Shireen Abu Akleh / شيرين أبو عاقلة / January 3, 1971 – May 11, 2022
Shireen Abu Akleh, American-Palestinian journalist/ reporter assigned by Al Jazeera News to cover the Israeli occupation & military raids on Palestininan residents in Jenin, was murdered by Isreali soldiers yesterday (May 11). As usual, the initial response from the Israeli governemnt was to deny any involvement in the shooting of Akleh. Instead, they attempted to float a fake news narrative that Akleh was shot by someelse. It’s a ploy that has been used successfully in the past to obscure the truth about the brutality of Israeli occupation. Shireen Abu Akleh has been a reporter for Al Jazeera New for over 25 years. Earning a reputation across the Middle East and the world for her courageous reporting in the occupied territories of Palestine. However, Akleh was much more then a brave reporter. Akleh was an inspiration to all Palestinians. Giving them hope that the horrors of the Israeli occupation wouldn’t / couldn’t be washed away by their occupier.
Whatever statements the U.S State Department may or may not issue regarding Akleh’s murder; the United States is directly responsible in every way imaginable. Encouraging the brutal nature of occupation by provides an annual $3.8 billion in military aid to fund the occupation of Palestine. But the U.S. role is greater. The occupation has “razed the homes of 40 Palestinians yesterday (Tuesday), leaving them homeless. And as they plan to evict 1,000 from the West Bank—the largest mass expulsion since 1967”, according to US Representative Ilhan Omar. The systematic murder and displacement of the Palestinian people is more then occupation. When will the U.S leadership be held responsible for their corrupt actions? After all, Israel is the best funded territory of the American Empire. Which brings us to this final question; would the reaction of the American press (and leadership) be any different if the assassination of Akleh had happened in the Ukraine?
Very little has been mentioned in the American press regarding a series of Israeli attacks at the Al-Aqsa Mosquein Jerusalem. The attacks came again last Friday during evening prayers with more then 300 Palestinian worshippers injured at the Haram al-Sharif (Noble/Holy Sanctuary). A location considered to be the third holiest site in all of Islam. Israeli soldiers entered the Mosque and used tear-gas and flash grenades on the worshippers. Many of whom were elderly and children praying and fasting for the holy month of Ramadan. The raids are yet another example of the Israeli government policy called collective punishment that is inflicted regularly on the Palestinian population of Jerusalem.
As the global war of 2022 continues to unfold, each phase of the battle takes on its own characteristics; a coup in Pakistan, a missile attack in Somilia and the proxy wars in Syria, Yemen and the Ukraine. But it’s the Palestinianpeople that have faced the full brutality of war for decades. Every manner of violence has been inflicted; racism, imperialism, economic sanctions, executions, religious terrorism, drone attacks and military occupation. Of course, the American government always does it’s finest Scranton Two-Step when asked about Israeli violence; US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, stated that he has ”serious concerns” about the recent attacks at the Mosque. No follow-up. No consequences.
There was no admission of any direct or indirect American role in the nonstop escalation of violence. Not even a call for the attacks to stop. Nor is there any mention of the long-term policy of expelling Palestinians from their homes and territory. For example, in Jerusalem’s Old City, the Palestinian population is increasingly being evicted from their homes by the Israeli military. These random evictions are often executed in the dead of night withthe families forced to watch as their homes and possessions are destroyed by bulldozers.
And despite the non-stop media outrage over the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, there is hardly a whisper of the occupation of Palestine. In fact, based on the massive amounts of military aid ($4-5 Billion since the Biden Administration ) being pumped into the Ukraine, you could get the impression that Palestinians lives are less worthy. (Perhaps their eyes aren’t blue enough?) Of course, there are many reasons, including racism/imperialism. But let us consider another reason for media silence on the Israeli crimes. The Israeli state is the most important military outpost of American Empire. And it’s continued existance is pivotal to projecting American military power throughout the Middle-East. Coincidentally, a region rich with massive reserves of oil. And in return? A big red, white and blue pass.
If you are not famIlar with the al-Aqsa Mosque, then perhaps some background information would be helpful to understand the importance of the location. The Temple Dome or the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount is located in the Old City of Jerusalem. The original Islamic Temple was built in 691–692 CE and then rebuilt between 1022–23. It is perhaps the oldest remaining example of the artistic beauty and influence of the original Islamic architecture. The Dome itself is built over the Foundation Stone, which lays beneath the floor of the Mosque. The Foundation Stone is said to be the actual site where the Prophet Muhammad began his Night Journey (as detailed in the Hadith); a physical and spiritual journey that brought greater knowledge of truth and a deeper understanding of Allah / God.
