move,
You’re better off dead I’m telling you dude
Santa Claus is gunning you down

Bad Biology & Its Adherents

Worth a read, how neoliberals’ ignorance of science allows them to wilfully misinterpret it to support their selfish pathologies, how social Darwinists are a fraud and chimps like to hug, (the author is rather too rosy in his views of some historic leaders but those are tangental items anyway to his main points). (ht2 James)

How bad biology killed the economy

An unnatural culture of greed and fear has brought the global economy to its knees. We need to start playing to our pro-social strengths, says Frans de Waal

The CEO of Enron – now in prison – happily applied ‘selfish gene’ logic to his human capital, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Assuming that the human species is driven purely by greed and fear, Jeffrey Skilling produced employees driven by the same motives. Enron imploded under the mean-spirited weight of his policies, offering a preview of what was in store for the world economy as a whole.

An avowed admirer of Richard Dawkins’ gene-centric view of evolution, Skilling mimicked natural selection by ranking his employees on a one-to-five scale representing the best (one) to the worst (five). Anyone with a ranking of five got axed, but not without first having been humiliated on a website featuring his or her portrait. Under this so-called ‘Rank & Yank’ policy, people proved perfectly willing to slit one another’s throats, resulting in a corporate atmosphere marked by appalling dishonesty within and ruthless exploitation outside the company.

The deeper problem, however, was Skilling’s view of human nature. The book of nature is like the Bible: everyone reads into it what they like, from tolerance to intolerance and from altruism to greed. But it’s good to realise that, if biologists never stop talking about competition, this doesn’t mean that they advocate it, and if they call genes selfish, this doesn’t mean that genes actually are. Genes can’t be any more ‘selfish’ than a river can be ‘angry’ or sun rays ‘loving’. Genes are little chunks of DNA. At most, they are self-promoting, because successful genes help their carriers spread more copies of themselves.

Like many before him, Skilling had fallen hook, line and sinker for the selfish-gene metaphor, thinking that if our genes are selfish, then we must be selfish, too. He can be forgiven, however, because even if this is not what Dawkins meant, it is hard to separate the world of genes from the world of human psychology if our terminology deliberately conflates them.

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For Shelter & The Free Gig

I have my doubts about the reasoning for the RATM for Xmas thing being as I love the song but this seems to trivialise it while simultaneously validating the Xmas Number One…but…. as they are giving their windfall income from the song selling to Shelter and promise a free gig if it makes it to No. 1, beating the X Factor drivel, it is worth a go (although surely a seasonal version with ‘Bah Humbug I won’t do what you tell me’ alternating with ‘Fuck You’ should be on the cards with jingle bells added, what?). Details at the Facebook page, cheapest place to buy that figures in charts is Tunetribe (no bulk purchases that will be ignored) at 49p or this arcane way of doing it for free. This is them this week doing a live performance for Radio 5-

Posted in Music. Tags: , . 2 Comments »

Hollywood Blacklist

No, not that one. This one- ‘Hollywood’s most liked unproduced screenplays published on the second Friday of December each year‘ Now apart from showing short synopses are not a fair way to judge a script (yet nevertheless, oh Jeebus no, corporate Hollywood why do you hate cinema so?) I noticed this one entry-

ALLIES WITH BENEFITS by Elizabeth Wright Shapiro
“The female President of The United States falls for her old college fling, the now Prime Minister of England.”
AGENT United Talent Agency – Blair Kohan, Tobin Babst, Jay Gassner MANAGER Industry Entertainment – Jess Rosenthal
Scott Free Productions producing.

Oh Lordy No! It’s like In The Loop never happened (but Love Actually did, hmmm). Anyways, it is unfair to judge based on this pitch (but um, ‘Prime Minister of England’ do they mean Britain? I might research that a tad before principal photography Liz, after all the Scott brothers are involved, you could ask them). In fact we might be able to look forward to a climatic scene where the PM in a crotchless poodle costume commits to nuking Iran to save Israel & the US the embarrassment as Lady President fucks him relentlessly with a strap on… but enough about my weekend.

