Wednesday, 31 August 2022

what can a poor boy do but sing in a rock & roll band? (10. 100)

Released on this day as a single from their Beggars Banquet album that came out in December of 1968, “Street Fighting Man” is considered The Rolling Stones most contentious and political song. Originally recorded as “Did Everyone Pay Their Dues?” with the same powerful acoustic guitar riffs and drumset set to very different lyrics, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were inspired by an anti-war rally at the US Embassy in London where twenty-five thousand had gathered and parallel events in Paris that led to the unrest of May of that summer. Its premier in America was marred by the coincidence of violence and protests during the Democratic National Convention held in Chicago, with most radio stations refusing to play the song for fear it would incite a riot.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

an unfinished revolution

We had scant idea that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels had not only contributed hundreds of articles as foreign correspondents for the New York Daily Tribune in the lead up to the US Civil War advocating strongly against slavery and the apartheid of the American South—and North, Marx moreover kept up a correspondence with Abraham Lincoln—one does not readily summon this overlap and epistolary relatisonship, influencing and informing to an extent his interlocutor’s views on labour, suffrage and the estrangement of chattel and capital. Much more from Open Culture at the link above.

Saturday, 25 December 2021

fait accompli

Having persuaded the Supreme Soviet to vest within the office of president (a different entity altogether from the Presidium whose chair was sometimes conflated by Western governments and press) all executive powers for an amount of time not to exceed two years—like the Roman tradition of appointing a limited-tenure dictator, during this time of transition and upheaval, incumbent just since mid-March of 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev, his position strengthened by withstanding the failed August Coup but unable to reverse the party’s decision for dissolution, announced his resignation as commander-in-chief at the Kremlin before television cameras broadcasting internationally on this day in 1991. Expressing remorse for the breakup of the union, Gorbachev at the same time welcomed the reforms of a market-economy, greater political and religious freedoms as well as the end of the Cold War and its attendant brinksmanship, the Supreme Soviet the next day voted itself out of existence, allowing the Soviet Union to expire at midnight 31 December (Julian Christmas of course falling on the seventh of January on the Gregorian calendar but not reinstated as a holiday until 1992, with New Year’s the big celebration—see also) with the Russian Federation the successor to all Soviet Institutions.

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

intentos separatistas

Under the leadership of Empresario (the Spanish word for entrepreneur and referring to those granted right of settlement in exchange for pledging to develop an area) Haden Edwards, a group of Texians declared the breakaway Republic of Fredonia on this day in 1826.Arriving the year before with some eight hundred colonists families (mostly plantation-owners from the American south like himself)—overstepping his commission by claiming the authority to adjudicate the validity of the land claim of those already in residence, demanding deed and title to property else land would become forfeit and the property of fellow filibusters. The Mexican government repudiated Edwards' actions and ordered him out but he refused to leave his colony. By the last day of January, the occupiers were defeated by the Mexican army, though the cumulative effect of this rebellion and others instigated like it led to the eventual secession of the territory, both sides alternatively currying favour with and laying blame on indigenous tribes and forcibly relocated peoples.

Friday, 10 December 2021

everybody always confesses—you can’t help it

Slated to be released on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the original publication of nineteen eighty-four on 8 June 2023 and greenlit by the estate of George Orwell, the dystopian, cautionary tale will be retold from the perspective of Julia, Winston Smith’s erstwhile subversive, thoughtcriminal, inculcated to the Party at a young age and avid member of the Junior Anti-Sex League and the Two Minutes Hate directed against those who would betray the revolution but who quickly redirected her fervour to rebellion, though knowing they will eventually be caught and betray one another’s confidence.

Sunday, 31 October 2021

meine propositiones

According to most sources, Augustinian monk Martin Luther (see previously here, here and here—not a fave, just problematic), upset with leadership in the Catholic Church—chiefly over the indulgences racket—posted his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Palace Church of All Saints on this day in 1517, setting off the Reformation Movement in Germany.

Saturday, 9 October 2021

dor nischl

The colossal stylised bust of philosopher and historian Karl Marx (previously) sculpted by Soviet realist Lev Efimovich Kerbel for the city formerly and presently known as Chemnitz (redesignated as Karl-Max-Stadt for the year of the revolutionary in 1953) was dedicated on this day in 1971 before an assembly of a quarter of a million attendees. The wall directly behind the visage and plinth is inscribed with the famous phrase from the Communist Manifesto “Workers of the World, unite!” in German, Russian, French and English by graphic artist Helmut Humann.  Locally referred to as the above Mitteldeutsch colloquialism for head or skull and used as a backdrop for much propaganda and pageantry under the East German government, the symbol was not without controversy, but was preserved while many other monuments to Soviet heroes and ideals were dismantled. After reunification, the city of Kรถln even offered to buy the head in order that it be saved from destruction, while residents were wrestling with the recent past and deciding to restore their city’s former name. Ultimately, it was decided to keep this and select vestiges of times past, which can still be a focus of the here and now.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