Most music fans will recognize Kim Fowley’s name as the exploitive Svengali behind the Runaways; the all-female rock band that release four studio albums between 1975-1979. And perhaps best known for the lolita-single, Cherry Bomb from their debut. According to the band members, whose were intense years they spent together. Signed to a major record label, Mercury Records, and touring the globe. The Runaways never really achieved the breakthrough to fame and fortune which they had been promised. And there are those who would say that was true of everything Kim Fowley touched. He never had to mainstream success the music industry expected. Somehow, Fowley was always the guy standing on the outside of the party looking in at the beautiful people. Fowley was the ultimate outlier. I suppose it all depends on your point-of-view. Because long before he ever met the Runaways, Kim Fowley had secured a place for himself in music history. Writing, producing and performing a string of unique cult rock songs throughout three decades.
Born July 21, 1939 in Los Angeles, California, Fowley began a career in music at the tender age of 18. By his own account, he took a job as band manager for a local group, the Sleepwalkers and began “assisting” with music producer’s Phil Spector, Alan Freed and Berry Gordy. Eventually producing a single with the Renegades in 1959. An impressive achievement for an ambitious young man. Within the year he produced a number of singles in the Los Angeles area. Notably, recording the single “Alley Pop” with Gary Paxton for a band that never existed, the Hollywood Argyles. The track went on to reach the number-one song on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The music industry certainly seemed receptive to Fowley as a fresh, new talent and he continued to produce singles throughout the early sixties; including; Like, Long Hair for Paul Revere and the Raider and Papa-Onm-Mow-Mow for the Rivingtons. Eventually Fowley relocated to London, Engalnd to take advantage of the exploding music scene. Even writing a b-side single with Yusuf Islam (Cat Steven) and working with Richie Blackmore, Soft Machine and member of Them.
In 1965 Kim Fowley wrote and recorded his first song as a solo artist; “The Trip” becoming (perhaps) Fowley’s most unique and intersting contribution to music. A genuinely outstanding single, The Trip is fine early example of the experimental and psychedelic music that was becoming so popular. Incorporating distortion, reverb and guitar effects that attempt to evoke the altered consciousness of the true psychedelic experience. All produced safely in just 2 minutes; “Summertime’s here, kiddies, and it’s time to take a trip. If you feel so bad, if you feel so sad…” The song is actually much more strange then any psychedelic track I have ever heard. Providing the listener with a very unique (flying dogs anyone?) description of what hallucinogenic experiences would be coming their way. The song feels more like a fake come-on or exploitation then an actual endorsement of the drug experience. Which is exactly why the song is so brilliant and uniquely Fowley. Whatever The Trips actual intent, the song is a wonderful slice of trash-psych rock still sounds great today. Even earning a place on the expanded Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era compilation and, in a different versions, on the Pebbles album series, Volume 1 and 3. And finally, the song was feature in the 2008 Guy Richie’s film, Rocknrolla.
Impossible but True: The Kim Fowley Story is a unique listening experience that really shouldn’t miss. The CD on ACE Records pulls together 32(!) tracks that journey through forgotten and overlooked portion of Fowley’s amazing career in music. This is music for anyone who can appreciates the strange and brilliant vision of a unique talent. Great tracks like the Seeds’ “Fallin’ off the Edge of my Mind” and the Hellions’ “Dreaming of You” sharing space with all the obscurities, novelties and oddities that Kim Fowley helped to create. One additional point, if you are taken by Kim Fowley’s iconic career then check out Caroline Now! A tribute album dedicated to the songcraft of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys. Why the connection to our hero, Kim Fowley? Hidden away on the final track is Fowley’s rendition of Almost Summer from the band Celebration. A group front by none other then the Beach Boy’s own, Mike Love. With the original track being co-written by Brian Wilson and Al Jardine. Making Almost Summer an (Almost) Beach Boy’s reunion. Worth seeking out, if you are inclined to indulge such frivolities.
Mark Lanegan / November 25, 1964- February 22, 2022
In 1999 singer, songwriter & author Mark Lanegan recorded his fourth solo album, the stunning covers album, I’ll Take Care of You. The outside material providing the singer with a unique opportunity to focus his art on his powerful interpretive skills. The record is a complex articulation of our own human heartbreak and impossibility of redemption for all that we do to survive. Each track seems to open a different veins in a cold, often desperate landscape. The opening track, Carry Home, written by Jeffrey Lee Pierce (Gun Club), burns with the lonley weariness of a life spent on the road. Filled with internal struggle and doubt, Lanegan‘s vocal finding the strength to contine the long journey home.
