Music plus Russian Reads.

March 22, 2018

After a couple of years of being unable to access my site, I stumbled back in a few hours ago more by accident than design, so here goes.

One of the great joys of a vanity presses is the ability to inflict one’s musical taste on readers in addition to jeering at the preferences of others (and here the list is endless.)

Lots of rain in the last few months, so much time has been spent on YouTube revisiting my musical past.

Surely one of my great past moments was catching jazz pianist Cecil Taylor in a hall with tremendous acoustics.

This is Jitney from his Silent Tongues LP recorded in Montreux in 1974. A very demanding listen due to the discordant, percussive qualities of his playing.

Still worked for me even after some 30 years and his other offerings on YouTube are worth a visit.

To this day, I regret selling a three LP box set of Keith Jarrett’s Bremen/Lausanne 1973 solo concerts. Best $10 ever spent and far better than his later solo offerings such as Live at La Scala

Finally, in this serious vein, some rollicking piano by Randy Weston, a pianist who to my mind has never received his due.

The Dear Reader may recall my past infatuation with Malian music, the Wassoulou African origins of early 20th American acoustic blues. brief history and geography women’s advice music

You can listen to this precise genre by tuning into internet Radio Wassoulou, even though it comes in the form of a tape loop.

A couple of my faves.
Oumou Sangare

Lets be honest. The dancers are hot.
Mamou Sidibe

Party time is over children, so we need an appropriate intro for our next item focussing on that smirking shit Vladimir Putin
The KGB Made a Man out of Me by The Barracudas, surely one of the best retro garage bands ever to tread the boards.

The West has many things to thank the New Russia and Prince Vlad for – the strength of the property market/tax havens in London, hi-tech assassinations, Donald Trump, etc.

Not even close. It’s the Western publishing industry which owes him a particular vote of thanks.

The Guardian’s list of ten top books on Putin’s Russia Trust Luke Harding to wade in with his potboiler.

The Washington Post in a similar vein

Particularly enjoyed Putin’s Kleptocracy by Karen Dawisha. The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin by Steven Lee Meyers 2016 is well worth the effort, as is Putin: His Downfall and Russia’s Coming Crash by Richard Lourie which value adds, even if the Crash part is totally unconvincing.

Man Spread Moscow Style



El Violento: Part One

October 9, 2015

After an absence of almost a year – to be totally blamed on that PC disaster Windows 10 and continuous changes to the WordPress dashboard, both of which are getting beyond my skill set – I hit up my stats and discovered, hey, the past scribbles are still picking up a few readers.

While they probably arrived there by accident, I feel the great need to pose a Big Existential Question/BEQ.

After dealing with all the minutae of daily living, what are the big constants in this vale of tears that routinely provide us with large measures of happiness and pleasure.

Any sane checklist would probably focus on the following.

High-end material comforts and experiences eg a luxury auto, regular holidays in exotic locations or possibly moving to a more upmarket abode. Forget it. That’s all the stuff you should have consumed when you were young and stupid. In fact, with each successive decade you should be striving to strip your lifestyle down to bare essentials.

How about a well stocked drinks cabinet and a comprehensive pharmacopoeia of Old School drugs. I must admit to being a bit ambivalent on this one, since both are essential in any decade after the age of consent.

Hot sex with a really good looking partner. Now this is positively dangerous and should not be ticked under any circumstance, as it involves a high degree of predestination, also known in contemporary parlance as sociological determinism. In brief, marriage/de facto relationship/shacking up or however you like to characterise this coupling activity. Ten years down the track, what have you got for some transitory carnal bliss? Unending responsibilities, low-level sniping at the breakfast table plus ungrateful offspring who have appalling musical taste and a vicious appetite for expensive digital toys. If you have a rural address, you must also factor in a horse, expensive feed supplements and vet bills that would terrorise a Russian oligarch.

Gardening? Now this is a relaxing and rewarding activity and it also brings out the pantheist in one, so it worth half a tick.

