The Power Of Nightmares/Adam Curtis

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
This is the new documentary by Adam Curtis - it started last night on BBC2. I think Adam Curtis is a bit of a legend - his last big series was The Century Of The Self, which was one of the best things I have ever seen on TV.

I thought the first episode last night was great - a brilliantly told story. And I love the bizarre sense of humour in the selection of archive footage. Also, (I should probably be ashamed of this), I had no idea Rumsfeld et al were around in the 70s! That's crazy!

What did everyone else think?

pete b. (pete b.), Thursday, 21 October 2004 07:46 (sixteen years ago) link

you had no idea they were around in the 70s?

lukey (Lukey G), Thursday, 21 October 2004 07:51 (sixteen years ago) link

Yes, I watched this. I really enjoyed it - the analysis of the thinking of the neocons in relation to 'invisible' soviet threats was brilliant.

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Thursday, 21 October 2004 07:54 (sixteen years ago) link

I enjoyed it very much indeed, though I must admit when I see things like The Simple Life I'm rather in sympathy with old Sayyid Qutb re. materialist pseudo-individualism. Interesting how both Qutb and Strauss managed to twist the Marxist idea of collectivism to work as faux-benign moral dictatorship (do as you're told! it's for your own good!). The appearance of Rumsfeld and Cheney in the '70s was a bit of a shock (I was a kid at the time, didn't really take it all in) but, when you consider what's happened since, not really a shock at all. It will be interesting to see how AC manages to continue (and presumably combine/then forcibly divide) these dual threads through the other two programmes.

As for the likes of Irving Kristol and "Professor" Richard Pipes, the words "please kill me" sprang to mind...

Marcello Carlin, Thursday, 21 October 2004 07:57 (sixteen years ago) link

Yeah, Pipes was funny - I could see him visibly strain to avoid evaluating his own thinking.

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Thursday, 21 October 2004 07:59 (sixteen years ago) link

that was another impressive thing - I was expecting the programme to be stuffed with nice, liberal academics (which it sort of was), but AC also managed to get interviews with all these people he will presumably end up attacking!

pete b. (pete b.), Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:03 (sixteen years ago) link

Top notch viewing, but I would have liked the power of rewind occasionally. What surprised me was that Kissinger came out of it looking so much like the good guy.

PJ Miller (PJ Miller), Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:21 (sixteen years ago) link

Yes that was a bit puzzling. Cambodian bombing? What Cambodiam bombing?

Come to think of it, where exactly does Pol Pot fit into all this?

Marcello Carlin, Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:24 (sixteen years ago) link

yes that was bizarre - him and the CIA as the moderate voices of reason. I suppose it was a clever way of emphasising just how extreme the neocons were/are.

pete b. (pete b.), Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:26 (sixteen years ago) link

The part about the submarine accoustic detection was priceless: 'we cannot detect their accoustic systems, therefore they must have NONACCOUSTIC systems which WE CAN'T DETECT!!!?!!'

RickyT (RickyT), Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:29 (sixteen years ago) link

Yes, but Pipes and Ledeen seemed unrepentent on that kind of point (I found the CIA guy saying "well we knew most of the stuff about the Soviets in The Terror Network was hooey, because we'd made up ourselves as black propaganda" the most astonishing) and Ledeen is still writing books on terrorism. I wanted them to be asked to address the retrospective historical arguments more directly - that they couldn't have been as wrong as the programme was making out and still have the gall to sit there and pontificate.

But yes, a beautiful, confident piece of documentary making, that got me feeling all 'ahh, the BBC'.

I liked this assessment in the Times today:

If 'The Power of Nightmares' had been drafted as a play, it would be hailed as a dazzlingly thought-provoking drama. As a book, its thesis would become a debating point on talk shows round the world. Even in the form of a here-are-the-facts documentary, it is so artfully crafted, so engagingly argued, so playfully illustrated, that you happily reserve your questions and reservations until the final credits start rolling.

Here is a talented, intelligent film-maker enjoying himself and showing what you can do with an hour of television. It is deliciously spliced together, seasoned with deftly chosen archive footage from an improbale palette of sources: everything from clips from episodes of 'Perry Mason' and 'Gunsmoke', to American prom dances and Egyptian television commercials.