Carry home / I have returned / Through so many highways / And so many tears / Your letter never survived the heat of my hand / My burning hand / My sweating hand / Your love never survived the heat of my heart / My violent heart / In the dark / Carry home / I have returned / Through so many highways / And so many tears
Dark. Powerful. In late 1986 Andy Warhol created his last portrait series before his death. Often referred to as the Lenin Series / Back & Red. It was a creatively fruitful period and included his affiliation with fellow NewYorker, artist Jean-michel Basquiat. (See article above). However, the Lenin series was more then just Warhol’s final portraits before his unfortunate death. Much more. The last period of Warhol’s life was a period of unique creative renewal. The artist making a bold change in both the subject matter and creative style of his art. The Lenin seriesdemonstrates as much; an undeniable dark-power, a starkness and seriousness in the subject matter that is unlike anything else he had produced. In the series, a young Vladimir IIyich Ulanov (Lenin was an alias) is shown leaning forward against a pile of nondescript books with a penetrating glare. A look of complete conviction. Of course, Lenin was not the first revolutionary figure that was the subject of Warhol’s art. He had famously used Chairman Mao Zedong as the subject of his 1977 exhibition. The same year the Cultural Revolution ended after Mao‘s death. But the Lenin series is different. The 199 portraits of Mao all echoed Warhol‘s famous 60’s Pop-Art style; bold, colorful prints that defined an era. Nevertheless, the Mao’s lacks the simmering intensity of the Lenin portraits. The Lenin paintings demonstrating an eagerness to be confrontational in a serious and direct way. But more about that later.
From September 26 to October 4th Andy Warhol showed his series of Lenin paintings at the London gallery of Bernd Kluser. All based on an original photograph given to him of Vladimir Lenin. In addition to the Lenin Black pictured (personal favorite), Warhol created a number of Lenin Red portraits the are equally as intense. With many art critics finding the Lenin Red even more dramatic and confrontational. Although it is the Lenin Blacks that have become more sought after in the collectors market. Either way, it’s a remarkable series of painting showing Warhol’s continued relevance during the later period of his life. Even challenging the conventions of his own celebrated work.
Of course, Warhol created many famous portraits across a vast section of individuals throughout his career. But perhaps none of them were as insightful (and controversial) toward the society in which he lived then the Lenin portrait. Remember, the image of Lenin is deeply linked to the intellectual power and threat of Marxism or Soviet Communism. Particularly in the U.S., where Warhol’s portrait of Lenin dives deep into that uniquely American mixture of anti-intellectualism and the countries own history of imperialism and slavery. Lenin is much more then one of the most notable political figures of the 20th century. He is the father of the Russian Revolution. A revolution most Americans believe to be the antithesis of the, so called, American Dream. Lenin represents (for many) the cold, dark eyes of the world outside the walls. And thisfeartakes on a biblical ascent too. Consider the mythology built around the those that first arrived in North America from Europe. A group of people most Americans still refer to as “pilgrims” to this day. The origins and aspirations of the nation should be clear.
Let us consider for a moment that the Lenin portrait is Warhol’s confrontation with this legacy of societal fear and mistrust that remain such a dominant trait of the American character. Be it 1987 or in 2022. A trait that is revealed in the never ending imperialism of American foreign policy. Just take a look at today’s headlines.
“Can a nation be free if it oppresses other nations or people? It cannot” – Vladimir Lenin
The smoke inside of the car was a mixture of Rick‘s always burning Cool brand cigarettes and the joints that his girlfriend, Debbie, kept passing to me from the backseat. It was just the three of us, driving through the street of Detroit, Hamtramck and HighlandPark. This was a time before the freeways rendered all these internal neighborhoods invisible to most people. The local population was largely black and white working-class and they kept to themselve during the long winter months. Waiting patiently for those precious summer weekends to get outside for a barbecue and a bit of fun. That’s whenRick, Debbie and I would pack into the Dodge Charger and travel the city. The streets of Joseph Campau and Dequindre coming alive with activity for three young people and our pure Detroit MuscleMachine on an warm August evening.
