Tuesday, May 23, 2017

COMIC AND GRAPHIC DELIGHTS: JOHN HIGGINS / PIETER COUDYZER / CHRIS W KIM


Published by Liverpool University Press
 If there is an unholy trinity in the world of comics it must be the three caballeros Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins, whose collaborations are considered amongst the very best work in the medium. Think Batman: The Killing Joke, Watchmen. Judge Dredd. Hellblazer and Razorjack.                                                             
 This summer it is Higgins that takes his turn in the main spotlight with an exhibition of his lifetime work in Liverpool until October coinciding with the publication of a hefty 278pp large-format landscape book.

Packed with artwork, John H.'s narrative comes complete with professional tradecraft info of a high order, survival tips gained from hard-won experience and technical tips to many of his own techniques. A prolific comic illustrator in his own right, John has ranged across the genres and styles, often pushing the boundaries of taste, experimenting with pen, paint and technology.

The section I found most absorbing was his lengthy account of being the colourist on Watchmen and the processes that had to be gone through in the pre-digital age. His colour use, though limited by the technology of the time, was inventive and striking, adding emotion, altering moods. All done by hand.



Dave Gibbon's pencil work and John H's colourisation





Ashton Street, Victoria Gallery & Museum, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, Merseyside, L69 3DR Tel: 0151 794 2348

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Always good to get new titles from Self Made Hero and to be introduced to  new work. 


'Outburst'  is a debut graphic novel by an award-winning animator Pieter Coudyzer. 


There are several of his short films on YouTube and a whole portfolio of his eerie drawings on the artist's own website. 


However for this work he has adopted a much more in-your-face style which suits the dark nature of the story, involving unsettling transformations, a sad and rejected child who mutates and lots of ants and leaves. 


Kafkaesque and Lynchian, its excruciating, uncomfortable but weirdly great



I am in awe of Chris W. Kim and his drawing skills. This may also be his debut graphic novel but if you check out his excellent website, there's a whole section of what he calls 'Sequentials' up to 30 or so pages long, which demonstrate

 his flowing storytelling style and his remarkable visual imagination.'Herman By Trade', as it turns out, also has transformation at its heart.A modest street-cleaner happens to be a virtuoso chameleon and catches the eye of a female cult film director called Mio for her next epic movie. All does not go exactly according to plan. Superior piece of work which pays repeated study.





Thursday, May 18, 2017

CLIENT EARTH: PLANETARY LAWYERS A GO-GO

Environmental lawyer James Thornton, Founder and CEO of ClientEarth with his partner of 25 years
Martin Goodman, the author of nine books of fiction and non-fiction, who holds the chair of Creative Writing at the University of Hull where he is the director of the Philip Larkin Centre for Poetry and Creative Writing.
Published by Scribe

James Thornton and his company ClientEarth are amongst the most effective and important environmental activists on the planet. This remarkable book, co-authored by Thornton and Goodman, recounts Thornton's history and philosophy, the organisation's many triumphs and successes, and outlines the huge challenges ahead. Amongst its supporters and founders are some of the world's richest and most powerful foundations and individuals, and one of its trustees is Brian Eno who has written the book's intro.

The form of the book consists of chapters authored by Goodman, documenting the pathway that led Thornton to found ClientEarth followed by detailed examinations of several seminal issues and cases concerning air pollution, fisheries, coal-fired power stations, forestry regulation in Africa and a remarkable account of Thornton and CE's relationship with the Chinese government at a very high level. Goodman travels to the States, Brussels, Poland, Ghana and China and gives us a real feel for the situations, characters and problems that Thornton challenges and solves.

Worth mentioning at this point that Thornton, one of four brothers who all became lawyers, is a Zen Buddhist priest and has introduced meditative practices into his legal world. He credits such techniques for helping him deal with anger and provide him with creative insights.

Goodman's travelogue and documentation is interspersed with a series of essays by Thornton, exploring his thinking, strategy and tactics. One of these, entitled 'The Lifecycle of the Law', sets out the five phases of any legal campaign: 1) start with the best verifiable scientific evidence; 2) use this to create policy; 3) spend years Law Making; 4) Implementation of the new laws through a responsible government agency; 5) Enforcement. Before ClientEarth, there was no European NGO that worked at all these crucial stages.

Apart from documenting ClientEarth's achievements, this book provides some valuable history lessons. Formal attempts to protect nature date back to 1872 with the creation of the world's first National Park at Yellowstone in the US.

Thornton writes: 'Until about 45 years ago, no one saw a need for comprehensive laws about out interaction with the rest of nature.' Unlikely as sounds, it was under the reign of President Nixon, from 1970 to 1976, that a body of environmental laws were established in the US - 'an extraordinary environmental record in every respect and one that is certainly without parallel in any administration that has followed.'. This period also saw the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

[Interesting to read that Reagan's appointee to the EPA Anne M Gorsuch was hired to bring the organisation to its knees.  According to Wikipedia: 'During her 22 months as agency head, she cut the budget of the EPA by 22%, reduced the number of cases filed against polluters, relaxed Clean Air Act regulations, and facilitated the spraying of restricted-use pesticides. She cut the total number of agency employees, and hired staff from the industries they were supposed to be regulating.' Trump's EPA appointee Scott Pruitt has deep ties to the fossil fuel industries. Earlier this month, Trump also appointed Nancy Beck, a chemical industry bigwig, to a high-level chemical safety position at the Environmental Protection Agency as Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.]

