Jonathan Ross on David Lynch

With Twin Peaks proving itself a spectacular piece of television and David Lynch reminding everyone just how a great director he is, it’s worth looking back at the time when Lynch was still a cult figure.

For One Week Only was a documentary series presented by Jonathan Ross for Channel 4 in 1990, and even 27 years later stands as possibly one of the best documentaries on Lynch you’ll see. It even discusses his comic strip, The Angriest Dog in the World. So enjoy, this is a cracking bit of archive.

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Whatever happened to the 2000’s?

The other day I was chatting to someone at my new workplace and we both did that thing where me thought the 1990’s were last decade, not 20 years ago as we missed out the 2000’s from history. This isn’t the first time this has happened and it probably won’t be the last, and it isn’t just me but friends have also done the same thing but I never did this in any other decade so what is it about the 2000’s that make people skim over it, even miss it out completely?

One big obvious thing is 9/11 which cuts into the decade like a scar. If you’ve seen, or grown up, with an event which was televised, talked about and effected everything that came after it then it’ll be something that people want to forget yet there’s so much great about a decade that nobody really wants to own.Sure there wasn’t a single music scene that came through as there had been since the 1950’s, but we had acts like The White Stripes, The Libertines, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and loads more come through in a decade where manufactured pop dragged its shitty arse all over the decade like an Alsation with worms.

Yes, culture did suffer from being it seems fully monetised and commodified, but it’s been 16 years since the Brass Eye paedophilia special.

And can you imagine anything as nihilistic as Team America being released by a major American film studio in 2017?

Today we’ve got studios tripping over themselves to create extended universes along the lines of Marvel, and as enjoyable as the Marvel films now are they’re all following a formula, but the 2000’s gave us the flawed, sometimes tedious but interesting Ang Lee Hulk film.

The 2000’s seemed to be about washing away the 90’s while setting up the rest of the century, so we had Tony Blair setting up politics in the UK and George Bush in the US making it clear their bloody pawprints are seen on everything that’s come since but so do the protests for the Iraq War which have ended up shaping everything since from the Scottish independence movement, to Corbyn, to Bernie Sanders.

I’m in that crowd somewhere. It was a remarkable day with the very old and very young uniting with the left, right and centre in a way I’ve never, ever seen before or since. It engaged people and gave them an idea that a mass movement could be a good thing even though our work never actually stopped the war, it did create a spark.

Decades come and go but the 2000’s deserve a wee bit of praise, love and affection because so much of where we are now comes from there, and there’s a real chance this may well be the last decade where art, culture, politics and the world in general were something worthwhile and actually understandable because right now culture is patchy, and politics are as impossible to read as a drunken doctor’s signature.So give the 2000’s another chance. You won’t regret it.

My own personal Kobayashi Maru

For those of you not familiar with the world of Star Trek and especially the fine acting career of William Shatner, this is a Kobayashi Maru.

Since having a stroke in February of 2016, life has felt like a ‘no-win’ scenario especially with the cancer, slipped disc and Scotland’s men’s football team proving that no matter how hard you knock one problem down, there’s always another dropping out of warp to fire their photon torpedoes at you.

Yet, like Captain Kirk I don’t especially like to lose, even when everything seems to be folding back against you so with some trepidation it has to be said it does seem like my ‘no-win scenario’ is at least for the rest of my natural lifespan (however long that is now), over and a slow rebuilding of my life continues as carefully as possible. Yes, my empire of comics is on hold (mainly because I’m offline or at Glastonbury when it comes to booking tables at conventions. Bugger) but short steps.

All I need to do now is continue listening to my doctor, don’t do anything stupid and watch out for those pesky Kilingons….

A short word of praise for the woman that helped make Marvel Comics, Flo Steinberg.

One of the most crucial but unsung figure in the creation of Marvel Comics, Flo Steinberg, has passed away.  At a time when women in American comics were at best, limited, Steinberg’s role is extraordinary in that if she didn’t act as not just Stan Lee’s ”secretary” (she seems to have had more like an editorial role) but as the glue, and blood of those early Marvel years in the 1960’s.

Steinberg famously left Marvel when they wouldn’t give her a $5 pay rise, but she didn’t just hold together Marvel at a time when the myth didn’t reflect the reality, she was an essential part in subsequent decades in trying to sort out who created what, and who essentially got shafted by Stan Lee’s myth-making. Of course only recently did the Kirby family finally get a settlement from Marvel/Disney, but as Steinberg herself later found out, Marvel wasn’t the merry place we all thought it was mainly thanks to Flo ‘s work with The Merry Marvel Marching Society (a Marvel fan-club in the 60’s) that cemented fandom’s image of Marvel Comics that lasted long after she left.

I especially like Kirby’s barely suppressed passive-aggressive tone…

So cheers Flo, you held it together and helped give us of a certain age joy. I hope now you get the credit you deserved when you were alive.

The myth of Labour’s radicalism

There’s been a load of discussion in Scotland about commentator and pro-independence left wing activist Cat Boyd’s comments about why she ”voted for Corbyn” due to his socialist credentials and how she preferred him to May.