Mind you, we were not out just for fun. There was business that needed to be looked after. Beginning with a trip downtown to Rick’s pot-dealer who seemed to live in an abandon apartment building near the (Detroit) River. Then, after the appriotrate greetings and gestures, a very business-like transfer of cash was made and the exchange was complete. A large brown paper bag containing about a pound of prized “Colombian Gold” was placed inside the car and off we went into the neighborhoods to sell the wares; loose joints, nickel & dime bags and the occassional half once. (please make appropriate adjustments if you are using the metric system). There was a suprising amount of happenchance to our activities as we drove to various houses, apartments and parking-lots to selling the contraband. I’m not sure how but everyone seemed to know of our arrival at each of our stops. Typically, we were greeted by the smiling faces of consumers very pleased to make a purchase. And it didn’t hurt that Rick was a big guy and a serious character when it came to business. Very few people ever fucked with him twice.
In-between the deals and the joints and the cigarettes, we would listened to the radio, drink cold beer and talk. Back in those days, Detroit radio was still very much an independent operation. The in-between years before corporate ownership of media robbed local radio of any community personalitiy and independence. Local DJ’s still had the autonomy on song selection. WABX, WRIF and W4 all playing a mix that was singular to the Detroit audience. (Or so we thought). But there was still a chance to hear some amazing music that didn’t feel test marketed and sold. And if you were lucky; hanging out with your older cousin and his girlfriend on the street of the city, you could find yourself in a 74 Charger, selling pot to strangers and listening to a radio set list that went something like the one below; (as best I can remember). That’s about 35 minutes of damn fine music. The sounds of the city on one particular summer night as the three of us listened to that Detroit station,”our lives saved by rock n’ roll”.
The Torpedos began life as a bar band in 1979 featuring Jim Banner on bass, Johnny Angelo as vocalist, Robert Gillespie on guitar, Ralph Serafino on drums and Tom Curry on keyboards and sax. Cutting a deal with Four Winds Records and release an EP that featured Pop Star that same year. A song said to be a tribute to the late Johnny Thunder of the New York Dolls and the Heartbreakers.
The song and the band are very much a reflection of the sounds of the Detroit music scene in 79-81. They even had some support from local radio. The original EP and singles are nearly impossible to locate today, but there is a nice alternative. The good folks at Motor City Music have release a brilliant CD called The Torpedos No Refills that gathers together the bands studio material with a number of worthwhile live tracks. Keep an eye out for it. The music could save your soul
“New Age”. We said it out loud. Indeed, some will say the music found on this album has a certain anemic quality. And the point is well taken. Theme of Secret is very much a product of it’s time. Private Music was an independent record label specializing in the “instrumental music” that was so popular with the cheese and wine crowd in 1985. Just mentioning a few names, Loe Kottke, Yanni and John Tesh and the sound is well understood. Yet within the PrivateMusic‘s roster of talent, it is possible to find some fairly amazing music. Among them, Eddie Jobson with this amazing icy classic Theme of Secret.
Perhaps a little background information is in order. Edwin “Eddie” Jobson‘s pedegree is damn good. The English keyboardist and violinist has played with a number of bands which you may have heard; Roxy Music, UK, Curved Air,Jethro Tull, Frank Zappa and Yes. That is some list. (Although, only one walks among the true greats. And it’s not Frank Zappa. Enough said). But it’s the music on this interesting little disc that offers us some special gifts. The production is sterile and prestine; a horrible digital silence surrounds the entire recording. Only, somehow it works perfectly. . The cold-digital soundstage proves to be ideal for Jobson vision of this record. We hear only the towering glacial structures of sound Jobson constructs before our ears. Cold, stoic and complex mountains of futuristic sound. Of course, eventually the compositions begin to reveal themselves as the warm waves of melody bubbling to the surface. Revealing the hidden beauty of Jobson’s compositions. Theme of Secrets is a brilliant record with so much to offer the thoughtful listener that is willing to look beyond the New Age label.
One final point; Apparently, there was a follow-up album in the works called, Theme of Mystery, which had already been recorded but never released by Private Music. The tracks are sitting silent inside a forgotten studio vault just waiting to be reissued. Now, that would be a project that would be worth working on.
Iwill leave the long-form writing about the injustice of imprisoning Julian Assange to those with a more eloquent voice then mine. However, the importance of what is happening now should be well understood by all of us, eloquent or not. On Saturday, December 10th Assange suffered a stroke in his Belmarsh prison cell after hearing that a British High Court overturned a previous judgment that was prevented his extradition to the United States.If that extradition moves forward, it is very likely that Assange will be sent to prison for the rest of his life. And why? For exposing the monstrous and illegal actions taken by the Americanmilitary. Actions that include the robotic-murder of Iraqi civilians and children. If you are not familiar with the crimes committed during the occupation or still consider the U.S. as liberators, as many do, then stop reading and do some damn research.
