Sunday, October 16, 2016


Fresh from a re-examination of the cultural and political youth revolutionary movements in or around the period 1966-1970 in the Previous Post, 'Walls Come Tumbling Down' picks up the story with a bumper 56opp oral history of British music and politics 1978-1992 through three important linked  progressive movements - Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge - that emerged to combat the rise of racism amongst the young and fight against Thatcherism in all its aspects.

Based on more than 100 interviews, this book could not be more relevant for the times we are living in now. Once more racism is on the rise in our country. There is a lot of talk about why there are no politics in music anymore. New movements will emerge and the valuable experiences documented in this seminal volume must be used, digested and put to work in a new wave of righteous indignation and great tunes.

If you were there at the time: READ THIS BOOK. Its like watching a movie and from Para 1 you're getting flashbacks, the metallic taste of speed, the grim remembering of the Thatcher years, Northern Ireland, the Miner's Strike, football hooliganism, the National Front alongside the shock and awe of punk, the bounce and brilliance of 2 Tone, the engagement of musicians in leading the charge for a better world, culminating in the massive Nelson Mandela concert that in no small way contributed to NM's eventual release. Thatcher went, the wall came down. 

If you weren't there at the time: READ THIS BOOK. You'll catch your breath in wonderment that such things were possible. Can it happen again? Over to you.

Rock Against Racism was triggered by Eric Clapton's drunken ramblings at a concert in Birmingham in 1976, reinforced by comments later in a Melody Maker interview, praising Enoch Powell as a prophet and called for effing "wogs" to leave the country - a musician whose work is based on black music and who has just had a big hit with Marley's 'I Shot The Sheriff'. 

Red Saunders, a cultural activist and Sunday Times  photographer, heard of the incident and quickly penned a  sharply-pointed letter which was published in all the main weekly music newspapers.It concluded: Rock was and still can be a real progressive culture.. We want to organise a rank-and-file movement against the racist poison in rock music.' 

You were encouraged to write to ROCK AGAINST RACISM. The spark became a fuse and, on cue came 'punk' - a movement that was finely poised - anarchistic, rowdy, offensive rock but with a violent edge, flirting with swastika armbands from the dressing-up box. RAR gigs which got bigger and bolder as the movement gained force, attracted disaffected frustrated youth of all persuasions, with a contingent of NF, a contradiction that peaked around Sham 69 and the Sham Army.


RAR along with the Anti-Nazi league [who formed  in 77 to defeat the NF electorally), Joe Strummer and Jimmy Pursey speaking out, won the day, as a punky-reggae alliance found common solidarity and carried the message across the nation, aided by the print shop and distribution network of the Socialist Workers Party. RAR were against authoritarian politics and dogmatic leftism. This was a movement driven by writers, artists and bands - analogous to the Prague movement in 1968. 

Its an inspiring and educational example of ground-up action as is the wonderful 2-Tone movement, brainchild of Jerry Dammers - out of the Midlands, black and white musicians together, The Specials, The Beat, The Selector, UB40 plus Madness plus girl bands adding their voices to a style and groove that rocked the nation, a rocket that crashed and burned with style when The Special's 'Ghost Town' was at Number One in the Charts.

Paul Weller and Billy Bragg joined forces and, in the summer of 1985, Red Wedge was conceived, a loose coalition of artists with a simple remit: to get Thatcher out of office and to return the Labour Party to power with Neil Kinnock at the helm, offering to do national tours under the banner  'Don't Get Mad. get Organised'. 

This populist movement which directly aligned itself to the Labour Party, aimed to change society from within. When Kinnock lost and Thatcher returned to power, their realigned work continued to lay the foundations for what became New Labour. Bad taste in mouth given what's occurred since but again a valuable movement that has lessons for Corbyn and Momentum.

Final Words in the book belong to Annajoy David, vice chair of the Youth Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND):
'This whole period put culture at the centre of politics and helped to define the language of politics in a way that the country hadn't seen happen before. You had thousands of young people out on the streets with something to say who had taken politics into their lives. It helped to define a generation who brought together culture and politics to stand up and say something about the government of the day. Was it better to do nothing and let the fascists go unchallenged? Was it better to do nothing and let Margaret Thatcher go unchallenged? Should we have stayed silent? Of course we shouldn't. We had a duty to stand up and call people to account. That's what democracy is about. Walls did come tumbling down.' 


'You Say You Want A Revolution?' is the book of the exhibition at the V&A, previously flagged up in an earlier post. This oversized extravagantly designed 320pp catalogue captures the spirit of the times with a cascade of stunning photos, graphics, posters, album covers. All that's lacking is a free giveaway tab of acid taped to the cover - but you can use your imagination.

Veterans of the period will have seen many of the classic images clustered here and the '60s have of course spawned a huge library of previous publications but, to their credit, the organisers have broadened the traditional focus and present much that has been rarely seen alongside the old chestnuts. The book, I would imagine, only contains a fraction of the material in the show as a whole. Have spent best part of two days at the kitchen table - the book being too unwieldy for my crowded desk - digesting and taking notes on the book's nine essays plus intro and epilogue, taking notes.

Here are the show's two curators Victoria Broakes and Geoffrey Marsh, fresh from their success with the Bowie show, now touring the world. 

Their Preface claims that the 1,826 days that make up the time period of the exhibition 'shook the foundations of post World War II society and undeniably changed the way we live today.'

The one million babies born in 1947 became teenagers in 1960; in 1967, one in three people in France were under 20. 