Apparently it was going to be trailed as long ago as the weekend before last, but they pulled back on it because of Ken Bigley.

Alba (Alba), Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:41 (sixteen years ago) link

anyone know if this will be repeated over the weekend at all? (bbc3, bbc4?)

cºzen (Cozen), Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:46 (sixteen years ago) link

I wonder how the argument that the Soviets control all terrorism is affected by the collapse of the USSR, and the Russian Federations problems in Chechnya? Perhaps the commies are trying to cause Putin's government to fall so they can reclaim power? I would imagine that the fact that terrorism continued after Reagan singlehandedly destroyed the USSR would invalidate their theories, but no-one seemed willing to admit that.

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:49 (sixteen years ago) link

Ledeen's terrifically titled book

Alba (Alba), Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:54 (sixteen years ago) link

...The War Against the Terror Masters: Why It Happened. Where We Are Now. How We'll Win. apparently addresses the question of "how the terror network survived the loss of its main sponsor, the Soviet Union".

Alba (Alba), Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:55 (sixteen years ago) link

All of Ledeen's books are terrifically titled. Which do you mean?

X-post. Ahh, cool. I haven't read that.

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Thursday, 21 October 2004 09:00 (sixteen years ago) link

AC's the Mayfair Set is also fantastic. I don't think any of it has ever been repeated.

Pete W (peterw), Thursday, 21 October 2004 09:03 (sixteen years ago) link

One weakness of the programme, I thought, was the too-easy conflation of Strauss's ideas about necessary myths with the neo-cons views on foreign policy. Yes, to us it looks like scaremongering, but for Curtis to tell the story as if the Straussian neo-cons lobbied for hawkish policies on the basis of this, rather than on a real belief in the danger of the Soviet Union, seemed a little flimsy. Eventually he said something about them having come to believe in their own fantasies, but it came across as a speculative way of means of advancing his own narrative.

Alba (Alba), Thursday, 21 October 2004 09:08 (sixteen years ago) link

Yes that part of his argument wasn't totally convincing, and I guess is a consequence of structuring the documentary around the ideas of two individuals. There were similar leaps of faith in The Century Of The Self, when Curtis asked us to accept that governments made decisions of national policy almost entirely inspired by the theories of Edward Bernays, or whoever. But focusing on individuals is a neat way of framing the programme, and makes for much more entertaining TV, I suppose.

pete b. (pete b.), Thursday, 21 October 2004 09:19 (sixteen years ago) link

wasn't it a conflation that happened though? I thought he was saying that the neo-cons who did believe in Strauss's idea of the necessary myth (Bumsfeld, etc) became allied with ppl who believed in the imminent threat (Madman Pipes). these were different ppl with the same goal?

Jaunty Alan (Alan), Thursday, 21 October 2004 09:42 (sixteen years ago) link

is this being repeated?

stevie (stevie), Thursday, 21 October 2004 09:44 (sixteen years ago) link

Apparently.

Alba (Alba), Thursday, 21 October 2004 09:44 (sixteen years ago) link

Richard Pipes did seem very "I'm a Russian Expert, so I know what they're all thinking! Even if they don't know it themselves!"

I did like his book "Russia Under The Old Regime", so was slightly disappointed to find out he was in with all the neo-cons in the '70s. Although he did have one very annoying habit of referring to all medieval people of Scandinavian origin as "Normans".

caitlin (caitlin), Thursday, 21 October 2004 10:11 (sixteen years ago) link

Maybe he meant 'Norman' like in those old 'a break from the norm' ads.

Alba (Alba), Thursday, 21 October 2004 10:12 (sixteen years ago) link

Actually, thinking about it, one of the main points of the book was: the Russians are doomed to be ruled by an authoritarian bureaucracy, because of historical economics, and their geography and climate. So, no surprises that he says "The Russians will always be thinking like this".

caitlin (caitlin), Thursday, 21 October 2004 10:16 (sixteen years ago) link

Russian military planners be stockpilin'

pete b. (pete b.), Thursday, 21 October 2004 10:17 (sixteen years ago) link

Oh - I've just remembered that anti-Soviet US Army film from the late 70s or early 80s they had clips from. It was amazing!