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a New York City-based, non-profit international environmental advocacy group, was founded in 1970 and today has 2.4 million members and online activities nationwide and a staff of about 500 lawyers, scientists and other policy experts. This was where Thornton cut his teeth as the only attorney working on NRDC's Citizens Enforcement project aimed at defeating and punishing big industrial polluters. His work was focused  on efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the US by taking action under the Clean Water Act. He investigated more than 1,000 companies, brought cases against 88 major violators including two giant companies Gwatney and Bethlehem Steel, who were fined $12.6m and $160m respectively for violations.

Thornton was then tasked with the job of establishing an NRDC office in Los Angeles. (He was happy to be in the same time zone as his Japanese zen master Maezumi Rashi). He discovered that the whole California coast could be lost to developers unless something was done. In order to fight this, he needed to find a threatened endangered species in the Californian coastal zone., The California gnatcatcher, a dusky grey songbird whose call sounds like the mewing of a kitten,. fitted the bill. Once this was listed as threatened, Thornton went to one of the largest developers and made a pragmatic deal, Rather than trying to block all development, he negotiated an arrangement whereby some development was possible in exchange for set-aside land for conservation, As of 2001, an area of 110,000 acres was preserved. Further investigation and use of the Endangered Species Act identified 77 endangered or threatened plants and animals species in the region.

Having established NRDC's office in LA , Thornton moved to London, mainly because Martin Goodman, who he'd first met in Europe in 1991, didn't have a green card. Despite being a member of the bar in California, New York and of the Supreme Court, Thornton had to start from scratch in a different legal system by taking solicitor's exams.

Firstly, after 10 years with NRDC, he took a 14-month break at a spiritual retreat in Germany during which he travelled to Dharamsala for a long private meeting with the Dalai Lama, who told him: "You must be confident and positive. and then you must help others to become confident and positive.

He also told him that "solutions can never emerge from an angry mind.", which proved very relevant to his next task which was to interview 50 significant players in the environmental movement. This research showed him that many activists adopted anger as the basis of their work, which explained the preachy, strident and negative tone of much of their pronouncements. This led him to found an NGO called Positive Futures which teaches meditation techniques to activists and policy makers. Anger become then a source of energy, not a driving force.

He then became the CEO of an international neuroscience research group, the Heffter Research Institute, whose aim is to 'configure new approaches to mental health and basic brain research through applied psychotropic research'.

In 2005, Thornton was then funded to report on the state of  public interest law in Europe, which was at least a decade behind the US. A Birds Directive had been passed in 1979, a Habitat Directive in 1992 and other Directives followed on air quality, energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions. Around 80% of current environmental legislation in member states now derives from the EU. A European Commission oversees the transposition of Directives into national laws but it was clear that implementation and enforcement of these laws was shoddy.

Thornton also discovered that there was at that time only 24 public interest environmental lawyers in all of Europe and Russia, compared with 500-600 full-time lawyers in the US. He met with Britain's environment lawyers and visited the big HQs of European environmental organisations in Brussels. There were an estimated 100 full-time environmental activists but no environmental lawyers, opposing an army of 20,000 commercial lobbyists.

Thornton was determined to change this and argued that by increasing the strategic use of law there would be benefits for the whole environmental movement. This led in turn to getting the funding to establish ClientEarth with offices in London, Brussels and Poland. Its three main objectives: to increase access to justice on environmental issues, limit the effects of climate change and protect biodiversity.

'Law is the gravitational system that keeps human societies moving in a concurrent direction' writes Thornton. 'Law is basically a system of mutual restraint, mutually agreed upon, mutually enforced.'

The considerable and remarkable achievements of ClientEarth have not been properly understood or celebrated in the mainstream media and the whole story of the organisation has never been told before. It is an uplifting and hope-filled one,  required reading for anyone with an interest in working to save the planet's natural environments.

If nothing else, read the chapter on what Thornton has achieved in China, where he is an honoured adviser to the highest levels of the Chinese government. They are committed to working towards creating an ecological civilisation and are operating on a vast scale and at a great speed to achieve this end.

Thornton concludes that by protecting health and the environment and empowering citizens, the West can renew its democratic values. If we are to tackle climate change we will need to find $90 trillion of investment in the next 15 years. Oil reserves are now 'stranded assets' and increasingly corporations will have to face up to the huge implications of this. Peak oil is coming. Some 50% of oil demand is for transport and electric cars may take 20-30% of new vehicle sales by 2030 or sooner. This alone will cause oil demand to peak,

ClientEarth's biggest action at present is to find a pension fund willing to partner with them to establish in the courts that climate change is a risk that company trustees must factor into their investment strategies. All classes of financial assets will be affected.

The book's final comment: 'I have no doubt that we can save the future by present action. We are capable of acting wisely. Wisdom and altruism are as much a part of our genetic inheritance as greed and aggression. The lesson of the Paris [Climate Change] Agreement is that all nations share the beginning of the new story we need. Let us work together and realise the dream.'

ClientEarth is a deep and complex work, full of wisdom but also a masterclass in tactics. James Thornton's multi-dimensional connective thinking, inspired by his deep love of nature, is radical action at its highest level. Come the time, come the man, Thornton challenges the powerful and offers them elegant zen solutions to the world's most urgent and intractable problems. Respect to this man!

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An excellent review in Nature 'Environment: Law for a healthy planet' by Hari Osofsky unravels some of the complexities of this book that I was unable to reach.

