Thursday, 19 May 2011

Best Things Ever #13

The Collings and Herrin Podcast

“Opposition is true friendship.”
                                    William Blake

Over the last couple of years, podcasts have come to represent my main source of audio-visual entertainment. There are many fine examples of this relatively new form of media, but my personal favourite is the Collings and Herrin Podcast.

What is Collings and Herrin? Well, imagine an anthropology experiment gone horribly, horribly wrong. Or a hostage situation where the only survivor is desperately trying to appease his captor, who is all the time waving a gun around and calling his captive a fucking idiot. Imagine all that and you have some sense of the Collings and Herrin Podcast at its most gleefully vitriolic and childish. It is all done for comic effect and works brilliantly, regularly rendering me helpless with laughter. It is not for the faint hearted or the easily offended, but for a small band of us in the know the sight of a new episode downloading to iTunes is the highlight of the week. Which probably speaks as much about our sad little lives as it does the quality of the show, but bear with me.

The format is simple: Stand up comedian Richard Herring sits in his attic with the broadcaster and film editor of the Radio Times, Andrew Collins, and they talk, with no script and a minimal amount of planning, for roughly an hour about everything and nothing and then publish the results as an audio file, free to download later that day. And that’s it.

So what’s all the fuss about? Well, partly it’s their dedication to the project. While other podcasters have fallen by the wayside due to inertia or working commitments, the Collings and Herrin Podcast has been broadcast weekly, virtually uninterrupted, for over three years. Even when one or both of them is unavailable one week (usually due to Richard being on tour), they have recorded extra episodes to fill the gap. Also, at recent Edinburgh Festival’s they have performed increasingly more and more live episodes, last year doing a total of ten over a two week period. That’s the kind of obsession I can get behind.

There’s more. I’ve been thinking about dedicating one of these appreciation pieces to Collings and Herrin for some time and so as first step I went back and listened to the entire run from the beginning. My day job involves writing reports for an Ombudsman. It’s the kind of thing I can do in my sleep and listening to Herrin berate Collings for his belief in homeopathy broke up the day. Having been back through the entire run, I would firstly advise new listeners to stick with it. The initial half a dozen episodes are a little ropey, with some sound issues, as well as the usual problems that any new show has as it beds in and tries to find its feet. Also, it takes some time for Richard Herring’s alter ego, Richard Herrin, to emerge, with his unerring ability to say the most inappropriate thing at the most inappropriate time. However (and I’m sure Andrew won’t thank me for saying this), by the time Herrin first calls Collings mum, ‘a fucking idiot’, you realise that you are listening to something rather special.

You see, the role of the true comedian is to exist on the fringes of society, testing its limits and advancing its boundaries. The best comedians, from Linda Smith to Jerry Sadowitz, have always been the ones that serve as an observer, looking from the outside in. Of course best doesn’t necessarily mean most successful and in many ways mainstream acceptance is the death of comedic creativity (I’d take Daniel Kitson and Simon Munnery over a post-Thatcher Ben Elton any day). A truly great comedian doesn’t just go on stage and make glib statements like, ‘Hey, have you ever noticed X? Isn’t it funny when that happens and aren’t I hilarious for noticing the same thing as you and saying it out loud?’ A truly great comedian stands on stage and says, ‘Hey, have you ever noticed X? Isn’t the world insane? We should do something about that. In the meantime, let’s laugh about it and the world might seem a little brighter’. Success doesn’t always kill good comedy. Yet when you compare the rhythmic and lyrical genius of just about any classic Bill Hicks routine to the sight of Peter Kay wallowing in the stagnant, fetid stench of his own shit observations, you see that the correlation generally holds true.

By extension, Richard Herring is one of the finest and hard working comedians currently on the circuit. If you’ve ever seen one of his shows, you will have seen a man who through over twenty years of performing is Hicksian in his timing and ease with an audience. In fact, along with his former comedy partner, Stewart Lee, he embodies the true ethos of Hicks’s comedy. And in the guise of his podcast alter ego, Herring channels the spirit of Bill’s own alter ego, Pan the Goat Boy, with his continual pleading to Andrew to let him bum him, fantasies of fucking Jesus in the stigmata (and being cock slapped by the selfsame Messiah), and arbitrarily deciding which side is right in most of today's major world conflicts. It doesn’t always make for comfortable listening and if you allow yourself to be offended by it, you will be without any difficulty. Richard says that he doesn’t often listen back to the recordings, preferring them to exist in the moment. It’s also the best way to listen: Make a drink, give the moral centres of your brain an hour off, and just go with it. And as you howl with laughter, unburden yourself of some of the cultural baggage which restricts the ability to form an objective assessment of the world. Laughter is to fear as reason is to knee jerk reaction.

