Jamaican prize-winning novel on Bob Marley, review

This music video, recorded in Germany, is called Bob Marley – Live In Rockpalast, Dortmund (Full Concert) – 1980.

By Karl Dallas in Britain:

Monumental musings on mayhem and Marley

Tuesday 10th November 2015

KARL DALLAS recommends this year’s Man Booker prizewinner, set in Jamaica from the turbulent 1970s onwards

A Brief History of 7 Killings
by Marlon James
(Riverhead Books, £8.99)

WINNER of this year’s Man Booker prize, this long story of over 700 pages centres on the attempted assassination of reggae singer Bob Marley in 1976.

It’s a monumental and multifaceted achievement even though, because much of it is in Jamaican patois, it is not an easy read.

And, because of its depiction of the lower depths of Jamaican society, it’s unlikely to obtain the endorsement of the Jamaican tourist board.

The genesis of the author’s third book began in some confusion. In a note at the end he writes of its conception: “I had a narrative, even a few pages, but still not quite a novel. The problem was that I couldn’t tell whose story it was.

“Draft after draft, page after page, character after character, and still no through line, no narrative spine, nothing.”

A colleague suggested that he turn those fragments into a multivoiced narrative. “I had a novel, and it was right in front of me all that time. Half-formed and fully formed characters, scenes out of place, hundreds of pages that needed sequence and purpose.

“A novel that would be driven only by voice.”

Supposedly, it took the Man Booker judges just two hours’ discussion before they unanimously gave James the award but it’ll take readers many hours more, if not days and weeks more, to reach their own verdict.

This is a big book, not only in length but in depth also.

Reading it, I was reminded many times of the nightmare “Nighttime” dream sequence in James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Like that book, its strength is its basis in reality. But while Joyce concentrated the focus of his work on a single Dublin day, Marlon James’s narrative begins in 1976 and ends in 1991, shifting from one ghetto to another and from Kingston, Jamaica to Miami and New York.

It’s not something you can read just once and leave to gather dust on your bookshelves. I guarantee that, if you are prepared to put the work in, it will repay repeated readings in the years to come.

The author doesn’t make things easy, though.

Although he provides a list of the 70-odd — some very odd — characters at the beginning of the book, his hero-victim is referred to only as the Singer, although a Rolling Stone journalist says at one stage: “I should head back to Marley’s house tomorrow. I mean, I had an appointment. Like that means anything in Jamaica.”

The various ghettos are given new names. Kingston’s Tivoli Gardens becomes Copenhagen, which loses the irony of the original name for what one local newspaper has described as the worst slum in the Caribbean, where “three communal standpipes and two public bathrooms served a population of well over 5,000 people.”

If the book has anything like a central character, it would be Josey Wales — in real life, many Jamaicans have adopted names from US films. Robert Brammer became Clint Eastwood. Shotta Sherrif/Roland Palmer, don of the Eight Lanes, takes his name from Marley’s “I shot the sheriff” and the term becomes a generic description of ghetto killers.

“Me stun like little boy when him first see a dead shotta,” says one character.

Wales is obviously based on the real-life Lester Coke, the former Tivoli posse drugs boss, whose death in a crack-house fire is the climax of James’s story.

The book could do with a patois glossary and one advantage of reading the Kindle edition is that if you select a word you don’t understand you can sometimes, though not always, be given an explanation.

One thing that jarred with me was the frequent obscenities. I have interviewed many Jamaican musicians, including Marley, but none of them peppered their speech with terms like “pussyhole,” which appears over 100 times in the text.

Though few of the characters could be said to be models of spiritual perfection, most of them are in fact deeply religious and not just the comparatively few Rastafarians depicted within the book.

Before he is ousted as Copenhagen “don” by the Wales/Coke character, Papa-Lo muses: “The world now feeling like the seven seals breaking one after the other. Hataclaps or ill feeling, something in the air.”

Hataclaps means “apocalypse” and the reference is to the last book in the Bible, the trippy Revelation of St John the Evangelist.

As the CIA Jamaica chief says, the situation there was “like Cuba in 1959, only worse because this was all religious.”