[A point I would make, which gives this period a fresher context, is that this period could be seen in retrospect as our Arab Spring. Discuss.]

They point out that 2016 is the 500th anniversary of Thomas More's 'Utopia'. References are made to William Blake and LSD and pride of place is given to the late Martin Sharp's wonderful 1968 Dylan poster 'Mister Tambourine Man'.

It's good to see the cover of the 1962 Port Huron Statement from the Students for a Democratic Society with the stirring quote: '...we seek the establishment of a democracy of individual participation governed  by two central aims: that the individual share in those social decisions determining the quality and direction of his life; that society be organised to encourage in dependence in men and provide the media for their common participation...' What about women you might well ask. The Port Huron Statement is famously referenced in 'The Big Lebowski' and there's a great post on Mental Floss about this.

[Left] Trocchi Photograph by Marvin Lichtner, 1967.

Interesting to see a copy of 'The Moving Times' [new to me] a broadsheet poster publication  
edited by Alexander Trocchi featuring text by William S. Burroughs and Kenneth White. The associate editor was Jeff Nutall, author of the seminal 'Bomb Culture'.

According to this source: "The Moving Times" served as number 1 of the Sigma Portfolio. Self-publishing was a key aspect of Project Sigma and the Sigma Portfolio texts produced by Trocchi were circulated on a subscription basis. Project Sigma, which was the focus of much of Trocchi’s work from 1962-1977, was an attempt by Trocchi to establish an international network of counter cultural activism largely focused socially based institutions perceived as limiting free expression such as the media, universities, and workplaces.'

 Doffing the cap to the curators for their no doubt strenuous efforts to make such a large scale exhibition happen (which by all accounts is wonderful and voluminous) their intro and contributions to the catalogue are the weakest part of the whole production. 

Section 1: You Say You've Got A Real Solution  is an essay entitled 'A Tale of Two Cities': London, San Francisco and the Transatlantic Bridge' by Geoffrey Marsh. This consists of 100 fictional diary entries written by two imaginary journalists. For many readers these are references to events that they will know little if anything about it. It's only when you get to the back of the book that the factual info is listed in detail. The section includes five double page spreads of album covers for each year, seemingly chosen at random, which become more disorganised as the spreads progress. They look colourful but lack meaning.
Jumping ahead, Section 6: You Say Yes is an essay entitled 'You Say You Want A Revolution - Looking at The Beatles' by Victoria Broakes. This is frankly awful and should have been written by Mark Lewisohn, given the centrality of The Beatles to this time period.

Moving swiftly on. Section 2: You Say You Want to Change the World. This essay is 'Revolution Now: The Traumas and Legacies of US Politics in the Late '60s' by Sean Wilentz, author of 'The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln' (2015) and 'Bob Dylan in America'.Now a professor at Princeton, Wilenz grew up in Greenwich Village and is the current historian-in-residence on Dylan's official website.

Source: No More Songs
This is an excellent march through the unfolding American revolution of the period. Great to see a photo and mention of Dylan's dark brother and rival Phil Ochs who, unlike Dylan, stayed political but drowned in his own depression, leading to him taking his own life in 1976. (Worth mentioning that one of the best pictures in the whole book is of Woody Guthrie in the 1940s, with his legendary 'This Machine Kills' guitar, looking like he's coming down from speed.
Above: The creator of the this 1960s magazine ad was
arrested by the FBI for "a crime of inciting with lewd
and indecent materials"
Below: Rare Edition of 'Earth Times' (May 1970),
a short-lived ecology magazine published by
Rolling Stone [The Generalist Archive]

We follow the student riots, the anti-Vietnam movement, the famous Civil Rights 'March Against Fear' in Mississippi at which Stokely Carmichael utters the phrase 'Black Power' that leads in 1966 to the formation of the Black Panther Party by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton.

On the 4th April that year Martin Luther King is assassinated and riots break out in cities across America, which Wilentz says is 'the biggest wave of violent unrest since the Civil War. On the 4th June Bobby Kennedy is assassinated. Then comes the brutality of the Democratic Convention in Chicago, the Exorcism of the Pentagon so brilliantly captured in Norman Mailer's 'The Armies of the Night' and the SDS split leading to homegrown terrorist attacks by the Weathermen.

Wilentz then documents the feminist reawakening, the birth of Gay Liberation following the Stonewall riots in New York in 1969 and the first organised national conservation movement in America's modern times leading to the the birth of Earth Day on 22nd April 1970.

The '60s movements linked the personal and the political but, says Wentz, it's too early to say who won or lost. These revolutions continue. In Lincoln's time,  America was 'a house divided against itself'. Wentz concludes:  'So it may prove that the revolutionary '60s produced in America another house divided, one whose fate - as one thing or another - has yet to be decided 50 years later, but that sooner rather than later will face a reckoning.'

For those interested, Wentz recommends three indispensable books: 'A Tale of Two Utopias: The Political Journey of the Generation of 1968' by Paul Berman (1997). 'The Sixties:Years Of Hope Days Of Rage ' by Todd Gitlin (1987) and 'America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s'                                                                                           by Maurice Issermnan and Michael Kazin (2000)


Section 3: You Say You Want to Change Your Head features 'The Counter-Culture' by Barry Miles, a personal friend and one of the most prolific authors on both the Beat and the Hippy Movements. Miles was in the thick of things with the Indica Bookshop and the early days of International Times, (IT)  the UFO club/Roundhouse etc. For my money his book 'In The Sixties' is a great atmospheric read.

