Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Brexit, a playlist

We don't have a Plan B by Redhead Kingpin
Stuck on you by Lionel Richie
Can't stand losing you by The Police
Looking at the front door by Main Source
Chaos and Disorder by Prince
Let's stay together by Al Green
I can't see myself leaving you by Aretha Franklin
Stay with me by El Debarge
Knockin' at the wrong door by The Rollers
Mistake by Fela Kuti

Bonus beats:

Weary by Amel Larrieux
Let's call the whole thing off by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

Liner notes:

I was an early victim of Theresa May's 'hostile environment' immigration policy, and lost my notional residency in Her Majesty's lands some time ago, hence I'm quite ambivalent about the exhausting spectacle of self harm that the past three years of English politics have provided. True, the political sketch writers have been having a field day as everyone has done their worst - with the promise of more to come. Satire is a soothing balm for dysfunction, but to paraphrase Theresa May, dysfunction means dysfunction.

The closing track of this playlist, Mistake, recorded live at the Berlin Jazz Festival, was originally meant to be part of the appropriately named Zombie album (prescience about "the withdrawal agreement"?). As is typical for a Fela track, languorous horns float in and out atop the loping drums throughout, and it is only after 8 minutes that Fela gets to decrying colonial thinking.

Mistake you go make, people go laugh at you.
After they laugh at you, them go smile again

Still, he is quite optimistic in the end: "after mistakes... everything's all right". As for the rest of the tracks, they are self evident. Nominations for additions are welcome.

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Monday, March 11, 2019

Side by Side

A few juxtapositions briefly noted - part of an occasional series.

Novelistic Lives

novelistic lives
  • The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint by Brady Udall
  • The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith by Peter Carey
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
  • The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin
Another candidate on the same bookshelf was Milan Kundera's Life is Elsewhere.

House Readings

House readings
  • La vie de boy (Houseboy) by Ferdinand Oyono
  • Housegirl by Michael Donkoli
  • The Housemaid by Amma Darko
My favourite book on much the same theme is Empress of the Splendid Season by Oscar Hijuelos.

Office Tales

Office life, office politics, the organization man, managing humans, the bad child's book of beasts
  • Office life by Keith Waterhouse
  • Office Politics by Wilfrid Sheed
  • The Organization Man by William H Whyte, Jr
  • Managing Humans by Rands in Repose
  • The Bad Child's Book of Beasts by Hilaire Belloc
Belloc's inclusion turns these office tales into a survival guide.

Contrasting Fortunes

I grew up in a newsroom hence print newspapers retain their fascination for me. In this age of declining print journalism, I am still cheered that there are some stories whose impact is best dealt with in newsprint. The touch of a great editor melding words and images is a thing to behold.

apartheid legacies in Stellenbosch

Surprisingly, although it was part of the same story, it was not the front page display of last Sunday's New York Times that was vital to me, nor indeed the online version, A battle defined by Property Lines and Race. Rather it was the contrast between the images of those erecting a shack on page 12 and the relaxing tourists in the streets of Stellenbosch on 13 that silently made the poignant case. The complexities of the enduring legacies of apartheid were succinctly illustrated. Who gets to share in the wages of wine and spoils of the soil?

In the same vein, I had a strong sense that the Brexit referendum would go the way it did simply by reading the inside pages of the Daily Mail in January 2016, something that amounted to Tickling John Bull's Lizard Brain. There, skillful juxtaposition had a visceral impact even on a jaundiced reader.

The most effective juxtaposition I can remember was executed in the war context in the reporting of the Israeli attacks on Lebanon in 2006. The accompanying article, In Beirut, an Abyss Between Elegance and Chaos, didn't need much more that the contrasting photos.

"One man struggles, while another relaxes", goes the refrain in Massive Attack's Hymn of the Big Wheel. This is the nature of The Great Game.

Colors - a playlist

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