Monday, May 15, 2017

FROM ME TO WE: REVIVING SOCIAL HOPE with RONALD ARONSON

Chicago University Press
THE GENERALIST started reading this book the same weekend that Trump tweeted the single word 'We'. - his first and only message of unity. The tweet was quickly deleted and, according to www.firstpost.com, 'Twitter users seized onto the mistaken tweet by turning into a full sentence or offering mock interpretations of the word's meaning', 

Coincidence? I don't think so. What goes around comes around and individualism gets boring after a while. Are we witnessing a Me to We movement?
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American prof Ronald Aronson's title reference comes from the dystopian novel We by Evgeny Zamyatin (1924) which depicts a totalitarian society of the future that oppresses its inhabitants. Aronson suggests that - in a sense,in our time -  'it is now society and its most vital purposes that are under assault by its individuals'

This brief book (just under 200pp including annotated references) represents, he says, 'a lifetime of writing, reflection, teaching and political action'. Distilled Elder wisdom?

Well Aronson has two mentors - Herbert Marcuse , author of  'One Dimensional Man', with whom he studied the history of ideas at Brandeis University [a private university in Waltham, Massachusetts] and Jean Paul Sartre, whose ideas, Aronson writes, !I have interacted with for fifty years'. Another of his many books documents the friendship and fallout of Sartre and Camus.

'Hope is in Peril' is the title of Chapter 1: 'Today we are losing hope of a better society and a better world, and even the collective consciousness that can pose such goals.'  What's more, we're losing hope in progress, which Aronson says, reached its peak during 'the thirty glorious years of 1945-75'.

He asks 'what has become of the great political and historical goal of making our collective life better, of doing away with repression, of creating conditions in which all human can finally breathe easily? What has become of the common good?'

Aronson is upfront about the fact that he is writing this book 'in an unrepentant mood, as a political and philosophical partisan of the modern left project'. Near the end he admits that many of the ideas he espouses have a 'specific political coloration'. Why, people ask, is social hope a particularly left-wing disposition?
'My answer so far has been that a specific sense of empowerment, democratic participation, equality, and generosity is what the left and no one else has been about. A second answer is that the determination to connect the dots between different kinds of suffering and social  structures is equally a disposition of the left.'
I would dispute this position but that hasn't stopped me from finding a great deal of useful ideas, arguments and thought-provoking material within this heartfelt work.

What is hope?: 'Hope is neither a wholly subjective dimension of life nor a movement of events governed by iron laws. It is potency and possibility.'  'To hope', he writes 'is to have a positive expectation that a desired result may in fact come about.'

He references a number of previous works in this territory, namely 'The Principle of Hope', a 1,400 page work by Ernest Bloch, Terry Eagleton's 'Hope Without Optimism', Jonathan Lear's 'Radical Hope', Patrick Shades' 'Habit of Hope' and the one that attracted me most - Rebecca Solnit's 'Hope In The Dark' which Aronoson says 'takes the form of a series of mini-lectures to activists that aim at strengthening hope by educating them on how to see themselves, their attitudes, their activity and the width, breadth and depth of their results'. [The Generalist has a copy on the way]

He quotes Solnit, who talks about a  "vast inchoate, nameless  movement - not a political movement but a global restlessness, a pervasive shift of imagination and desire - that has recently appeared in almost every part of the world." That' sends some kind of shiver of excitement down my spine.

There's much valuable history here of various important social movements - the fight for civil rights and free speech in the US, the fight against apartheid in South Africa, industrial battles between bosses and unions, the cascading struggles for independence from colonial masters, the '68 battles in France.

'A movement exists in order to bring about certain changes', writes Aronson 'and in the process of participating or identifying with it we change in both our being and our perception.'  He tells us that Napoleon famously said 'First you commit yourself and then you see' a comment picked up Lenin a century later.

Says Aronson: 'Hope then can only be grasped by entering into it. It is something we produce amongst ourselves, in acting...The heart of the matter is in the action itself, including all the steps in organising for it, and in keeping alive the organisation that will carry out the action.'

A useful book to discuss, to meditate on, We is well-timed and helps us think more clearly about the next stage of the global transformation. And don't forget what Studs Terkel said:

 'Hope dies last'.


Source: Clip Art Fest

CHECK OUT:  WHERE ARE WE NOW FESTIVAL in HULL 2-4 June 2017







Wednesday, May 10, 2017

BARRY MARSHALL EVERITT: A LIFE IN MUSIC (1947-2017)

BARRY MARSHALL EVERITT: A LIFE IN MUSIC is a work in progress, a tribute to a rock 'n' roll brother who recently died of cancer. Barry was a true force of nature who lived his life on the edge and on the road, in the service of the music he loved so much. Barry worked as a sound engineer, radio DJ, booker, road manager, journalist, promoter. He got the taste for the old school rock 'n' roll underground way of doing things and made that his lifestyle of choice.

Born 8th November 1947, the first trace we have of his musical activities comes in the time period 1964 to 1966 when he was a drummer and/or singer with two blues band 'Hobo James' and 'The Farm'.

During the period 1966 to 1969, he turned to journalism. He was sports reporter for The Romford Times and  the Stratford Express and, more importantly for this narrative, worked freelance for various ‘underground’ publications including Frendz, International Times  and Oz.