How about giving back to rabbit ears the community rabbit ears? Okay, and speaking from experience – fire brigade volunteer (see banner above) and part of a fun diversional therapy team in an oldies home – volunteering has a lot to recommend it as it creates tolerance for others. That is to say you learn to get along with the simple folk who you wouldn’t normally include in your socio-intellectual orbit.

Still, our check list is looking a bit thread bare.

So much negativity and ambivalence KT, I hear you say. What is your bloody recipe for eternal happiness and pleasure?

The answer is simple. Get in the car and drive for thirty minutes through a scenic hillscape to the local town. Mine is set in a Hinterland (ie close to the Coast) and is a very nice place indeed. Friendly folk and full of dogs and their owners who appreciate compliments about their canine companions. None of those nasty Norman Rockwell/David Lynch-type tensions which have been done to death in American mini-series in this burg.

Now, even the most idiotic post modernist wouldn’t argue that all this people niceness, mixed with conversations with dogs and their owners, provides a full measure of pleasure and happiness.

For the latter, we have to visit the local library, in my case an elegant building staffed with great librarians, a coffee shop, community meeting rooms, a craft shop, tons of fast computers and, most importantly, a diverse and up-to-date book purchasing program.

BTW. According to a BBC report last night, the sale of Kindalls and their e-equivalents peaked in 2011. The global sales of old fashioned tree books are back bigtime, and not just reclaiming their market share, but actually increasing their overall sales figures.

This is great news and definitely better than any intoxicated carnal grope in a Garden of Eden.

Part One of a related series, if I can deal with some basic cut and paste issues/strong.


September 19, 2014

Before returning to the unpleasantness which is contemporary Israel, a musical interlude prompted by a track by James Booker which I heard for the first time the other night, and who was clearly one of the giants of the New Orleans piano tradition.

Listening also invited the question as to whether the piano is a percussion or a stringed instrument.

Answer: a percussion instrument if one ignores the European classical tradition.

Answer: a percussion instrument if one ignores the European classical tradition.

Back to James Booker who clearly led a troubled life on many fronts, and that is not to be celebrated at the expense of his mind-bending keyboard technique.

So lets do a quick tour of some piano greats, all of whom recorded in glorious analogue with one exception. Somehow digital technologies destroy some of the defining qualities of the saxophone and piano. We also often ignore the fact that listening is a active and rather than a passive activity, involving a productive or labouring subject to employ some basic Marxist concepts.

Perhaps the Reader will recall a very well played LP that looms large in their pantheon of favourite sounds: the ear works to filter our many of the bumps and hisses resulting from stylus-vinyl collisions and general wear and tare. In addition, there are those rudimentary recording techniques made worse by many plays over the years. Yet, by virtue of the filtering process performed by our ears, we can capture the original sound which enraptured listeners then and now.

Where to begin?

Lennie Tristano, who was a pall bearer at Charlie Parker’s funeral, produced a body of work which is not exactly easy listening, and I am only familiar with three of his LPs.
Very early Tristano.

Not being any jazz expert, I take for granted the line wicki draws from Tristano to Cecil Taylor, who I had the great fortune to see live. Great shards of percussive sound with the sound board protesting under the strain. An extended version of Jitney which virtually left his piano in a heap of thousands of pieces. The perfect adjective would be coruscating in the strong shimmering, glittery sense.

Silent Tongues – Live at Montreux is a killer intro to a pianist who wrings you dry and leaves you in an exhausted heap.

Back to an earlier period, we had Art Tatum and Bud Powell.

Randy Weston is recommended if you are undertaking a deep exploration of jazz piano, and this clip has the added attraction of some tremendous abstract imagery.

It is impossible to ignore Keith Jarrett who has produced a massive body of work, much of which leaves me cold, but his solo works are just brilliant.

Live at La Scala is probably his final statement as a solo performer before he reduced his tour schedule, and it is a tour de force of the first order.

If that captured your imagination, go back to his 1973 three LP box set of solos concerts performed in Bremen and Lausanne. I think I paid $8 for mine in a second record shop in Sydney.

I know! I know! Where is Thelonious Monk? Simply couldn’t locate a great clip, so we have to settle for a great photograph.
he is

Trust me. He is in there in what was probably the most famous photo ever taken in old Harlem. Rumour has it that he deliberately arrived late for the group photo, so as not to be outdone in the sartorial stakes.