Miles takes as his starting point the birth of CND and the annual Aldermaston marches (1959-1963), the rise of recreational drugs, the Underground, the Movement, the New Left and flips to the US where the counter-culture is a very broad church dominated by many strident males - the feminist movement emerged for good reason.

Miles locates the  true birth of the British counter-culture as being the International Poetry Incarnation at the Albert Hall on 11th June 1965 and the birth of the undeground press to the LA Free Press in 1964 which led to some 100 other papers emerging in the following decade. In the UK, IT was followed by OZ, Friends/Frendz, Ink and more than 100 local and regional papers in the UK.

Miles is right to highlight the fact that the counter-culture transformed graphic design (using analog technology I might add in those B.C. (before computers) world). Music was a transformative force and the Festivals pivotal events. He pays tribute to John 'Hoppy' Hopkins (whose great photos appear on several spreads in this book. See Previous Post on Hoppy's own photo book here) and Mick Farren but saves his biggest praise for Caroline Coon and Rufus Harris of Release, which helped busted freaks from the Beatles on down.

We romp through May'68 Paris, the San Fransisco Diggers, the Yippies and the deaths at Kent State. He concludes: The counter-culture brought a healthy distrust of the Establishment that continues to this day.' He sees the legacy of the underground press in

Section 4: You Say You're Experienced is a knowing and knowledgeable essay by Jon Savage entitled 'All Together Now' that focuses in on the effects of LSD. which the UK governments secret establishment at Porton Down had been experimenting with since 1953. 

Fresh from the production of his last major work - a hefty and detailed examination of the year 1966 [See Generalist review] he writes: 'By the end of 1966, the smart end of pop was defined by the use of LSD'.

Jon highlights the Stones' bust at Keith Richards' house Redlands in Feb 1967 and, a few months later, McCartney admitting on tv that he had taken LSD. A few days after that, The Beatles play 'All You Need Is Love' (25th June) on the first global tv broadcast. Albums sold more than singles for the first time that year and August saw the closing down of pirate radio.

LSD not only changed the music it helped form the idea of alternative culture, communities and communes. Jon describes the Notting Hill Gate and North Kensington area as the epicentre of counter-culture. He highlights the mass squat at 144 Piccadilly in London and the August 1970 Isle of Wight Festival at which 600,000 people gathered and the fences came down, making it free. [I was there, were you?]. For my money, Jon's take on that period is the best in the book, hence the larger type:

'...many late '60s ideas seem not time-locked or nostalgic, but still latent and powerful, waiting to be activated by a new generation'

 1966 poster by Garry Grimshaw

Section 5: You Say Everything Sounds The Same focuses on 'The Fillmore, The Grande and the Sunset Strip: The Evolution of a Musical Revolution' in an essay by Howard Kramer, former curatorial director at the Rock n Roll Hall of fame. 

It's a straight ahead account of what went down. As he makes clear these may be the highest profile 'scenes' of the time but right across America the musical revolution made itself 'manifest in a cellular organic manner'.  

There's some great posters here and good to see photo of the Family Dog crew and Bill Graham, who ran the Fillmore West and East with an astute belligerence. Personally I love the Detroit scene with the MC5 and Iggy - still amongst the greatest bands I've ever seen. 

Kramer concludes: 'The power and identity of youth is defined more by its music than by any other single characteristic.'                      

Section 7: You Say You Want Shorter Skirts features 'British Fashion 1966-70: A State of Anarchy' by Jenny Lister, curator of Fashion and Textiles at the V&A. This is not my bag to critique or illuminate in detail but the whole section seems a bit flat, a bit straight. The key quote for the piece comes from a piece in Nova (Sept 1968) entitled 'Fashion Is Dead, Long Live Clothes' by Brigid Keenan. It reads: 'There is a state of anarchy in fashion - a 'why not?' that has toppled all the unwritten rules that used to inhibit the choice of clothes....The questioning and rejecting is going on in more significant areas than fashion, but it is in dress that it shows most.' Jenny Lister concludes that there is 'less potential than 50 years ago to shock with clothes....Paradoxically, now that fashion is more available, it is less meaningful.' [For my money, the best source book is Paul Gorman's 'The Look: Adventures in Rock & Pop Fashion' (2006)
[Right: Detail from a beautiful  landscape poster from Biba in THE GENERALIST ARCHIVE. It's inscribed on the back: 'In memory of an era. Shoplifted from Biba. August 1975. JC]

Section 8: You Say You Want It Cheaper  contains what is for me the most interesting essay in the book - 'The Chrome-Plated Marshmallow: The 1960s Consumer Revolution and Its Discontents' by Alison J. Clarke, a professor of design history and theory. This seismic shift in the world of 'things' is an equally significant aspect of the late 60s/early 70s and a topic that broadens our understanding of the period. Things we no longer just utilitarian and traditional. A new fast-moving fashion conscious culture embraced the ephemeral and the new. As Clarke points out, in Europe there was 'growing disquiet over the vulgarising effect of an imported Americanised version of consumer capitalism.'

In the 1950s, an interesting exception to this was the views of The Independent Group, a network of artists, designers and architects 'who famously embraced the blossoming of consumer culture and invented the concept of 'pop'.

Clarke references Kubrick's 'Clockwork Orange' in which' 1960s modern art and design operate as signifiers of amoral dysfunction rather than social progressiveness'. In 1968, Jean Baudrillard's 'The System of Objects' talks of the 'dislocated relationship between people and things in the new information-led technological society.'