1970: RADIO GERONIMO
Barry Everitt and Hugh Nolan at Radio Geronimo's London studio at 1 Harley Street.
Hugh was a journalist on the Disc & Music Echo.
Barry started his radio career in 1970 on Radio Geronimo, Europe’s first free-form progressive radio station owned by Rolling Stones record producer Jimmy Miller  (1942-1994) and Tony Secunda (1940-1995), manager for T Rex and The Move. On the 40th Anniversary of the station launch, Barry wrote/spoke the following:
A beautiful membership card for Radio Geronimo.
Artwork by Barney Bubbles
[The Generalist Archive]

'On February 15th 1970, Radio Geronimo started broadcasting weekly broadcasts from Radio Monte Carlo. Presenters Hugh Nolan & Barry Everitt played the now historic version of 'Amazing Grace' by The Great Awakening  [the theme tune of the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival] and Radio Geronimo was born. 
'This is the 40th Anniversary and sadly many of the team are now not with us. We have lost Hugh Nolan, and the backers Jimmy Miller and Tony Secunda and this 2010 show is dedicated to them and in particular the free-form musical direction given to the station by Hugh Nolan. 
'Radio Geronimo was the first European free-form radio station, broadcasting from Hitler's propaganda radio transmitters built in Monte Carlo in 1940. The signal was heard over the entire continent and even though it was a legal transmission it was referred to as a pirate by many countries, including the UK, it's free form non programming and use of very free speech seemed to upset the British Government and the BBC started to jam the signal, Radio Geronimo hit back by "jamming" the BBC headquarters in London with strawberry jam, Hugh & Barry were arrested and made the front page of the daily papers creating a massive new audience.  
'The success of the station also riled other broadcasters and as often happens other companies bought there way into Monte Carlo and by November 1970 Geronimo was off the air and became a legend.'
HUGH NOLAN [1944-2009]
Hugh Nolan died in Australia on 3rd November 2009 after a long fight against cancer. Barry wrote a touching tribute to his dearest friend:
'So bless him, peace be with him and remember all the great radio, writing and love he gave to the world ..... if only more people could have his sense of being on the planet we would be in a far, far better place now.'


The full version can be found on The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame together with a great piece on Hugh by Ian Anderson containing much more information on the story of Radio Geronimo. 
See also: www.radiogeronimo.com.



"There was something in the air and it was magic"

'Radio Geronimo - Monte Carlo and Bust' is a great little film by Chris Bent and Mark Pezzani. Barry is the main presenter and great fun regaling us with his version of events.

Why Geronimo: "That's what people say when they're thrown out of aeroplanes. We also liked  [American Indian] Geronimo because he was a rebel./"

He says of Secunda: "I'd never met such a scoundrel as Tony - an ex-wrestling and boxing promoter. What a dynamite guy. He was old school rock n roll and I got a taste for it."

Of Geronimo: "We didn't have any censorship. It was a joyous time when you could speak your mind. We were doing things for Vietnam draft dodgers, linking them up, We were not political left or right. We were anarchists, gentle free-loving hippies

When the BBC tried to jam Radio Geronimo's signal with their transmitter in Folkestone, Barry and others bought 18lbs of strawberry jam, alerted the press and then went to Broadcasting House and "jammed" them. They got arrested and spent a night in jail.

Geronimo went out for nine months in 1970, midnight broadcasts three nights a week, which could be heard all over Europe, the UK and North Africa. The programmes were recorded at 1 Harley Street in London and broadcast via the 400kw Radio Monte Carlo transmitter on Mont Agel, 1.300m above Monaco. It wasn't a pirate station because it wasn't at sea and it wasn't illegal but it was playing radical and adventurous music.


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 1972: REVELATION RECORDS

In 1972, Barry started Revelation Records with music writer John Coleman. They co-produced and released the 'Glastonbury Fayre' triple LP recording of the previous year's Glastonbury festival. Package designed by Barney Bubbles. See Discog for track listing.
They also produced Chilli Willi and The Red Hot Peppers album 'Kings of The Robot Rhythm' (1973)

1973: RADIO SEAGULL



From Left to Right: Eliga Van Den Berg, Mike Hydrophoil, Barry Everitt (with fist raised),  Andy Archer, Norman Barrington, Robin Adcroft, Mike Wallgarland (Mike the poet)

Ian Anderson writes that, after the demise of  Radio Geronimo:

'Hugh went off to Afghanistan for a time. He was not to reappear on the airwaves until the summer of 1973, when Ronan O'Rahilly, the owner of Radio Caroline, and Andy Archer, the programme director, decided to launch Radio Seagull as a progressive music radio experiment. Hugh and former Radio Geronimo colleague Barry Everett were approached to take part and they went out to the radioship Mi Amigo off Scheveningen, in the Netherlands, with the record collection from Radio Geronimo.
'Hugh Nolan stayed on board the Mi Amigo for one stint, from 11 August 1973 until 24 August 1973. An article in the Observer newspaper named Hugh the best DJ on radio, but he refused to go back on board, despite the persuasive attempts of Ronan O'Rahilly. He said that he was never paid for his two week stint on board. 
'In late October 1973 the Geronimo record collection was piled up separately in the downstairs record library on the Mi Amigo. But the records were never returned, despite attempts to do so around about 1977. Some were believed to have been stolen and others went down with the sinking of the Mi Amigo in 1980.'

This is a personal account of the effect Hugh and Barry on Radio Seagull by another of the DJs, Bob Noakes in his book 'Last of the Pirates' [1984. ISBN 0 86228 092 3]


'...Hugh and Barry arrived with their hash pipes and crates of underground records, and above all, with the total blessing of Ronan who had sent them across to us....
'...Radio Seagull had become established. I was to spend the next few weeks on board in the company of some very strange people who were operating what had become possibly the strangest radio station in Europe. 
'Our two new djs had given the station a distinctive new ultra-progressive sound that I found neither good nor bad - I simply didn't understand it.
'...Barry and Hugh were undoubtedly professional, but their choice of music was so heavy and often so obscure that they could have only been reaching a small percentage of the available audience. The emphasis was on old Dylan tracks with plenty of Zappa and Beefheart. Later in the evening came some of the more horrisant music that only the most erudite of listeners would have been able to understand...