Singing Beethoven for refugees

This video was recorded on 31 October 2015 in Paddepoel shopping center in Groningen city, the Netherlands.

The local orchestra KamerFilharmonie Der Aa, and local choirs Braga and Sica played Beethoven‘s Ode an die Freude.

This was a pro-refugee concert; all money collected was for helping refugees.

There is more pro-refugee music for a choir in the Netherlands: written recently by composer Willem Jeths, with a text by poet Rodaan al Galidi, a refugee from Iraq living in the Netherlands.

Fidelio is animated by the ideals of the Enlightenment. It was composed in the midst of the upheavals and the upsurge unleashed by the French Revolution. It stands alongside Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, with its world-famous choral finale, as a moving musical expression of “liberty, equality, fraternity.” Director Claus Guth and the others responsible for the latest Salzburg production are not interested in this theme. Guth has imposed an entirely different conception. As we shall explain in more detail below, the director turns away from the realities and struggles that engaged Beethoven, substituting a purely psychological and neo-Freudian conception. The result is an oddly schizophrenic production at best, with the glorious music and theme of Fidelio undermined if not contradicted by a set and a directorial artistic idea that belong to a different opera: here.

Jeremy Corbyn recites pro-peace poem to remember World War I

This music video from London, England says about itself:

Remembering World War One in Music and Words. St James’s Church London, 25 October 2013. Filmed by Fourman Films.

For more info on the No Glory in War campaign see here.


1 Introduction by Lindsey German, convener of Stop the War Coalition

2 The Lark Ascending, played by i Maestri conducted by John Landor. Solo violin George Hlawiczka

3 Kika Markham reads Last Post by Carol Ann Duffy and A War Film by Teresa Hooley

4 Elvis McGonigle reads Strange Meeting By Wilfred Owen and Matey by Patrick MacGill

5 Music by Sally Davies, Matthew Crampton, Abbie Coppard and Tim Coppard

6 Jeremy Corbyn MP

7 Elvis McGonaggall

8 Kate Hudson, chair of CND

9 Music by Sally Davies, Matthew Crampton, Abbie Coppard and Tim Coppard

10 Matthew Crampton reads My Dad and My Uncle were in World War One by Heathcote Williams

11 Kika and Jehane Markham

12 Billy Bragg sings: Last Night I had the Strangest Dream, My Youngest Son Came Home Today, Like Soldiers Do, The Man He Killed, Between the Wars, Where Have All the Flowers Gone

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Jeremy Corbyn to recite Wilfred Owen’s poem ‘Futility’ in Remembrance Sunday memorial service

Jeremy Corbyn will be laying a wreath at the Cenotaph and will then attend the ceremony in his constituency of Islington North

Shehab Khan

Jeremy Corbyn will recite a poem about the futility of war at a memorial service on Remembrance Sunday in his constituency.

Mr Corbyn will join the other party leaders to lay a wreath bearing his own message at the Cenotaph and will then attend the ceremony in Islington North.

There, he will recite “Futility” by the First World War solider poet Wilfred Owen at memorial service in his constituency.

The poem tells of a fallen soldier and concentrates on the meaning of existence, the pointlessness of war and inevitability of death.

This is what the poem says:

Move him into the sun—
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields half-sown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds,—
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved—still warm—too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
—O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?

Jeremy Corbyn accuses UK military chief of ‘breaching’ constitutional principle with Trident comments: here.

SKY NEWS bosses refused to apologise last night for referring to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as “Jihadi Jez” despite thousands of complaints: here.

Stop police brutality in the USA, petition

This music video from the USA says about itself:

2015 Student Emmy Nominee: Hands Up Don’t Shoot

22 August 2014

Pearl Star Student, Queen McElrath, shows love and talent for Michael Brown and the people of Ferguson. A great song!!!!

Winner of 2014 My Hero International Film Festival Best Music Video

From Democrats.com in the USA:

Month after month, unarmed African Americans – including Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Natasha McKenna and countless others – have lost their lives as a result of police brutality.

The time to demand major changes to law enforcement practices in this country is long overdue.

