Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I'm sitting and thinking about dear Davey - one of the great pioneers of folk music, of the evolution of British music. He is such an important figure as will become increasingly apparent as the tributes flood in:

Obituary: David Charters. Liverpool Daily Post 18 Dec 2008 Obituary: Robin Denslow The Guardian 17 Dec 2008           Obituary: John Pilgrim The Independent 17 Dec 2008

I met him in Brighton in 2007 and write this pome on the train directly after meeting him. It came from somewhere.

Copy of EUROPE2 002 

Davey Graham in the dressing room, post-gig, at the Komedia in Brighton, 2007.

Wounded Bird
On meeting Davey Graham

I couldn't believe
How beautiful he looked with his guitar
In his beat Bukowski splendour

How he looked like a sailor on a whaler
Happy sitting amongst the coils of rope
Completely at ease
He appeared to have long arms
And his agile fingers were beautifully shaped
And appeared to have a mind of their own
As they danced over the fretboard
A large reefer ('old style') on a white plate
Circulated in the narrow dressing room
After a gig notable for being both
Brief and unexpected
Both a triumph and a disaster
This wounded bird
Touches my heart

The full story from that encounter can be found here:


An earlier post -  MUSICAL ROUNDUP

Contains  a review of Will Hodgkinson's Guitar Man (which has wonderful chapters on Davey) and section of Davey Graham links and info.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008



Tom Paine 200

Thetford, birthplace of Tom Paine, is planning six months of celebration of the town's radical son in 2009, with the help of a £50,000 grant from the UK Heritage Lottery Fund.

According to their press release: 'The ambitious programme marking the bi-centenary of Paine's death gets under way in June next year with Sir Richard Attenborough as guest of honour during a Reenactment weekend which puts eighteenth century Thetford centre-stage. The energetic world Paine grew up in will be recreated with street entertainers, drilling musketeers, and rabble rousing politicians just some of the characters populating the town centre.

Through the summer, museum displays, workshops, story-telling, concerts, art exhibitions, schools events, tours and lectures and a Community Play will tell the intertwined stories of the Georgian Age, of eighteenth century Thetford and of Tom Paine himself.

The Festival aims to amuse and entertain as well as do justice to the serious issues Paine himself addressed in his forthright 'common-sense' way.'

new 505

'Thomas Paine, Revolution and Reason'

Lewes is mounting a festival for the bicentennial of Paine's death which will take place from 4th-14th July 2009.(Independence Day in America to the storming of the Bastille in Paris)

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The festival will consist of a wide variety of events in celebration of Paine's life and ideas in general, with particular emphasis on the six years that Thomas Paine spent in Lewes prior to his departure to America, during which he wrote his first pamphlet 'The Case of the Officers of Excise.' Much new research, undertaken by the festival's organiser and local historians, will be published for the event.

Copy of john2 100 Plans are also to establish a visitor centre in the Market Tower in Lewes, with a permanent Paine exhibit.




Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it. 

– Thomas Paine, September 11, 1777

PAINE jarvis1 This oil on canvas portrait of Thomas Paine (c. 1806/1807)  was painted by his close friend John Wesley Jarvis (1780 - 1840).[National Gallery of Art, Washington DC]

The date of Tom Paine's birthday (January 29th) used to be 'a core celebration that was utilized as a platform for women's rights and suffrage, abolition, education, labor, land reform, and a host of progressive causes thoughout the 19th and 20th centuries,' says Kenneth W. Burchell in his essay 'A Short History of the Thomas Paine Birthday Celebrations', featured on, who are trying to stimulate interest in reviving this annual event across the USA.

The first Thomas Paine Birthday Celebration was held secretly in London, England in 1818.

The first known US celebration was organized by British émigré Benjamin Offen in 1825. Historians Marshall G. Brown and Gordon Stein assert that this event 'represented the rebirth of organized freethought in the United States and many of its participants played key roles in the great 19th century American equal rights movements.'

'At the Paine Celebration two years later on January 29, 1827, the same individuals established the Free Press Association for the "support of a press, which, without dread, and uninfluenced by party, interest, or public opinion, will maintain the cause of truth and justice."

Fifty years later, Walt Whitman delivered the principal whitman address at the 1877 celebration, on 28th January at Lincoln Hall, Philadelphia. His speech 'In Memory of Thomas Paine' [full text] included this memorable quote:

'He served the embryo Union with most precious service — a service that every man, woman and child in our thirty-eight States is to some extent receiving the benefit of to-day — and I for one here cheerfully, reverently throw my pebble on the cairn of his memory.'

Others who sang his praises at such celebrations were Robert Owen, an early social reformer and co-founder of New Harmony communitarian experiment, and the inventor Thomas Edison.

Burchell concludes: 'While Paine's birthday is still observed in a few homes and meeting places in the US and Britain, the celebrations have fallen into the background, out of the awareness of the populace as a whole, and have deteriorated to their historically lowest ebb. '




Saturday, December 06, 2008



2 June 1948 - 26 Nov 2008

Copy of Copy of rob partridge2

Rob Partridge (left) with best friend David May. Plymouth 1965

David May comments on Rob's funeral:
Rob's humanist cremation and memorial service  was a unique occasion.

The Latin inscription on the front page of the order of service was HAEC RES VALE NIHIL ET ERGO FUTUENDAM EST which translated as 'Fuck this for a game of soldiers.'

We came in to his favourite Miles Davies track So What and then Billy Bragg opened the humanist service with an unaccompanied. Jerusalem. There were words from his Coalition colleage and a friend who supported QPR with him, a reading of a poem by Mary Oliver's The Summer Day and a music journalist reflecting on time.
The music included Somewhere over the Rainbow / What A Wonderful World from someone I hadn't heard of called Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and a deeply moving Tom Waits track Take It With Me. Waits was in the congration (along with Bono, the Edge and Adam of U2) It was a beautiful, moving moment. After a few words from his brother and some brave spirited ones from his wife Tina a absolute masterstroke was produced..

Only Rob could dream up ending his own funeral a with a six piece Mariachi Band in Mexican outfits singing My Way and ending with Roll Out the Barrell. Apparently he was adamant that everyone should leave with a smile. He succeeded.

Chris Blackwell said he hadn't ever experienced a service like that in his lifetime. I doubt whether anyone present will again.
Mick Brown was also there and wrote this on The Telegrah blog.