Alba (Alba), Thursday, 21 October 2004 10:18 (sixteen years ago) link

He did say, 'if anything, I'm an expert on Russian mindset,' or something.

I can't remember what the Mitrokhin Archive says about Soviet sponsorship of teroorism, but there was something. Possibly supplied by The Spy Who Came In From The Garden.

PJ Miller (PJ Miller), Thursday, 21 October 2004 10:39 (sixteen years ago) link

http://www.torrentreactor.net/torrents/view_33863

A torrent for the episode, if anyone is interested.

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Friday, 22 October 2004 16:42 (sixteen years ago) link

Watching the final part of this tonight is going to be so depressing.

Alba (Alba), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 11:21 (sixteen years ago) link

Was the scheduling of the final episode deliberately timed, I wonder?

Marcello Carlin, Wednesday, 3 November 2004 11:34 (sixteen years ago) link

Are you suggesting a conspiracy to rig the Bush vote involving *BBC schedulers* ? Coool.

Bumfluff, Wednesday, 3 November 2004 13:59 (sixteen years ago) link

If anyone outside the UK can get bittorrents of this, then I'd recommend you to do so.

In the end, it was strangely calming, rather than depressing. All this will pass.

Alba (Alba), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 22:14 (sixteen years ago) link

Yeah, I enjoyed this series a lot. There should be bittorrents about, and I would also recommend it.

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 22:16 (sixteen years ago) link

I watched it tonight for the first time, and it was fanastic. I'd forgtten about The Century of the Self, that was fantastic too. I'm annoyed I missed the first two...I think it's time I understood how this bittorrent stuff works.

Tonight's episode was very poignant, and made me sad.

Cathy (Cathy), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 22:24 (sixteen years ago) link

If anyone outside the UK can get bittorrents of this, then I'd recommend you to do so.

I second that. I downloaded the last two episodes last Saturday and watched them, very powerful. It's sad that there's great documentaries such as this and The White House for Sale airing on UK television, and most people in the US won't get an opportunity to see them.

Leon in Exile (Ex Leon), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 22:36 (sixteen years ago) link

dwnldng

RJG (RJG), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 22:45 (sixteen years ago) link

I thought episode one was easily the best, mainly because episodes two and three spent a lot of time repeating things from episode one. I can see why they did this, but for me it took the shime off it a little bit. It would have been better as a single two hour-long programme, I think.

Also, things that weakened his argument, such as Madrid, were kind of skipped over a bit too lightly.

Kerry seemed shoved in just in case.

Quibbles aside, top-notch television. I may even go for a month without complaining about my licence fee.

It is strange that I had never heard those people swearing as the planes hit the towers.

PJ Miller (PJ Miller), Thursday, 4 November 2004 07:18 (sixteen years ago) link

this was fascinating but it begged bigger questions.

cºzen (Cozen), Thursday, 4 November 2004 09:23 (sixteen years ago) link

I agree with everything PJ Miller said.

Alba (Alba), Thursday, 4 November 2004 09:37 (sixteen years ago) link

Grr, I missed it and forgot to set the recorder.

caitlin (caitlin), Thursday, 4 November 2004 09:42 (sixteen years ago) link

The first episode was by some considerable distance the best.

The cumulative effect was a kind of political version of James Burke's Connections series from the '70s. OK in shaggy dog conspiracy terms but didn't really pinpoint whether it was just the expected cocktail of bilateral incompetence, stubbornness and stupidity which led us to our current pretty pass rather than a Conspiracy as such.

Marcello Carlin, Thursday, 4 November 2004 09:57 (sixteen years ago) link

I thought the last episode was quite weak, hammering away at the images of that fantasy creature that comes up out of the sea, and other images that have become somewhat familiar during the series.

I too totally agree with PJ Miller. I don't recall Madrid being mentioned at all. I couldn't get the idea out of my head that while it's fine to criticise the hysteria created by the neo-cons, (that Disney video!!), you can understand why the likes of Britain have to at least be on their guard against the kind of thing that happened in Madrid - even if we acknowledge the programme's main point that there is no such thing as monstrous Al-Qaeda.