Yet it takes two to make a successful partnership and while Andrew may often play Herrin’s straight man, feeding him stories and taking the brunt of a tirade issued in response to something he has said or done, Collins is also a very funny man in his own right. His Free Fringe show, ‘Secret Dancing’, is bloody good and it is a pity that Andrew has said that it will be his one and only stand up show, because for a first effort it is exceptional (the DVD is available at, as are all of Richard Herring’s recent shows, as well as one-off Collings and Herrin recordings). Andrew is a regular co-writer with Lee Mack on his acclaimed BBC1 sitcom, 'Not Going Out', and you will often find during live podcasts that it is something Collings has said that gets the biggest laugh (audiences are also prone to booing him for some mildly offensive thing he has said, one of the podcast’s many running jokes). There are no passengers here.

And there is still more, because I was only half joking when I described the podcast as an anthropology experiment gone wrong. It is also a chronicle of our times. Since it started, we have seen the Cumbrian shootings and the death of Michael Jackson; the first hung parliament in a generation and the days of stalemate that followed. We have also seen the BNP gain seats in Europe and their leader appear on the most anticipated edition of ‘Question Time’ since its inception. And each of these events has been given the Collings and Herrin treatment. In fact, it’s amazing to listen back to the entire run and hear the idea for Herring’s anti-fascist show, ‘Hitler Moustache’, almost spontaneously appear during one episode. The idea of growing a Hitler moustache is muted by Richard one week and by the following week it has became the basis for his new Edinburgh show.

But there is also the meta-experiment, because the Collins and Herring Podcast is a record of itself: A small internet community, gathered around one central focus, self-funded, profile-raising and autonomous. But maybe that’s just me, because small internet communities fascinate me, as they seem a good model for the future, with more people likely to become self-employed, working from home (in a return to the pre-industrial model) via the internet. And as the office is worker is decamped and sent home, these small internet communities may just take on greater social significance.

You get some idea of that significance when you consider the podcast’s own brief and abstract chronicle, from its early beginnings, reviewing the Friday papers, mocking John Gaunt’s right wing comments in The Sun (and attracting his attention), to tales of the Mitford Sisters and the theft of an iPhone. A rhino-not-for-sale sign has not been for sale, Andrew has abandoned his Sisyphean attempt to remove graffiti from the toilets in the British Library, and Richard has offered to call any of your friends cunts for a small donation. It has even seen one dedicated fan, Tina Wiseman, die at a tragically young age and I think it is a testament to the podcast that her death affected so many people at the time, even those of us who never met her. Because the real tale of the first hundred and eighty odd episodes of the Collings and Herrin Podcast is the birth and evolution of a friendship. Two men who had been colleagues in the past, became partners through necessity and friends through opposition. And above all else it is the development and the transformation of that friendship, as heard over an hour a week, which continues to fascinate me.

If you’ve been affected or offended by anything in this article, then the Collings and Herrin Podcast probably isn’t for you. Don’t worry about it, the world is an enormous place and there are plenty of other spaces to hang out. Yet its improvisational and iconoclastic style are endearing enough for a virtual community, a model village for the future, to have sprung up around it. Come on in, if you dare.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Why I'm Giving Up Football

In the last few hours I've come to the decision that I am giving up watching and being generally interested in football. It’s not that I don’t enjoy football, I do, and Liverpool have a bright future under Kenny Dalglish, but it’s what football has come to represent that has been bothering me for some time, probably ever since last year’s World Cup. The South African World Cup was meant to offer some hope and be a new start for a nation sorely treated by the west. Instead, it ended up being about a swarm of corporate locusts flying in, landing, stripping an already poor country (thanks to the IMF and World Bank’s involvement) of even more money, before fucking off to relieve the next recession hit country of its assets. A five mile exclusion zone was placed around each stadium, preventing street vendors from getting in on the act, while Budweiser and Coca Cola made a fortune. And that, in a nutshell (yes, I am the nut), disgusts me.

