Tuesday, August 31, 2010


As the rubbish is swept away from the city's streets & the bars reduce their prices to normal levels, it's worth noting the selective verdict on the Mathew Street festival by the Oldham Echo. In an editorial which might as well have been unearthed from last year (perhaps it was) the Echo triumphantly declared the entire weekend to be an unqualified success (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/views/our-view/2010/08/31/voice-of-the-echo-mathew-street-festival-comes-of-age-and-what-a-party-100252-27167647/ ).
Quite how a festival which unapologetically panders to nostalgia can "come of age" is something to ponder, as is the Echo's inane claim that the city somehow still doesn't make the most of its Beatle connections.
Pricking the bubble of self-congratulation & denial are some of the comments posted by readers in response to a pathetic PR piece (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2010/08/31/mathew-street-the-sun-shines-for-a-festival-to-remember-100252-27169178/ ).
It seems that for the second year in a row, there were numerous incidents of missile-throwing at the Mersey Tunnel stage. Despite repeated appeals from the stage for the drunken dregs of Merseyside society to stop their idiocy, the day was marred for those at the Tunnel Stage. I witnessed just some of the lunacy there last year; clearly the authorities learned nothing from it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Away From The "Tribute" Bands

The guys over at the Tinned Goods blog deliver an offbeat look at yesterday's events in the city centre (http://tinnedgoods.com/2010/08/30/live-feed-mathew-street-festival/ ).
Makes a pleasant change from the breaththlessly sychophantic "coverage" of the Matthew Street Festival by Oldham Hall Street. What odds on tomorrow's Daily Ghost & Oldham Echo trotting out the oft-used line, "biggest and best yet"?

In His Arms

Kudos to the My Six Be Four Universe blog for this inspired piece of photoshoppery (http://dvfmliv.blogspot.com/2010/08/baby.html ).
I suspect there's a couple of images out there which present Phil Redmond in a similarly unflattering light.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Riley's Reckless Rant

It's always one of those awful, yet compelling car-crash moments when anyone on Oldham Hall Street attempts to comment on topics other than the latest football gossip, more interminable Beatle nostalgia, "Scottie Road in the good old days", z-list celebrities seen putting one foot in front of the other anywhere around Grosvenor-pool, or complaining about the "critics" (I think that means the likes of Wayne & me) who spell out the truth about the waterfront's desecration.
Give any one of them an international story to opine on & the result is akin to Basil Fawlty's "don't mention the war" sketch.
Yes, when not suppressing stories which reflect badly on the Oldham Echo Arena, or sitting on David Fleming's charming observations, their columnists (& I use that appellation advisedly) occasionally venture forth their, erm, thoughts on weighty issues normally the preserve of Newsnight or The World Tonight.
Take Joe Riley (Alastair Machray almost did, to the nearest Job Centre after Jimmy McGovern saw him asleep in the Empire Theatre at a performance of his play about the slave trade a couple of years' ago & demanded his head). It seems that Riley considers himself an expert on the current controversy in New York over the proposed mosque two blocks from Ground Zero. He penned a piece yesterday which would delight your average Daily Mail reader; lazy, crude, simplistic, all the attributes you'd find in a Mail hate piece were impressively served up by Riley (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/views/liverpool-columnists/joe-riley/2010/08/19/joe-riley-obama-s-lack-of-political-judgement-over-new-york-mosque-100252-27091746/ ).
Consider this puerile passage from Riley's pen:
"There has been rightful international condemnation of the New York mosque plan, part of a £100m dollar [SIC] Islamic community project, near to Ground Zero.
"For the world at large has yet to be convinced that the Islamic faith is wholly divorced from the atrocities committed by its fundamentalists, in the same way as the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches originally faced suspicion in Northern Ireland.
"Eradicating those connections has taken time: more than 30 years.
"But in ignoring all this, and barely a decade on, Barack Obama is putting political correctness ahead of any sort of human sensitivity."
Aside from Riley's less than reliable reading of Irish history, the piece displays a cavernous hole where you would normally expect to find research, context, reason &, yes, tolerance. In playing the guilt by association card with regard to Muslims generally, Riley is allying himself with the fanatical far-Right in the US. Think that's over the top? Think again, as you peruse the New York Times editorial on the subject earlier this month (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/04/opinion/04/wed1.html ):
"It was not surprising that Republican ideologues like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin came out against the mosque. A Congressional candidate in North Carolina has found it to be a good way to get attention and, yes, stoke prejudice against Muslims. We expect this sortof behavior from these kinds of Republicans. They have been shamelessly playing the politics of fear since 9/11."
Alas, given the generally craven state of reporting in the US media (something the Oldham Echo could well emulate, actually), it's been left to the likes of Jon Stewart to provide some much-needed context & balance (http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart/4od#3111606 ).
I presume Riley subscribes to the argument advanced by the Fox News claque that the site of the attacks (never mind the fact that the proposed mosque is two blocks away) is "hallowed ground". That being so, Riley may care to acquaint himself with Manhattan's history. During the slave trade the Port of New York, like Liverpool, witnessed the arrival of countless slaves from West Africa. Once their enforced labours & deprivations were of no further use to the slave owners, they were left to their own devices &, eventually, were buried in mass, unmarked graves around the island of Manhattan. Hailing from West Africa (modern-day Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mali, etc.), their religion was, yes, Muslim. Moreover, one such grave was on the site of, again, yes, the World Trade Center. Hallowed ground, indeed.
I make no apology for quoting at some length the comments of that infamous Al-Qaeda supporter, Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, a few weeks' ago:
"The World Trade Center Site will forever hold a special place in our City, in our hearts. But we would be untrue to the best part of ourselves --and who are we as New Yorkers and Americans-- if we said 'no' to a mosque in Lower Manhattan.
"Let us not forget that Muslims were among the murdered on 9/11 and that our Muslim neighbours grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values --and play into our enemies' hands-- if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists--and we should not stand for that.
"For that reason, I believe that this is an important test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetime --as important a test-- and it is critically important that we get it right.
"On September 11, 2001, thousands of first responders defended not only our City but also our country and our Constitution. We do not honor their lives by denying the very Constitutional rights they died protecting. We honor their lives by defending their rights--and the freedoms that the terrorists attacked."
Compare & contrast Mayor Bloomberg's measured & thoughtful words with Riley's subterranean political-correctness-gone-mad scrawl; it's like the difference between principle & puerility. In fact, come to think of it, it is.