Japanese Giraffe (Japanese Giraffe), Thursday, 4 November 2004 10:12 (sixteen years ago) link

there were a few omissions. correct me if i'm wrong, but when he was talking about the russian's being a busted flush in the 1970s he completely failed to mention the invasion of afghanistan. it only cropped up later, when the programme moved on to the muhajadeen. very good, totally necessary programme, but i didn't buy it.

Pete W (peterw), Thursday, 4 November 2004 10:40 (sixteen years ago) link

Did anyone tape it, for those of us who don't even know what bittorrents are? Or will it be repeated?

Two-Headed Zombie With No Face (kate), Thursday, 4 November 2004 12:00 (sixteen years ago) link

"there were a few omissions. correct me if i'm wrong, but when he was talking about the russian's being a busted flush in the 1970s he completely failed to mention the invasion of afghanistan."

This was the third part, part 1 was all about Afghanistan

Masked Gazza, Thursday, 4 November 2004 12:14 (sixteen years ago) link

yes, i was talking about the first and second parts. the film talked about the neocons bigging up the soviet threat and then skipped to the war of occupation in afghanistan without connecting the dots: ie, that russia invaded afghanistan at the very time the neocons were spreading supposedly unfounded reports of russian aggression. i agree with the thrust of the programme, but i think it left out anything that didn't support its argument.

great use of music, mind.

Pete W (peterw), Thursday, 4 November 2004 12:43 (sixteen years ago) link

Great programme but not really convincing

Dadaismus (Dada), Thursday, 4 November 2004 13:25 (sixteen years ago) link

Yeah, but you could see the invasion of Afghanistan as the last, desperate agressive act of a moribund regime. There's no doubt the Soviet system was facing collapse - they would never stand a chance vs the US in full on warfare. That's not to say the nuclear threat wasn't real - my parents remember the Cuban missile crisis as a scary time.
Curtis didn't dismiss Madrid as inconsequential - but he dismissed the idea it was ordered and planned by Bin Laden. What you had was a terrorist group working independently inspired by the IDEA of Al Quaeda. And it's the idea that's dangerous and needs to be dealt with. Yes Bin Laden etc are dangerous, but they're not some deadly force in our midst as the neo-McCarthyist paranoia would have you believe.
Sure the UK needs to take precautions, but most of the arrests made under the terrorism act and the infringements on civil liberties are unjustified. The UK has been dealing with terrorist threats since the 60s - okay, the IRA et al usually called to say they'd planted a bomb, but not always.
The media have run with it cos it allows them to pursue existing agendas - the Sun/Daily Mail and their poisonous anti-immigration propaganda.
It wasn't perfect, but it made its point very well.

Stew S, Thursday, 4 November 2004 13:47 (sixteen years ago) link

yeah i only saw the last episode, but i thought it avoided answering some questions for example:

a) didnt really explore what Bin Laden's motivations were for trying a new policy of attacking america, going against what other islamic fundamentalist gorups were interested in (eg toppling central asian regimes*).

b) kept on repeating how the neo cons "grand mission" was some titanic battle of good vs evil, that seemed a bit suspect. are these people really solely driven by moral purpose, no matter how extreme or well, silly, that moral purpose is?

c) er i tcant think of another. but i sort of inherently dont believ things on tv when people make somewhat grandiose claims, whether they be blair, bush or some dude intoning opposing views over loads of tiny clips. it was kinda eisenstein-esque, and well, his aim was kinda totally "manipulate the viewer, worry bout factual issues later".

* interesting becasue in 2000 i was in debate with loads of russian politics students, and they savaged us about Chechnya, along the lines of "Russia is under the threat of Attack by a islamic super state, chehcnya will be the first to fall to them". We (ie a few brits) were all like, "WTF? Islamic fundamentalism? whats that? whats the issue here? quit being so paranoid!". a year later, it became a bit clearer what the idea of a threat from islamic fundamentalism might mean.

