Archive for the ‘(All Things) CULTURE’ Category

Everyone will have noticed the sudden explosion of new Michael Jackson stories, claims and allegations, that have hit newspapers and websites in the passed fortnight or so – in the wake of the Sundance Film Festival screening of the film Leaving Neverland.

The claims have all emerged in the wake of the 4-hour documentary detailing the claims of two individuals who claim Jackson abused them over a period of years as children.

My chief question here is why. Or why now, specifically? And is there any truth to these very disturbing claims or is something else going on?

And, just as importantly, how does this relate to the broader question about alleged child abuse in parts of Hollywood and the entertainment industry and in some elite circles? I want to come to that matter, because I have some thoughts on how this whole Michael Jackson saga might relate to it: but I first want to pick through some of the current stories in the media and what we know about the Leaving Neverland film.

My approach here is to be as even-handed as possible. I have no idea whether Michael Jackson did or didn’t do inappropriate things with children. I’ve always been totally 50/50 on that subject: though if pushed, I’d probably have to say that I lean more towards being doubtful that he did that stuff.

I’m not a big Michael Jackson fan necessarily. I haven’t listened to his music for many years (I got turned off when he started getting a bit too messianic for my tastes): but I was a huge fan of his when I was a little kid in the eighties, I still love some of that music, and I still find him a fascinating personality. (more…)

Advertisements

As a lifelong Nirvana fan, it has always stuck out like a sore thumb to me that the single ‘Lithium’ never had a proper music video.

It was in fact the only single from Nevermind that didn’t have a proper video: ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, ‘Come As You Are’ and ‘In Bloom’ all had what are now pretty iconic videos to accompany them.

For so iconic a song as ‘Lithium’ to not get a video always felt a little incongruous. Not that music videos are important necessarily: but if there had been no videos for Nevermind, it wouldn’t have felt like an issue.

It’s the fact that ‘Lithium’ was the odd one out. That song was one of the defining pop/rock songs of its generation; and the single came out at the height of ‘Nirvana mania’ in the middle of 1992. (more…)

So it looks like US military intervention in Venezuela might be on the cards.

Certainly, with Washington and other Western governments now officially recognising someone other than the sitting president as the legitimate leader, it’s hard to see how there won’t have to be some kind of forced conflict to finalise that arrangement: if it isn’t US military intervention, it would have to be some kind of military coup within Venezuela.

Either way, it’s been telegraphed way in advance. President Trump said a year and a half ago. “We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary,” Trump told reporters at his New Jersey golf club.

He went on to say, “We have many options for Venezuela and by the way, we’re all over the world and we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering and dying. We have many options for Venezuela including a possible military option if necessary.”

It looks like they’re now moving towards probably putting that into action. (more…)

I don’t usually do these kinds of subjects, for various reasons: even though they’re usually so interesting.

But a couple of current stories have prompted it. I’ll get to Michael Jackson: but the first thing is that I was baffled when I noticed a headline pop up on one of my newsfeeds that said: ‘New evidence suggests that Richey Edwards staged his disappearance’.

Really? After almost 25 years?

The NME piece reports, ‘A new book has provided fresh evidence to suggest that Manic Street Preachers guitarist and lyricist Richey Edwards staged his own disappearance…’ (more…)

I’ve already published a long reaction/opinion piece on the Chris Cornell tribute even – ‘I Am the Highway’, which focused mostly on the musical performances and the final Soundgarden performance.

Here, I wanted to create an additional space to talk about a different side of things: and specifically the speech Pearl Jam and Temple of the DogsStone Gossard made and the position he seemed to take on Wednesday night. The role Gossard was playing, beyond his musical presence, may have escaped some people.

A lot of people have been critical of the event, based largely on a dislike of Vicky Karyanis, who was the event’s primary organiser. (more…)

I’m not going to add much of my own to this, because it’s unnecessary.