Please pledge to support LDF’s Policing Reform Campaign to promote unbiased and responsible policing policies and practices.

Thanks for all you do!

Bob Fertik

Dear Activist,

More than a year has passed since Michael Brown’s tragic death. And yet, month after month, we read reports of how unarmed African Americans – including Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray and Natasha McKenna and countless others – have lost their lives as a result of relentless police brutality.

The United States is undeniably in a policing crisis and it’s time we demanded real, actionable solutions to monitor and ultimately end race-based policing around the country.

Sign the Petition Now
Policing reform begins now – with your name.
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund has been at the forefront of civil rights advocacy and litigation for 75 years. Now, we are leading the conversation once again with our Race and Policing Reform Campaign – and we need the help of fair-minded, just people like you who believe change is imperative.Pledge to support LDF’s campaign to promote unbiased and responsible policing policies and practices at the national, state and local levels.
With you in struggle,
Sherrilyn A. Ifill
President and Director-Counsel
Copyright © NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans.

Louisiana police officers charged with murder in shooting death of 6-year-old: here. And here.

Illinois cop, supposed victim of the “war on police,” exposed as thief and would-be killer: here.

Describing the trend as “alarming,” the president of the Los Angeles Police Commission reported last Tuesday that Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) shootings have doubled in 2015 with 45 instances, compared to 23 the previous year: here.

Deadly radiation in Fukushima

This music video from Japan says about itself:

“The Scrap” punk band blasts Fukushima aftermath. Thousands still homeless after earthquake and tsunami. Nobutaka Takahashi, lead vocal, “The Scrap”. Wednesday, May 23, 2012.

From the Japan Times:

Deadly 9.4 sieverts detected outside Fukushima reactor 2 containment vessel; checks stop

Oct 30, 2015

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday that radiation levels of up to 9.4 sieverts per hour have been detected near a reactor containment vessel at the meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Sept. 4-25 checks found the extremely high radiation levels in a small building containing a pipe that is connected to the reactor 2 containment vessel at the plant, which was devastated in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Tepco said.

Exposure to such a dosage for some 45 minutes would result in death. Tepco said it expects decontamination work at the site to take at least one month.

Although details surrounding the high radiation levels remain scarce, the highest contamination was detected near the floor of the building, according to the company.

Tepco had planned to begin checking the inside of the containment vessel in August by using a remote-controlled robot, but high radiation levels have stalled the examination.

Extremely high radiation levels and the inability to grasp the details about melted nuclear fuel make it impossible for the utility to chart the course of its planned decommissioning of the reactors at the plant.

Time has come for an ‘honorable retreat’ from Tokyo 2020 [Olympics] over Fukushima — Dr. Brian Victoria, The Japan Times: here.

Cancer and Fukushima: Who to trust? — The Japan Times: here.

JAPAN Nuclear Fuel Ltd announced yesterday that it was postponing the opening of a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant until September 2018. The company cited regulators’ lengthy inspection procedures and the time needed for safety upgrades: here.

Radioactive waste mounts up as residents resist post-Fukushima disposal plans — The Asahi Shimbun: here.

British women punk rockers in concert

This music video from Britain says about itself:

Argonaut – Touch Electric – Official Music Video (Criminal Records)

Argonaut – Touch Electric – Out Now – Album Out Monday 19th November, 2012

Argonaut were snapped up by Criminal Records in late 2011. Their sound combines super sweet sexy vocals with rocktastic guitar riffs, shrill synths and the occasional harmonica for a rock mix with an alternative edge.

‘Argonaut put forward a good case for being brilliant….. Sounds like Siouxsie And The Banshees, while their commitment to youth, ideas and passion should be lauded and rewarded’ James Jam NME

By Bob Oram in England:

Punk witches cast potent hexes for Halloween

Wednesday 4th November 2015

Dream Nails + Argonaut + The Ethical Debating Society
Veg Bar, London SW2

4 stars

LOUD, proud and angry, these feminist women make music for a packed — and mixed — audience who love every minute of this Veg Bar gig.

Dream Nails, activists who formed their band only three months ago, are self-proclaimed “punk witches from hell” and seeing their third gig is like witnessing history in the making.