I forget who said that when the painter paints what the public demands, it’s no longer art, but business. And football, indeed sport in general, is no longer sport, it is about selling respectability to the likes of McDonalds and Carling, which is like BP sponsoring Greenpeace. I thought that I could assuage the guilt I feel by not actually contributing anything to the business. I watch most games on the internet, the only two games I’ve been to in my life (both last season) were with tickets bought by other people. I own one scarf, and that’s it. But it’s not good enough and no matter how I try to kid myself that the last few Liverpool games have been great for the club and city, the nagging of my conscious is still there.

This week Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler, along with Maradona and some other has been footballers, travelled to Chechnya to play an exhibition match for the Russian backed warlord who runs the country (a particularly nasty fucker). Kadyrov himself played and by all accounts they let him win. This is the final straw for me. I cannot continue to be a fan of a sport where that level of idiocy and lack of self awareness is an everyday occurrence. Presumably their next stop will be Burma or Syria.

Yet it’s more than that. You see, the reason why I own no shirts or merchandise is that I have desire to belong to any nation or race or class or clan generally. ‘I must Create a System, or be enslaved by another man’s, I will not Reason & Compare, my business is to Create’. So says Los in Blake’s Jerusalem (the proper Jerusalem, not the hymn commonly called Jersalem). This weekend I have finished reading The Complete Works of Blake, Volume 2 of Robert Graves’s Greek Myths, and a second reading of Finnegans Wake, probably the most challenging work of fiction ever written. When I finish writing this piece I am going to spend the rest of the night redrafting the second chapter of a novella I am working on. And you what? I’ve achieved all this on my own. I didn’t need an overpaid advertising Whoarding (sic – very Wakean) to act as proxy because I have nothing else in my sad little life to look forward other than liver failure, I did it on my own. Which isn’t to say my life isn’t sad, it is, but I actually like it and I’d actually like to get on and achieve something of my own. No matter what Liverpool do or do not achieve next season, I'm still going to have to get up and go to work in the morning.

I don’t enjoy the rivalry, I don’t enjoy the feelings of dislike to people who follow some different arbitrary bunch of millionaires to the ones that I like. I named myself the Eponymist because I practice my own ideological belief called Eponymism. Eponymism is simply the recognition that we are all unique and so everyone’s core ideology should be likewise unique. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be part of an appreciation society or have similar hobbies to others or like the same films and music as others, but the partisanship and the sectarianism of football makes it more like an organised religion than anything else and I hate organised religion and I can’t continue to take an active (or even passive) interest in football. Football makes you see the world through rose tinted spectacles, claiming the obviously untrue as gospel, which is certainly like every religion ever created. Yet unlike Blake, Reason and the scientific method are of great importance to me and this atavistic tribalism only clouds judgement. It means that I will now have nothing to talk to with most people in the world, but fuck it, if that’s all they’ve got then they’re not worth knowing. I’m not judging anyone who continues to follow football, it’s your life and what you do with it is your own affair. It's just not for me anymore.

Think I’ll still watch cricket though. I can enjoy that without becoming emotionally involved (and it's slow enough to allow reading).

Saturday, 7 May 2011

6th Epistle to the Foxnewsians

Dear Foxnewsians,

Now come on, you must have been expecting an epistle from me on this of all weeks. Sorry it’s a bit late, but as we’ve previously seen, I do like to take my time to reflect and consider before speaking, so that I can try and form a cogent argument (after all, I’m not Sarah Palin and a stream of non-sequitors doesn’t really work for me). So grab a coffee, sit back and smoke ‘em if you’ve got them, because this is a gonna be a long one. You should also be aware that the words, ‘hypocritical cunts’ are liable to be used on a number of occasions.