End Note.

I failed to conclude this post properly and do justice to Art Kane’s photo taken in 1958, so here is a better one plus an identifier.

who was who

01 – Hilton Jefferson, 02 – Benny Golson, 03 – Art Farmer, 04 – Wilbur Ware, 05 – Art Blakey, 06 – Chubby Jackson, 07 – Johnny Griffin, 08 – Dickie Wells, 09 – Buck Clayton, 10 – Taft Jordan, 11 – Zutty Singleton, 12 – Red Allen, 13 – Tyree Glenn, 14 – Miff Molo, 15 – Sonny Greer, 16 – Jay C. Higginbotham, 17 – Jimmy Jones, 18 – Charles Mingus, 19 – Jo Jones, 20 – Gene Krupa, 21 – Max Kaminsky, 22 – George Wettling, 23 – Bud Freeman, 24 – Pee Wee Russell, 25 – Ernie Wilkins, 26 – Buster Bailey, 27 – Osie Johnson, 28 – Gigi Gryce, 29 – Hank Jones, 30 – Eddie Locke, 31 – Horace Silver, 32 – Luckey Roberts, 33 – Maxine Sullivan, 34 – Jimmy Rushing, 35 – Joe Thomas, 36 – Scoville Browne, 37 – Stuff Smith, 38 – Bill Crump, 39 – Coleman Hawkins, 40 – Rudy Powell, 41 – Oscar Pettiford, 42 – Sahib Shihab, 43 – Marian McPartland, 44 – Sonny Rollins, 45 – Lawrence Brown, 46 – Mary Lou Williams, 47 – Emmett Berry, 48 – Thelonius Monk, 49 – Vic Dickenson, 50 – Milt Hinton, 51 – Lester Young, 52 – Rex Stewart, 53 – J.C. Heard, 54 – Gerry Mulligan, 55 – Roy Eldgridge, 56 – Dizzy Gillespie, 57 – Count Basie. [Source:]

Here is one reference and here is the full background provided by wicki.

My bad.

And since Miles Davis missed the photo shoot, some serious trumpet within an almost funk setting.

Turn up the volume, Brothers and Sisters.

People of the Book: Update 2.

September 15, 2014

Before continuing this scribble, there are two new additions to the blog roll, and both should be enjoyed with a coffee when powering up your pc in the morning.

Been following this photography site for ages Quirk’n it. While the photographer Jennifer is focusing on her daughter of late, the photos are both diverse and interesting. I would steal her dog if the opportunity presented itself.

A recent discovery Border Crossings, a site somewhere near tubbyland and highly recommended for its African music.

What the heck. Its time for some deadly electro-funk from Lagos in the 70s by William Onyeabor.
Lots of volume and the right attire please. Nigeria in my cloud category provides more info.


People of the Book: an inter-faith dialogue. UPDATE:1

August 28, 2014

Its time, Dear Reader, to take a cursory look at The People of the Book, the followers of the three monotheistic religions which govern the behaviour of a large percentage of individuals and societies on this planet. The Tanakh. The Bible. The Quran. Very serious texts that have their genesis in the Abrahamic tradition that worships one God, and no bloody Golden Calves. (Really, this so-called entity should be in lower case, but there are conventions.) None of this a polytheistic God for every occasion, but one single voice who doesn’t share his Wisdom and Law with a whole bundle of mongrel competitors as instanced by Hinduism.

Abraham offing his son: the Hollywood version

Abraham offing his son: the Hollywood version

And the question should be, just how do the textual institutions (that includes their religious spokes-types) contribute to the fountain of human happiness in our Global Village, since all provide the final word on the behavioural norms which govern the thoughts and actions of individuals, families and political institutions/the State. And, to be sure, they variously operate in both secular and theocratic States.

Now, when you think about the expected normative behaviour outlined in these Sacred Texts, any reasonable person would assume that these three belief systems would seek to create the greatest good for human kind generally. After all, we don’t expect degrading and/or vicious doctrines to have a long life span, and since all these three religious systems have been around for millennia, we would expect them to be inherently good, and hence beneficial for both the individual and the larger society which they influence, shape and organise.