'...The emphasis on drugs had also become much greater and this was reflected in the programmes; a special jargon had come into use which some of us could not understand. The station, and everything about it, had become so avant-garde and freaky that it was totally far out...

.'..Barry and Hugh were night-people who seldom saw the light of the sun. They slept by day and arose at about four in the afternoon to choose records for the evening's programmes. Their breakfast was usually a cup of tea and a thickly rolled joint which provide them with enough lethargy to stagger through their work and get high on the strange and fantastic music they selected....'

1973-1979: AMERICAN RADIO DJ

Barry in LA in 1979 [Photo: John May]

In July 1973 a number of ex-Geronimo DJs, including Barry, launched Radio Seagull from the Caroline ship, then anchored off Holland. Barry broadcast on Radio Seagull until September that year, then moved to America where he was heard on various radio stations (KSML, KFAT, KDKB and the syndicated Rock Around The World programme). Source: www.offshoreradio.co,uk

Barry's own professional profile listings on the site MusicTank carries the following details:
1973 – 1975 KMSL-FM: Presenter / Programmer / Music Director Lake Tahoe, Ca. (progressive free form)

1975  Presenter / Programmer on KVRE–FM SF, Ca. weekdays (Americana / rock ) and KFAT-FM Gilroy Ca. weekends ( alt -country / roots).

1976 – 1979 Presenter / Programmer KDKB-FM Phoenix Arizona (rock / country / roots )

1979 – 1981 Host / Producer Rock Around The World, Los Angeles, Ca. A one-hour music radio magazine show syndicated weekly to 300 US and Canadian Radio Stations
[See: www.ratw.com/shows/ ] Linked to a monthly rock music newspaper.

1981-1986: UK

Barry returns to the UK and becomes House Engineer and house DJ for the legendary live music venue Dingwalls in London's Camden Town in 1981

He also worked as a stringer for the European Edition of Rolling Stone, contributing stories to the regular column  'Random Notes' and worked freelance on music stories for the Daily Mirror.
During this period he also mixed a Pink Faries album  [Possibly 'Previously Unreleased' (1982) or 'Human Garbage# (1984)

1986-1999: UK

Barry worked as Tour Manager / Sound Engineer / Production Manager with many bands including
Living Colour, The La’s, Tuck & Patty, Wedding Present, Green On Red, and many more.

From 1992-1999, he worked variously as European Agent / Promoter / Tour Manager / Sound Engineer representing The Blue Aeroplanes, Chuck Prophet, Howie Gelb, Rainer, Chris Cacavas, Steve Wynn.

In 1999 he took over as booker for The Borderline when it was a dying venue and was given six months to make it work - which he did by cancelling all the existing gigs and pulling in every Americana act he could. Within a year he'd turned it right round and over the next six years created an important central London home for Americana and other  cult genres. In 2001 Time Out magazine rated it as Venue of the Year and voted Barry Promoter of the Year. 

HOUSE OF MERCY

During this period, Barry established Borderline Radio on the club's website to promote upcoming shows and to highlight new Americana bands. When Live Nation ended Barry's contract, he left but took the radio station and changed its name to House of Mercy. He'd previously discovered that the Borderline  was in a building that used to be a refuge for prostitutes run by the nearby church of St Barnabas. It was called the House of Mercy.


This substantial 2012 video interview by UKmusiccity is first class and really underlines
Barry's extensive hard-won experience in so many different aspects of the music business. A master class including some wonderful anecdotes, topped by an amazing story about a John Lee Hooker gig that never quite came off.

Following his marriage to the British blues musician and songwriter 
Bex Marshall, Barry changed his name to Barry Marshall-Everitt. 

A mark of his professional standing is that Joan Armatrading personally selected Barry as her tour manager for much of her final 235-date world tour in 2014/2015.

Final personal note: My most vivid memories of Barry are from the time in 1979 that I stayed in his flat in Los Angeles, perched above Hollywood Boulevard, during two trips I made to the city that year. Coincidentally recently found the original negatives of the films I shot at that time. Here is one of my favourites: Barry's two-tone shoes.











Thursday, April 27, 2017

BILL BUTLER IN BRIGHTON: UNICORN BOOKSHOP MURAL REPAINTED


UPDATED 10th May 2017



Bill Butler at the Reading Festival/Photo of the original Unicorn Books building

Jolie Booth and Sinna One


Almost four years ago THE GENERALIST published a post on

BILL BUTLER & THE UNICORN BOOKSHOP + BETTER BOOKS


John Upton and family
Bill and his partner Mike, established this great Beat/Psychedelic bookshop and the building was decorated with a wonderful mural by Brighton artist John Upton. 

When I was 18/19 years old, I knew these guys and the shop very well. I regularly went there to use their mimeograph machine to print our small magazine called 'Swan'. Full story in this Previous Post which was triggered by meeting Terry Adams who, for many years, has been assembling material on Bill and the Unicorn. Photographer Barry Pitman is also working on interviews with people who knew Bill well. He tells me that Graham Greene described Unicorn as 'one of the most interesting bookshops in Great Britain'.
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FURTHER SOURCES


There is a really excellent summary 'Bill and the Unicorn' by Jackie Fuller on the North Laines Community Association website. This is followed by numerous comments and memories by others who remember Bill and the shop.

