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THE MOTHER OF ALL WEEKS

I wonder when the last time Easter was so chock-full of news, like a confectionary egg bursting with cream? Perhaps in 1916? Maybe I am naïve, but it seems the past week has been nightmarishly busy with lots of dreadful things being decided or done by awful people. The fact that more than a few of them claim to be "Christians" only makes it all the more confusing.

Anyway, Trump went ahead and exceeded the ego limit. He dropped the Mother of all Bombs - a MOAB - a sadistically OTT bit of TNT that was pure theatre, and is even described by the US military as "designed to instil fear in the enemy" - which sounds like terrorism to me. Anyway, this bomb, even too big and nasty for Dubya to use in Iraq, got blown up over a mile radius. We can only imagine how many innocent farmers and shepherds were destroyed in that instant. This blog approves of some calculated, precision, targeted strikes, in just wars, but such broad-church blasting is ungenerousoly expansive. It is m…
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HOLY WEEKS

Several major religions are observing solemn, important festivals this month - holy days, holy weeks. Eyewear's team will be taking some time off, to be with their families and friends, and reflect, in their various ways, on this time of returning light.

Meanwhile, we have seen, in the past few days, inhumanity at the heart of our capitalist system (where it has been, hidden, for too long) - the decision to drag a doctor, bloodied and beaten, from a United Airlines plane he had lawfully bought a ticket for is yet another instance of the total decline in compassion and empathy rooting itself in a business-led model that ignores the value of life beneath the numbers.

Publishing, too, is not immune. Too often, authors, agents, and publishers, seek to profit from relationships that would be better off pursued for higher aims, of art, solidarity and creativity. Sharing is not much part of this dog-eat-dog Darwinian world, that pushes each against the other. It strikes me as one of the la…

PROTECTING WESTMINSTER AND THE WIDER WORLD

A few days ago a person who was very angry at the state of the world, and who had determined to do something violent in the name of extreme views, went on a rampage outside of the British houses of parliament.
A terror incident, and awfully, innocent people were injured, and killed, including an officer guarding the home of democracy in these isles. Images of an heroic MP bloodied and unbowed, and talk of the Blitz spirit, boomed across the globe.... Britain is strong, and unbeaten.

Family members of the killer have apologised. Debates rage about his religious identity, and how someone "home grown" could end up so hate-filled - as if this was not also the country that gave us Cromwell and Jack The Ripper. Hate is often grown at home.

The new PM, Mrs May, spoke eloquently, and in rather rhetorical fashion, about the greatness of democracy and Westminster. True, but painfully ironic. For, while the terrorist in London has taken a few lives cruelly soon, and criminally, with evil …

VERY IMPORTANT PERSONS OF COLOR

Last week saw the deaths of TS Eliot andJohn Lennon... now imagine that media fuss. Well, what did happen? In fact, Derek Walcott and Chuck Berry died.

Now consider what actually happened... There was a lot of fuss; obituaries... AND THEN... sort of not all that much.

Certainly not the wailing lamentation when Bowie died... or even Ted Hughes...

I am not saying the media and Western cultural machines are organisationally racist, but there is something wrong with the omelettes in Denmark, when arguably the greatest poet of color of the 20th century dies followed by ONLY THE GOLDARN INVENTOR OF ROCK AND ROLL - and there is no world-shaking sorrow and recognition that SOME OF THE GREATEST ART AND CULTURE is made by non-white folks.

Just saying...

Because Walcott and Berry, for all their human weaknesses, were universal geniuses in their fields. Their deaths were not just sad or notable - they were SEISMIC.

Now imagine they were white... we'd have TIME magazine covers for weeks. Or am I mis…

BEST SONGS OF 2017 SO FAR

I turn now to our quarterly report into some of the key popular songs that have made their way as ear-worms into the hearts and minds of the writer of this post, since January 1, 2017 - in short, for the first 25% of the year, what are the top songs so far?

Note, only songs that one can find on Spotify count. It has been a good year so far, for pop and indie music... new Shins, and Depeche Mode albums in the same month as the first album from The Jesus and Mary Chain in 19 years can hardly be said to be a bad time.... so, counting down from Number one, in anti-climactic order.... here goes.... the 11 best songs so far, for 2017.... (and be careful, what with the allusions to a decade now as long ago as the 50s was to the Reagan era, this might be the best of 1987).

1. 'Love' - Lana Del Rey
Arguably her best song - and, like all her songs - a microcosm of her entire canon - like Dylan Thomas', her work is always imploding inwards to achieve a sort of Ur-perfection of its own s…

FOR LOGAN, THINK LOLITA - the SECRET Ls at the GENETIC CORE OF THE NEW X-MEN CLASSIC

Logan, the new film by James Mangold, and the tenth outing for the Wolverine character from the Marvel Universe, as played by Hugh Jackman, is receiving a lot of critical praise. Released March 1, the film has been called "the Citizen Kane" of comic book films, and compared favourably to the previous benchmark for quality in this sub-genre, The Dark Knight trilogy, by Christopher Nolan. It shares with that trilogy a gritty realism, a downbeat tone, and serious actors at the top of their game. It is however not an urban picture, but, as every critic has noted, a road movie/Western in its DNA. The cliché is to cite Shane, which the picture does itself, as the blueprint, but this is a red herring, since the actual Western it most resembles is The Searchers - let alone In Cold Blood or T2.

Mangold has co-written the film, at a time of Western darkness (Brexit, the rise of Trump) and the film opens on a landscape torn from Beckett by way of Bannon - loudmouthed American youths on …

OSCAR SMOSHCAR

The Oscars - Academy Awards officially - were once huge cultural events - in 1975, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley MacLaineandBob Hope co-hosted, for example - and Best Picture noms included The Conversation and Chinatown. Godfather Part 2 won. Last two years, movies titled Birdman and Spotlight won, and the hosts and those films are retrospectively minor, trifling. This year, some important, resonant films are up for consideration - including Hidden Figures and Moonlight, two favourites of this blog. Viola Davis and Denzel Washington will hopefully win for their sterling performances in Fences. However, La La Land - the most superficial and empty Best Picture contender since Gigi in 1959 (which beat Vertigo) - could smite all comers, and render this year's awards historically trivial, even idiotic.

The Oscars often opt for safe, optimistic films, or safe, pessimistic films, that are usually about white men (less often, white women) finding their path to doing the right thin…

TOM RAWORTH HAS DIED

British poet of genius and cultural significance, Tom Raworth has died after a long and protracted illness, aged 78. Writer, artist, teacher, and publisher Tom Raworth was born in South London and attended the University of Essex. In 1970, he earned an MA in the theory and practice of literary translation. As founder of Matrix Press and co-founder of Goliard Press, Raworth was instrumental in bringing an entire tradition of American poetry to English readers. Promoting the work of a number of poets associated with the Black Mountain School, including Edward Dorn, Robert Creeley, and Charles Olson, Raworth also published the poetry of Elaine Feinstein, Aram Saroyan, Anselm Hollo, and Zoltan Farkas. Raworth’s own work has also been identified with the Black Mountain School. He wrote over 40 collections of poetry, among them The Relation Ship (1969), winner of the Alice Hunt Bartlett Prize, Eternal Sections (1993), Tottering State: Selected Poems 1965–1983 (1984), the 500-plus page Collec…