ambrose (ambrose), Thursday, 4 November 2004 14:26 (sixteen years ago) link

lol, i would love to hear a ken burns take on the adam curtis schtick

That's not really my scene (I'm 41) (forksclovetofu), Monday, 22 February 2021 19:54 (one week ago) link

montage of found images set to Appalachian fiddle music

Mr. Cacciatore (Moodles), Monday, 22 February 2021 19:57 (one week ago) link

i think although obviously they're quite difft frederick wiseman's films are far more challenging and interesting than curtis

plax (ico), Monday, 22 February 2021 20:26 (one week ago) link

there was a piece in Vice where I think Brooker interviews him, despite liking his work (not fucking Brookers, no!) I can't think of anything much more insufferable. I would probably consider him as big a tosser as Brooker if I'd have clicked on it and read it but he doesn't seem to have much interesting to say outside of his work anyway, well based on an interview I heard on WS where he was pedalling all that usual hackneyed polarisation of politics bollox beloved of most libs.

calzino, Monday, 22 February 2021 20:43 (one week ago) link

So far I think episodes 1 and 4 are best. 2 and 3 are kind of lists in search of an overarching point and 5 is all over the shop even by his standards. 1 and 4 both focus on a tendency that the left is broadly hostile towards - individualism and apolitical activism, respectively - and gives them their due, explains where they came from, while still pointing at how they can end in catastrophe.

it's very funny to me that this thing is getting any kind of mainstream discussion/attention in your country; if this showed in the US on PBS, no one would notice

Think you might be trapped in the same bubble I was in when I logged onto the iplayer page expecting this to be the featured item - turns out it wasn't even on the front page!

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 23 February 2021 11:30 (one week ago) link

It was a featured item for me, presumably because of personalisation.

Alba, Tuesday, 23 February 2021 12:17 (one week ago) link

but really the operative word here was depersonalization [segues into stars of the lid track]

calzino, Tuesday, 23 February 2021 12:28 (one week ago) link

sorry that was piss poor!

calzino, Tuesday, 23 February 2021 12:30 (one week ago) link

So far I think episodes 1 and 4 are best. 2 and 3 are kind of lists in search of an overarching point and 5 is all over the shop even by his standards.


Was episode 5 the lordly ones? If so I agree, just seemed like a hamfisted effort to shoehorn in some England’s hidden reverse shite

badg, Tuesday, 23 February 2021 17:01 (one week ago) link

Yeah that's the one - lots of interesting stuff in there as usual but just moving from story to story with no sense of direction.

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 23 February 2021 17:03 (one week ago) link

damn, i wanna see these but i don't have a UK TV licence and don't want to get one. can you buy/rent it or something somehow?

Party With A Jagger Ban (dog latin), Tuesday, 23 February 2021 17:41 (one week ago) link

you know they don't know whether or not you use iplayer?

himpathy with the devil (jim in vancouver), Tuesday, 23 February 2021 17:43 (one week ago) link

also that if the tv license man comes round you have no reason to let him in?

himpathy with the devil (jim in vancouver), Tuesday, 23 February 2021 17:43 (one week ago) link

if you live in the UK just click "yes I have a license" on i-player, but perhaps close your curtains as a precaution if you see the tv detector van rolling past your yard!

calzino, Tuesday, 23 February 2021 17:44 (one week ago) link

or just... pay your tv license 🙄

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Tuesday, 23 February 2021 17:51 (one week ago) link

I thought having an internet connection means you are compelled by law to buy one, even if in the "I don't even have a television" category

calzino, Tuesday, 23 February 2021 17:54 (one week ago) link

figured they had cleverer ways to tell if you've been watching iPlayer these days, like checking if there's a TV license associated with your account, or using your IP address or something.

You don't have to have a license if you don't watcvh live or streamed BBC TV afaik.

certainly not paying for a license just to watch one show though

Party With A Jagger Ban (dog latin), Tuesday, 23 February 2021 17:58 (one week ago) link

Not sure if UK blocks this but this is how I watched it

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtPP_-rkrT3CAPe8OmDnlZBDvaQ7baH7B

reggae mike love (polyphonic), Tuesday, 23 February 2021 18:05 (one week ago) link

any iPlayer use requires a TV license but it’s not enforced. there is no mechanism for it.