As wicki notes, “most citizens in the State of Israel are Jewish, and most Israeli Jews practice Judaism in some form”. There is a ton of nit-picking regarding the variants of Judaism of little interest to individuals not belonging to The Chosen People. Furthermore Israel purports to be a secular democracy saturated with Judaic beliefs, so lets cut to the chase and look at the manner which its government treats the Palestinians.

According a number of diaspora Jews:

“As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia”.

And here is their list of Israeli op eds calling for a Final Solution to the Palestinian ‘problem’.

Genocide as a spectator sport

Genocide as a spectator sport

And HERE is a detailed link for the above.

Nazi symbols

Lumpen prole Jews wearing Nazi symbols

And HERE is the link.

I could really ladle on the evidence that Israel is behaving in a manner similar to Nazi Germany – crop destruction, wholesale land clearance via terror tactics, a complex and degrading system of passport controls, ghettoization, etc – it is out there and in plain sight if you dare look.

The Chosen People. Uber exclusivist, informed by an over-overarching monotheistic belief system and plain vicious with a leadership who should be prime candidates for the International Criminal Court. Mining a history of victimisation for all its worth, and getting away with it in an epoch where universal concepts of genocide, human rights etc supposedly have real legal teeth.

And if you are interested in the Palestinian perspective on Israel, the Jewish lobby and recent events in that part of the world, I recommend The Electronic Intifida and the columnist Ali Abunimah in particular.

As Peter Beinart points out his article The American Jewish Cocoon The New York Review of Books Sept-Oct 2013 American Israeli spin merchants only talk to each other and they never explore the Palestinian perspective.

Two additional points:
The former head of Shin Bet Yuval Diskin has stated that “over the past 10-15 years has become more and more racist…….” p20.

Secondly, Beinart makes the point that Abunimah is no slouch when it comes to understanding how the American Israeli lobby thinks, so he is a Palestinian commentator to be taken very seriously.

To be continued.


In the last day or so, I ended up in a slanging match with one Ji Xiang – Capital in the North – when commenting on another subject on FOARP’S site – Fear of the Red Planet. Now, Foarp has been around for eons and is an individual with balanced views on most matters.

Not so, this one Ji Xiang – a Jewish person probably holding a US passport – who quite obviously spent seven seconds reading the above (ignoring the Israeli media links provided) and then called me out as a Holocaust denier. A serious charge to put it mildly, so its time to ladle on the evidence that Israeli is a State actor every bit as murderous as any in the Middle East. And we certainly have an abundance of murderous scumbag States to choose from in that part of the world.

And just so readers know who I’m talking about, below is my interlocutor Ji Xiang armed for bear in the wilds of Guangxi province in 2009.

It’s not that Israeli public opinion is monolithic: there are dissenting voice and organisations who believe Palestinians are human beings, not stereotypes and ciphers of the Evil Other and fanatical, crazed Muslims to
boot. In contrast to flesh and blood with aspirations and the usual issues of paying the rent, putting food on the table and getting the brats off to school. We are talking about a very binary perspective and there’s no commonly shared humanity.

Wicki has compiled a list HERE and its well worth a bit of link time, as it connects to a wide range of human rights organisations, and not all focus on Palestinian issues. One such group is B’Tselem, a brilliantly layed-out and authoritive reporting organisation on human rights abuses in Gaza and the West Bank.

The International Legal Assistance Consortium, the Swedish Bar Association and the International Bar Association announced on 11 Sept. 2014 that the 2014 Stockholm Human Rights Award will be presented to B´Tselem. The Stockholm Human Rights Award was established in 2009, and is awarded annually to an individual or an institution for outstanding contributions to the rule of law and the promotion and protection of human rights.

So we have a very credible organisation similar to Human Rights Watch.

Sorry. The dashboard is getting a bit unmanageable, so continue on the next post.

The Clive Daily Show.

August 21, 2014

With apologies to The China Daily Show.