The roots of CAT lie with the alternative
technology magazine 'Undercurrents' from
which this book-length catalogue was born
in 1976 (Wildwood House)
[The Generalist Archive]
By the end of the 60s, the frothy novelty of consumerism was thrown into sharp relief by Vietnam, riots, assassinations and, writes Clarke, 'the lone voices and marginal groupings of dissent had concretised as a distinct critical body, a popular environmental and ecological movement spawning diverse counter-cultural responses, from the publication of the Whole Earth Catalog in the United States to the establishment of the Centre for Alternative Technology in Britain.' [It's great to see CAT recognised in this manner. Well overdue.]

The focus then shifts to the simultaneous revolutions not only in material culture but also in information culture which, in 1964, Marshall McLuhan characterised as a world 'not of wheels but of circuits, not of fragments but of integral patterns'. Clarke describes a 'confluence of counter-culture initiatives and emerging cybernetic technologies that would arise as a mode of 'digital utopianism...'

'The late 60s and early 70s boom in experiential design and media - with an emphasis on the individual psyche, alternative environmental politics and cyber-networked culture - generated the 'outside the box' creative entrepeneurialism defining present-day Silicon Valley culture.'

The essay then moves on to the writings of Vance Packard. His 'The Hidden Persuaders' was a critique of the advertising industry which was followed by 'The Waste Makers', an attack on the concepts of 'planned obsolescence' and disposable design; consumerism as indicative of a growing alienation within modern life.
'In one of the most prescient passages of 'The Waste Makers', Packard envisages a design culture driven by product designers reinvented as futurologists. The city of tomorrow, dubbed 'Cornucopia City' will ban the repair of any appliance over two years old; its supermarts feature conveniently located receptacles 'where the people can dispose of the old-fashioned products they bought on a previous shopping trip.' Over the next decade, Packard predicts, consumers will be encouraged to 'tingle at the possibility of using voice writers, wall-sized television screens and motorcars that glide along highways under remote control.'
Alison Clarke then moves on to the influential ideas of Victor Papanek who produced a radical critique of consumerism in 'Design for the Real World'. [Clarke is Director of The Papanek Foundation at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna.]  His design ethic was for the greatest number, appealing to social conscience rather than profit. He joined forces with Finnish activists to launch a socially responsible design movement.

It's interesting to see the occupation by protesters at the Milan Triennial, one of the design world most prestigious event, in May 1968. The Situationists were also active with Raoul Vaneigen's 'The Revolution of Everyday Life' (1967) which posited that we are seeing the death of the working class and the rise of the consumer whose only power resides in the act of shopping.

In the US the prestigious 1970 International Design Conference in Aspen, Colorado was also disrupted by what
was called the French Group and a US environmental design group called Ant Farm. The following year the event was handed over to the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) who were radical ultra-progressives. They believed in the social and transformative possibilities of design, interdisciplinary thinking and utopian culture. Tom Wolfe attended that conference

Clarke's long and detailed essay deserves further study. She concludes: that Packard's designer/futurologist prediction 'chimes so poignantly with the anxieties of twenty-first culture. As technologies emerge ever more clearly as extensions of ourselves, our futures precariously intertwined, these designer-futurologist hybrids wield a magnitude of power that would have made 1960s anti-consumerists quake.'

Section 9: You Say You Understand Whole Systems?  consist of an essay entitled 'Computers & America's New Communalism 1965-1973' by Fred Turner, Professor of Communications at Stanford and the author of 'From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, The Whole Earth Network and the Rise of Digital Utopianism.'

THE GENERALIST has two Previous posts on Brand, One is the  interview I did with him in London for a piece in the Sunday Times  in December 1980.  The other is called  Stewart Brand: Reinventing Environmental Thinking, which includes details on Turner's book, the blurb of which reads as follows: 
  '...the previous untold story of a highly influential group of San Francisco Bay entrepeneurs...Between 1968 and 1998, via such familiar venues as the Whole Earth Catalog, the computer-conferencing system WELL, and, ultimately, Wired magazine, Brand and his colleagues brokered a long-running collaboration between San Francisco flower power and the emerging technological hub of Silicon Valley. Thanks to their vision, counterculturalists and technologists alike joined together to reimagine computers as tools for personal liberation, the building of a virtual and decidedly alternative communities, and the exploration of bold new social frontiers. Turner's fascinating book reminds us that the distance between the Grateful Dead and Google, between Ken Kesey and the computer itself, is not as great as we might think.'
A.D. [Architectural Design] was essential reading in the late 60s/early 70s.
Actually got to see Bucky Fuller lecturing at the American Embassy in London thanks to Colin Moorcraft,
another unsung pioneer, who produced a series of  British Whole Earth supplements for Friends magazine
[The Generalist Archive]

Original battered copy of 'Drop City' by Peter
Rabbi (Olympia Press. 1971).
Below; Original 1969 Anchor paperback
[The Generalist Archive.]
Turner essay begins with an account of the infamous Drop City commune, who lived in fairly ranshackle geodesics. He claims that in the early 70s, there were three quarters of a million people in the US living in some 10,000 communes. 

He compares the view of the New Communalists and the New Left, quotes material on Theodore Roszak's book 'The Making of The Counter Culture' [See Previous Post on Roszak here), mentions 'The Greening of America' by Charles Reich and talks about the influence of R. Buckminster Fuller and Norbert Wiener on the thinking behind the 'Whole Earth Catalog'. 