Posted in Media. Tags: , . 11 Comments »

Movies

Director and star fired from his own movie by producer who revels in commerce’s superiority over creativity-

That’s why they call it show business and not show art.”

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Cultrue For ‘Em: Film Recommendations- Blame It On Fidel & Machuca

Blameit-A6

I so enjoyed this film I have to pass on how good it is. An absolutely brilliant performance by Nina Kervel-Bey as Anna who is the centre of the story as we view through her 9-year-old eyes her parents becoming increasingly politically engaged and the confusion and obstinacy it inspires in her, until she too grows and becomes her own person. But hey don’t let that worthiness put you off, it really is entertaining, with some very funny moments and some touching ones, the mise-en-scène is virtually faultless from the non stereotype 70’s period detail (something British films usually fail at) to the understated yet strong lighting design. Hilariously right-wing critics misconstrue it is a critique of the left rather than a warm and human story of a little girls bewilderment at her parents awakened consciences and activism. It’s directed and co-written by Julie Gavras daughter of Costa Gavras-

I kept the basis of the story, about a wealthy family with a conservative daughter. The father’s from Spain, his sister arrives, and the little girl’s life is shattered. Although I was more at home with Paris than Rome, what struck me was the way the writer talked about that period of the early ’70s from the perspective of a little girl. In the book, the father’s an engineer who becomes a union leader. I changed him into a pro-Allende activist, because my father made a film about Chile called ‘Missing’ , which was the first of his movies that I actually understood. For many French people, Allende represented the hope of a new political system, because he said he wanted to make a revolution within the bourgeois laws. It was something that caught the imagination of the French intelligentsia and a lot of French people went to Chile.

It’s also notable as a female empowered production-

Based on the novel by Domitilla Calamai and written by the film’s director Julie Gavras, it was produced by Sylvie Pialat (widow of Maurice Pialat), shot by Nathalie Durand, edited by Pauline Dairou, costume-designed by Annie Thiellement, cast by Coralie Amedeo, and acted by two splendid leads, Julie Depardieu (daughter of Gérard Depardieu) and first-time actor, little Nina Kervel.

It’s even more enjoyable when you have an awareness of the history as the interpretation through Anna’s experience and family circumstances give it a unique human colour and warmth. Perhaps a perfect accompaniment to this would be Machuca, two boys experiencing the bloody coup against Allende. It’s a while since I saw it but like Fidel it pays some attention to the comfortable middle class lifestyle and the very prosaic reasons why some people might support a fascist dictator just as long as they keep their lifestyle and they can live in denial of the atrocities committed by the government to keep them in fashionable clothes and servants. Machuca does this fairly directly by comparing the two boys, one from a poor slum the other from a bourgeois family who have their friendship tested as the coup unfolds. The Catholic school which brought them together again provides for an examination of the involvement of conservative religious intuitions in the coup and the individual efforts of some clergy to fight the criminal takeover. Unlike Fidel it is not at a remove in Paris so the experience is bleaker, so maybe Machuca first then Blame It On Fidel to leave you a better night’s sleep.

machuca

Machuca is also maybe culturally different in terms of national cinema, examining the Pinochet years in mainstream cinema is clearly a loaded issue (although a much earlier film Gonzalo Justiniano’s ‘Amnesia is excellent but almost impossible to see, my knackered VHS copy would be happy to hand over the task to a DVD but none is apparent, please let me know if you have a lead on that), Machuca perhaps uses the children’s story as a way to get to some truths that adults resist admitting. Whereas Fidel does not have that issue and the children’s story illuminates other aspects of resisting dominant paradigms, how doing the right things is not easy on you or those around you. For Anna is Paris it means a smaller apartment and being taken out of divinity class, both of which piss her off mightily which is made very funny through Nina Kervel-Bey’s performance. For Machuca simply his poverty and darker skin gets him in trouble while his richer friend escapes and his family enjoy the fruits of the repression, even the guilt middle class Gonzalo feels is a luxury not afforded to the repressed barrio dwellers.