'Rob Partridge: Influential music publicist and writer, he guided Bob Marley, U2 and Tom Waits' by Robin Denslow [The Guardian 2 Dec 08]

Johnny Marr, Bono, Tom Waits pay tribute to music PR Rob Partridge. PR oversaw Bob Marley, discovered U2 and helped start Mercury Prize [NME 1 Dec 08]

'Rob Partridge: Head of Press at Island Records who made a legend of Bob Marley' by Chris Salewicz [The Independent 29 Nov 08)

'Rob Partridge: an unsung hero of music' by Neil McCormick [The Telegraph 28 Nov 08)

'Rob Partridge: A Tribute' by Sean O' Hagan [The Guardian 28 Nov 08)

'Caught by the Reaper - Rob Partridge' by Tony Crean [Caught by the River 28 Nov 08]

'British Music PR Giant Rob Partridge Dies' by Tom Ferguson [Billboard 26 Nov 08]

Rob Partridge, R.I.P. [ 26 Nov 08]

The Passing of A Remarkable Man [Insights From the Engine Room 26 Nov 08]

'Rob Partridge Dies' By Robert Ashton [Music Week 26 Nov 08]


List of articles by Rob Partridge in Rock's Back Pages

Rob was a writer for Melody Maker and other publications before becoming a press officer with Island Records.)

'My memories of Marley...' [BBC News 4 Feb 2005]

To mark the 60th anniversary of the birth of reggae star Bob Marley, Rob Partridge - Marley's former head of press at Island Records - remembers the man behind the legend.

Sunday, November 30, 2008



What I remember most vividly of 13 January 1987 was battling through a snowstorm to Raymond Brigg's hideaway studio in East Sussex, to conduct an interview for The Guardian, which was published on Jan 28th that year. The piece was timed to coincide with the release of the animated feature of Raymond's classic 'Where the Wind Blows.' Hope you enjoy reading it 30 years on.

NESTLING at the foot of Ditchling Beacon in the South Downs, in a narrow lane off a twisting B-road, stands the home of a man whose powerful yet decep­tively simple talents have caught the imagination of millions of children and adults alike.

Raymond Briggs has just returned from Italy, where he has been working on proofs of his latest book, to find his water frozen up. Much of his dark wood and brick open-plan house is heavily curtained off against the cold. He appears to live in his cosy, cluttered workroom, dominated by a large desk, stacked with the tools of his trade, with a view through a picture window onto snow-covered fields. On a hob by the side of the fireplace, a large kettle sings and his cas­serole is slowly cooking.

Traces of the creatures of his imagination poke out from every corner. Tea is served in Snowman mugs, part of a merchandising bo­nanza that has clearly gone beyond a joke for its creator. He is not ungrateful but he admits to filling up two large rubbish bags with Snowman paraphernalia, and stowing them in the attic.

A widower, just turned 53, Briggs lives a lone existence, but his fantasies and night­mares and distinctive sense of humour are shared by mil­lions, an audience that's rapidly expanding as his work is interpreted in other media.

whenwindblows The brilliantly realised 85-minute animated feature film of 'When The Wind Blows', is just the latest manifestation of his powerful nuclear fable, which has provoked praise and controversy ever since its first appearance in 1982.

"I was bowled over by how popular it was," he says. "I thought that very few people would be interested in it apart from the peace move­ment. I never dreamt it would be a bestseller and go on the way it has. On the face of it, it's rather a depressing story obviously. It concerns two rather uninteresting, fairly unattractive people. There's no sex in it, no young people, yet it seems to be amazingly popular."

The book changed Briggs himself from "a normal defence-policy-type person" to a supporter of CND and Greenpeace.wtwb

He has said that living with the Bomb is like "contemplat­ing your own death. When my wife died suddenly it made me think about my own death a lot You think, oh why go on bothering to weed the gar­den? But you still go on."

For him 'the tragedy of nuclear war is that something so primeval and elemental could occur while 'The Archers' are on the radio and the milkman is whistling up the garden path."

'When The Wind Blows 'captured this feeling but, with the benefit of five years hindsight, he now thinks the book's humour is "a bit facetious, silly and possibly a bit patronising".

A writer in The Listener described Briggs as a 'coy activist, floating social protest into the mass media, un­detected by those who would still, today, ban 'The War Game'. How did he feel about that view of him?

"Did he say that. Good God. Blimey. I don't remember that. I can see what they mean but I don't think of it that way. I'm only concerned with getting the work done, getting it down on paper, get­ting it tidied up so you can get rid of it out of your head. What happens to it after that is another matter.

"I mean it's like when David Hockney does a paint­ing. Presumably he doesn't want to convert the world to swimming pools and bronze Califorman boys. He just paints what he wants to paint and is interested in getting it right"

A fan of Krazy Kat, Rupert and Desperate Dan, Briggs turned from conventional book illustration to the comic strip format for purely practi­cal reasons with his grumpy but good-natured 'Father Christmas' books.

"I normally had a 32-page picture book and I wanted to do a lot more than 32 pictures so I ended up with what turned out to be a strip car­toon. Strip cartoons are looked down on in England as a culturally inferior artform but I think that 'When The Wind Blows' at least showed that strip cartoons can deal with a serious sub­ject. It doesn't have to be about violence or comic cuts. It's just as good a medium as a film really if it's used properly."

Thinking about it, the strip cartoon is at the interchange between a lot of different mediums.

"Yes it's true. When I do these books I have to start by writing the dialogue because you can see the pictures in your head, you can roughly imagine what they're going to be like. So when you've done that you're halfway to a radio play anyway. Then when you've done a strip cartoon you're halfway to a film story-board, so it's between all these mediums."

Briggs rails against the "boringness" of illustration. He says: "What I like about writing is the fact that it's all cerebral, it's just in your head, whereas with illustrat­ing you're making a physical object all the time. Everytime somebody speaks you've got to draw his face, draw his eyes, colour in his cheeks, colour in the pattern of his shirt, paint the shirt buttons. It's a day's work just to get one figure nicely painted, that's the frustration."

"I'd like to do more writing and radio in particular. It's a WTWB2 marvellous medium, so simple and so elegant. Six or seven people made the radio play of 'When The Wind Blows' in two days whereas 180 people took two years to make the film. There isn't all that fuss like there is in the theatre, with first nights and flowers for the leading lady and dinner afterwards and all this 'Oh Darling!' stuff.

"I used to despise all that incidentally but I now know why they do it It's because it's so bloody terrifying and everyone's trying to bolster one another's confidence. What I like about books is that you are in control of the whole thing whereas in theatre you have no control at all.

"I went to a production of 'When The Wind Blows' in Berlin and if I hadn't known it was my own book I wouldn't have recognised it It was just unbelievable. They had Hilda and Jim dressed up as clowns. Jim had a ginger wig on down to his shoulders, a bright emer­ald green jacket, red trou­sers, huge buttons and clown eye makeup. There was all this circus music going on even when they were dying towards the end."


This picture of Raymond Briggs' studio appeared in The Guardian series 'Writer's Rooms' on 14th December 2007.

Young Raymond Briggs grew up in Wimbledon before the Second World War. His father was a milkman and his mother bears a strong resem­blance to Hilda Bloggs. He was always good at English and art at school but he wasn't bookish. When he was ten he wanted to be a news­paper reporter; at 13, a car­toonist. When war came he was in London for a bit of the "buzz bomb things" before being evacuated to Dorset

At a local art school he received an old-fashioned training in tone, colour and figure composition before being called up for National Service. It was an experience he never forgot.