The article is accompanied by a big picture of Doug Engelbart, inventor of the Mouse and pioneer of personal computing. 
[For more on Engelbart and the role of LSD in the early history of computing see my post on 'What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry ‘, a remarkable book by the New York Times science writer John Markoff  which not mentioned by Turner]

He concludes that 'the deepest irony behind the lingering influence of the 1960s communes and their view of technology' is that 'the dream of using information technologies to create a global community of consciousness is in fact being realised - but by the very military-industrial complex so many young Americans once hoped to undermine,'

Finally Michael Sandell's Epilogue 'Where We Go From Here' doesn't actually go anywhere. He just says: 'We live in a time when almost everything can be bought and sold....Today the logic of buying and selling no longer applies to material goods alone but increasingly governs the whole of life. It is time to ask whether we want to live this way.'
I think we knew the answer to that a  long time ago.

The book closes with one final piece: An extraordinary diagrammatic map of Networks of Resistance: A snapshot of  the rapidly evolving groups of Rebels and Revolutionaries in the United States 1966-1070. A great work of scholarship by Elisa Bailey and great design by Yat-Hong Chow.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


News that Bob Dylan has been nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature took me
back to a previous Award ceremony in December 1963 when the young Dylan was awarded the Tom Paine award, given in recognition of distinguished service in the fight for civil liberty, by the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee (ECLC) at their annual Bill of Rights Dinner in New York which also featured the writer James Baldwin.

Bob Dylan's acceptance speech, reproduced below, caused quite a stir and triggered a long and lengthy poetic explanation from Dylan that you can read in full here: 

Martin Scorses revoiced some of the speech for his documentary 'No Direction Home'. See YouTube clip which contains come great still photos.

  I haven't got any guitar, I can talk though. I want to thank you for the Tom Paine award in behalf everybody that went down to Cuba. First of all because they're all young and it's took me a long time to get young and now I consider myself young. And I'm proud of it. I'm proud that I'm young.

 And I only wish that all you people who are sitting out here today or tonight weren't here and I could see all kinds of faces with hair on their head - and everything like that, everything leading to youngness, celebrating the anniversary when we overthrew the House Un-American Activities just yesterday, - Because you people should be at the beach. You should be out there and you should be swimming and you should be just relaxing in the time you have to relax. (Laughter) 

It is not an old peoples' world. It is not an old peoples' world. It has nothing to do with old people. Old people when their hair grows out, they should go out. (Laughter) And I look down to see the people that are governing me and making my rules - and they haven't got any hair on their head - I get very uptight about it. (Laughter)

     And they talk about Negroes, and they talk about black and white. And they talk about colors of red and blue and yellow. Man, I just don't see any colors at all when I look out. I don't see any colors at all and if people have taught through the years to look at colors.

 I've read history books, I've never seen one history book that tells how anybody feels. I've found facts about our history, I've found out what people know about what goes on but I never found anything about anybody feels about anything happens. It's all just plain facts. And it don't help me one little bit to look back.

     I wish sometimes I could have come in here in the 1930's like my first idol - used to have an idol, Woody Guthrie, who came in the 1930's (Applause). But it has sure changed in the time Woody's been here and the time I've been here. It's not that easy any more. People seem to have more fears.

     I get different presents from people that I play for and they bring presents to me backstage - very weird, weird presents - presents that I couldn't buy. They buy - they bring me presents that - I've got George Lincoln Rockwell's tie clip that somebody robbed for me. (Laughter) I have General Walker's car trunk keys - keys to his trunk that somebody robbed for me. Now these are my presents. I have fallout shelter signs that people robbed for me from Philadelphia and these are the little signs. 

There's no black and white, left and right to me anymore; there's only up and down and down is very close to the ground. And I'm trying to go up without thinking about anything trivial such as politics. They has got nothing to do with it. I'm thinking about the general people and when they get hurt.

     I want to accept this award, the Tom Paine Award, from the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee. I want to accept it in my name but I'm not really accepting it in my name and I'm not accepting it in any kind of group's name, any Negro group or any other kind of group. T

here are Negroes - I was on the march on Washington up on the platform and I looked around at all the Negroes there and I didn't see any Negroes that looked like none of my friends. My friends don't wear suits. My friends don't have to wear suits. My friends don't have to wear any kind of thing to prove that they're respectable Negroes. My friends are my friends, and they're kind, gentle people if they're my friends. And I'm not going to try to push nothing over. 

So, I accept this reward - not reward, (Laughter) award in behalf of Phillip Luce who led the group to Cuba which all people should go down to Cuba. I don't see why anybody can't go to Cuba. I don't see what's going to hurt by going any place. I don't know what's going to hurt anybody's eyes to see anything. On the other hand, Phillip is a friend of mine who went to Cuba. 

I'll stand up and to get uncompromisable about it, which I have to be to be honest, I just got to be, as I got to admit that the man who shot President Kennedy, Lee Oswald, I don't know exactly where —what he thought he was doing, but I got to admit honestly that I too - I saw some of myself in him. I don't think it would have gone - I don't think it could go that far. But I got to stand up and say I saw things that he felt, in me - not to go that far and shoot. (Boos and hisses) 

You can boo but booing's got nothing to do with it. It's a - I just a - I've got to tell you, man, it's Bill of Rights is free speech and I just want to admit that I accept this Tom Paine Award in behalf of James Forman of the Students Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and on behalf of the people who went to Cuba. (Boos and Applause)

[Note: JFK was assassinated November 22, 1963]

Bob Dylan And Pete Seeger July 2, 1963 Greenwood, Mississippi

 Bob Dylan, James Forman and Pete Seeger sitting outside SNCC office.