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Tuesday, 23 February 2021 18:15 (one week ago) link

i would not suggest not paying the license fee if youre a habitual user of the iplayer and or someone who watches broadcast tv in the uk. if you literally want to just watch one show then i don't see any issue. although the amount of media ive consumed in my life that came from "the usual sources" probably means i have a certain stance on this kind of thing that others may not share. i also hate the license fee guys who are arseholes who go around bullying pensioners and housewives

himpathy with the devil (jim in vancouver), Tuesday, 23 February 2021 21:13 (one week ago) link

I didn't pay a license fee for years and it was handy living in an upstairs flat because if it looked like a cunt knocking I simply wouldn't answer the door. I have memories as a kid of my mum pulling the curtains over and telling us all to be quiet while some cunt aggressively bangs on the door. Lol it was a vintage b+w valve tv and the license would have probably cost a few quid.

calzino, Tuesday, 23 February 2021 21:38 (one week ago) link

In America, in the early 1950s
Little Rock, Pasternak
But at the same time
Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Little did the people expect
Sputnik, Zhou En-lai
Simultaneously 
Bridge On The River Kwai
But something else inside them
Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle
Meanwhile,
California baseball
Five thousand miles away,
Starkweather Homicide
What they didn't foresee was
Children of Thalidomide
At the very same moment
Buddy Holly, Ben-Hur
But someone was listening:
Space Monkey, Mafia
But even as one group grew stronger
Hula Hoops, Castro
And at the very same time
Edsel is a no-go
One poor farmer had an idea:
U-2, Syngman Rhee
There would emerge a new idea
Payola and Kennedy
Just across the border,
Chubby Checker, Psycho
Meanwhile
Belgians in the Congo

John Wesley Glasscock (Hadrian VIII), Wednesday, 24 February 2021 01:31 (one week ago) link

brutal

assert (MatthewK), Wednesday, 24 February 2021 02:16 (one week ago) link

Started chapter 3 tonight; gave up about 20 minutes from the end - it was going nowhere.

but also fuck you (unperson), Wednesday, 24 February 2021 02:29 (one week ago) link

Turns out it's all Cecil Sharp's fault. All the woes of the C20, down to him and his bloody folk dances.

mahb, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 07:57 (one week ago) link

fucking morris dancers eh?

calzino, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 08:04 (one week ago) link

the cecil sharp stuff was weak af - there’s plenty of interesting stuff to be said about late and long victorian arts and crafts, merrie england, and the influence of pastoral on national vision but this wasn’t a useful vector tbh.

Fizzles, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 09:41 (one week ago) link

do you ever see any Morris Dancers in London? in the pre-Rona days they descended like a nightmare plague in the Holm Valley near me every summer, possibly with the ghost of Roy Castle lagging behind in his tap shoes.

calzino, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 09:48 (one week ago) link

Cecil Sharp stuff felt like he had just read Richard King's The Lark Ascending and decided to crib a little from that. Rad book btw, recommended to everyone. There was gonna be a special concert for it at the Barbican but then co-organizer Andrew Weatherall died and after that BAM, corona. :(

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 11:14 (one week ago) link

the last london open house i went on (a tiring and drizzly day in 2018 iirc) i ended up visiting cecil sharp house, at which i encountered

a) a small exbihition of punk rock sleeve art
b) a darkling panelled room its walls stiff with large elk skulls
c) being warned i couldn't stay long bcz the AGM of the morris dancing soc was just abt to start (many oldish ppl trooping, in a handful dressed as morris himself commands)

mark s, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 11:22 (one week ago) link

they shd let me make these documentaries *cues up eight hours of the crazy frog*

mark s, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 11:27 (one week ago) link

I went to a night at Cecil Sharp House put on by Bob Stanley and Pete Paphides years ago. There were some bands and Stephen Duffy DJed. Lots of Vashti Bunyan and so on. Good beer behind the bar.

But little did we realise the horror that such acts would unleash etc....

mahb, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 11:50 (one week ago) link

do you ever see any Morris Dancers in London? in the pre-Rona days they descended like a nightmare plague in the Holm Valley near me every summer, possibly with the ghost of Roy Castle lagging behind in his tap shoes.


once in a blue moon. they were a fairly standard feature in most town and village pubs i knew growing up in the south east.