"It was the epitome of everything I hate; I think, the worst possible thing for a person of my temperament as I like being alone, I'm very keen on privacy and that's one thing you don't get in the army. The only time you're on your own is in the lavatory and even then there's some­body pounding on the door. So that was hell on earth.

"I didn't, realise I was the slightest bit unusual but a lot. of the blokes there were amazed when I said I'd left school at 15 and done four years in art school. They were aghast and indignant and when I told them I was going back to college for another two years they simply couldn't believe it

"One said why should he pay for my education. I thought why should you, that's dead right. There's him paying taxes which indirectly went to keep me in relative idleness."

"That's probably what annoys me now with students when I see them wasting their time. (Briggs teaches part-time at Brighton Poly­technic.) They're being given this huge amount of money that comes out of other people less well off than themselves. I'm all for students paying their grants back actually."

After National Service, Briggs enrolled at the Slade where amongst his contem­poraries were the painter Patrick Proctor and the writer David Storey. "Dave was never there, he was busily at home writing novels, I remember he did a picture called Spring Land­scape which was just a mess of green with a bloody spring stretched across it"

The highlight of that period was a review by John Berger of one of his paintings, sub­mitted to an exhibition of student work, called, 'I Am On The Catterick Flyer', an Army picture of the weekly overnight journey from King's Cross back to the barracks. He has still got the yellowed press cutting stuck in a book somewhere. "He wrote great paragraphs about it, about Picasso, Caravaggio and me. Bloody hell. I get goose-flesh reading it"

Berger's review was not the key to instant success how­ever and Briggs spent years as a journeyman illustrator. "It was so exciting when you left art school. After six years of just doing these endless bloody paintings and putting them away afterwards, show them to your mum, your girlfriend and that was it stick them in a cupboard and forget them, suddenly you start doing commercial work and there was this man actually waiting anxiously to see what you've done. On top of that, he was going to give you money for it. That was even more incredible. I found that very inspiring really. It became real for the first time.

He says he is not conscious­ly aware of drawing from his own childhood experiences. He just starts with ideas that interest him and the book finds its own readership, increasingly now among adults as well as children.

FC1 "When I did 'Father Christ­mas' I'd been doing children's books for years and just assumed this was another one. Then at signing sessions people came up and there were traffic wardens, police­men, bus conductors and all sorts of people. That was a big surprise.

"All these books are done on the same principle, just taking something that's wholly imaginary like Father Christmas and saying right, let's assume he does exist. He's got to live somewhere he's got to go to bed and get up and do all things everyone does. It's a working class kind of job. I couldn't imagine him married with children, didn't want to tackle his bloody elves and all that side of it. I just treated it as a normal work­ing job."

His new book 'Unlucky Wally' is a return to Bogeyman territory. "Fungus started with lots of unpleasant things in everyday life and then a character emerged to hold them together. With Wally I started thinking of pet hates like treading on a jellyfish, fleas in a bed, people eating tapioca and getting earwigs in their ears. These silly sort of joke horrors. These had to happen to somebody so this bloke evolved."

So is it a way of exorcising these horrors for himself? "I don't know. No, Just for amusement I think. I don't have any overall plan, any intention. An idea comes into your head and you just do that"


A 2004 photo of Raymond Briggs from . This includes an audio interview.

Raymond Briggs on Wikipedia

Extensive bibliography on the Magic Pencil, a British Council site.

Gentleman Briggs is an interesting fan site.

'Bloomin' Christmas' is an extended Guardian profile by Nicholas Roe, published on December 18th, 2004.



Two events triggered this post:
one was rescuing my four-foot high pile of comix and graphic novels from the store and spending a couple of happy hours rifling through them; the second was a recent cover story on Art Spiegelman in The Times Books section, in connection with the recent UK publication of his autobiographical work 'Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!'

The late 1980s were a great time for comics and the 'graphic novel' - a relatively new publishing concept from outside of the mainstream. In London, the centre of the scene was Forbidden Planet's shop, then tucked behind Centrepoint in London's West End.  In 1986, I was present at a packed press conference, in a bar just over the road from the shop, for the launch of the book-length collected 'Watchmen' stories (the movie of which is soon to be released) and met Alan Moore  - the prevailing genius of the genre.

( I was trying to set up Greenpeace Comics at the time and we had two further meetings about various ideas, with no outcome. We did succeed in getting Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons to do the cover and inside of a Greenpeace 'Warriors of the Rainbow' double album which went on worldwide release - another story.)ART SPIEGELMAN2376

Around the same time, on September 8th, 1987, I went to interview Art Spiegelman who was kind enough to inscribe my copy of 'Maus' and grace it with a drawing - a treasured possession. 'Maus' of course went on to win a Pulitzer Prize.

The interview tape exists but has never been transcribed or published to date.


 FURRY FREAK BROS                                            

I was in my local comic shop in Brighton browsing the shelves and saw the new bumper collection of 'The Freak Brothers Omnibus' (published  by Knockabout Comics), inside of which was a leaflet for the long awaited FFB movie, which encouraged you to donate or invest to complete what could be an animated gem.

The movie 'Grass Roots' was first announced in 2000. There is a great trailer on YouTube using excellent  model animation. It looks like fun but since then, no news.Freak Brothers movie1

This all reminded me that I'd interviewed Shelton in our office at 2 Blenheim Crescent in Ladbroke Grove back in October 1979 and written it up for the NME. So I dug it out of the files, scanned it and here it is. It confirms that there's been talk of making some movie based on Shelton's irresistible pot heads for almost 30 years!!

GILBERT SHELTON368 'The Fabulous Furry Gilbert Shelton'

NME/20th October 1979

Gilbert Shelton in person would come as a surprise to most of his legions of fans. The man who created The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Fat Freddie's Cat and Wonder Warthog is rather shy and retiring, wears his hair short and dresses in corduroy jackets. There's little outward sign that here lurks the brain and hands responsible for a thousand drug-soaked fantasies, for creating those archetype figures of the Drug Culture.

JM: We've heard various reports about a Furry Freak Brothers film. Is this now a reality?

GS: "Yeah. Universal Studios have purchased the film rights to the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and it's going to be produced by Tom Nolt (?) and the screenplay will be written by B.W.L Norton (?), as he is known. He'll also be the director. Dave Sheridan, my former partner in the drawing of the Freak Brothers is going to be technical adviser but I'm going to be in Europe till its over with."

How did the Furry Freak Brothers begin?

"That was a long time ago when the Freak Brothers started around '68 or '69 and I just did a few now and then. They would be published in various underground papers and, after I'd been doing them for a couple of years, I started my own publishing company, gathered them all together, and published them in a comic book. That one book is almost ten years old now and it's still selling at the same rate that it always was."

Were the Freak Brothers based on anybody you knew?

'That would be hard to say. There's probably some real people involved but they probably wouldn't want their names to be known now. But if real people did what the Freak Brothers do, they couldn't have lasted all this long. They would have been dead by now.