What both films do is provide rewarding entertainment with real weight to it and …if you can get English speaking children to watch subtitled films they will also give a vitally different view of the world than the Hannah Montana movie, while giving them stories from children’s viewpoints which they can relate to. For adults, the deeper meditations on the costs and rewards of being concerned with social and political justice will gain nods of recognition.

Meanwhile if you fancy Norwegian comedy zombie movies with living dead Nazis erm, there is one- Dead Snow, not great but worth some popcorn, it’s like BNP on Ice!

Friday! Zachary Murray & Erika Fontana- The Adventures of Lil’ Cthulhu

It’s never too early to corrupt young minds! (ht2 Dangerous Minds)

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Eloquent Protest IV

Cyrus Thatcher was a teenager from Reading who joked that his atrocious spelling was typical of a young infantryman. Yet this Remembrance Sunday his words will echo out across a West End theatre alongside those of the noted poet Wilfred Owen – another soldier who died in battle.

Actor Jason Isaacs, famed for his roles in the Harry Potter films, will be reading out Rifleman Thatcher’s letters at Eloquent Protest – a powerful piece of theatre fusing poetry, music and drama to honour the fallen.

The actor, who worked extensively with soldiers while filming Paul Greengrass’s thriller Green Zone alongside Matt Damon recently, said he had developed a nuanced understanding and enormous respect for the men and women of the forces and their pride in putting their training into action. But he said it was also important to remember the toll war took on those coming home. Among others appearing will be actor Sam West, who will be reading Wilfred Owen’s “Futility”, and former SAS soldier Ben Griffin, who will be reading Siegfried Sassoon’s, “A Soldier’s Declaration”.

8 November at Duke of York’s Theatre in London. Proceeds from the £18 tickets will go to the Mark Wright Project, set up in honour of the 27-year-old Corporal from the 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, who was killed when British forces first went into Helmand in 2006 to help ex-servicemen and women overcome the mental wounds of war.

PDF with more details and full cast, good to see Ben Griffin is involved even if he can’t use his own words.

Two Comments on Art

Polanski has made some great films (Repulsion is a corker), rape is a crime and should be punished, the reasons for his apprehension are murky, possibly a corporate studio got annoyed at some deal with him that went bad and reached out to the DA, but he should pay for his crime whether that is community service, reparations, incarceration & therapy, that’s for a jury.

This is censorship, artworks in a gallery context are not identical to pornography, the Met clearly lack the theoretical grounding to understand this, the Tate is cowardly, galleries are formal spaces where discourse must be free in order to be of any cultural use.

That is all.

War Never Ends

The number of former servicemen in prison or on probation or parole is now more than double the total British deployment in Afghanistan, according to a new survey. An estimated 20,000 veterans are in the criminal justice system, with 8,500 behind bars, almost one in 10 of the prison population.

The proportion of those in prison who are veterans has risen by more than 30% in the last five years.

The study by the probation officers’ union Napo uncovers the hidden cost of recent conflicts. The snapshot survey of 90 probation case histories of convicted veterans shows a majority with chronic alcohol or drug problems, and nearly half suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or depression as a result of their wartime experiences on active service.

Those involved had served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. They are most likely to have been convicted of a violent offence, particularly domestic violence.

The study provides the strongest evidence yet of a direct link between the mental health of those returning from combat zones, chronic alcohol and drug abuse and domestic violence.

In many cases the symptoms of depression or stress did not become apparent for many years and included persistent flashbacks and nightmares.