See also:  www.mybrgihtonandhove.org Type Unicorn Bookshop into search box. Numerous other memories .

More information on the legal problems Bill Butler had are highlighted in this interesting post: "A DIRTY AND DISEASED MIND": THE UNICORN BOOKSHOP OBSCENITY TRIAL By Mike Holliday

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Jim Pennington at the European Beat Studies
Network conference at Manchester
University 2016
Ink Monkey salutes the genius of iconic publisher Aloes Books, and co-founder Jim Pennington, whose samizdat publications during the 1970s and 1980s included works by Thomas Pynchon, Bob Dylan, William Burroughs, Patti Smith and Kathy Acker.

'Aloes Books was founded by the printer Jim Pennington and two poets from the alternative poetry scene, Allen Fisher and Richard Miller.

“I was in Brighton in 1967, the year Bill Butler opened his Unicorn bookshop, and I became part of the scene around the shop," says Pennington. "Bill was more than just a bookseller – he was a presence.
'Through the shop, and the wider Brighton arts scene generally, I met a lot of interesting and inspiring people, people like Nick Heath and Jim Duke, well-known and active anarchists whose enthusiasm and spirit-warming influence had a great effect on me, and also the mural artist John Upton, who made me think more visually back at a time when street decorations, murals were the new thing.   
'What was good about Unicorn was the fact that the people who worked there, and some of the people who went there, had a harder, more political edge to their thinking. They were hippies but not the bells-and-kaftans type. Each visit to the shop was an exploration, because I would often visit not specifically looking to buy something but looking to be guided to something, often American which you couldn’t get easily elsewhere.”
Unicorn helped Pennington along the road to becoming a printer/publisher by allowing him to experiment on their machine. It was the start of a passion for the printed word that remains with him to this day.'
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A couple of years ago, on a visit to Brighton, I noticed that the original bookshop building was for rent, I got the estate agent to show me round and asked if it was possible either to uncover the original mural or paint a new one. In the end, I couldn't raise the necessary finance.

Then I met Jolie Booth who runs an outfit called Kriya Arts in Brighton. She had squatted a building in the 80s and discovered the diaries and letters of Brightonian Anne Clarke, who was prominent in the alternative cultural movements in the town, Jolie made this information into a successful one-woman theatrical show in 2016. This year, as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival, she is conducting a walking tour -an immersive journey through the streets of  1960's/1970's Brighton -  exploring places that Anne wrote about and explaining how she left an imprint on the city. Details of this Hip Trip are available here. 

One of the stops on the journey is the former Unicorn Bookshop where Anne worked for a period. This gave Jolie the idea of rebooting the mural. She managed to persuade Brighton Council to fund the project and to get Sinna One (whose rock murals grace The Albert just up the road) to paint it. When he saw the photo of the original mural, he immediately thought of the character of Lady Raincorn from the animated series 'Adventure Time' which forms the main part of this new artwork. Congrats to all concerned. An opening ceremony celebrating the new Unicorn frontage will be held on May 4th at 6:30pm.


PS: Jolie Booth has also written a novel 'The Girl Who'll Rule The World' published in 2016 by The King's England Press. The blurb claims: 'This book is 'Fifty Shades'or the Trainspotting generation, 'Fear of Flying' for pill poppers or 'Bridget Jones' for  those who are so off their faces they can't remember what happened yesterday.'

Sunday, April 09, 2017

MAKING CHANGE: SARTRE'S THOUGHTS / FLATPACK DEMOCRACY / BLUEPRINT FOR REVOLUTION

There is a whole new literature out there about remaking the world. Its the mood of the moment.


Before introducing two recent titles, I keep returning to some of Jean Paul Sartre's thoughts and words - notes I've taken whilst reading 'At the Existentialist Cafe' by Sarah Bakewell [reviewed in this earlier post].

One of Sartre's biggest things was the notion of freedom. With freedom comes choice. Ultimately you must take the plunge and do something. The whole mixture of things around you is 'the situation' out of which you must act. Sartre writes: 'Starting from where you are now, you choose. And in choosing you also choose who you will be.' This is 'difficult and unnerving' and 'the need to make decisions brings constant anxiety', To make it more stressful, says Bakewell, what you do really matters. 'You must make choices as though you were choosing on behalf of the whole of humanity.' Sartre believed that if you avoid this - claiming to be the victim of circumstance or of someone's bad advice' you will be choosing a fake existence cut off from your own 'authenticity'.

It is possible to be authentic and free as long as you keep up the effort. There is no traced-out path to lead a man to his salvation. He must constantly invent his own path. If he does so, he is free, responsible, without excuse, and every hope lies within him. [Simone de Beauvoir shared his views and spoke out for women's freedoms in 'The Second Sex']

It was 1945. Europe was in ruins, the Death Camps had been discovered and atom bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.A new world had to be built out of the old, Sartre's big question was 'If we are free, how can we use our freedom well in such challenging times'. He believed  we have to decide what kind of world we want and make it happen. In his essay 'The End of War' he wrote that from now on we know we can destroy ourselves. If we want to survive we have to decide to live.

*
FLATPACK DEMOCRACY


'Flatpack Democracy' is a DIY Guide to Creating Independent Politics by Peter Macfadyen. [www.eco-logicbooks.com]

We are used in Britain to the idea of Independent candidates. They are usually considered somewhat eccentric. Lone Independents can make a difference and serve a purpose but for Peter Macfadyen this was not enough.