So Osama Bin Laden is dead. My first reaction was this: Yawn. It would be like if Al Qaida had killed Dubya. You’ve killed a figurehead. Well done, well done you. My understanding is that most of the actual masterminds of 9/11 died in the attacks. Bin Laden was the money man. So what? I hear you foam, it’s the same thing. Well then, when the Indonesian Army invaded East Timor in 1975, slaughtering 200,000 people, a quarter of the population of that tiny country, 90% of the funding for the invasion and 90% of the weaponry used came from the USA. The then US ambassador to the UN, Patrick Moynihan, said that he was ‘proud’ that it was his obfuscation that prevented the UN from taking any action to prevent the wholesale slaughter of civilians. Where’s their ‘justice’? Hypocritical cunts.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have no strong feelings about an international terrorist being killed one way or the other, but if I’m going to celebrate the death of a mass murderer then I’d rather save my jubilation for when a major one goes, like Kissinger, Bliar or Cheney. The 9/11 attacks, for all their perceived global significance, were a minor event in terms of casualties. More civilians have been killed by US drone attacks in Pakistan in the last five years than died in the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Evil and cowardly we call it when it is done to us, yet the majority of those drones are controlled by twenty year old kids, sat behind VDU screens and joysticks in an US Air Force base in Colorado. Kids who have been raised on a diet of Call of Duty and Splinter Cell. If you blow yourself up, you’re a coward. Sit behind a screen 10,000 miles away, slaughtering people who you don’t even have the common decency to look once in the face and you’re a patriot and a hero. Hypocritical cunts.

In fact, I think I’ve worked out the real reason why the US government has decided not to release the photos of Bin Laden’s corpse. It’s because Osama was the millionth person to be killed in our so called War of on Terror and it wouldn’t be great PR to see a photo of his body sporting a party hat, surrounded by balloons and ticker tape. I hope his family gets to keep the car though. Is it still a car you get for being the millionth?

It changes nothing. It won’t end the war in Afghanistan because the war in Afghanistan was never about Al Qaida or 9/11. This is, ultimately, why I don’t believe in a 9/11 conspiracy. I mean apart from it being totally barmy (take one look at how incompetent the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were conducted and tell me these people were capable of carrying out anything so well executed as 9/11) The invasion of Afghanistan had already been announced in the European press in May 2001. If you’re planning a massive conspiracy to kill your own citizens, why announce what you’re going to use that as a justification for in advance? There are even some suggestions that Osama gave the go ahead for 9/11 as a pre-emptive strike in response to the planned invasion. Cart before the horse people, cart before the horse.

If the West had really wanted to destroy Al Qaida following the attacks, it only had to do one thing: nothing. Al Qaida were already a spent force in the Arab world. Their attacks against western tourists in Egypt in the 1990s saw a wave of protest from moderate Muslims denouncing terrorism and Fundamentalist Islam. But then Arabs have always been far more politically savvy then we in the west. The Middle East was a land of moderate Islamic democracies until the end of the Second World War, when western dependence on oil became an addiction and democracies were overthrown and replaced by tyranny and brutality.

The prime example of this is Iran. In 1953, President Mosaddegh renationalises the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP), leading to his overthrow by the CIA and British secret services, execution by their agents, and the return of the Shah, who instigates a 26 year program of some of the most bloody repression that the Middle East has ever witnessed. But here’s the punchline: Jimmy Carter makes a state visit to Iran in 1979, telling the Iranian people how proud they must be to have such a benevolent leader. This is the final straw for the brutalised Iranians and Carter’s visit leads to the Islamic Revolution (*drum roll, crash of cymbal*).

International terrorism is entirely the preserve of the west. Not only is the most successful terrorist organisation in history the CIA, but Al Qaida’s effectiveness in recent years is down to us, because you see, we need scary Muslims in the world to justify the continued manufacture and sale of arms. Following the 1929 Wall Street Crash, America only emerged from the Great Depression because of the start of the Second World War. Armament contracts to Britain boosted GDP and this was the reason why America joined the fight, to protect its investments (bombing Japanese Pacific bases just long enough to provoke a reaction). If Britain had lost the war, the US wouldn’t get paid (although the Bush family would have been just fine, they did make their fortune from business done with the Nazi’s after all). Since that time, the American economy has been largely reliant on its arms industry, which in practice has meant fermenting conflict the world over. It’s also why so many democratic governments in the Middle East and South America have been overthrown and replaced with genocidal cunts. A regime living in fear of its own people has far more need of security equipment than one of elected representation.