I occasionally get letters from people, and pictures, saying: "Is your model for Fat Freddie so and so from Orlando, Florida. I'm sure it is because he lives down the street from me."

When I was publishing the Freak Brothers weekly in the Los Angeles Free Press back in 1971 I thought I was going to produce a Freak Brothers movie myself and I advertised a look-a-like contest and also printed letters which I would hand-letter, recopy and type at the bottom of the comic strip. I never really judged it, there was never a conclusion, but there were some remarkable entries."

What about the cat? How did he come about?FatFreddiesCat

"The old-time newspaper strips in the States used to have a big strip that would cover most of the page and then a small one that was related at the bottom. There was Mutt & Jeff who sometimes had a related strip called Cicero's Cat, the cat with the human face, like Fat Freddie's Cat. That might have been my inspiration."

You don't have a cat yourself it was modelled on?

"No. I knew some, they're dead now. Eaten by dogs. Smashed by cars. Cats don't live forever, especially tomcats that get out and run around. We do have a cat back in San Francisco but it's a little old lady cat."

Were you surprised at the way the Furry Freak Brothers grew in popularity?

"I still don't know what there is special about it. Maybe just the bulk of it makes it into an epic. Maybe some people aren't aware that it took longer to draw than it does to read it."

How do your produce a strip?

"It can happen any way. In my case I'll hunt for one funny idea and build it. If the idea's in the middle, fine. If it's at the end, fine. You just build around it. You write it backwards a lot of times, building to a funny point at the end. Because it has to come out the proper number of squares — that makes it different than prose. It makes it a little bit like a portrait, where you're bound by special rules. The lines have to come out even."

The Freak Brothers have always stayed in the same place and time. Do you ever feel you would like to change that?

"I think about it sometimes but actually I try and keep the ambience ambivalent as possible, just because less is more and ambience is hard to draw.

But when the Freak Brothers first came out, it reflected the mass culture of the time, but that has now moved on to disco and God knows what else.

Actually now that decision whether to modernise the Freak Brothers might be up to Rip Off Press. I myself, rm not^sure. I want to see what the movie does to the image of the Freak Brothers because the movie will probably be seen by more people than the books, which sold a million or more. But how many people go see a movie? More than a million."

Do you ever feel trapped by the characters you've created?

"I haven't let it get in my way too much but there are other things I would like to do. For the last three years I've been working on a new Wonder Warthog book. I would like to hype that now. One chapter from it will be published here by Hassle Free Press entitled 'Philbert Desanex's One Hundredth Thousandth Dream'. Philbert Desanex is Wonder Warthog's altered identity. It's a forty-page comic book of one continuous dream.

"I'll just keep doing comic strips as far as I know. Occasionally the idea crosses my mind of maybe doing musical comedies, musicals, that sort of thing. Movies are scary. As its done by Hollywood its high pressure, highly professional and too much hard work for me. I like to spread it out over a long period of time. That's my style, coming from Texas, where there's lots of spare time, lots of space, lots of people with nothing to do, sitting around, bored, happy to be extras in a movie for nothing at all, just for the fun of it

"Actually, I don't like to draw much."




Gilbert Shelton has posted up his first Furry Break Brothers strip for 10 years here:



As a kind of PS here's an old photo, also from late 1979, of the late Dave Sheridan, Shelton's one-time drawing partner on the Furry Freaks. I stayed at Dave's beautiful old rambling house on top of a hill outside Fairfax, north of San Fran, for an extended weekend in late 1979, during which we watched Bob Dylan's first tv appearance for ten years on 'Saturday Night Live.' Dave had a runaway from Nevada staying with him at the time. Pic shows Dave wearing his favourite Black Death t-shirt, which he'd designed.

Dave was well pleased when he showed me that week's  TV Guide ( at the time the biggest selling magazine in America), DAVE SHERIDAN2370 where you can see the actor Howard Hesseman in the front is wearing the same t-shirt, which I think Dave had sent him. I believe he told me that they reprinted the cover to try and black-out the logo on the shirt - but you can still make it out.

According to Wikipedia: 'In 1974, Sheridan began collaborating on Gilbert Shelton's strips...His first issue of the Freak Brothers was Number 4, with a many-page story arc entitled The Seventh Voyage of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers: escaping the landlady and her demands for rent, the hirsute trio go to Mexico where they encounter far worse perils, including a carolos Castaneda parody. Sheridan's detailed graphic style lent itself well to the fantastic imagery needed to lampoon Castaneda's drug-related Central American-cum-New Age sorcery. He then continued to collaborate on the Freak Brothers comix series through issues 5, 6 and 7; the team was joined by Paul Mavrides in 1978 for issue 6.'

In 1981, a few months after his marriage to Dava Stone, Sheridan fell ill. Early in 1982 he was diagnosed with cancer and he died of a brain hemorrhage in March of 1982—just a week before the birth of his daughter Dorothy.

See also:



'How T'' Make It As A Rockstar' was published in 1977 by IPC Magazines [now IPC Media]. As well as much Lone Groover material, it contains comics and illustrations by Malcolm Poynter and Ian Miller. Text was  by NME writers Tony Tyler and Chris Salewicz. It was Edited by Zip Lecky with Tony Benyon also credited as Assistant Ed.

While we're on the subject of forgotten artists, let's hear it for Tony Benyon and his inestimable creation 'Th' Lone Groover', which was a staple in the NME during the late 1970's.

Before 'Spinal Tap', the Groover was stumblin' through the music business, puncturing pomposity, falling on his face, desperate to succeed but hating the business, often extracting tragedy from triumph - a survivor.

There's a lot of spleen vented in these strips, which Tony B also aired at regular freeelance drinking sessions in and around Carnaby Street, where we would all regale each other with hard-luck stories of indignities suffered at the hands of editors, commissioners and publishers, art directors. Then came the humour and it was good to laugh about it all. Tony captured a lot of the energy of that time. Hoping you're out there somewhere, mon brave.

lone groover 004 

'Th' Lone Groover Express' is a 24pp showcase of Tony B's work, with much Lone Groover and other characters and comics besides. Undated.


A kind of self-portrait of the artist. Don't remember Tony with a beard but one of his distinctive trademarks was the ever-present beret.


The NME logo, graced by Th' Lone Groover, from a rare sheet of NME notepaper of the time (late 1970s) in The Generalist Archive.  NME logo was subsequently redesigned  by Barney Bubbles (see Previous Post).

Tony also produced  Th' Lone Groover's ... Little Read Book
[London, Eel Pie Publishing. 1981. ISBN: 0906008395] and also illustrated Howzat! [NEL, 1985.Paperback. 22 by 19cm with 120 pages. ISBN: 0450409422], a humorous guide to the world of club cricket, written by Kevin Macey.