Naomi Wolf – one of the very best researchers and independent journalists out there – thorougly explains the matter in this video and discusses its implications.

Media, as far as I can tell, has said absolutely nothing about this: Naomi is the only person I’ve seen discuss this (a hat-tip to Alan Carroll on Facebook, who pointed me to it), and you should watch the video to get a good sense of what the implications are.

She writes, ‘Just when you think things can’t get more undemocratic… HR 221 is the Antisemitism Bill that passed last Friday… “under suspension of rules”, meaning without normal democratic debate and public voting…’

Did ‘HR 221’ make any coverage in any newspapers, news channels or significant public forums? Not that I know of. (more…)

I did whole, very long piece already on the Chris Cornell tribute event on Wednesday night, in which I covered mostly everything.

But I really wanted to create this space here to talk solely about the final performance of Soundgarden and about that utterly beautiful, incredibly powerful final act.

Because it was just extraordinary: and I get goosebumps every time I think about it. And I’ll probably get goosebumps every time I think about it for the rest of my life. (more…)

So the Chris Cornell tribute concert took place on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

The show was huge, with an array of high-profile performers and acts coming together to pay tribute to the late musical icon whose death in May 2017 is still reverberating across music fandom.

I wasn’t originally going to write about this event: but I had such a strong reaction to it and had so many mental notes that I figured I should. I’ve been such a deep fan of Chris Cornell for so long that it seemed silly to not react in writing.

Among those involved in the ‘I Am the Highway‘ event were Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters, Peter Frampton, Metallica and others: but also a lot of less-than-obvious performers, ranging from Miley Cyrus to Rita Wilson – which is a hell of a pendulum swing.

The show also didn’t try to scale down: it went on for five hours and turned out to be an enormous affair. I had known this event was on the horizon for a long time: but I somehow lost track of it until the night it was happening. I wasn’t sure exactly what this show was going to be, how it would feel to watch, what kind of tone would be found and whether it would generally go down well.

Something like this could be awkward or misfiring in bad circumstances.

And there were suspicions from some sections of the fans that this was going to end up being an overly ‘Hollywood’ event, disconnected from Cornell’s roots or the Seattle scene. I’ll address some of that at the end when I talk about Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard and address some of the division that now exists among Cornell’s fans.

I don’t want to get into any of the conspiracy-theory side of things here: even though people have asked me to before (or have asked why I haven’t). Again, when I talk about Gossard, some of that will get touched on by default. But I really just want to talk about the music at this point.

And, in the final equation, things actually seemed to come together really well. I kept abreast of its progress on Wednesday night, and then I watched most of the online coverage of it on Thursday evening – which was an emotional experience, especially the way it ended.

There’s a lot of details to keep track of, and a lot of different names and performers to mention: and so I’m not going to try to cover the whole event. I just want to put down some notes from an overview of the five hours: and then focus on three main issues, these being (1) the FINAL appearance of Soundgarden, (2) the ending (oh my god, the ending), and (3) Stone Gossard‘s actions, his speech and some of what I read into it. (more…)

The release of the Laurel and Hardy film biopic Stan & Ollie has brought the legendary comedy duo back into the public consciousness for a while.

And it reminded me that, among various things I’ve written for this site over the years but never posted, there was a piece on Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy that I had notes for. It was originally to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Laurel’s death; but it works just as well to put it here now.

Even if it’s mainly about Laurel and the last days of his life, you actually can’t write about Laurel without it being about Hardy: the pair were inseparable, both in public consciousness and, as it happened, even in life and death.

It is a remarkable sign of the longeivity potential in the medium of film, and a testatement to the talents of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, that we still talk about them even now.

We are soon coming up to 100 years since the pair starred in their first movie together. Most of the shorts considered their classics are 80 and 90 years old by now. When I developed my love of Laurel and Hardy as a kid in the eighties, they had both already been dead for around two decades and their prime era had begun before even my grandparents had been born. (more…)