PREVIOUS POSTS: There are numerous stories about Dylan on THE GENERALIST. 
Just type Dylan in Search box at top left.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


These two recently published graphic biographies represent the tip of a very large iceberg of similar works that offer the reader a wonderful introduction to the life and works of significant characters. It's an area of publishing that THE GENERALIST hopes to get into in the year ahead.

John-Jaques Audubon was born illegitimately in 1781 in Santo Domingue in 1780 (now known as Haiti), the illegitimate son of a French sea captain and plantation owners and his French mistress. His mother died shortly after his birth and he was  sent back to France where he grew up in and around Nantes and had a lively interest in birds, nature, drawing and music. At the age of 18, his father sent him to America to escape being drafted into Napoleon's army, to Mill Grove, a family property near Philadelphia, where he met and married Lucy Bakewell. They had two boys who worked with their father and two girls that died in childhood. 

Audubon spent more than a decade as a businessman, eventually travelling down the Ohio River to western Kentucky—then the frontier— where he establshed a dry-goods store in Henderson. He continued to draw birds as a hobby, amassing an impressive portfolio.

While in Kentucky, Lucy gave birth to two sons, Victor Gifford and John Woodhouse, as well as two daughters who died in infancy. Audubon was quite successful until his sawmill failed and in 1819 he was briefly jailed for bankruptcy.

After being released from jail he decided to devote himself to what was to became his grand obsession -  to discover and paint all the species of American birds. he had little idea of the mammoth nature of his task. 

He spent more than 30 years exploring the American wilderness, beginning with a major expedition down the Mississippi with his assistant Joseph in the 1820s, a journey we follow in this book. Both of them were almost killed by a giant bear. Audubon shot most of the birds he depicted in his immaculate life-size paintings, eviscerating and arranging them in poses that were meant, ironically, to be full of life. 

The graphic account also depicts the incident when Audubon's contracts a serious fever (complete with dream-like hallucinations) which is intercut with the remarkable sight of a unnumbered giant flock of passenger pigeons that took three days to fly past them. His small party are happily rescued by a passing river boat and taken downstream to New Orleans.

The paintings he had made up to that time were soundly rejected as Audubon's former friend Alexander Wilson had already written, illustrated and published his 'American Ornithology'. By contrast, Audubon's paintings were considered too artistic and not scientific enough, more appropriate for an art gallery than a science museum.

In search of sponsors, Audubon travelled to Britain, arriving in Liverpool in 1826, where he met with great success, being billed as 'The American Woodman'. The graphic bio dwells on his meeting with Charles Darwin. He also gained support from Cuvier and other scientists in Paris.

Equally importantly, Audubon found the talented engravers of Havell. It took them 12 years to print the 436 aquatint plates that compose 'Birds of America' Audubon's masterpiece, first released in 1936. 

A smaller edition also proved highly successful and Audubon became rich and famous. He made one final expedition, documented from his letters in this work, before finally returning to his family. In his last years he suffered from dementia before he died in 1851 in New York.

Excellent and detailed Wikipedia entry

[Left]John James Audubon. Painting: John Syme courtesy of White House Historical Association

The Audubon Society, established in the late 1800s, has made his name synonymous with birds and bird conservation all over the world.

Audubon's work is highly valued. Only 120 complete sets are known to exist. On 20 January 2012 a complete copy of the first edition was sold at Christie's auction house in Manhattan for $7.9 million. Fortunately the University of Pittsburgh has created a website where you can view their entire set. This is a remarkable resource as you can examine each image in great detail.
[See also Birds of America Wikipedia entry]

[Left] Carolina pigeon (now called mourning dove)

'Audubon: On The Wings of the World' is written and illustrated by Fabien Grolleau and Jérémie Royer. [Published by Nobrow to their usual high standards] They make the point that, in France, Audubon remains practically unknown, presumably their motive for producing it. It's a substantial and beautiful tribute to a remarkable man. 


The fourth title in the Self Made Hero Art Masters series after Pablo, Vincent and Munch, Dali by Baudoin is a delightful work of inventive skill, a heartfelt homage to this extraordinary individual. 

Baudoin is short for Edmond Baudoin who I am ashamed to say I was previously unaware of. Here's his Wikipedia entry and website

We all know Dali or think we do. His images have become ingrained in our culture. The soft watches are still ticking. 

Personal digression: I still remember the shock of seeing my first Dali in the flesh - 'Metamorphosis of Narcissus' - when on a school art trip to the Tate                                            back in the '60s. 

I am thrilled to still be in possession of the remarkable book on  Dali published by Abrams in 1968, a collaboration between Dali himself and Max Gérard, French author, film producer and director. A giant candy box of a book, it's a constant inspiration. [A kind gift to my family from Michael M, still appreciated after all these years] 

Perhaps to be matched in sumptuousness by the new Taschen book, flagged up on the ever wonderful Colossal website: See: 'Salvador Dali’s Rare Surrealist Cookbook Republished for the First Time in over 40 Years'

Baudoin's book is in this high company and offers a wonderful introduction to Dali's life and work through the life and spirit and imagination of Monsieur B himself, who brings a high level of thought, intelligence, skill, humour and craft to his task.

