Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Caught Out

Filling out an ESTA form (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is obligatory if you wish to visit the US. The Department of Homeland Security decrees so. Booking a city break in New York involved providing my details on the online Esta form. Bemused, as well as somewhat wryly amused, to be asked if I was planning to commit terrorist acts while in the US, I accepted it as part of the deal.
However, the thought then arose: I'm one of the "internet terrorists" that Tom Hicks referred to recently. Does this mean I'm on a no-fly list?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Liverpool -- A Recession-Free Zone

Welcome to the world of parallel universes. There is, of course, the real world, one where most people now accept that the ConDem cuts will leave a grisly trail of bleeding stumps. Locally, the ramifications of Dave's Do It Yerself Society were addressed in a piece for Saturday's Guardian by Caroline Davies ( ):
"The city already has 50,552 on jobseeker's allowance and 28,330 receiving incapacity benefit, with another 43,960 such claimants throughout the region. A large proportion are in wards such as Toxteth, where Paul Brant, the deputy leader of Liverpool city council, fears dole queues can only swell, and social problems get worse."
And then there is the world inhabited by Oldham Hall Street, one where Grosvenor-pool has been the city's salvation, bread & circus stunts involving Lennon's wives & sons are sold to a credulous & dwindling readership as evidence of a bright future for the city & the global recession has somehow passed Merseyside by.
On the eve of Osborne's slash & burn exercise last week, the Oldham Echo pathetically bleated ( ):
"Jobs are undoubtedly going to be lost and services are undoubtedly going to be cut. The review, we already know from leaks, is set to be brutal, but we ask that local authorities be able to retain a sharp focus on frontline services -- at the expense of less vital functions."
You can just imagine the cynical cackles of laughter from No 11 Downing Street in response to such an asinine & deluded request. Indeed, the Echo's leader writer, thought to be Paddy Shennan (hello, Paddy!), might as well put in a call to "Professor" Redmond, self-appointed representative for the ConDem cuts on Merseyside, to see if he can deliver another of his rambling, "stream-of-consciousness", incoherent missives, you know, the sort of thing, aren't-we-all-great-in-Scouseland, wasn't-culture-year-such-a-success, etc.
It would certainly be interesting to see how Redmond reconciles his faith in the Big Society with Ian Duncan Smith's resurrection of the Tebbit philosophy ( ).
There's a postscript to the Guardian piece by Caroline Davies & it's one which saddens me to note. Tony Nelson, an ex-docker active in the 1995 dispute & who now helps to run the Casa on Hope Street, was quoted:
"We had a march against the cuts and got about 500 to 1,000 [ ]. Two days later there was a march by Liverpool FC supporters against their owners. There were thousands and thousands. Says it all.
"The young just aren't politicised anymore. And they are the very ones that are going to be affected most."
I have the utmost respect for Tony & his fellow dockers for the struggle they waged a decade-and-a-half ago. However, what he fails to realise is that a wider consciousness of the cuts & their consequences is still very much in its infancy. The campaign by Liverpool fans over Hicks & Gillett's reign shouldn't be seen as, to use an old-fashioned Marxist term, false consciousness. If anything, previously apolitical fans were made aware of wider issues ( ).
Moreover, the young won't be politicised in the old ways, a steepling fall in trade union membership & New Labour have largely seen to that. Instead, many younger working-class people will turn to the web as a recruiting & organising tool. Someone of Tony's generation may not be familiar with Twitter & Facebook, but social networks can play the role once performed by union branches.
Think that's naive & unrealistic? Wait & see.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Grotesque Addition To Grosvenor-pool

A middle-aged lady viewed it with suspicion.
"What do you think?" she asked me.
"Honestly?" I replied.
"Yes, honestly."
"I think Lennon would've said, 'What's that, for Christ's sake!' "
"So do I," she grinned.
"Avant-garde is French for bullshit."
John Lennon, 1971.

Happy Viewing

From the Guardian's live blog on events at the High Court an observation by Steve Busfield:
"My colleague Gregg Roughley (yes, a Liverpool fan) says: 'Liverpool fans might enjoy knowing that on Margaret Thatcher's 85th birthday she'll be watching nothing but celebrating scousers and miners all day on TV.' " ( ).


The High Court has told the liars to sling their hook. For good measure, they've been refused the right to appeal ( ).

Saturday, October 09, 2010


"Liverpool, like ancient Athens, certainly has a rich spiritual and intellectual culture, and its inhabitants are known for their love of conversation and debate. But is Liverpool really a philosophical city?"
Clare Carlisle, writer & academic ( ).