This post is prompted by a promise I made on Justrecently’s site regarding Clive Palmer’s recent spray against Mainland China. Since it now involves so many links, decided to post it here AND also refer you to JR’s Weblog above, which is always good value, particularly if you’re Old School.

Now, Australia has its fair share of mining magnates who are either barking mad or come from extremely dysfunctional families. The heirs of the really dead West Australian mining magnate Lang Hancock are a prime example. I won’t bother you with the families genealogical tree, suffice to say it has involves Rose Porteous, who could best be described as a mix of Imelda Marcos and Wendy Deng, Murdoch’s third ex.

God, what is it with rich old white males and Asian gold diggers with long painted nails.

Rose Porteous. See what I mean

Rose Porteous. See what I mean

Then there is her step daughter Gina Rinehart, who is obese, ugly as sin, extremely avaricious and hoping to become even wealthier than the richest woman in the world, which she is presently, by importing Chinese coolie labour (via the 457 visa arrangement) to work in her many mining ventures.

That her four children hate her guts with a living vengeance is a by-the-by, with a long protracted legal struggle over a family trust involving court cases, high court appeals, counter appeals, attempt to suppress the media etc. This high priced legal struggle made the head spin and caused a major run on pharmaceuticals using the valium formula.

Told you so.. meet the new Bunyip aristocracy .

Told you so.. meet the new Bunyip aristocracy .

The sack of potatoes earning capacity

The sack of potatoes earning capacity

Now we come to Clive Palmer and his Palmer United Party, a recent political creation which is forcing the Abbott Federal Government to assume the star fish position.

palmer circus

Context: Cuddly rotund Uncle Clive comes across a bit like Big Daddy minus the cigar in Faulkner’s The Long Hot Summer. Unlike Faulkner’s creation with his plantations, Palmer derives his wealth from a number of dodgy mining ventures.

Now, normally when you have a deranged uncle likely to cause public/political embarrassment, you keep him locked up in the chook pen or family outhouse ie the dunny. Not so in The Great Southern Land: you’ve got a real future in politics. And does he ever.

Even if Palmer implodes in the next three month, a highly likely prospect, the next Federal election will see more fringe independents emerging like an Ebola plague to truly gut the two major parties that presently dominate the landscape in tubbyland. The natives are getting restless and listening to the tom toms of populist simplicities.

And lets admit it, they do have their appeal, not due to their content, but how they have the capacity to strip away the rhetorical drivel which has colonised mainstream political discourse.

Now, I know JR will be giving this scribble a really close reading, so I better provide the link which provides Palmers outburst with background, and of course it is provided by John Garnaut of the SMH.

The first cracks appeared in Clive Palmer’s China story about four years ago, when he collided with the glamorous daughter of the former premier, Li Peng (aka the Butcher of Beijing).

Until then he was happy to sing the Communist Party’s praises while party executives signed opaque iron ore deals, sometimes with the aide of mystery middle men.

The Sino Iron investment in the Pilbara became famous in China as the single most disastrous outbound investment deal in Chinese history and turned Palmer into one of Australia’s richest men.

Read more:

Garnaut’s account is hilarious and not without some fun irony for readers who follow Chinese media.

More to the point, Palmer’s outburst will have absolutely no negative impact whatosever on Mainland China-Australia trade relations. For the gist of China’s huffing and puffing response, quickly scan the google news screen save below. The usually predictable hurt-feelings swill emanating from Beijing/CCTV and its so-called public intellectuals/toads and parrots.

But the one I liked most of all came from The Global Times, which referred to Palmer’s rampart rascality when denouncing him as a scumbag.

The fact, written in stone, is that the Chinese Government and its SOE’s will do a deal with any govt/regime whatsoever, when it comes to acquiring mineral and energy resources ie North Korea, Russian Federation, Sudan, warlords in the DPR, Kenya etc. They have no shame whatsoever and would even enter into trade arrangements with odious Catholic Poland if the occasion required.