“These are not songs but hexes,” says lead singer Janey and they certainly bewitch, overcoming a poor PA to wow the crowd with a glorious riot-grrrl set.

Guitarist Anya is on fire and Emmett and Judith maintain a perfect rhythm platform for Janey to show vocal anger and passion in a set that includes Vagina Police, Not abt U, DIY, Joke Choke, Bully Girl and the superbly catchy and danceable Deep Heat.

With no stage, the bands are right up close, in and among the audience and nothing suits Argonaut better.

New drummer Omz is a revelation, gelling neatly with Joules to power a great performance that sees Abby and Lorna clearly enjoying the moment.

Layered with intricate keyboards and guitars, the sound is a soundscape for Lorna to embellish. Lost in the moment, she dances, shakes and jumps while still singing perfectly.

Touch Electric, Seven, Owners and Vintage Dress, drawn from their two albums, are stand-outs in what’s a classic show.

The unique Ethical Debating Society are informed by a DIY sensibility that says “anyone can do this” and they even get an audience member up to have a go with them.

They’re scary, not just because it’s Hallowe’en but for the rare intensity of the two-guitar aural assault by Tegan and Kris.

Their yelled, call-and-response vocals blur the lyrical content in the heartburn of the sound but a set drawn from their New Sense album showcases their glorious riot pop perfectly.

Their blasts of Oh Bondage Up Yours at the end is a perfect nod to previous generations who blazed this trail.

If Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna had come down to the Veg Bar she would have been proud of what these amazing women are doing.

This 2013 music video from Britain is called The Ethical Debating Society – Creosote ideas.

This music video is called X Ray Spex – Oh Bondage Up Yours (TWNDISH 1978).

This music video is called Siouxsie And The Banshees – Love In A Void. Live on Something Else 1979.

British musicians pro-refugees, government anti-refugees

This music video from England says about itself:

Luna Marada – Doberman [Live]

23 April 2015

Our first music video, edited with footage from our gig at SSR Manchester, and from our trip to Featherstone Castle. Enjoy :)

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Musical bros welcomed to the Jungle for solidarity gig

Monday 26th October 2015

TWO Manchester musicians showed their solidarity with refugees by spending the weekend in a camp in Calais playing to the thousands seeking asylum in Britain.

Martim and Tomas Pocinho, who play with the band Luna Marada, headed for the so-called Jungle on Friday.

In the camp they were warmly welcomed by its inhabitants, sharing their meals and playing concerts for the estimated 4,000 people now living in the coastal town.

“We felt really appreciated. It was just really fun,” Martim Pocinho told the Star.

The Pocinhos played two shows — one for those having breakfast in the camp’s cantine and one in the Jungle’s theatre where Iranian, Sudanese and Kurdish refugees joined them on stage.

“A guy from Sudan, in the middle of the concert, asked to sing a song about leaving home. He dedicated it to his wife, who he had not been able to say goodbye to because he left in the middle of the night,” recounted Mr Pocinho.

This music video is called Guns N’ Roses – Welcome to the Jungle (live) France 1992.

This 24 October 2015 video from London, England is about a pro-refugee demonstration at King’s Cross.

By Joana Ramiro in Britain:

Police rain down batons on protest

Monday 26th October 2015

A PEACEFUL protest in support of migrants triggered violent scenes at London’s St Pancras station this weekend as police wielded batons against hundreds of activists.

Campaigners gathered there on Saturday for the second solidarity demonstration at the Eurostar terminal in the space of a week.

Scotland Yard claimed that dozens of people clad in black and with their faces covered tried to storm the platforms for the international train services.

Protesters and observers took to social media to report on the violence and arrests.

Joel Benjamin posted a series of pictures on Twitter with the description: “Utter carnage at Kings Cross station for #migrants demo. Flares, Cops going in batons drawn.”

Among the protesters was Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour’s son Charlie, who was arrested during the student protests of 2010 for climbing over the Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall.

Two arrests were confirmed by Scotland Yard.

Refugee crisis: Families could freeze to death after leaders warn EU could ‘fall apart’ if it fails to reach an agreement: here.