Disgusted by local elections which he considered to be a democratic sham, he decided that the way forward was to take over the whole council in Froome, Somerset. They succeeded in capturing 17 seats and have set out to completely change the culture and purpose of the Council, successfully creating a track record of projects and schemes that have proved to be of real value to the people of the town. His book explains how to go about this.

There is another movement abroad to build a coalition of Greens, Liberals and others to take on the major parties and move the country towards proportional representation. Macfadyen doesn't favour that route.

A few other places in Britain are following the same path, either influenced by FD or arriving at the same place by a different route. They include: Liskeard (Cornwall), Newbuty (Berkshire), Bradford-on-Avon (Wiltshire), Wells, Wedmore and Shepton Mallett (Somerset), Arlesey (Bedfordshire), Buckfastleigh (Devon) and Alderley Edge (Cheshire)

See: www.flatpackdemocracy.co.uk

See: Video Interview with McFadyen on Educating Independence website.

McFadyen writes a 'Flatpack Democracy report: The People Are Revolting' (March 16th 2017) on www.thealterantive.org.uk

How Flatpack Democracy beat the old parties in the People’s Republic of Frome
On 7 May, a small Somerset town voted against traditional party politics and gave a coalition of independents control of all 17 seats on its council. As the crucible of ‘flatpack democracy’, Frome is leading a small-scale political revolution – and it’s one that is spreading
John Harris/22.5.2015

*
BLUEPRINT FOR REVOLUTION

This engaging book, first published in 2015, has acquired added relevance in our new world order. Popovic's light touch and fluent story telling make it a pleasure to read. It delivers valuable ideas. Here's some basic info from www.blueprintforrevolution.com

'Srdja Popovic outlines his philosophy for implementing peaceful world change and provides a model for activists everywhere through stories of his own experience toppling dictatorships (peacefully) and of smaller examples of social change (like Occupy Wall Street or fighting for gay rights). Through examples of using laughter and music (e.g., Pussy Riot) to disarm the opposition and gather supporters, to staging a protest of Lego Men in Siberia (when flesh-and-blood people would have been shot), to a boycott of Cottage cheese in Israel to challenge price inflation while organizing around rice pudding to overthrow the dictator of the Maldives, Popovic uses true and sometimes outrageously clever examples of the ways in which non-violent resistance has achieved its means. Popovic argues in favor of non-violent resistance not for ideological reasons (as persuasive as those are) but because non-violence actually works better than violence. This is an inspiring (and useful!) guide for any activist--and a thoroughly entertaining read for any armchair politico. In addition, the stories Popovic tells here are hilarious, accessible, inspiring, and at times outrageous. Aside from his own experiences, he includes little-known stories from the lives of Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Harvey Milk, Martin Luther King Jr., etc.'

Srdja Popovic, the slacker-turned-world revolutionary--named "the secret architect of the Arab Spring" by The Atlantic--who orchestrated the non-violent fall of Milošević in his native Serbia, and went on to influence peaceful uprisings from Georgia to Zimbabwe to Lebanon.

Srdja Popovic was one of the founders of the Serbian nonviolent resistance group Otpor! Otpor!’s campaign against Serbian president Slobodan Milosovic was successful in October 2000 when thousands of protestors took over the Serbian Parliament. After the revolution, Popovic served a term as a member of the Serbian National Assembly.

In 2003, Popovic and other ex-Otpor! activists started the non-profit the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS). CANVAS has worked with activists from 46 different countries, including Zimbabwe, Burma, Iran, and Venezuela, spreading knowledge of the nonviolent strategies and tactics used by Otpor!. Recently, CANVAS worked with the April 6 Movement, a key group in the 2011 Egyptian uprising.
In November 2011, Foreign Policy Magazine listed Srdja Popovic as one of the "Top 100 Global Thinkers" of 2011 for inspiring the Arab Spring protesters. In 2012 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2014 he was listed as a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum in Davos.

See: 'Meet Srdja Popovic, the secret architect of global revolution' Jon Henley Guardian 8 March 2015

Also: POPOVIC TED TALK

Thursday, April 06, 2017

MAKING CHANGE: CAMPFIRE CONVENTIONS and CONVERSATIONS


THE GENERALIST was by last-minute chance one of the 15 participants in what was billed as a 'Campfire Conversation' in the Sheriff's Room of the White Hart Hotel in Lewes. The event was organised and headed by Pete Lawrence - the self-styled conceptualist, brand guardian and firestarter - who will be well-known to many as founder of the record label Cooking Vinyl and co-founder with Katrina Larkin of the now famous Big Chill Festival. The latter began in 1994 with a series of ambient parties at the Union Chapel in Islington and went on to become a big fixture on the annual UK festival scene, held at various locations, principally the grounds of Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire. 

In Lewes, Pete was very low-key in his presentation of his past achievements. He encouraged us to sit in a circle and then we were asked to say who we were in turn and why we were there. We were given printed sheets with information about what Campfire Conversations is all about but I don't think I was alone in not really understanding where all this was coming from. It provided a forum, giving people an opportunity to share thoughts and ideas about what is going on in the world. There were a number of people there who expressed concern at recent world events and were unsure about the future.  I wanted to be positive about what appeared to be a new social networking initiative but came away with mixed feelings.

Post the meeting, turns out Pete was staying in Lewes and he came round to see me for a hour and can now report with a better sense of where he is coming from. He has spent many years developing the idea of a Campfire social network site, which he describes as 'an evolutionary platform for creative thinkers, funded and shaped by its own members.' 