MORE (ht2 Earwicga)

Hollywood & Progressive Except for Palestine

I have been following the brouhaha over the Toronto film festival and its part in promoting Brand Israel, it is notable that opponents of the Toronto declaration misrepresent what it says and attack it with strawmen arguments. It is doubly disappointing that a raft of Hollywood notables then signed up to protest the protest, again repeating the fictional claim of a blacklist. It is a triumph of marketing and an abject failure of those signing the protest against protest to engage with the actual Toronto Declaration and not its fictionalised bogeyman. One could play similar games (although with arguably more credibility), one could say the celebrities protesting the protest are supporting apartheid, that historically this makes them similar to those who supported the apartheid regime of South Africa and ensured Nelson Mandela remained imprisoned. It’s not really helpful to go for that kind of hyperbole even though what I have just written is more truthful that the pro-Israel PR attack on the Toronto Declaration. That is why it is disappointing when clearly intelligent and talented creative people lend their support to an effort to sink the debate to that disingenuous level. The reason for lowering the issues to fictional mud slinging is because in the sharp light of day it is evident Israel enacts polices more extreme than the Bush/Cheney reign and the Toronto Film Festival worked with the Israeli government to put a shiny spin on it. As for issues of career in lining up to sign the protest against the protest, well we all make our choices and have to live with them, I’m sure readily available drugs help with that, as ever.

The world is shifting and unthinking US elite support of the Israeli regime is making them a laughing stock and for some a pariah. It is perhaps predictable for an empire entering its bloody decline that its corporate mass media is also similarly uninformed and irrelevant to global citizens. No wonder a film about evolution was not bought for the US market. (But hey I’m not proud, I’m thinking instead … Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens in Adam & Eve- Creation Musical! That’s all kinds of retarded Awesome-all the way to the bank! Or Miley Cyrus & Seth Rogen in Samson & Delilah, Smackdown!)

NB. Some of those signing the blacklist advertisement are conservatives, so I expect little of them as they have their own problems, it is the notionally progressive signers who are bewildering in their (wilful?) blind spot when it comes to Israeli policies, human rights and Palestine. It is also noticeable that the signers of the Toronto Declaration are more diverse and less wealthy than the signers of the ‘We don’t need another blacklist’ advertisement, so it goes.

Posted in Human Rights. Tags: , , , , , . Comments Off

Friday! Editors- Papillon

As befits a ‘neo post punk‘ band they are grooving it up with some synths, like an alternate universe where Ian Curtis stayed alive and Joy Division discovered pop and synths joined by Gillian Gilbert and New Order didn’t -have to- come into being (but I’m glad they do exist). It’s sort of pleasing that although the sadness of Curtis’ suicide remains, his work goes on and becomes part of a new synthesis of music that in turn suggests what might have been, yes a bit retro but also evocative of possibilities that history denied us. Also, Choooooon!

‘Darling, just don’t put down your guns yet,
if there really was a God here,
he’d have raised a hand by now.’

Troy Kennedy Martin RIP


Troy Kennedy Martin‘s death is a reminder of the importance of a tradition of popular and risky television drama over the last 50 years. From his six-part anthology Storyboard (1961), produced by his co-conspirator James MacTaggart, Troy’s aim was “to tell a story in visual terms”, breaking free of a theatrical naturalism in which stories were told by actors talking while the camera looked on. “We were going to destroy naturalism, if possible, before Christmas.” His article for Encore in 1964, Nats Go Home!, was a manifesto for a television drama that mattered, experimented, and aspired to be bigger than the box that contained it.

The creative edginess of Edge of Darkness lies in a narrative in which something real is at stake; a script that takes risks with credulity; performances and a visual style that keep faith with the risks; and an ethical seriousness that inscribes what is at stake on the emotions. The sheer volume and availability of television invite formulae and familiarity. It requires a rogue imagination to shake the routines loose, and Troy provided that kind of imagination. Edge of Darkness embodies an avant-garde sensibility in a popular thriller, stretching the conventions without quite breaking them, and pushing on the boundaries of what popular television can do.

Just before his diagnosis with a brain tumour and lung cancer, Troy delivered four feature-length scripts for the global warming thriller Broken Light, inspired by James Lovelock’s Revenge of Gaia. To be continued…

If you haven’t seen Edge of Darkness you really should -available to see on Veoh-(especially as a Hollywood version is threatening to be born).

Posted in Media. Tags: . 3 Comments »
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