Friday, October 08, 2010

A Statement From Lennonpool City Council

When it comes to feeding & sustaining Liverpool's chronic addiction to the Beatles, Joe Anderson has shown that he's just as reliable a dealer as Warren "War Zones" Bradley. How else to account for the decision to rename the newly renovated Neptune Theatre the Epstein Theatre ( )?
I suspect that most people on Merseyside would see no valid reason to change the theatre's name; the venue was given the name Neptune to reflect the city's maritime past.
It is true that, as the council press release states, Brian Epstein "began his career in music at the landmark venue when Crane's Music Store sat below what was then Crane's Music Hall."
That said, there's a dispiriting predictability to the council's mania for gratuitously linking the Neptune with John, Paul, George &, ooh, whatisname, you know, the one who did the voice on Thomas the Tank Engine.
In this latest bout of civic onanism, Cllr Anderson refers to the Beatles' manager as "the 5th Beatle", a tag which, if merited by anyone, should surely go to the band's producer, George Martin.
Still let's not bother with the fact that there's a healthy & vibrant music scene in the city, shall we? As long as it's another lucrative stopping-off point for the tourists in the Hard Day's Night Hotel that's all that matters. Anderson admits this:
"For our Beatles industry this development means Liverpool has a new attraction and a new story to tell and for the city we will soon have a new theatre with a world famous name which will hopefully make it a commercially more attractive business to market and operate."
Both the council & Oldham Hall Street normally shudder with distaste when they're accused of seeing the Beatle legacy as nothing more than a tired & tawdry cash cow. Here, however, Anderson commits the Freudian slip once considered the preserve of his predecessor on Dale Street & blurts out the reality we've long known.
Oh yes, there's another aspect of that quote which should be shot down in flames. The Neptune is not "a new theatre". It has been renovated, not reinvented. To many of its former patrons & performers, it will still be known as the Neptune.
Got that, Joe?

Slapdash, Lazy & Misleading -- Journalism At Its Best With The Oldham Echo

You don't need me to tell you about the anxieties caused by the ConDem cuts. Times are bleak for many & the outlook looks foreboding. However, hope is not yet extinguished, not when the Oldham Echo claims that, according to Cameron's speech at the Tory conference this week, Liverpool can lead the UK through the storm & arrive at a glorious national renaissance. Certainly, that's the gist of Ian Hernon's piece in the paper ( ).
Hernon declares:
"David Cameron claimed it is great port cities like Liverpool which can get the UK back in the black."
Setting aside the risible notion that one city can lead some sort of national economic resurgence (needless to say it's a theory that Hernon doesn't even bother to question), it is, nevertheless, an eye-catching claim. So what exactly did Cameron say about Liverpool, Ian?
"A senior aide said: 'It is places like Bristol and Liverpool and other great ports where the entrepreneurial spirit built great cities -- and can do so again.' "
Sorry, Ian, I asked you what Cameron himself said, not one of his minions. Did he mention Liverpool in his speech? Hear that sound? Yes, it's tumbleweed. Cameron made no mention of Liverpool in his address to the Tory faithful, as the transcript reveals ( ).
Hernon was, of course, the sage who reported that David Miliband would serve in a shadow cabinet led by his brother Ed.
The Oldham Echo: redefining the same way that Tom Hicks redefined integrity.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Bell End

Recommended reading: SevenStreets' look at Peter Tierney's offensive antics in the city centre last weekend ( ).
It's pleasing to note that Tierney & his fellow morons received short shrift from onlookers:
"What is heartening is that the BNP demo on Saturday met with the distaste of Liverpool's general population."
Many have pondered the paradox of the bell-ringing, convicted criminal that is Tierney & his past as owner of the very much alternative Quiggins store, described by SevenStreets as "a wonderfully left-field emporium".

Guess Who's Crawled Out Of His Hole?

Roy Greenslade mentions on his blog the latest dig at Liverpool supporters by Kelvin Mackenzie ( ).
Yes, the man who sent a Valentine card to his wrist last February has thought up another Wildean witticism for his column in The Sun (funny how the rag which wants us to forgive & forget continues to employ this creature, isn't it?).
It wouldn't be stretching the bounds of decency too far to suggest that MacKenzie's positive health check won't be greeted as good news by many.

Yea, A Daniel Come To Jugement

There may still be some on Merseyside who feel that Heseltine's visit to the region after the Toxteth riots in 1981 had a long-term beneficial effect. Save for the Albert Dock renovation & an International Garden Festival site which soon fell into neglect & decay, there is no evidence to support that view. Last night's debate between Heseltine & Ken Loach on Newsnight ( ) made for priceless viewing. Paxo looked on benignly as Loach skewered Heseltine's philosophy & record in government, a record which left a legacy still here today.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Don't Forget The Role Played By This Man

Once bitten twice shy, as they say. That being the case, the caution & scepticism with which Liverpool supporters greeted this morning's news of the club's sale ( ) are entirely justified. Hicks & Gillett's objections to the sale only serve to cement their truly toxic legacy at the club; Tom Hicks has pulled off a significant achievement, he's managed to make himself more reviled than Kelvin MacKenzie in the eyes of most supporters.
While it's appropriate to bid good riddance to the two liars, it's also necessary to remember the role played by the club's former chairman David Moores in facilitating their arrival. It certainly hasn't escaped the attention of the Guardian's Richard Williams ( ):
"The real malaise inside Anfield, however, is off the pitch, and goes back at least to the moment at which David Moores, the former chairman, decided to cash in his shares and walk away with £89m, having sold the club to a couple of American gamblers whose promises turned out to be highly misleading, although it was certainly bad luck for Hicks and Gillett that their acquisition was followed so closely by a worldwide recession."
The liars' "bad luck" may well be viewed by supporters as a dose of schadenfreude to savour.
Throughout their ruinous reign Moores has attempted (often with the tacit endorsement of Oldham Hall Street) to portray himself as just another innocent fan duped by a couple of snake-oil salesmen. Bullshit. Moores pocketed his millions, refusing to even engage with the Spirit of Shankly group when it became clear that the club was in the wrong hands.
Moores is an accomplice to the liars' mismanagement.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A Message To Tom & George

An unmistakable message from the fans to the two lying conmen who have dragged Liverpool FC's name & traditions through the mud: .