23.00 UPDATE: The link for the New York Times editorial doesn't appear to be working. If you Google: New York Times editorial: A Monument to Tolerance, the correct link should be at the top of the links page.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Breaking News: The Beatles Came From Liverpool

Never let it be said that the Oldham Echo is behind the curve, or that it doesn't bring you the stories that are relevant to the people of Merseyside. Occupying the top link spot on its website at the time of writing is a video taken by Paul McCartney when he met President Obama..... two months ago (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2010/08/17/ex-beatle-sir-paul-mccartney-releases-video-footage-of-meeting-president-obama-at-the-white-house-video-100252-27077744/ ).
Footage of Macca's big night in Washington DC has been on YouTube since the event in early June (just type "Paul McCartney & Barack Obama") & the official video is still available to view on the White House website (http://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/president-obama-honors-paul-mccartney ).
So what's different about the video that the Echo website is so excited about? Erm, just that Sir Thumbs-Up comments how excited he is as he's driven to the White House.
Once again, Oldham Hall Street brings you the stories that really matter.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fleming Should Explain Himself

The comment allegedly made by David Fleming, director of Mational Museums Merseyside (NML) which Wayne highlighted last week (http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.com/2010/08/i-want-all-young-black-men-to-feel-shit.html ) demands some sort of statement from him. It beggars belief that he has decided to remain silent rather than confirm or deny that he said the words attributed to him & explain himself at the very least.
It is unclear when or where Fleming made the alleged remark. However, a podcast was made of a discussion at Liverpool Museum last April (the day of which was the anniversary of Hillsborough, as it happens) on the struggle for civil rights, with particular regard to the US, "From Lincoln to Obama: a look at the progress of civil rights" (http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/podcasts/lincoln_obama.aspx ).
It should be stated that Fleming certainly doesn't make the comment attributed to him on the podcast. However, that should not serve as the final word on the matter.
Fleming is currently on holiday, but must surely be aware of the furore caused by the alleged quote. That being the case, he could simply pick up his mobile phone & tell the appropriate outlets the real situation; there can be all sorts of extenuating circumstances in which a repugnant sentiment is aired (taken out of context, directly quoting a bigot, etc.). Whatever the truth of the matter is, Fleming, as a public servant, owes it to the people of Merseyside to make a full & formal statement on the alleged remark.
Fleming, of course, has form when it comes to uttering crass & offensive comments. He proposed exhibitions of Hillsborough & the Bulger case at the Museum of Liverpool (http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.com/2010/03/museum-of-liverpool-citadel-of-disaster.html ).
He has also spoken in the most disparaging terms of his fellow colleagues & staff (http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.com/2009/03/watching-detectives.html ): "Why is it that most curators and museum staff are completely dysfunctional in normal society? Most of them you would not want to take out for a drink. They're weird! And why is it that our sector thinks it's appropriate to put weird people at the head of it?"
Given his track record for producing cringeworthy, tactless & downright callous quotes, Fleming needs to make a statement fast. Remaining silent is not an option.