While The Great Southern Land has an abundance of slander, libel and hate speech legislation, the Australian Federal parliament nonetheless provides a great forum for insult, invective and other uncomplimentary language. All the same there are rules governing exchanges between the government and opposition, and you can read them HEREOffensive and disorderly words/References to and reflections on members. Cobbled together by the finest constitutional minds in the land and therefore beyond normal comprehension.

Few negotiated this legal minefield better than Paul Keating, PM 1991-1996. Keating really knew how to traverse Parliaments speech constraints and pour it on with vernacular that resonated with the average tubbylander. Try G’Day Scumbags HERE.

Or youtube below:

There is no denying that Keating played the peanut gallery for all it was worth. Forget responsible government and think crowd support in a Premier League game. Lift your side and jeer/insult the opposition. Come to think, if Keating followed PL he would be rabid Crystal Palace supporter.

Now, Uncle Clive is no parliamentary performer by whatever measure. No wit, language facility, in addition to a seriously meandering and contradictory political history which you catch on wicki.

Now, for some forensic analysis of the context where Uncle Clive went feral.

The Q @ A Program is one of the flagships of the Australian Broadcasting Commission – a tax payer funded national broadcaster with a long and venerable history. You can catch its digital presence HERE.

It purports to offer adventures in democracy. Compered by pinhead Tony Jones, who looks like a skinny version of Julian Assange but with a perpetual smirk, it cobbles together a half dozen politicians of diverse stripe, pundits (self-appointed Thought Leaders) and an audience (victims, ngo identity spokes-types and others with something really bloody important to say.

The whole Q @ A format is managed and manipulated to within an inch of its life – very safe fare for the mums and days at home sipping their hot chocolate and labouring under the belief that they will retreat into the land of nod horribly well informed on this or that topic of the day.

In fact, they would be better advised to drink some cheap alcohol, watch a rerun of Baywatch and indulge in a quick grope. And of course, the panellists are expected to push their own agendas while showering all and sundry in the studio with their wit and wisdom.

In brief, Brothers and Sister it is fucking pathetic. More like a Faux Roman Circus of Really Deep Ideas, and if I catch any of the servants watching it they get a sound flogging.
The Palmer United Party leader is embroiled in a legal battle with Chinese state-owned company CITIC Pacific, which has accused the mining magnate of siphoning off $12 million in funds.

Mr Palmer has strenuously denied accusations his company Mineralogy misused CITIC Pacific’s cash to finance PUP’s federal election campaign.

He said the matter was before the Supreme Court this week and he’d keep up the fight against the “Chinese mongrels”.

“I’m saying that because they’re communist, because they shoot their own people, they haven’t got a justice system and they want to take over this country,” he said.

“We’re not going to let them do it.” Courtesy of the SMP.

Lets look at Palmer’s situation via an analogy.

If you were accused of stealing and wearing your sisters underwear on national TV, how would you respond? Answer in the affirmative! Like hell. If you had half a brain, you would probably accuse the Vatican of being a global paedophile cult of extremely evil proportions, which it most certainly is, what with major investigations taking place in Australia, Ireland, Mexico, Brazil, the US, etc. Your peccadillo would be airbrushed off the airwaves, and you would get to enjoy your thrill another day.

Clive was not going to fall on his knees and seek forgiveness before the mums and dads of Australia, and then hope against hope that the High Court would rule in his $12m favour.

While he is a populist clown who enjoys a greater public approval rating than most pundits will admit – such is intense dislike of the Abbott Government – he is no fool when it comes to the public conversation.

Language is a slippery and highly evocative commodity.

When you say that this or that individual has ‘a bit of mongrel in him’, a charge often levelled at Keating, you are talking about a positive, admirable attribute.

‘A mongrel act’ is a despicable action undertaken by an individual, and when you refer to a class of individuals as ‘mongrels’ you are drawing attention to the despicable or unconscionable way they deal with others.

And let’s admit it. The Chinese are not noted for upright behaviour in the business department. At present, twenty plus Australian citizens are being detained and/or prevented from exiting Mainland China, so their joint venture partners can loot and/or take over their businesses.

The ‘communist’ charge. The Big Other which really resonates, although the mums and dads still have problems explaining how a very small percentile of the Chinese population enjoys unimaginable wealth.