The problem is that Corbyn doesn’t present a ‘big political change’. Corbyn presents a tweak to the existing system, and with Brexit, backs a policy which will ensure the weakest in society pays for it. I agree with Boyd (who I normally find to be at least an interesting commentator) in that Corbyn is preferable to May, but I disagree with the rest of her reasoning, and I do think she’s provided the establishment she rails against with a useful example to harm the independence movement.

But this is a problem with those who support left wing ideologically pure politics. They’ll see Labour being ‘radical’ but in fact, the ideas Corbyn presented are perfectly reasonable socially democratic ideas. The problem is that as someone who has worked within the system for several decades, Corbyn isn’t proposing changing the system except with Brexit where he, and the Tories, advocate leaving under a cloud (Labour’s vaunted internationalism clearly doesn’t extend to EU citizens) to rewrite the UK in their image. We now have a situation where the Corbyn supporting left now speak like Brexiters they sneered at prior to April, and we’re being dragged off the edge of a cliff for what? The chance that we might, perhaps, possibly, maybe see Corbyn in power and for Scotland to get maybe control of something Labour have spent years fighting to deny Scotland control of?

The fact is the system is broken. The British state is a state with blood on its hands and we’ll never know how much because the state ensures it always covers it’s tracks be it Operation Legacy, or a compliant UK media that paints the British state as an always benevolent one. And here’s another point, were Corbyn truly radical he’d be pushing to tear all this down but instead we’re promised another ‘discussion’ as frankly, all Labour want is your vote and to have the idea of radicalism as it manages your expectations from being of the left, to now supporting ideas that are making the wealthy cream themselves because Brexit will involve swingeing cuts be it May or Corbyn in power. True, it’ll be less painful under Corbyn only if you consider Labour figures and people like Owen Jones putting on their sad faces when they’re talking of job losses and families broken up, but hey, for the many right? We’ve got your vote sucker!

And here’s my problem with anyone wanting independence voting Labour. You’re supporting all this. I agree Corbyn is the lesser worse option for the UK, but you’re still voting for a party that’s spent nearly four years comparing you to Nazis, calling you a virus, filth and worse who only want your vote. They won’t give a fuck about you and we know that Labour are there to keep Scotland in check because that’s their job. How can you reconcile your position as of the ‘radical left’ by voting for a party that fights to keep the systems you’ve been fighting to break??

It’s illogical and while the SNP and Greens aren’t also as radical as they seem, both support ending the British state, which is as radical a policy as you’ll get in the UK in 2017. So if you want to go back to the days of Labour forming a government once a generation, promising jam aplenty, before the Tories come back in then great. Vote Labour. You’ll never, ever get independence and you’ll doom the most vulnerable to perjury when Brexit kicks in hard and any escape route is closed off.I’m all for sticking to principles but having seen fellow left wingers adopt messiah’s so often, I’m used to seeing crushing disappointment when people realise they’ve been had. I’m just now at the point where both personally for myself, and for those generations coming after me and yet to be born that I can’t live with the idea that we were denied self-determination and the end of the British state because of people being attracted by shiny things and rhetoric.

We do need a more inclusive vision for independence that brings people in from all political opinions but voting Labour isn’t going to achieve that. All you’ll do is empower a party that at the core only wants power for power’s sake. That won’t help the working class will it?

100 Years of Jack Kirby

It’s the San Diego Comic Con (well, it’s barely a comic convention than a media whorefest) this weekend, and the convention is celebrating Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday with a fantastic programme cover recreating one of his Jimmy Olsen covers from back in the 1970’s.

I’m glad they’re doing this as quite simply had there not been a Kirby all those people drawn to ”geek” culture would have drifted elsewhere. No Kirby, no Captain America, no Fantastic Four, no X-Men, no Iron Man, no Avengers, no Thor, no Mister Miracle, no Groot, no Nick Fury, no SHIELD, no Darkseid, no Black Panther, no romance comics, and in fact, the entire American comic book industry not to mention modern culture would look entirely different.

So well done to San Diego for driving the point home. No Kirby, and comic conventions would probably just be full of middle aged men buying back comics they sold when they were in their 20’s, and verbally wanking over Barry Smith’s Conan. Actually…

Anyhow, we should celebrate Jack Kirby and I hope the attendees this weekend make Jack proud.

Automat: the lost album of Italian electronica

Electronic music in the 1970’s ranged from un-listenable garbage to stuff which was new and exciting, so pretty much like today but with less of the former and more of the latter. Here in the UK as a kiddie I was hooked on the bleeps and bloops that’d appear on the BBC, especially Doctor Who, thanks to the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop, but over in Italy they had Automat.

Released in 1977 this only popped on my radar a few weeks ago and for me, it seems to be a missing link in terms of leaping from those early spacey bleeps to something more like we knew in the 80’s and indeed, if I didn’t know this was from 1977 I’d have placed this in the early 80’s. It also sounds a tad like the soundtrack to a good Lucio Fulci film which is high praise.

So enjoy a wee bit of somewhat lost musical history…