Cannibalism, Not Craft

Keeping schtum about ignorant, heavy-handed goons at the Arena which displays its name & being disingenuous about the damage done to the waterfront by the Three Graces' new anti-social neighbours, the "journalism" at the Daily Ghost & Oldham Echo can be put into context by a piece which appeared on the How-Do website the other day (http://www.how-do.co.uk/north-west-media-news/north-west-publishing/regional-journalists-increasingly-resorting-to-%E2%80%98cut-and-paste%92-journalism%2c-local-news-in-crisis--201008128822/ ).
The article, quoting a report by Professor Natalie Fenton of Goldsmiths Media Research Centre for the Media Trust (http://www.mediatrust.org/get-support/community-newswire-1/research-report-3/ ), refers to the acquisition of the Guardian Media Group's regional media titles by Trinity Smoking Mirrors.
Professor Felton notes that such takeovers result in supposedly local papers having "less and less relevance for local people".
Most damningly of all, however, is Professor Felton's observation:
"There is evidence of journalists being thrust into news production more akin to creative cannibalisation than the craft of journalism.
"As they need to fill more space and to work at greater speed while also having improved access to stories and sources online, they talk less to their sources, are captured in desk-bound, cut-and-paste, administrative journalism."
Mark Thomas & Alastair Machray would do well to acknowledge that "creative cannibalisation" has become the hallmark of Oldham Hall Street's output.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Not Trending

Robin Brown over at the Liverpool Culture Blog notes that the creatures at Murdoch's rag, The Sun have set up a twitter channel about Liverpool FC (http://www.liverpoolcultureblog.co.uk/2010/08/the-sun-opens-liverpool-twitter-channel/ ).
He puts this pathetic attempt to curry favour with a generation on Merseyside too young to remember Hillsborough in perspective:
"Not such a big deal? Maybe to the people of a city accused of the most hideous lies imaginable by the paper after Hillsborough.
"There are some things I think Liverpool needs to get over, but Hillsborough is a taboo. Emotion is still high and raw, and understandably as far as I'm concerned."
The reptiles at Wapping have to be told in no uncertain terms that they'll never be accepted by the people of Merseyside, not just Liverpool fans. That they've resorted to Twitter in the vain hope that memories have faded shows their rank callousness.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Re-Writing History

What are you doing four weeks today? In London, you say? Great! You can take your place outside Waterstone's bookstore in Picadilly, central London, to buy Tony Blair's self-justifying tome, My Journey (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2010/aug/11/tony-blair-security-book-signing ).
It's been reported that the war criminal agonised somewhat over the title for his self-proclaimed magnum opus. You can imagine the mooted titles that were kicked around among his coterie (The Chosen One, Sucking Up To Dubya, Be Grateful, You Bastards, The Gospel According To St Tony, etc.).
I would have suggested Blair steal the title of Emile Zola's classic, J'accuse, with a picture of Bush's lap-dog looking shifty & defensive. However, as you'd expect, security will be high, as Paul Owen points out in the Guardian piece. Blair won't be signing any personal dedications ("Best wishes to Osama", that sort of thing). Nor will it be permitted to have your photograph taken with him (all cameras & mobile phones must be given up prior to shaking the hand which has the blood of thousands on it; besides, under Section 44 of Tony's Terrorism Act, & as the security goons at the Oldham Echo Arena will readily attest, cameras are weapons of mass destruction).
There are more conditions attached, designed to make the supplicants who take their place in the queue ( & Blair wants you to know your place) feel that it's an audience they won't forget.
Blair's advance for the book is £4.6m. I'm sure he earned it, what with all those pens to replace & A4 sheets to buy, not to mention the odd attack of writer's cramp.
So if you're in the capital on September 8th, why not pop along & let Tony know just how grateful you are that his actions have made the world a safer place.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Finding The Right Word

I note that Simon Heffer has taken it upon himself to act as a defender of grammatical accuracy at the Daily Telegraph (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/mediamonkeyblog/2010/aug/04/simon-heffer-daily-telegraph ).
I'm all in favour of choosing one's words carefully & ensuring that the correct words are employed (even though I'm a blogger!). However, Heffer should also understand the offence that inaccurate & bigoted jibes cause. It was Heffer, not Boris Johnson, who penned the infamous Spectator editorial about the people of Liverpool shortly after the murder of Ken Bigley in 2004 (http://www.spectator.co.uk/politics/all/12691/bigleys-fate.thtml ).
There's a particular word for Heffer which could be best described as Chaucerian.