Fizzles, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 13:45 (one week ago) link

went to cecil sharp house library once to look up some folk song stuff. also saw a performance by “The Copper Family” absolutely wretched stuff do not deserve to carry the name of the Coppers, eliminate with prejudice.

did see a v frail Bob Copper sing in a friend’s local (The Queen’s Head universally known as Elsie’s after the 400 year old woman who ran it, who was the size of a peanut and would have to place pints on the bar reaching above her head to do so). One beer and whisky only, along with vodka which she introduced when the polish airmen were stationed nearby. that was a different matter entirely, a beautiful, frail voice singing about the nightingale and vicissitudes of the rural economy a+.

kill his epigones.

Fizzles, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 13:49 (one week ago) link

I never saw any Morris Dancers when I lived in Woolwich although I did see a jester once; Rory McGrath sat across from me somewhere on the northern line.

calzino, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 14:06 (one week ago) link

the moral arc of an ilx thread can be long, but it bends toward rory mcgrath

― mark s, Thursday, January 11, 2018 11:49 AM (one year ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

― mark s, Tuesday, 7 May 2019 20:20 (one year ago) bookmarkflaglink

mark s, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 14:18 (one week ago) link

More than three years ago, I pasted this text from someone's tweet into my Reminders app:

"Cecil Sharp House is the best thing you can go to in London for under ten quid. Totally rapturous & life-enhancing."

Circumstances being as they are, it'll be some time before I complete the task, I guess.

Alba, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 19:18 (one week ago) link

Oops, missed the start of that. Should read:

"The Tuesday evening folk club at Cecil Sharp House is the best thing you can go to in London for under ten quid. Totally rapturous & life-enhancing."

Alba, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 19:18 (one week ago) link

without wishing to cast any aspersions on another’s pleasure… actually that’s exactly what i’m doing nm

i would be astonished were that the case. folkies in the round always seemed to be an awful, pedantic group of bores, with a huge tolerance for nodding and smiling at the very worst stuff. it’s an amateurist crowd which is absolutely harmless as a group and it’s fundamentally a pleasure for those involved, but presents as “the sham coy simper, the complacency, the frisson titters” in the event. ime the music is either the indigestibly twee and “folky” or poor revisiting of “i know some of you will know old Scan Tester and here’s one he used to play before the King and Queen… and many other public houses” <guffaws> etc.

go, Alba! you should definitely go. be interested to hear how it is.

Fizzles, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 20:21 (one week ago) link

Ha ha, well I'm living in New York now so it may be quite a while before I get to see who's right.

Alba, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 20:23 (one week ago) link

there's a female morris troop called the Belles of London (do you see?) who prance around in what looks like Victorian underwear. People seem to enjoy it. their hoss is a bastard.

(Dan from enderby's room fiddles for them from time to time)

koogs, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 20:27 (one week ago) link

Might watch them in slow motion so it seems more portentous than annoying.

Alba, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 20:31 (one week ago) link

there's a female morris troop called the Belles of London (do you see?) who prance around in what looks like Victorian underwear. People seem to enjoy it. their hoss is a bastard.

(Dan from enderby's room fiddles for them from time to time)


never ever end lockdown.

Fizzles, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 20:32 (one week ago) link

I see Paul Morley has met them

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRYUNlDdGyY

Alba, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 20:33 (one week ago) link

oh no

Fizzles, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 20:33 (one week ago) link

Ha ha, well I'm living in New York now so it may be quite a while before I get to see who's right.


and dammit Alba, that’s not v helpful. maybe i’ll go. see if it lights me up.

Fizzles, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 20:34 (one week ago) link

Was tickled to read a while back that on the nite he had his Damascane punk conversion moment, viewing the Clash in Leeds 1977, Green Gartside was in full Morris get-up, having gone to the gig after an evening folk dance class.

Piedie Gimbel, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 20:37 (one week ago) link

There's a mini series on BBC Sounds called My Albion that features reflections on this stuff from the perspective of black british ppl involved in the folk scene, some Twitter Left folks show up too. Worth hearing.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 25 February 2021 10:49 (six days ago) link

oh i would like to hear that Daniel - thanks for the tip.

Fizzles, Thursday, 25 February 2021 13:38 (six days ago) link


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.