THE BEAT GOES ON: Check out the band Erk Alors  on MySpace. They write: 'What in the name of the wee man does Erk Alors mean, for a start? Well, greybeards will remember The Lone Groover strip cartoon in one of the music weeklies, back when they were still newspapers, who was fond of saying “Erk alors!”

The Lone Groover is also name-checked as an influence by Johnny Heartache.

This is an obscure link to a the SA ROCK DIGEST ISSUE #210, which asks the question 'Where is Ronnie Domp?'' The Editor writes: ' Ronnie Domp is the unforgettable South African  version of the "Lone Groover", a very funny and talented folkie from way back, with his trademark flat brimmed black hat. Famous for many great lines including the classic in concert ad lib "this next song is by Bob Dylan whose lyrics are pretty crap but his music's great to dance to!"


Friday, November 21, 2008


The Generalist was in London last night, attending the book launch of 'Reasons to be Cheerful: The life and Works of Barney Bubbles' by Paul Gorman, held at Paul Smith's shop on Park Road, just off Borough Market. A lively crowd overwhelmed the small shop premises, vol au vents and beer were in short supply as a result, but the energy and importance of the event were evident.

These exclusive pictures show (from top): boss designers Peter Saville and Malcolm Garrett, who contributed an excellent Essay and Foreword to the book, come to pay their respects to Barney, who influenced them both; Paul Gorman saying a few words to the assembled throng; the publisher of the book Jenny Ross (centre), whose publishing company Adelita funded and produced the book; Jake Riviera with his wife Lauri and legendary dj Jeff Dexter; and the best hat in the room, crowning the head of Nigel Proktor, currently handling the Magazine renuion (see Previous Post).

It has taken some twenty years - almost thirty years - since his death in 1983, for the self-effacing Barney Bubbles and his exuberant and prolific talent to be rediscovered and celebrated.

A total inspiration to several generations of graphic designers, illustrators, artists and musicians alike, Barney's best known work stretches from the pages of OZ and Friends magazine in the 1960s/1970s, through the creation of a powerful visual style for Hawkwind, numerous albums for Stiff (including Ian Drury's best and the Blockheads iconic logo) and the whole look and feel of Radar Records, including all the most memorable Evis Costello album covers and press campaigns - all of which is the tip of a much larger iceberg as this book demonstrates.

For those of us who knew him, this launch was a happy day that one thought would never happen. Like so many other talented outsiders, unwilling to play the establishment games, Barney was never recognised in his lifetime by the powers that be in the art and graphics world, and it has taken a number of dedicated individuals who were fans and deeply influenced by him - special mention here should be made of Rebecca and Mike - to institute and nurture a process that has led to this extremely fine and timely book.

Paul Gorman, whose excellent previous books include 'The Look' (one of the seminal works on rock and pop fashion) and 'In Their Own Write (an oral history of the music press), has thoroughly and scrupulously documented Barney's life and times in this new publication which should stand for many years as the seminal work.

For those of us who knew him, the book will bring back memories of the impish delight Barney took in his friends and colleagues, his electric enthusiasm for his work, his constant innvovations and unending search for the new and above all his inspiring and fun-filled presence. For those coming fresh to his work, particularly young artists, illustrators and graphic designers, they will find a huge source of inspiration and marvel at the effort and industry involved in achieving many of his finest artworks in that pre-digital, hands-on age of yore.

For much more on Barney see 'Barney Bubbles? What a laugh' - The history of Barney Bubbles, as told by a friend, David Wills. Beautiful stuff.

COMING SOON: An exclusive interview with Paul Gorman on the story behind the book.

See: 'Brains Behind Antony Price's Return' on the Dazed Digital site.

UPDATE: Excellent piece by Dylan Jones in The Independent entitled 'At heart, Barney Bubbles was an artist –which led to the creative strain he put himself under'

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Browing through the Hollwyood Reporter site at random last night, as you do, interested to learn that we are on the edge of a 3-D movie revolution.

"In five to seven years, all films, regardless of budgets or type, will be made in 3-D," says Jeffrey Katzenberg, the DreamWorks Animation boss during his keynote at the inaugural 3DX Film and Entertainment Technology Festival in Singapore, which opened today. "3-D is how we see, how we take things in. It's natural," Katzenberg said. "This is not a gimmick, it's an opportunity to immerse the audience, to heighten the experience." He added that the migration to 3-D will happen on all screens, including mobile phones and laptops. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group president Mark Zoradi and others are stressing the industry's commitment to 3-D as the future of film.

Producer John Landau, now working with James Cameron on "Avatar," said that 3-D would "do for cinema what stereo did for the audio industry." All the film industry has to do is "demystify" 3-D for consumers, whose perception of 3-D may be of "gimmicks on B films" and "theme parks that forced things off the screen," Landau said.

Disney plans to release 11 3-D movies in 2009-10, with another six to come in 2011 - more than 50% of all 3-D releases during the next three years, 11 of those would be animated.

All apeakers agreed that 3-D's ability to immerse audiences in the film is the key and new 3-D benefits from a range of technical advances that make it box-office gold - although the
installed base of digital cinemas is the biggest barrier to achieving a mass market.

The IMAX projection and film making system suffered from similar problems in their earlier years Imax is now converting hundreds of its auditoriums to digital projection in a transition to digital 3-D exhibition.

See: 'Katzenberg: 3-D Vision Goes Beyond Animation' by Janine Stein.

Bankers at JPMorgan are preparing to raise debt of about $1bn to fund the installation of digital systems in up to 20,000 North American cinema screens,' says Financial Times Deutschland' reporter Matthew Garrahan. There are about 1,300 3-D screens in the US at the moment.

'The cost - about $70,000 per screen - will initially be borne by the US cinema chains that are part of the Digital Cinema Implementation Partners consortium, which has enlisted JPMorgan to raise the money. '

If successful, this 'will become a turning point in the entertainment industry because it will pave the way for the mass adoption of 3-D cinema, a consistent crowd-puller.'

'Katzenberg predicts there will 2,500-3,000 3-D screens in the US by the end of 2009. When 'Shrek Goes Fourth' is released in summer 2010, he expects there to be 7,500 US 3-D screens. By then, up to 85 per cent of the company's US ticket sales will come from 3-D screens, he says.

'The studios are confident the financing will succeed and trigger a transformation which some say will be as profound as the addition of sound in the 1920s and the introduction of colour in the 1950s.

One of the key films of this new revolution will come in early 2010 with Avatar, a live-action 3-D film from James Cameron, which will cost $220m+.

All DreamWorks Animation films will be released in 3-D starting next March with Monsters vs Aliens .