The body of the book is in bold, stark black and white, drawn largely in what looks like charcoal but with other b&w styles that might use ink. There are pages with frames, others that break out across spreads, others that combine many elements in a constantly surprising cornucopia. To add icing to the cake, Baudoin occasionally and effectively drops in colour touches. Superb! 

The way he handles the narration is also masterly: a groovy boy and girl pass through and into the frames of famous paintings, scenes and elements of Dali's life and also have discussions with the artist himself who appears from time to time.

The book is completed with a carefully researched 20pp chronology of  Dali's life (1904-1989) and a Selected Bibliography. A great piece of work.

Monday, October 10, 2016


'Watermark' describes itself as a documentary on how water shapes humanity. It's written by Jennifer Baichwal who also co-directs the film with photographer Edward Burtynsky. First released in 2013, this remarkable movie will stun and amaze you and inform you and scare you and inspire you. 

The film takes us around the world, flowing from scene to scene like a river and throughout concentrates on tiny details and human-scale activity  before smoothly gliding upwards to reveal a massively large-scale vista that cannot help but take one's breath away.

We see ancient ways of conserving water (the stepwells of Rajasthan) and vertiginous terraced paddies where a young man sits as a water guard. We see 35 million people bathing in the Ganges to wash away their sins at the largest religious pilgrimage on the planet and, in California, watch miraculous solo surfers ride giant waves with grace.

Throughout the film we see and return to a gigantic dam project in China, the size of which is beyond imaging and the skills of Hollywood. They are using the most advanced hi-def cameras, for both still and moving pictures, on the ground, strapped to tripods, or fixed underneath helicopter drones or, higher still, flown in helicopters. Having had the privilege to first watch this on a desktop and then, round at my friend's house, watch it again on a massive screen, the detail and fidelity are stunning.

We also see drought in the dried-up delta of the Colorado river in Mexico, we see leather factories, damaging humans and polluting rivers with harsh chemicals to produce goods for export to the West. We realise the sheer amount of water it takes to grow crops on a landscape scale in Texas, depleting an ancient subterranean aquifer, and learn the history of the aqueduct that brought water to the Los Angles basin - and the deleterious effects that had. The film tells us that agriculture represents - by far - the largest human activity upon the planet. Approximately seventy percent of all fresh water under our control is dedicated to this activity.

Perhaps most important of all, the film takes us on a journey to Greenland where a team from Denmark complete their mission to document ancient climates by extracting ice cores from the pristine polar Arctic. For much of our planets history there have been long ice ages interspersed with (relatively) brief interregnums when the planet's atmosphere heats up. The one we are in has lasted 11 million years and encompasses the entire history of human on earth. Now, for the first time, we are not just watching but adding to the warming. The historic record shows that it takes very little to make the climate flip into another mode - and it happens fast.

Two of the scientists talk to camera. The woman tells us that all the water we have on the earth came from space, from icy comet crashing into the plant over billions of years and being captured by our gravitational field. The man tells us:
"We can't live if we're not in water because no two cells can divide without being in water. We spend the first nine moths of our lives in our mother's womb inside ... a reconstruction of the ocean where all life has to take place. Even inside plants you can't have a cell division without it happening in water. So water is everywhere. If that water link would ever break allowing a cell to rupture and dry out, life would end . So I think it's a fascinating thought to think that you and I can only sit here and have this conversation because we both represent an unbroken link of divided cells in water at all times in the last three billion years."
My other favourite quote comes from a man, in a boat in a lake, who tells a that each of the Canadian native tribes like the Haida and the others would have a mountain creek or river that was there's to fish and talks of the cycle of water up the heavens. shed on the mountains, down back to the ocean through the rivers.
"In that process of the cycle, we fit in...whatever falls from the sky lands here and if I drink it and you drank the same water for a month or so, we'd be 70% the same water. We won't be the same. We'd be the same water...We're all water."

Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. has spent his life photographing landscapes damaged by man. He says of his work on this film:
"I wanted to understand water: what it is, and what it leaves behind when we're gone. I wanted to understand our use and misuse of it. I wanted to trace the evidence of global thirst and threatened sources. Water is part of a pattern I've watched unfold throughout my career. I document landscapes that, whether you think of them as beautiful or monstrous, or as some strange combination of the two, are clearly not vistas of an inexhaustible, sustainable world."
(Walrus, October 2013)
His extensive website has much video footage and many intervuews worth studying. I like this quote about what lies behind a lifetime behind the lend:
'Nature transformed through industry is a predominant theme in my work. I set course to intersect with a contemporary view of the great ages of man; from stone, to minerals, oil, transportation, silicon, and so on. To make these ideas visible I search for subjects that are rich in detail and scale yet open in their meaning. Recycling yards, mine tailings, quarries and refineries are all places that are outside of our normal experience, yet we partake of their output on a daily basis.These images are meant as metaphors to the dilemma of our modern existence; they search for a dialogue between attraction and repulsion, seduction and fear. We are drawn by desire - a chance at good living, yet we are consciously or unconsciously aware that the world is suffering for our success. Our dependence on nature to provide the materials for our consumption and our concern for the health of our planet sets us into an uneasy contradiction. For me, these images function as reflecting pools of our times.'
This wonderful and important film owes a debt I am sure the filmmakers would acknowledge, to the style and approach of Godfrey Reggio in the remarkable 'Koyaanisqatsi' trilogy, featuring music by Phillip Glass. It was shot by Ron Fricke who went on to make his own films including 'Baraka' [See Previous Post: Film: Terrence Mallick/Godfrey Reggio]



All Earth's water, liquid fresh water, and water in lakes and rivers

Spheres showing:

(1) All water (sphere over western U.S., 860 miles in diameter)
(2) Fresh liquid water in the ground, lakes, swamps, and rivers (sphere over Kentucky, 169.5 miles in diameter), and 
(3) Fresh-water lakes and rivers (sphere over Georgia, 34.9 miles in diameter).