During the Bush II years, the US government passed the point where it spends more on weapons and defence each year than every other country in the world combined. The internal collapse of the Soviet Regime had presented a real problem for western leaders, because they could no longer blame international terrorism on communist forces. The only other viable ‘evil empire’ to scare US citizens with was Islam, representing 20% of the population of the planet. Ever since the Berlin Wall came down, the west had been looking for an excuse to elevate Islam to Global Enemy No 1 (remember the Oklahoma City bombing? Remember how quick the US media was to blame it on Islamic terrorists, until it became clear that one of their own homegrown fundamentalists was responsible). 9/11 was (for a time) great for US business. $1.13trillion have been spent on our phony war. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have died, but they’re only poor people, so they don’t count. It’s nothing new. In response to Al Qaida’s 1998 attack on US embassies in Nairobi and Dari Salaam, Bill Clinton bombed what he said was a chemical weapons factory in the Sudan. In fact, it was one of only two pharmaceutical factories in the country. The last figures I heard suggested that 20,000 people died of preventable disease as a result of that terrorist outrage. But again, because they didn’t die in glorious Technicolor on the Breakfast Hour, they don’t count. Bill Clinton, you are also a hypocritical cunt.

Nor is the USA, or even the west, solely guilty of this hypocrisy. There is another continuing war, besides the War on Terror. It is a forgotten war, because it is taking place in Africa and no one gives a fuck about Africa. It is happening in the Republic of Congo. Over four million people have been killed since 1998. It is being perpetuated by arms companies from the USA, UK, France and Russia. Altogether now: Hypocritical cunts.

I didn’t bother to watch the crowds celebrating Bin Laden’s death in New York (if I wanted to watch a bunch a idiots celebrating a non-event, I could’ve watched the Royal Wedding, but I’m not simple), but it was depressingly familiar to see many Americans who, when given the opportunity to demonstrate some humility and decorum, instead opt for the usual flag waving and triumphalism, as if there is anything worth celebrating (it really was like the Royal Wedding). The usual cries of ‘an eye for an eye’ were to be heard, but I am sure that you, Oh Foxnewsians, remember the words of the big JC. We covered it last term. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? “You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Anyone seen this before? Ask me what I think about Christianity and I will give you the same reply as when Ghandi was asked what he thought of western civilization: I think it would be a good idea. If the precepts of Christianity had been applied ten years ago, then Al Qaida would, like its erstwhile figurehead, have disappeared beneath the waves a long time since.

I’m a cynical cunt, of that there is no doubt, and I suspect that the timing of Bin Laden’s assassination has a lot to do with the Arab Spring that is flowering across the Middle East. The protestors have largely been peaceful, despite facing the usual western backed repression, killed with our bullets. Be in no doubt, our leaders are terrified of a moderate Middle East. They have no need of our arms. They have no need of us, period, but we need their oil, and that, however much naive idealists would like to bury their heads in the sand, is what it all comes back to. Killing Bin Laden seems a desperate attempt to re-energise Jihadist groups (the US had known he was in Abbattobad since at least August last year) in order to maintain the transparent lies of the War of Terror. It would appear a futile gesture. The Arab Spring heralds the winter of American Imperialism. The Arab Spring is your Suez Crisis (goggle it).

I know that the ‘lefty-liberals’ in both our countries would love to continue to think the best of Obama, because he’s black and a Democrat and his wife is hot, but it’s time for a reality check. Bill Hicks said that whoever’s President, they get shown footage of the Kennedy Assassination from an angle you’ve never seen before. “And then the screen goes up and the lights come up, and they go to the new President, ‘Any questions?’ ‘Er, just what my agenda is’." However, the US educational and political systems are set up in such a way that you don’t get to be President if you’re likely to challenge the established order. After doing what Bush couldn’t (wouldn’t) do and take out OBL, Obama’s a shoehorn to be re-elected, and he will be as ineffectual in his second term as he has been during his first. And then, like Clinton and Carter, he can spend his days touring the world promoting peace and democracy and everyone will kindly forget that under the laws we established at Nuremberg in order to try the Nazis, he would be guilty of the same crimes of aggression. Just like every US President since Truman. One last time, with feeling: Hypocritical cunts.