Source: 'Viewing revolution poised to hit the big screen'


So my neighbour Martin was out in the street painting the front of his house with a small brush and a tin of paint and we started talking about music, as we always do, starting with Bob Dylan and Tom Paine, when he told me about this new site that he'd become addicted to called

This site is a thing of beauty on a number of levels. Basically these guys have a studio in downtown Rock Island, Illinois and as musicians pass through town they get them into their studio to record live sessions, using the instruments and equipment on hand, and then they put them on their site for free listening and download. What you have here is a wonderful cross-section of current American sounds, virtually every set full of interest and surprises. Perhaps this would be enough on its own but there is more. Firstly, every artist is portrayed with an illustration, produced by a whole slew of talented artsist whose work the site features. Then there's the writing. Each artist's work is described in some detail, in a style and in a way that is fresh, original, poetic, uncliched and endearing. Pictured above (for left to right) are Shugo Tokumaru, Wire and The Envy Corps. All beautiful stuff. Enjoy and spread the word. Inspiring.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I always jokingly say that one of my main claims to fame is that I bought Al Gore lunch. I have written extensively on this in a Previous Post (I Bought Al Gore Lunch: Real As Rain) and the audio version of the interview is available on The Audio Generalist, so that you can also actually hear Gore having his lunch!

Another equally important claim would be that I had lunch with Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris - a day I shall never forget.

What follows is a brief version of a much longer story, concerning a joint book project between Magnum Photos and Greenpeace in which is was heavily involved. Have recently catalogued all the notes, correspondence, diary entries and other material related to what would have been an extraordinary book.

'State of the World/Soul of the Planet' was the title of what was to be a large format photobook featuring the work of a huge number of stellar Magnum photographers, combined with quotes and texts from leading world writers, statesmen. artists and the like, designed to raise funds for Greenpeace and to create a broader awareness of the issues they were tackling.

The idea came first in a letter (7 Nov 1990) from Chris Boot who hatched the basic project in conjunction with Myron Blumenthal, a lawyer whose clients at the time included Greta Scacchi and Maeve Binchy and who had previously worked with Greenpeace on the Rainbow Warrior album (another whole story to be told). Chris had been making photo-books and producing photography exhibitions and events since the mid-1980s, became Director of Magnum Photos, later Editorial Director, Photography at Phaidon Press and is now an independent publisher of photobooks.

As Editorial Director of Greenpeace Books I was soon drafted onto the project and had my first meeting with Magnum on 2th Feb 1991. Sometime in March, the late David McTaggart, then Chairman of Greenpeace International, was with me for a meeting with Magnum at which the legendary Eve Arnold (probably most famous for her Marilyn Monroe pictues) was present. I had to meet with her and others on March 19th to outline my ideas for the book. My diary notes describe the meeting as 'nerve wracking.'

[At this point, it is worth noting that both organisations were complecx. Magnum, an association of some of the world's top photographers had its own internal politics, as did Greenpeace, which by that time had offices around the globe, all of whom would have to be consulted on the project. A diary note, shortly after the meeting above, reads: ' Private out-of-office meeting with Neil to inform him of internal political problems.']

On 17th May I met Thomas Hoepker who had been appointed by Magnum as the main editor of the book. On 27th May I attended the annual Magnum party, on the night of a full moon, where
Sebastião Salgado and Elliott Erwitt were in attendance amongst others, and I met the wonderful and charming man René Burri , who, I recorded in my journal, 'told me to hold on to my vision and not to let anyone distract me.'

On July 1st came a summit meeting between the two sides, with amongst others, Chris Steele Perkins and Leonard Freed (who died in 2006) in attendance. Note says: 'We now need to move to presentation.'

By 11 July I was in Paris for discussions with the Magnum office there. Six days later came further meetings then went off with René Burri to La Défense on the edge of Paris, which he was documenting. He also took pictures of me. Back at the Magnum office met Leonard Freed again, Joseph Koudelka and Miguel Rio Branco. My notes say:' The four of us had a long conversation.'

The following day was the red letter one. The day I went for lunch with Cartier-Bresson, to whom I had to pitch the project. With him on-board, the whole thing could move forward. At the table were Martine Franck, René Burri , and Dianne from the Magnum office. As I remember it the office was in a fairly rough part of Paris. My brief notes read as follows:

'HCB: Indefatigable. Striding ahead of us down the street. His little rucksack on his back with a Smiling Sun 'Non-Nuclear' button attached to it. Dressed in fawns and browns. Windcheater. Scarf fastened at the neck with a toggle or brooch. Little wire glasses. Bright eyes. Just had an operation for a cataract on one eye. Saw beautiful colours he tells us.' He was 83 at the time.

I was more than a little nervous as I sat down at the table in the small Chinese restaurant opposite the great man. I remember he order a Sichuan beer and as he tasted it he said it took him back to his days in China. The meal progressed amiably until the time came to deliver my proposal for the book. I looked into his eyes and launched into my presentation. When I finished their was a brief pause, HCB lost in thought. Then he finally said: "We are the horses, you are holding the reins."

I was taken aback by this remark, nodding with a smile on my face whilst my brain raced to try and work out whether that was good or bad, what such a phrase meant and what the implications were. Then, my notes say, he said: "You must work closely with us." Notes says he was 'charming but stern'. We discussed schedules and costs. I had succeeded. Later HCB announced that he would come out of retirement (at that time he had given up photography in favour of drawing) to work on the book. What a coup.

Just to make the day more magical, René Burri drove me and his young assistant from the restaurant to La Défense where, we walked to the grand arch, took a lift to the roof, showed our special passes and stepped out beyond the security barriers. Literally the whole of Paris was there stretched out at my feet. I felt like a king of the world. My journal says: 'These notes are written literally on the edge of La Défense arch.'

Later that night I had supper with René and Clothilde - the most beautiful apartment and gorgeous food - whilst we listened to John Surman and he told me many a story which I will save for another time. One detail here is relevant. Notes say: 'Tells me of his long love-hate relationship with Henri. How at one of the Magnum meetings, he had arrived late after a helicopter ride across New York. Henri kicked him in the butt; René held him out of the window.'

It would be great to say that this story had a happy ending. I have the fax sent to me on Sept 17th 1991, addressed to Eve Arnold, myself and Neil Burgess at Magnum, from Thomas Hoepker, recounting the four meetings that he and David McTaggart has with US publishers in New York - with Sonny Mehta at Knopf, with Meirs at Norton, with Linda Tabori at Collins and at Doubleday [at the latter meeeting Jackie Kennedy/Onassis was present.

The upshot was a big No. The project was expensive, the market was low, the book didn't fly. An great opportunity missed but an experience I will never forget.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, still considered one of the greatest if not the greatest photographer, a founder of modern photojournalism and the highly influential style of 'street photography' he mastered, died on August 3rd 2004.


[Top] E-book device from Used to illustrate essay on 'The main goals of e-books' on excellent blog Knightsbridge (Spanish Blood, English Heart).

[Below] Photo by Kevin Rosseel, accompanying an essay by
Lindley Homol enitled 'Green Publishing' on

This post was triggered by interesting piece by Charles Arthur entitled 'Rewriting the book on profitable publishing' in The Technology Guardian, profiling the US-based print-on-demand company Blurb (already mentioned in Previous Posting THE GODDESS). For someone like myself, who has spent a lifetime producing illustrated books, the possibility of being able to make fine-quality full-colour books in this manner is very exciting indeed. Fully intending now to work on a project using Blurb and will report back progress and results.

