Posted By Sandra Alland

"It will be treated like a normal country if it acts like a normal country."

-British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, about Iran, 25 September 2009

Wow. The British government never ceases to wow me with their intelligent and thoughtful approach to international relations.


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

So Michael Jackson died. There's of course more news coverage on the death of a pop star than on the stepped-up wars in Afghanistan, or the new reports of torture in secret U.S. prisons (and the Brits who lent a helping hand). Nonetheless it is one of those... historic moments? When I was ten, I wanted to *be* Michael Jackson. There's that, too. In the end I never knew what to think of the man, except that he was talented and knew how to move people...

But Farrah Fawcett died yesterday too... and Charlie's Angels were pretty damn cool. I also wanted to be her when I was 10. Bad timing, Farrah. I'm afraid no one's gonna notice now... there's too much cash to be made off of Michael.

In better news, Y was on fire last night. Zorras played to a small but delicious crowd at the lovely lovely Bowery. Thanks to Jane for the gig! Hailey Beavis was great too, she's quite a composer and plays guitar superwell. And I super super dug The Debutante Hour, a trio of women who are hilarious and fun and gooooooooooooood. Some of the best lyrics I've heard in ages! Too bad you can't see them, cuz they're off to Poland, but check them out if you can. Y joined them onstage for a couple of songs, one of which was a Ukrainian song that brought the house down!

In still other news, I saw on the news the other day that Prince Charles spent 3 million pounds of taxpayers' money on travel last year! I've never been a fan of the royal family, yet I'm more infuriated than usual. And that's just *one* of a huge family of idiots. But instead of doing away with the royals (I mean, really, don't they have enough of their own money??!), the government does things like focusing on the tiny number of people committing "benefit fraud." They encourage people to spy on their neighbours and report those living in poverty who may have "stolen" 200 pounds, when the real thieves are the banks (that have been bailed out with our money), the car companies (also bailed out with our money), and here in the UK -- the royal family. Millions of pounds for non-essential travel is never justifiable, and even less so in these times.

Lastly, check out the new shows as part of Sh[OUT] at the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art. Anthony Schrag collaborated with LGBTI faith communities (including Al Jannah, Metropolitan Community Church and Quest), and David Sherry worked with The Scottish Transgender Alliance.

And speaking of the queers, tomorrow is Pride Scotia. The parade kicks off at 1pm on The Royal Mile.

xox


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Israel bombed the UN headquarters in Gaza yesterday, destroying all the food and medicine that was meant for aid to injured and displaced Palestinians (many of whom were also in the buildings). They also bombed media buildings and a hospital. Worse still, they are using illegal warfare -- toxic bombs that are not permitted in civilian areas. But no harm done -- Israel said they were "sorry" afterwards... If you want to support Palestinians from Scotland, go to Scottish Palestinian Solidarity.


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

To put it mildly, I've never been a fan of the royals. But really, this is too much. Just what the UK needed was another racist army wanker, this time Prince Harry, calling someone Paki. And to see the video over and over on television. The official message to the nation is that foreigners, especially brown ones, will never really be welcome here. And that racism is just fine with the army and the royal family. Not that any of this is shocking...

In better news, XXY is an incredible film about an intersexed teen in Uruguay. The actress, Ines Efron, is sublime, as is the direction by Argentinian writer (and first-time filmmaker) Lucia Puenzo. See it if you can, though it's not easy to find in Edinburgh...

xo

SA


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Well, if I didn't already have enough reasons to seriously dislike banks (e.g. government bailouts, investment in unethical corporations, ridiculous fees, general evil), here's yet another: Lloyds TSB is assisting in the siege of Gaza. Read about it at Scottish Palestinian Solidarity.

In other news, Ali Smith's new collection The First Person and Other Stories is divine. Naturally.

Thinking of peace. Hoping against all hope for some there, and here.

xox

SA


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

"One way of looking at speech is to say it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness."- Harold Pinter

I was sad to hear Harold Pinter had left this world...his plays and his mouthiness will always inspire me.