You shall hear from anon.

Amused, Manchester.

PS: Two words: Glen Beck. *al la Nelson Muntz * Ha ha!

5th Epistle to the Foxnewsians

Dear Foxnewsians,

Long time, no sense. Well, unless a sea-change has taken place in the offices of Fox News during the last six months. I freely admit that I finally went and got a life and stopped taking an unhealthy interest in your activities. However, I don’t want you to think that I’ve forgotten about you and so here I am to give you a hearty prod and see if my contrary opinions can’t push y’all to clutch your chests and fall to the ground in a heart-attack-domino-drop. I live both in hope and denial of the superiority of my own dialectic.

Well, I see that Mid-terms are upon us (upon you rather). However, I am nothing if not perverse and so I’m going to ignore that and turn instead to the issue of Mel Gibson.

Mel Gibson (and I think this is an matter on which we can agree some common ground) is an idiot. Mel Gibson denies that the Holocaust took place for the sole reason that his father didn’t believe in it and his father never told him a lie. Kind of like the story of George Washington, only in reverse (and just as fictional). I assume then that Mel Gibson’s father never made a mistake. I assume that Mel Gibson’s father never took the wrong turn off the freeway or backed the wrong team or incorrectly answered a trivia question or got caught in a storm without a jacket or failed to receive a hefty return on an investment. I assume that Mel Gibson’s father never died, but ascended from planet Earth to take up his position as King of the Galaxy, because according to Mel Gibson, his father was infallible and for an infallible being this would seem the only logical end. Either that or Mel Gibson’s father’s son is an idiot.

And I appreciate that to some this may seem disrespectful to the father-son relationship, an accusation which I would deny. I’m sure that Mel loved his father very much. I loved my late father too, but that doesn’t mean that I think he was perfect. He had no sense of direction whatsoever and sadly I have inherited that defect. Then again, I did also inherited his Complete Works of Shakespeare, Complete Works of Oscar Wilde and The Complete Sherlock Holmes Stories, so it’s swings and roundabouts (or whatever the equivalent American phrase is, figure it out for yourself).

Yet we all know that Mel Gibson hates Jews, we’ve all heard the tapes. And why does he hate Jews? Because they killed Jesus. Cue my eight point rebuttal:

  1. What, so people who are alive today are responsible for an alleged event that took place two thousand years ago? Well that seems a healthy and balanced view of the world (sarcasm). It’s like in this country, I know people who hate all Germans because of the war and the Holocaust, as if the people in Germany today are the same as those that were alive then and are therefore responsible for firing up the ovens. And isn’t it interesting that for someone apparently so in love with Jesus, Mel would much rather follow the Jewish creed of “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” than the diametrically opposite belief that Jesus states during the Sermon on the Mount (“You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”)?
  2. Now my biblical knowledge may have a few holes in it here and there, but if I remember my New Testament correctly, it was the Pharisees that demanded Jesus be punished for blasphemy. The Pharisees were a Jewish political group that colluded with the Romans so they could retain power and influence over the poor and less influential Jews in the Empire, while living off them and keeping them subservient. So what Mel is saying is that the actions of any political group that claims to represent a clan or nation speaks for that nation entire and that any crimes committed by that group are the responsibility of all.