Perhaps the most important aspect of this new publishing model is its environmental impact - a fraction of conventional publishing practices which are, by and large, extremely wasteful. Blurb's founder Eileen Gittins as this to say: "The public has no idea how many books are printed." Says Arthur, 'the ones you see in the shops are only the tip of the iceberg; hundreds and thousands more are printed and then pulped. With Blurb, books are only printed when someone clicks to buy them on the company's site: zero waste.'

The environment is a big issue in contemporary publishing which is why OPUS (the Oxford Publishing Society) hosted an event at Oxford Brookes University on 2nd October 2008 to discuss the issues. Marie Hanson reports:

'Edward Milford, Chairman of Earthscan, opened his speech ‘Greening our Publishing' with the provocative question "Is it possible?" He raised key issues such as the sustainability of the ‘green' process, and identified it as an industry-wide problem, which cannot be solved by individual companies working in isolation

'Earthscan aims to offset all their CO2 emissions, and have identified that 84% of these come from the paper itself. Roughly translated, a 400g book equals c2kg CO2, the same as traveling 10 km in a typical car, or two uses of a tumble dryer. The remaining percentage comes from travel, freight and office use, and Edward explored how these emissions could be reduced, or offset.

'The second speaker, Carol Richmond of Wiley-Blackwell, concentrated her talk more specifically on how to reduce the impact of paper usage on our environment. Publishing houses should work to address paper wastage, as at the moment US print runs are commonly 40% too long. The rise of print-on-demand may have an impact on this, and some publishing houses are already beginning to introduce shorter print runs, which not only reduces waste, but saves on storage costs. She also suggested that paper sourcing should be a top priority for all publishing houses, and highlighted the damage that over-farming does to the environment, with the most visible harm being in Indonesia. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC) are the two leading companies attempting to combat illegal ‘fiber farming' and to encourage ethical paper sourcing. Currently 7% of the world's forests are certified by the two. Perhaps because of this initiative paper is becoming more expensive, with a 20-30% rise in cost this year alone. A way to combat this would be to make more use of recycled paper. So in order to keep our industry green, and save our planet, recycled loo roll is the way forward!'

See also:

green4books (an organisation, funded by the UK Publishers Association and Booksellers Association whose aim is to promote environmental awareness across the book industry

The Green Press Initiative ( a US based organisation whose Mission is 'to work with book and newspaper industry stakeholders to conserve natural resources, preserve endangered forests, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and minimize impacts on indigenous communities.'

Their website claims that: 'Each year, approximately 30 million trees are used to make books sold in the United States—1,153 times the number of trees in New York City’s Central Park. Many of these trees are sourced from endangered forests with devastating impacts on the people and wildlife that rely on them. The good news is that the book industry is rapidly implementing practices that minimize negative social and environmental impacts. Over 160 publishers, representing about 40% of the book industry’s market share, have either developed strong environmental policies, or signed the industry-generate treatise on responsible paper use.'

Although I cannot find it in the Archives, I am happy to say that when I was running Greenpeace Books back in the 1980s, we played a small but significant pioneering role in producing a booklet entitled 'The Greenpeace Guide to Paper'. This was produced in consultation with Canadian and other toxic campaigners as was virtually the first such publication to be poroduced. At that time, chlorine bleaching was common in the industry; it has now, I believe been virtually completely phased out, a huge environmental plus. Greenpeace Books was mandated by the organisation to use the most environmentally-friendly papers available in all our books and we were amongst the first in Britain to use such papers, which were only just beginning to come onto the market.

Previous posts on Greenpeace Books:

Greenpeace International's website has details of The Greenpeace Book Campaign which 'aims to 'green' the book publishing industry, who are currently printing the majority of their books on virgin (non-recycled) paper linked to ancient forest destruction in countries such as Finland and Canada. Book publishers are also printing children's and colour books in South East Asia, which could be linked to rainforest destruction in Indonesia. This campaign has already been very successful in Canada where Markets Initiative (a coalition project of Greenpeace Canada and other environmental groups) has worked with book publishers since 2000. Over 72 leading Canadian publishers, including Random House Canada and Penguin Canada have made formal commitments to use only 'Ancient Forest Friendly' book papers.' [This entry is not dated and it is not clear whether this campaign is still in operation.]

As to the future of the book in a world of electronic publishing, there is a large literature out there on the subject. Its a fascinating topic. Here are some interesting books and papers:

Books in the Digital Age: The Transformation of Academic and Higher Education Publishing in Britain and the United States by John B. Thompson [2005]

'The book publishing industry is going through a period of profound and turbulent change brought about in part by the digital revolution. What is the role of the book in an age preoccupied with computers and the internet? How has the book publishing industry been transformed by the economic and technological upheavals of recent years, and how is it likely to change in the future?

'This is the first major study of the book publishing industry in Britain and the United States for more than two decades. Thompson focuses on academic and higher education publishing and analyses the evolution of these sectors from 1980 to the present. He shows that each sector is characterized by its own distinctive ‘logic’ or dynamic of change, and that by reconstructing this logic we can understand the problems, challenges and opportunities faced by publishing firms today. He also shows that the digital revolution has had, and continues to have, a profound impact on the book publishing business, although the real impact of this revolution has little to do with the e-book scenarios imagined by many commentators.'

Electronic Publishing and the future of the book by Prof Tom Wilson (dated 1997)

The Future of the Book by Geoffrey Nunberg (Editor). This 1996 work consists of 11 scholarly papers by mostly academics presented at a recent conference. Contributors include Nunberg, Carla Hesse, James O'Donnell, Paul Duguid, Nunberg, Regis Debray, and Patrick Brazin. The presenters take a variety of approaches to the ways, rates, and degrees to which the computer might kill the book., e.g., historical, philosophical, and inguistic. No author rejects computers or sees their takeover as complete and immediate.

Umberto Eco's essay from this collection is reproduced on the wonderful site The Modern Word

See also Previous Posts:
(concerning Alberto Manguel's brilliant book on the History of Reading)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Tom paine345

The frontispiece and Title Page of an Address given by A. Outram Sherman at the opening of the Paine House, July 14th, 1910. Delivered before the Huguenot Society of New Rochelle, N.Y., who were responsible for the building's survival. [The Generalist Archive]. Paine cottage2

The Thomas Paine Cottage is where Paine spent most of the last seven years of his life; he actually died at 59 Grove Street, Greenwich Village, New York on June 8th 1809, aged 72.

The building was saved by the Huguenot Society, who purchased a section of Tom Paine's farm and moved the cottage, which had been gifted to them, to the new site where it stands today in its renovated form. The Tom Paine Monument is nearby. Further details at the Thomas Paine Cottage site. [Photo: Thomas Paine National Historical Association]

Delighted to learn, via The Economist that an effort is underway to institute a Thomas Paine Day in all 50 states of America before the 200th anniversary of his death on the 8th June 2009.