‘They shoot their own people’. Forget all the TM history. They have shoot a lot of folk in Xinjiang lately, and life for Tibetans is not exactly a bed of roses.

The Chinese justice system. Not worth comment. Refer to hostile bids above.

“They want to take over this country”. ie taking over the nations ports to steal the nations natural resources. Palmer has a lot of skin in this other claim, and the complexities – involving rail shipping to ports in Queensland – are beyond this scribbler.

But the above doesn’t matter, given the commonplace knowledge that Mainland capital outflows are saturating the real estate markets in the capital cities. Try these graphs provided by The Business Spectator.

While Mainland investment mostly concentrates on the higher end of the market, the public perception is that its forcing up the price of the average family home, and that hurts.

The rain has just finished and so have I.

Leopard Men: Part One – Geography

June 6, 2014

This two/three part post promises to be pretty disorganised, but I have to get it out of my system since it has been hanging around my neck like the Rock of Sisyphus for ages.

Stephen Ellis The Mask of Anarchy: The Destruction of Liberia and the Religious Dimension of An African Civil War.
1999 Reprinted 2007 New York University Press
Liberia: History, Civil War 1989 – . Religion: Poro Society, Sande Society.
A quick synopsis of Ellis’ highly recommended study is outlined in this youtube clip.

You can find other equally critical reviews of Ellis’ study (see first link) of the character and role of religious institutions and religious ideology as a means of explaining the content and character of the Liberian Civil War (1997 – 2003) – when Charles Taylor grasped the Presidency – on the net, but I’ve lost the links.


Now, the above depiction of African Leopard Men found in the American Natural History Museum NY owes more to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan than to anthropology, ethnology and history. While there is a definite balletic quality to this composition, it would have been improved if Home Counties babe Jane – Tarzan’s significant other – was caught in a state of semi-undress, but hey, we don’t live in a perfect world.

More to the point, there is absolutely no record of Leopard Men ever attacking white men (whether in the guise of missionaries or colonial administrators) and extracting their vital organs for a spot of cannibalism or consuming them in toto after weilding that rather neat metal claw. To be sure, Leopard Men certainly practised cannibalism but it was within a highly religious context, and the actual victims chosen for human sacrifice will be the surprise which will be discussed in subsequent posts.
The obverse side of this comic strip colonialism is all that Heart of Darkness Conrad stuff, Black Barbarism, Darkest Africa etc, which has been alive since Europeans such as Livingstone and Speke first set foot in Africa’s heartland. While we view the consumption of human flesh as being totally repugnant – the stuff that has given many serial killers their notoriety – a totally different regime of cultural beliefs continues to exist throughout many parts of Africa.

If you wish to get a quick fix of Leopard Men fact and fantasy totally devoid of context, you should visit this SITE. However, since we are making a meal of this topic, lets begin with some geography.

West Africa

West Africa

The colonial carve-up of western Africa ignores the fact that cultural commonalities co-exist across the borders of Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta), Guinea and Cote d Ivoire. A case of colonial boundaries being imposed on non-state social and cultural identities.

Liberian Provinces

Liberian Provinces

Malian Empire - 12th to 16th centuries

Malian Empire – 12th to 16th centuries

When we also factor in those numerous Lebanese and Mandingo traders (the latter being descendants of the powerful Malian empire of the sixteenth century) who continue to play an important role in organising cross-border and cross-tribal commerce, the problems of definition become even more complex.

Tribal map

Tribal map

Tribal boundaries don’t necessarily coincide with commonly shared languages, even though colonial or indigenous elites shared the belief that tribal identities, via deals struck with their paramount chiefs, were the key to extending their sway/government power into rural hinterlands. That extension itself was a measure forced on isolated centres of government and commerce (Bissau, Conakry, Freetown, Monrovia, Harper @ Abidjan) as colonial borders became fixed on maps and in the eyes of global institutions such as the League of Nations and its successor, the UN.