And for his brave act of truth and transparency, Assange will pay with his life. They have already taken many years from him. Only the prosecution of Julian Assange is about much more then his imprisonment and which specific atrocities WikiLeak’s exposed. Beneath the surface of the case is the continued establishment of a National Security State and the death of our, so called, Fourth Estate. Topics many refuse to confront. Remember, us Americans like to talk about transparency only in the abstract or when America is pointing out the deficiencies of some other country. But above all, we don’t appreciate anyone reporting on the truth when it comes our American Values.
Just like our belief in an independent press, Americans love to talk about our values; Freedom, Justice and Truth. Sounds great? We talk about these values at every opportunity but do those words have a deeper worth to us? Can they mean anything as the American government is prosecuting the one news publisher revealing the truth?Or are those cherished values just slogans for a holiday? Fun to say at the 4th of July barbecue but, ultimately, empty and meaningless.
So what could you do?If you live in the US, you could call your member of Congress today and demand the case against Assange be dropped. Whatever your political affiliation, direct contact with Representatives and Senators can prove to be a useful tool in building political pressure on the current US Administration. The phone number for the Congressional Switchboard Operator is 202.224.3121 or use this linkto contact your specific Congressional Representative.
Granted, much more work needs to be done then a phone call. A public outcry must be built from the ground up. Unlike other countries around the globe, the U.S has very little of the infrastructure needed to get people organize, educated and into the streets. Perhaps that is beginning to change. We begin here. One by one.
Finally, let us consider author and historian, Howard Zimm’s thoughts on remaining silent when faced with corrupt rulers, ”Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient allover the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty”.
Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States provides a historical point-of-view that will, unfortunately, come as a shock to most Americans. Many, most perhaps, will simply deny any analysis that contradicts the fairy-tale that America is a beacon of freedom and hope for the entire world. It’s important to understand that, for the most part, the American political system has grown rigid and unable to evaluate it’s own policies or institutions. Both the (political) right and left have surrendered the capacity to understand or change the terror of U.S. foreign policyin Nicaragua, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine…the list goes on. And, increasingly, those political institutions are silent on domestic policies that effect the unseen 50% of the country that lack decent employment, education, healthcare and faces an increasingly reactionary surveillance state. The real question is, ”why”? A simple yet complex question.
First published is 1980, A People’s Histroyis one of the most important and eye opening building-blocks to understanding a coherent vision of American history. In other words, it’s a realistic and honest assesment. Which is particularly important with the Thanksgivingholiday just around the corner in the US. The rare truth of the holiday is a brutal history of invasion and imperialism. With Romans 13:2 providing the justification; “Whoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God and that they resist shall recieve to themselves damnation“.
Finally, what is to be done? When adressing the topic of the war in Vietnam in 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated simply, “Somehow this madness must cease…And the initiative to stop must be ours“.
You won’t see original copies of the Velvet Underground’s Squeeze album in the used bin. Not necessarily a bad thing. Copies are fetching ridiculous prices all over the internet. Mostly because of the albums odd-ball status. But the music is pedestrian. Squeeze is a V.U. album in-name-only with only late-period member Doug Yule with any claim to the thrown. Although Maureen “Moe” Tucker was involved for the live dates with the band and did intend on recording with this final version of the Velvet Underground. However, Squeeze was recorded in London, 1972, sans Tucker, with the help of Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice.
There is no Exploding Plastic Inevitable with Yule and Company. No Lou Reed writing songs about herion and love. None of John Cale‘s avant-noise experiments. Not a hint of Nico’s ability to communicate pain, heartbreak and beauty. No Warhol lurking in the shadows. And adsolutely no spark or life to be found. Listen to the sample of Dopey Joe. This would have made a fairly adequate Doug Yule solo album.
Somewhat more interesting is a 2001 bootleg live box set, Final V.U. 1971-1973 (And damn hard to find).When Lou Reed quit the band in August 1970, the Velvet Underground continued the European tour supporting Loaded minus Lou. This version of the band still featured Sterling Morrison and Moe Tucker. A year later Morrison would leave the V.U., reducing the band to the Doug Yule-Willie Alexander-Walter Powers-Moe Tucker assembly. This V.U. is a surprisingly competent bar band/tribute in a live setting. But NOT the Velvet Underground. Final note; a C.D. version of Squeeze was made available in 2012 on the Kismet label. If you must own a copy (like me), this will do the trick. Unless…an original happens to come my way.