This is linked to a variety of Campfire gatherings. There is an annual Campfire Convention - the first was held in August 2016 'in a beautiful spot in the Golden Valley on the English side of The Black Mountains (just a few miles from the original and inspirational first Big Chill Gala event which created history 21 years ago) and utilises one of the most spectacular pub settings in the UK,[the Bridge Inn in Herefordshire] surrounded by a stream and open fields leading to the Cat's Back and the foothills leading to Offa's Dyke'.  and There were just 500 tickets for the event as a whole. The 2017 Convention is August 4th-6th at Harwarden Estate, North Wales.


The keynote speaker at the first convention was Brian Eno. His quote in the Campfire literature is a good one:

‘Everybody knows we are at a turning point. The old order has become unstable and is breaking down around us. That process is conspicuous but what is not so obvious is that new shoots are starting to emerge too. The future is being born but nobody is paying much attention to it. Disaster sells newspapers but hope generally doesn’t. The end of an old order is the beginning of a new one. How it turns out depends on us and what we dare to hope for.’ 

His speech continued: 

'Nicholas Albery was a man who peddled hope. He founded and ran an organisation called THE INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL INVENTIONS but unfortunately died in a car accident in 2001. Every year he published one or two or even three books in which he collected together any good social ideas he’d picked up…and the books were bursting with them. For me, it was the best read available.

The ideas ranged from the microcosmic - how to prevent slugs eating your strawberries, for example - to the cosmic - how solve global warming by moving the Earth into a slightly different orbit.

Nick’s death left a great hole: ever since then I’ve been wanting to see an organisation that would do the same job - act as a place for the sharing of new social ideas. There isn’t any money in a lot of these ideas, so they don’t get aggressively promoted and are often ignored by the media. I want to see those ideas coming out into the open to be tried and tested and improved. 
Is that something we could do at Campfire?'

You can read more about Nicholas Albery on THE GENERALIST


The event in Lewes was a Campfire Conversation event which Pete is either organising (or encourage others to organise) around the country.

You can find out more information at these websites:
www.petelawrence.net/
http://campfireconvention.com/

Saturday, April 01, 2017

BRAZILIAN MUSIC: MONICA VASCONCELOS / TROPICALIA / LUAKA BOP / SOUND AND COLOURS / BIXIGA 70



São Paulo born, Mônica Vasconcelos has over the last decade become one of the most successful Brazilian artists working in Britain with seven albums to her credit and a long string of headline concert tours, festival appearances and support slots for the likes of Bryan Ferry, Gilberto Gil and Courtney Pine. 


Her latest album, The São Paulo Tapes, features her own versions of protest songs from the 1960s, penned during the dark years [1964-1985] when Brazil was governed by a harsh military regime. Outright protest was banned and these songs use coded metaphors to get their anti-government feelings across. Even  so, many musicians were arrested, tortured or exiled during this period. In the hands of Mônica and her excellent band, these beautiful tunes and heartfelt songs are brought back into the light of day at a time when Brazil is still racked with protest and uproar. The album, produced by Robert Wyatt, is officially released in November but is available for purchase now on Mônica's website. She and the band will be touring the UK and Europe later this year. In a message to THE GENERALIST, Monica writes about her project:

'What do you do with a selection of perfectly formed Brazilian songs written 50 years ago in defiance of a military dictatorship? If you are singer Monica Vasconcelos, you travel to São Paulo and invite a fine guitarist of the Joao Gilberto line (Ife Tolentino) into the studio with you. You record the songs and smuggle the secret files - now The São Paulo Tapes - back to London. Then, you lure the great Robert Wyatt out of retirement to produce the album. He's never produced an album before but you know he will fall for this music because it is right up his street: resistance music. Dangerous, forbidden songs, carrying secret subversive messages in them. A year later, what comes out of this  encounter between Robert Wyatt, Monica Vasconcelos, a bunch of musician dudes and Brazil's finest song poets is an album of powerful music that feels incredibly current. Uncover the secrets hidden in The São Paulo Tapes. Beautiful songs addressing universal themes. Love. Freedom. Justice.' 



The other big musical movement in Brazil in the '60s during the reign of the junta was Tropicalia - a coming together of free souls, experimenting with adding world rock and pop styles to Brazilian genres, cutting things up and making new possibilities. 

This wonderful musical and artistic counter-cultural flowering is documented by Mônica in a fantastic radio documentary for the World Service - 'Tropicalia: A Revolution In Sound'. It is truly inspiring, featuring as it does, many great interviews with the movement's movers and shakers.

[Check out also Mônica's other interesting radio documentary: 'The Secret History of Bossa Nova]

The images come from the excellent and informative 48pp booklet which accompanies a brilliant Tropicalia compilation of music by Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Os Mutantes and Tom Ze, which came out from Soul Jazz Records, based in London's Soho, in 2005. This is totally groovy stuff.


These are two great compilations of Brazilian music put together by David Byrne back in the day (1989) on his label Luaka Bop. 

The first ranges across a wide variety of styles; the second, as the title suggests, is focused on samba. There is a third in the series which I need to get.


To bring things up to date, delighted to discover the brilliant SOUND AND COLOURS site which carries news, interviews, videos and mixtapes from all the major Latin American countries. This is a real exciting site featuring fresh music from the streets. I love this compilation from Brazil, posted in 2016.

: Photo: Loiro Cunha


MUSIC AND DEMOCRACY: 

17 BRAZILIAN ARTISTS AGAINST THE COUP (DJ PEQUI MIXTAPE AND INTERVIEW WITH LUCAS SANTTANA)





BIXIGA 70: If this Sao Paulo band don't knock your socks off nothing will. Great band playing one gig in London at the Jazz Cafe on July 25th.