Generally speaking, Islam predominates in north Liberia and Christianity has its foothold in the south, while traditional belief systems hold sway right across this part of West Africa. Furthermore, there is no contradiction in being a Muslin and also attending a Christian church, while also being a member of a secret society that practices cannibalistic rituals. All three institutions have/and do provide individuals with sources of power and cultural identity. And power is the key term in this discussion.

However, the concept of power – an extremely imprecise notion – remains devoid of meaning until we ask the question, what type of power are we talking about, and that will be addressed in subsequent posts.

The Western mind has a long way to travel if it is going to make sense of rituals involving the consumption of human flesh in this part of the world. Theories of colonialism only explain how surplus value and raw materials were extracted, and they can be readily grasped by a smart teenager. Marxism with its concept of totality comprising of economic base and superstructure is equally hopeless: it being the conceptual consequence of our Western experience – feudalism, industrial capitalism, etc.

Attempts to incorporate anthropological concepts and perspectives into Marxism by the likes of Maurice Godelier and Emmanuel Terray are clunky at best, whiles structuralisms as instanced by Levi-Strauss also fail due to their ahistoricity and over-reliance on linguistics as the privilieged explanatory structure.

I warned you that this post will be mess, but what the heck, my blog, my mess.


June 3, 2014

Back into the scribbling business early this month/June and with Africa in mind.

Meanwhile, a couple of music clips which I enjoy:
Tin Soldier by The Small Faces – a most under-rated group. Stevie Marriot had the voice to die for. In the charts the very month I saw them along with The Who.

A killer track by James Brown – live in Italy. Bass and drums, On the One big time.

Wanda Jackson and Jack White Shaking All Over plus that toothy old Letterman.
All the elements. Lots of glitz delivering one of my favourite tracks of all times. Razor sharp brass. Old doll Wanda reinventing her rockabilly career and good on her. Pixie from Iceland cleverly disguised as a rhythm guitarist. Brilliant steel guitar sounding very much like a theremin, and dare I say it, Jack White’s very noticeable bald spot.

Finally, performing the usual unappreciated public service.

Two new entrants in the ASP Women’s Tour to get you all hot and really bothered.

Miho Ihara

Miho Ihara – Ranked 38


Reiki Noro

Reika Noro – Ranked 41

Reika Noro

Reika Noro

Reika noro 6
Eat your heart out, aliens.

Columbian Sounds

February 23, 2014

After the recent infatuation with Lagos electro-funk circa 70s.

The fun event of this year presented by the Columbian Embassy, State Library of Queensland, Griffith Uni and Pura Vida Roadshow.

Booking information here State Library Queensland – 7th March, plus group synopsis.

Frente Cumbiero with some super-slick visual production values.

Frente Cumbbiero

Frente Cumbiero

La Chiva Gantiva

La Chiva Gantiva

La Chiva Gantiva

Brothers and sisters. That’s too much for the system.

Back in 2014

December 25, 2013

It’s the fire season at the moment, so am pretty busy.

Will be back with a vengeance next year.

And don’t forget to indulge in all Seven Deadly Sins on New Years Eve because things are definitely not improving.

My thoughts go out to the people of Mali, the CAE and the rest of the folk living in the Sahel.

And it was just fabulous that the BBC did a feature on Nigerian 70s electro funkster Willian Onyeabor on Xmas eve. Better than all that Christian claptrap that pollutes the airwaves this time of the year.

See previous post: Fun: Some African Musical and Other Resources – Sept 28 2013.

(Marvin Gaye would have cut his heart out.)

Lets bury 2013 with the exuberant sound of Armadou and Marian – Mon Cherie, Ma Cherie.

This site will be almost be focussing exclusively on music and affairs in Africa almost from now on, but with the occasional gorgeous Japanese surfer girl post for Readers who like to get hot and bothered.

Postscript. If you are a desperate still getting over that fizzer of a game between Arsenal and Chelsea, its time to follow a new sport, namely the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Its not exactly a good old fashioned blood sport, but in the past there have been capsizings, drownings, broken bones, concussion, groin injuries plus dramatic helicopter rescues. Qingdao/PRC resident Vicky Song is participating this year, and good luck to her after her truly fabulous interview on SBS recently.


Background to above photo here and with thnx.