“The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law.” - Harold Pinter

SA  


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

"For the fun, for the friendship, for the Friday nights..."

-television commercial for British Army recruitment

In order to stave off the rage such ads instill in me, I read good books. Currently I am reading Godspeed by Lynn Breedlove. It's a brilliantly-written novel about a genderqueer trying to survive poverty and addiction in San Francisco. Wow, can that Breedlove write. Pure blood-and-guts poetry.

xox


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Today feels like a sad day. But here's some inspiration -- a fabulous artist reading a fabulous anarchist: Sandra Oh reads Emma Goldman. uk.youtube.com/watch

xo

SA


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Oh. My. Gawd.

So I forgot I had received this magazine at the leftist bookshop where I work that the publishers thought we might consider -- Soldier: Magazine of the British Army!! And I just found it under a pile of stories and... well, here are some choice moments of absurdity, and also some racism and sexism to entertain the troops.

1. An ad for "Printed or Embroidered Leisurewear." Exhibit A: A stupid-looking Iraqui cartoon character with his hands thrown up, with the phrase "It's either Sunni or Shi'ite!" Exhibit B: The British flag laid on top of the Iraqi flag, next to a stupid-looking Iraqi with a camel and a big question mark coming out of his head. Exhibit C: A blonde woman with a big gun, giant breasts and a British flag for pants smoking between the two flags, also looking stupid. The slogan: "Time to Clean Up!"

2. Okay, forget the serious talk of army bullying in my previous blog -- the true reason for brutality and general unhappiness amongst British soldiers has to do with... tea, naturally! I quote: "Like many other soldiers I bought myself a 350ml thermal mug. After making a coffee on a recent exercise, I tried to dunk a biscuit fruit from my ration pack and was shocked to find it did not fit into my mug. I snapped the biscuit in two and dunked it sideways. Because it did not have as much length, I could only dunk a little before scolding (sic) my fingers. If biscuits were made 6mm smaller, they would fit, which would increase morale."

3. All the lovely ads for soldiers, who, once they've had their limbs blown off for wanting to go to college or get out of their shite no-job town, have to find a SOLICITOR to get a settlement. And also INSURANCE ads for your kit and your life, cuz why should the government pay for any of that when you're risking your life for 12 000 British pounds a year? Not to mention they don't even supply an adequate kit in the first place, as there are ads for that too...

4. The ad to quit drinkng that features a guy with a huge machine gun that is drooping at the end. "In need of a stiff one?" it says...

5. And who knew? Afghanistan is now a barrel of laughs thanks to the Brits: "On the subject of the monkey puppet (April), I have been in Afghanistan...I learnt that the Afghan people have a strong sense of humour. They like jokes and funny things. I think the monkey is perfect to start a conversation. Soldiers should be disciplined but if a bit of humour helps to get the mission completed, I think it is appropriate. Do not forget that during the times of the Taliban having fun was forbidden."

So you get the picture, kindof. It's actually endelessly fascinating and depressing. Like Britain. Get yourself a copy if you can, or you can borrow mine.

xox

SA


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Wow. Saw this documentary on BBC where journalist Russell Sharp went undercover in training for the British infantry for 6 months. Wow. Creepy creepy stuff. He brought hidden cameras and filmed some very incriminating footage. If the army fighting illegal wars wasn't bad enough, here's some other tidbits to make you cringe:

-5 out of 8 corporals in two platoons were bullying and sometimes beating the shit out of recruits. One recruit was pushed to the ground with a loaded rifle.

-when asked why he had joined up, one recruit said, "To kill Pakis of course."

-during a simulation in bayonet training, one recruit yelled "Die Paki die!" as he was stabbing the dummy.

-a lot of recruits are only 17 years old, away from home for the first time.

Five training instructors have been suspended. Read about it here.

SA

 

 


 

 

 
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