Credit: Howard Perlman, USGS; globe illustration by Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (©); Adam Nieman.


An interview published in the New Scientist' [23rd April 2016]

Arjen Hoekstra came up with the concept of the  'water footprint' in order to measure the total volume of fresh water used  in the making of products such as food, clothing and energy. There's a great site which explains it all:

He tells us that our home consumption of water is only 1 or 2% of our personal water footprint. Most of the water we do use at home is recycled and doesn't count towards our footprint. The vast majority is in the products we consume, especially food. All food has a big water footprint. Grains require 1000 litres per kilogram. Beef on average requires 15,000 litres per kilogram. Hoekstra says:

"Really we need to go to a world where eating less meat is seen as a logical way to reduce the pressure on the environment. This is really the elephant in the room. Nobody's talking about it."
Staving off a global water crisis requires a formidable rethink about how to value it 
Sally Adee [New Scientist 13th August 2016]

'The value of water is incalculable. All humans are reliably dead after a week without it, which is why the UN in 2010 declared access to clean water a universal human right.'

We need to think about water as renewable resource. We need, says Adee,  to 'consider whether it's possible to contain an area's water inside a reusable, closed loop system, that reduces waste while making money from the stuff that water carries.'

Water purification techniques have advanced: "You can take the worst industrial waste  and turn it into incredibly high quality drinking water" says  Peter Gleick of global water think tank the Pacific Institute. "It's just a matter of economics."

'The most radical vision is a city based on a perfectly closed loop, with water flowing from one application to the next on the basis of the purity required for each. For example, your drinking water could become household sewage that irrigates agricultural fields, whose run-off then goes to industrial use or to enable fracking. After its final use, the water returns to a treatment plant. “Then you treat it all again, and return it to drinking water, and the whole thing starts again,” says Dominic Waughray [Head of Environment at the World Economic Forum]. “But now the plants can get energy and fertiliser out of the water and monetise treatment.”

"All the water in the world has been here since the dinosaurs. In fact the water you're drinking has probably been through a dinosaur."
- Ernest Blatchley at Purdue University in Indiana



Two sets of statistics give some indication of the effect of flooding worldwide.

A 2015 report by the UN, “The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters”, revealed that, in the previous 20 years, there were 3,062 flood disasters, affecting the lives of 2.3 billion people, 56% of all the people affected by weather-related disasters in total. The death toll was 157,000. 

Increasing Frequency and Severity of Floods

The report points to an alarming trend of flood disasters affecting ever wider areas, while at the same time becoming more severe. Furthermore, flooding has taken its toll on agriculture and food supplies, exacerbating malnutrition problems in poorer areas of the world.

Floods Increasing Across the World

According to the report, floods strike in Asia and Africa more than other continents, but pose an increasing danger elsewhere. In South America, for example, 560,000 people were affected by floods on average each year between 1995 and 2004. By the following decade (2005-2014) that number had risen to 2.2 million people, nearly a four-fold increase. In the first eight months of 2015, another 820,000 people were affected by floods in the region.

This trend has continued into late 2015 where overflowing rivers forced over 100,000 from their homes in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay.

More Lives Lost

The report also says that death tolls from flooding have risen in many parts of the world. In 2007, floods killed 3,300 people in India and Bangladesh alone. In 2010, flooding killed 2,100 people in Pakistan and another 1,900 in China, while in 2013 some 6 ,500 people died due to floods in India.

Flood Events Becoming More Severe

The nature of disastrous floods has also changed in recent years, with flash floods, acute riverine and coastal flooding increasingly frequent. In addition, urbanization has significantly increased flood run-offs.

[Source: The site is funded by Copernicus, the European system for Earth monitoring.]


This is a map compiled initially from inundation maps of 53 large floods between 2003 and 2008. Each of these floods displaced at least 100,000 people and, taken together, the floods affected 1,868 cities in  40 countries, mostly in the developing world. About 16% of these are flooded in multiple years.
'Urbanisation is increasing around the world... More than 860 million people live in flood-prone urban locations worldwide, and this population increased by about six million a year between 2000 and 2010. Our finding that low elevation locations concentrate much of the economic activity even in poor urban areas with erratic weather patterns highlights the tragedy of the recurring crisis imposed by flooding....In the aftermath of large floods, economic activity tends to return to flood-prone areas rather than relocation to higher ground.'
Source: 'Flooded Cities': Research by Adriana Kocornik-Mina, Guy Michaels, Thomas McDermott and Ferdinand Rauhc. Published in  'Centre Piece': The Magazine of The Centre for Economic Performance. Winter 2015'16.


Marcia Barbosa is a Brazilian physicist who has devoted her working life to studying water and its 72  anomalies - physical and chemical properties that are very different from other materials - as she explains in this unusual TED presentation at CERN. It seems that the weirdness of water could help solve our water supply problem by using a mesh of nanontubes to remove salt and pollutants in processes that use less energy than existing plants.

Another interesting physicist is Gerald Pollack at the University of Washington whose book is entitled 'The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor'. His TED talk can be viewed here