The Chasm Claims Its Victims

John Harris often maintains a naive faith in the Labour Party to be an effective vehicle for social & economic change (if nothing else, New Labour's legacy has been to render the party's brand tainted for a generation at least).
However, he's spot-on in dissecting the cant spouted by the ConDem coalition, particularly Osborne's nauseous mantra that "we're all in this together", in a piece on the Guardian's Comment is Free site (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/aug/08/north-south-divide-soon-become-chasm ).
As local Lib Dems phone & email all & sundry, on condition of anonymity, of course, to voice their despair at their electoral prospects, & describe Warren "War Zones" Bradley in terms which could be politely described as robust, Harris proffers the withering observation: "Given that the Lib Dems seem to be confining any progressive pull on the government to issues of crime,punishment and civil liberties, plans for the economic and social fabric represent Conservatism red in tooth and claw - and only 24% of the electorate fancied anything like that. Needless to say, precious few of them lived in the places where the cuts will really bite."
In the space of 48 hours the Tories have revealed their true base & venal impulses, despite current attempts to deny that they really want to follow in Thatcher's footsteps & snatch milk from the mouths of young children (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-10912177 ).
As the Equality Trust website points out (http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/ ), the severity of the cuts will deepen the chasm that Harris refers to with adverse consequences not just for those most vulnerable; the quality of life for the middle class also suffers when "austerity" measures tip more of the working class into the recepticle marked underclass.
In a point which will have a ringing resonance on Merseyside, Harris declares:
"In the real world, of course, millions of Britons live in places where market forces have never begun to fill the void left by the demise of the manufacturing and heavy industry, and the public sector is the chief means via which life can tick over. In these places, chop the state down, and far from boosting private enterprise, you weaken it - a simple truth evident in waning business confidence and the dread possibility of a double-dip recession."
It's "a simple truth" which that supposedly savvy local businessman Phil Redmond chooses to ignore as he proselytizes Cameron's Do It Yourself society.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Big Al Machray's Found That Report...Or Has He?

A month after the incident, the Oldham Echo has admitted that the security goons at the venue that bears its name threatened amateur photographer Mike Evans with the anti-terror police for aiding & abetting a 9/11-style attack on the Liverpool waterfront...or something along those lines(http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.com/2010/07/fighting-terrorism-at-echo-arena.html ).
Ben Schofield's terse, three-sentence account of the affair, however, views matters in less of a journalistic & more of a PR context as he quotes the venue management's regret (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2010/08/05/echo-arena-reviewing-security-policy-after-amateur-photographer-threatened-with-terror-police-100252-27004198/ ).
There are, however, a few caveats to consider. Tim Banfield, the Echo Arena manager, states the venue is "reviewing our policy on photography." That's not an apology for a deeply distressing incident involving Mr Evans. Nor is it an admission that their "policy" on photography outside the venue has no basis in law. Secondly, nowhere in Schofield's diminutive dispatch is Mr Evans mentioned by name. Thirdly, Mr Evans' disability, confining him to a wheelchair, as well as his treatment for cancer last year, is omitted from the piece. Instead, it is left to one of the commenters, Tourman, to highlight this fact.
Even when the Oldham Echo attempts to do PR, it is grotesquely inept.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


When Sly Bailey, chief executive of Trinity Smoking Mirrors has finished sacking staff whilst awarding herself a cool £670,000 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2010/jun/17/slybailey-mediabusiness & http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/apr/07/trinity-mirror-sly-bailey-pay ), she might like to address the divergent, not to mention dubious patterns in her fiefdom. Yesterday's Media Monkey blog on the Guardian site (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/mediamonkeyblog/2010/aug/02/mirror-football ) reports on a charming piece from the Mirror Football site, linking the use of video technology in the Football League this season with the recent trial of Jon Venables: "It was good enough for Jon Venables in his recent trial and it will be introduced by the FA this season. We're talking video technology for disciplinary hearings."
And on it continues in a way which evokes the phrase, sewer journalism.
Given that the Mirror's stable-mate, the Oldham Echo has extensively quoted Denise Fergus in the light of Venables' trial, it shouldn't be too much for Bailey to look into the matter & issue a fulsome apology. Should it?