    Taking points 1 & 2 together, this mean that every American and Britain alive today is responsible for the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and for the mistreatment of Native American tribes. Every Italian alive today is responsible for the genocide of eight million Iroquois on the island of Hispaniola that was perpetrated by Christopher Columbus and his men: Every Spaniard is responsible for the actions of the Conquistadors in Latin America. And you, Oh Foxnewsians, you yourselves are responsible for the deaths of the over one million Tibetans who have been murdered by the Chinese government and for the ethnic cleansing of Tibet’s population, which has been largely replaced by Han Chinese. And why? Because your Great Leader has media interests in China, which mouth Chinese state propaganda. The Great Leader is in cahoots with the Chinese government and as we know, that means you too are in cahoots and the perpetrators of genocide.
  3. If I remember rightly, Hitler thought something similar. And yes, I know that according to internet chat room protocol, my argument should be null and void at this point for merely invoking Hitler’s name, but in this case there is a specific correlation (as opposed to the kind of spurious links that your channel seeks to make between Hitler and Obama or the Democrats or Muslims or Orange County Waste Management or teachers or salamanders or the left handed or whoever else you’re trying to demonise in that instant before another circuit around the Fox Goldfish Bowl of News refocuses your attention on some different arbitrary target). It is my understanding that as a Christian (and not an occultist as Indiana Jones would have you believe), Hitler also thought that the Jews were responsible for killing Jesus and if he killed all the Jews, God would reward him by granting him a place on His right hand side. 
  4. I wonder if Mel realises that according to the mythology that he purports to follow and believe in, it was necessary for Jesus to die on the cross (or a stake in the ground or nailed to a tree or hung from and then thrown into a tree, depending on which bit of the Bible you chose to believe). According to God’s nonsensical and downright weird covenant with Adam, God would send a Messiah who would die for our sins, thereby absolving us of Original Sin. So God, an omnipotent, pantheistic being leaves temptation in the way and then is surprised when the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge is eaten. Yet while he holds Adam and Eve responsible for this, he also agrees to send a Messiah to Earth as a sacrifice (which might be taken as an admission of guilt in a court of law). If Jesus doesn’t die then there can be no forgiveness of Original Sin and the entrance to heaven remains blocked. So surely Judas, the Pharisees and the Jews are the heroes of this piece. And yet somehow this is the fault of anyone directly or indirectly related to any of the Jews living at that time. Which leads me to my next point… 
  5. That that actually includes everyone alive today. Whether you’re Jewish or not, whether you believe the world is 4.5 billion years old or 6,000, by simple application of geometric progression, you are related to everyone from that time that produced offspring. We all have two parents, four grandparents, eight great grandparents, sixteen great, great grandparents and so on. Even assuming four generations of your family per century, going back just one millennium assumes that you are related to over a billion people. Yet given that there weren’t a billion people alive on Earth at that time, many of these direct decedents must have been one and the same person (your great-great-great-great-great-grandmother on one line of the family would also have been your great-great-great-great-great-grandmother on one, two or more lines). There is then a lot of doubling and trebling up and it turns out that we don’t need to go back very far into history before we reach a point where we are all related to a particular historical figure like Charlemagne or the Pharisees. And if their crimes are the responsibility of anyone in anyway related to them, then that includes everybody.
  6. Mel, you do realise that Jesus was Jewish, don’t you? Moreover, you do realise that most of the book that you revere as divine revelation tells the mythology of the Jewish people? So if you’re upset that Jesus was killed then you surely only have the right to be upset by his death, if it can be proved that he was the son of God and therefore the Messiah (although of course the Old Testament never says that the Messiah will be the son of God). Yet as Tom Paine pointed out back in the 18th century, if the Jews, the people whose Messiah Jesus is meant to be, if they say he’s not the Messiah (“He’s a very naughty boy” etc), then he’s not the Messiah, so what are you bitching about? In fact, if I remember rightly, in a couple of the Gospels Jesus is recorded as saying that while he is the Messiah, his sole responsibility while on this Earth is to return to God the Jews who had turned away from their faith (lost sheep, with all the implications that that metaphor implies). Gentiles need not apply. He actually said that (not in so many words, but the meaning is clear: Christianity is a club open only to Jews). It was only because the Romans needed to install a monotheistic faith upon the Empire, to implant in the minds of its population the idea that one God = one Emperor, thereby securing the imperial dictatorship of Constantine and his heir and successors after years of quasi-democratic rule, that Christianity was adopted in the first place. And yet even those censored texts that were included in The Vulgate (the Latin Bible) are quite clear on this point (well, as clear as the Bible is on anything): Jesus was a rabble rousing rabbi, fighting against the occupation of the Holy Land and the corruption of the Pharisees and that was that all he was interested in. If he came back today he would most likely be found in Gaza, railing against those same corrupt politicians.