As regular readers of The Generalist will know, Paine is an important figure in my canon of greats. I live in a town (Lewes, East Sussex, England) where he once lived, I helped refound the Headstrong Club (of which he was the most vociferous member), helped plant a 'Tree of Liberty' in his honour, created the first website dedicated to him (Paine in the Net, now sadly defunct), which was launched at the British Houses of Parliament (the first ever event held in his honour in That Place).

The full story of this can be found in a Previous Posting at TOM PAINE IN LEWES, which has been substantially rewritten and illustrated. It also includes items of Paine's links with William Blake and Bob Dylan and details of Tom Paine's book in Tibetan.

I have always been puzzled as to the standing of Paine in America. He died in poverty, a forgotten man. His bones were dug up by William Cobbett and spirited back to England. The Founding Fathers of the American Revolution are rightly revered and celebrated but Paine, an Englishman, remains to many Americans a little-known figure despite his key role in that struggle. John Adams famously said: 'Without the pen of Paine, the sword of Washington would have been wielded in vain.' On the eve of this important Paine bicentenary, in Obama's America, will he finally be celebrated in a way commensurate with his importance to American history. We will be following this story with great interest.

Here is the status so far:

Arkansas: In 2007, legislator Lindsley Smith attempted to establish a TP Day in her state. She needed 51 votes for her Bill to pass. In the event, 46 supported her, 20 opposed and 34 legislators didn't vote at all (probably, says the Economist, because they had no idea who Paine was.)

This, and other such comments, received an angry rebuttal from Mac Campbell, in a defense of the Arkansas legislature entitled Paine Threshold.)

Democrat Anderson will try again in January, meantime engaging in an exercise to educate both public and politicians as to Paine's importance and achievements.

Nine states have so far passed a resolution. They include Nebraska and Missouri.

Virginia was the first State to introduce a Tom Paine day in 1998.

PAINE DAY354 Back in 1997, I was in correspondence with Sherwood V. Smith from Fredericksburg.

He had the previous year, persuaded the authorities in his own town to adopt a Tom Paine Day and was kind enough to send me a copy of the Proclamation [see left].

It was Mr Smith who visited the Virginia General Assembly to deliver his proposal for a "Thomas Paine Day" . The detail of the Resolution as follows.


Designating January 29th as Thomas Paine Day in Virginia.

Agreed to by the House of Delegates, February 14, 1997

WHEREAS, Thomas Paine, a leader of the American Revolution, one of the Founding Fathers, and peer of Washington, Madison, Franklin, and Jefferson, was also one of the most brilliant political philosophers of his time; and

WHEREAS, the author of the inflammatory Common Sense and the inspirational Crisis series, Thomas Paine also wrote treatises on slavery, the equality of women, and human rights; and

WHEREAS, Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man, a seminal work written during the French Revolution, formed the very basis for the republican form of government and was one of the most widely circulated books in America during the 1790s; and

WHEREAS, the originality of Thomas Paine's ideas, and his inimitable flair in expressing them, made him one of the most popular, most influential, and most enduring heroes of the American Revolution; and

WHEREAS, of Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin once wrote: "Others can rule, many can fight, but only Thomas Paine can write for us the English tongue"; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, That January 29th of each year be designated as Thomas Paine Day in Virginia, in honor of Thomas Paine's indelible contributions to liberty; and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the House of Delegates urge the citizens of Virginia to take note of this day, named in honor of one of the most important, most passionate, and most brilliant men in American history.

Links here to leading Tom Paine societies in the US


GP NUCLEAR AGE353The results of a BBC investigation, broadcast this week, revealed that the United States abandoned a nuclear weapon beneath the ice in northern Greenland following a crash in 1968.

This story did not come as a complete surprise to The Generalist, as we covered the majority of the story in an essay written by journalist Jon Trux for 'The Greenpeace Book of the Nuclear Age' published by Gollancz (UK) and Pantheon Books (US) in 1989, as well as in Germany, Greece and Japan. The book was the most comprehensive list ever published of both civil and military nuclear accidents at that time.

Our account was based on the official USAF report on the incident, published in 1970, together with numerous press reports from the mid-1980s regarding efforts by former Danish workers involved in the post-crash clean-up (Project Crested Ice) to claim compensation for the health effects they suffered. After an official Danish investigation, using secret documents sent to them by the US Department of Defense, their claims were denied.

Jon Trux's story concluded with the following:

'In December 1987, a Danish civil engineer involved in the cleanup revealed that a secret, highly sensitive film in the Pentagon archives - shot from a miniature US submarine during the initial search - showed one of the H-bombs from the B-52 lying intact on the sea-bed off Greenland.

'Greenland MPs demanded that the film be brought to Denmark for viewing by government representatives...A pentagon spokesman responded by quoting from a Department of Defense statement issued at the time of the accident which said that fragments of all four bombs had been found and identified by serial numbers matching those in SAC files, thus making it 'impossible for one or more of the bombs to have gone through the ice.'

A pdf of the GP Book of the Nuclear Age can be found here. The Thule story begins on p120. This pdf appears to be the whole book minus, maps, illustrations and references. You can still buy both the complete English and US editions on Amazon and AbeBooks.

Thule The latest revelations come from declassified documents obtained by the BBC under the US Freedom of Information Act, which make it clear that 'within weeks of the incident, investigators piecing together the fragments realised that only three of the weapons could be accounted for.

Even by the end of January, one document talks of a blackened section of ice which had re-frozen with shroud lines from a weapon parachute. "Speculate something melted through ice such as burning primary or secondary," the document reads, the primary or secondary referring to parts of the weapon.

By April, a decision had been taken to send a Star III submarine to the base to look for the lost bomb, which had the serial number 78252....but the real purpose of this search was deliberately hidden from Danish officials. ' The BBC say that the search was abandoned without finding the missing bomb.

For full text see: 'Mystery of lost US nuclear bomb'


A petition was presented to the European parliament from former clean-up worker Jeffrey Carswell, appealed for pressure on Denmark to start monitoring the health of those exposed to contamination. The US workers involved have been regularly examined, but the Danes and Greenlanders have not, according to a report by Diana Wallis MEP, which the parliament approved by 544 votes to 29. "Many Thule survivors have died of radiation-related illnesses due to the lack of medical monitoring, and current survivors risk contracting such fatal illnesses," says the accompanying resolution. It calls on the Danish government to start health checks now.

See Full story: Denmark challenged over B52 crash by Stephen Mulvey [11 May 2007]

See also:

Nuclear bomb 'lost near Greenland' by John Leyne. 13 August, 2000

The Airborne Alert Program over Greenland (The Nuclear Information Project)

Broken Arrow - The B-52 Accident on the Thule Forum, a site for people who stayed at Thule Airbase, Greenland.