And I’m bored of this already. I could go on, but what would be the point? It’s like when people ask what came first, the chicken or the egg. This must be a pre-Darwinian question, because clearly it was the egg. A chicken is a bird, but reptiles lay eggs, same as amphibians and fish, and they all predate birds. So it’s the egg ok? The egg came first. The egg. The chicken came a few million years later. And like the chicken and egg, Mel Gibson’s prejudice against Jews predates his justification for his hatred, which is delusional on so many levels that it would require an essay ten times this length to peel away the multiple layers of self-deceit. And anyway, as we have recently witnessed (or at least heard), his unfocussed hatred is not restricted to Jews, but flies at African-Americans and women and probably anyone else who isn’t a bigoted prick in exactly the same way that he is. In other words, deep down Mel Gibson probably hates just plain everybody. And when you hate everybody, well that’s such a very lonely place to be that it can’t rightly be called hatred anymore. What it is is fear.

Jesus said, “God is love.” And Leopold Bloom, the eponymous Jewish hero of James Joyce’s Ulysses, said of hatred, “That's not a life for men and women, insult and hatred. And everybody knows that it's the very opposite of that that is really life.” Jesus, Bloom, Marx, Chomsky, Emma Goldman, Shylock, as much as Mel and his ilk hate and vilify Jews, they do seem to resonate throughout history and throughout literature. For a people that today represent just one quarter of one percent of the population of the planet, they’ve done well for themselves. Which leads to all kinds of conspiracies about a Jewish cabal ruling the western world. The proponents of this conspiracy are so vacuous and educationally sub-normal that even the writing of this sentence has already expended more energy than their horseshit is worth. Indeed, I have often speculated whether Judaism would have survived as a religion had not the Holy Roman Empire wanted someone to persecute as a distraction from its own sins. Did the very act of persecution reinforce the importance of Judaism in the minds of its followers and give the religion a longevity that it wouldn’t have otherwise had? If Christianity hadn’t been adopted by the Romans, would Judaism have ultimately been absorbed by Islam, which is the true successor of Judaism anyway, not Christianity, which is a pagan religion painted over with whitewash to make it look new and Eurocentric.

All of which I admit is mere speculation. But hey, what’s speculation to some is a full day’s ‘fair and balanced reporting’ to others.

You shall here from me anon.

Amused, Manchester

PS: Oh go on then, I can’t resist it. So, big surprise, Americans have replaced one set of corporate puppets with another set of corporate puppets, the status quo is preserved for the 234th year in succession and somewhere, in a BP boardroom, executives are lighting cigars off the flaming back of an oil soaked pelican and manically laughing. Less enlightened individuals refer to this state of affairs as a democracy.

“Hey, the country’s fucked.” “What do we do?” “I know, let’s vote back in the people who fucked it up in the first place.” It’s hardly surprising for a midterm president to be defeated in elections, doesn’t that happen like every four years anyway? After all, with the ‘choice’ of two alternatives that are essentially the same, the difference in votes for each ‘party’ is only ever going to be marginal. Moreover, in a country where as little as 50% bother to vote for either party, quite big changes can be affected with little actual swing from one arm of the Republican-Democratic party to the other arm of the Republican-Democratic party. A large part of the population of your country (and here too) don’t vote because they know that their interests won’t be served by either faction, but your population seems stuck in a monotonous swing from one arm to the other and back again, without anything actually changing in the meanwhile. Even when the ultra right rise up and form the Tea Party (no tea, no actual substance of any kind as far as I can see, just a bunch barely sentient reactors banging on about “No taxation without representation” while they are manipulated by multinational behemoths who already have all the representation they will ever need to ensure that they pay as little tax as is offshoredly {is that an adverb? It is now} possible), well even then all that the Tea Party can think to do is form a more militant wing of the more militant arm of the already quite right wing Republican-Democratic party.

“He not busy being born is busy dying.” sang Robert Zimmerman (to preserve today’s theme). And the more that America stands still, the more it slips from its once unassailable position, towards the historical mire that awaits all once great empires, with a dozen fledgling bullies waiting to take its place on the global stage. The Tea Party volleys and thunders, but they are like the tolling of the church bells that Keats described as the death rattle of religion, “sighing, wailing, ere they go into oblivion.” Yet as those lines were not written by an American, the patriotic and ideological adherents of the ultra right will most likely not even know his name. Which is a pity, because one of the things that the English have always done better than anyone is poetry. And of the English poets, Keats may just be the greatest.

The Sun God, Apollo