bergruine hutsburg

Having lost the trail a couple weeks ago trying to hike up to the ruined donjon, isolated and nearly forgotten though once one of the most imposing fortifications in the area due to its location on the former border between East and West Germany, whilst trying to approach it from the Bavarian side, we ventured up the Hutsburg to see the eponymous fortress from the thรผringischer side.
First passing through the ghostly remnants of villages deemed a liability owing to their nearness to the border (previously here and here), we slowly climbed up the mountain and at the wooded summit encountered the tall of the shield wall and foundations, with the sun shining through the otherwise dark forest through the ancient portal.
Though far older than its first documented reference in the early twelfth century (possibly from the four hundreds in some form of fort), I suspect that these runes were a more recent graffito. It was a strategic possession of the counts of Henneberg and degenerated over the years as the power of the family waned to little more than an outpost for slum lords—Raubritter, literal robber barons in the sense of unscrupulous feudal landowners who imposed higher taxes without the approval of a higher authority and expropriation, culminating with the intervention of the king in the fabled execution of a gang of such bandits after a a siege lasting weeks (the subject of a German nursery rhyme:
Ernst war sie eine stoles Feste / doch heute sieht man our noch Reste. Mit Nรผrnberge Schraubenzeug ward sie gebrochen / Und zweiundviersig Rรคuber kamen hervorgekrochen. Noch erhobenen Hauptes und voller Stolz, / kรผrtze man sie gleich um selbiges, was Solls.
Basically, Once a proud Fort, but today only rubble remains / Battered with catapults / forty-two robbers emerged / Hoisted by their own petard) and was passed through the lordship of Tann and Kere.
The bulwark was not to meet its final fate and fall into ruin and disrepair until the Peasants’ Revolt of 1525 (die Bauernkrieg, see also) when the rebellion successfully stormed and took the castle, the Hutsburg being one of the few castles of the Rhรถn active at the time of its taking, most empty and irrelevant at this point in history and under the administration of a bailiff. Though the victory was not strategically significant, it was important symbolically as overthrowing the trapping and tool of oppression and serfdom.

Saturday, 21 August 2021

dziesmotฤ revolลซcija

Beginning in 1987 after the introduction of the policies of glasnost and perestroika that rolled back certain limitations on political expression heretofore imposed on Soviet constituent member states outside of the core of Russia, the Baltic satellites staged a peaceful Singing Revolution that culminated for Latvia on this day in 1991 declaring its independence in the midst of an attempted coup to unseat Mikhail Gorbachev from his leadership position. One of the more popular songs of the freedom movement was the trilingual (also with verses in Estonian and Lithuanian) The Baltics are Waking Up!, composed by Boriss Rezniks for a protest two years prior commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, which defined German and Soviet spheres of influence in the region, with defiant ralliers’ joining hands and forming a human chain stretching across the three countries.

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

journรฉe du 10 aoรปt

Symbolically, a year to the day after storming of the Tuileries Palace during which the Nation Guard of the Paris commune and confederates from Marseille and Brittany overpowered a detachment of Swiss Guards and took Louis XVI and the royal family into custody, the pivotal event that eventually led to the declaration of a republic, the adjacent Musรฉe du Louvre was officially opened in 1793. Fortified in the late twelfth century to rebuff attacks from on the western side of the city by English Normandy, the name of the palace may be derived from an ancient wolf hunting lodge (lupus, lupara) originally on that site. In 1846, the US Congress charters the Smithsonian Institution (previously), after its benefactor and namesake English mineralogist James Smithson of the Royal Society, dying without an heir, bequeaths an endowment of half a million dollars. By dint of another coincidence, another grand institution of Europe, the Natural History Museum of Vienna (as das k. u. k.—kaiserlich und kรถniglich—Hof-Naturalienkabinette) held its official opening ceremony on this day as well in 1865, sourced from the personally acquisitions of the Double Monarchy, by Emperor Franz Joseph I.

Sunday, 9 May 2021


Once again via Waxy as part of a year-long celebration on a half-century of text games (previously) we are directed towards the BASIC narrative distributed on cassette tape from programmer Miroslav Fรญdler commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the suppression of the Prague Spring by Warsaw Pact troops, allowing players to relive events and make different choices for potentially better outcomes. Such subversive software (see also) was of course not tolerated by the government and many risked their livelihoods and lives in creating and sharing such programs.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

situationist international

Though better-known by the later stages of the collective’s existence for developing the principles of dรฉrive and psycho-geography, the burgeoning group of avant-garde artists and social revolutionaries formed in the late 1950s garnered public attention and some herostratic fame on this day in 1964 by decapitating the landmark bronze located on a waterside promenade in Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid, the first act in a long line of vandalism towards this poort statue motivated by various reasons. Radically left-leaning and convinced that the capitalism that Karl Marx had sought to redress, the Situationists—especially during this formative political period, was becoming more pervasive and all-encompassing and that the estranging forces of commodity fetishism were fast encroaching on every aspect of life and culture, helping limn and inform the summer of unrest and insurrection of Paris in May of 1968.

Thursday, 4 February 2021

the revolution will be televised—albeit as a backdrop for an aerobics video livestream

First spotted by friend of the blog, Nag on the Lake, several days ago—we had questions and wanted to let it process a bit, unsure exactly what was going on here. After going viral and subject to the ordeal of accusations that it was faked, cheeky or somehow conspiratorial, the Physical Education teacher and trainer in Naypyitaw was interviewed about her accidental filming of the convoy of military vehicles in the background and ensuing coup d’รฉtat which was not going to interrupt her routine. There’s a lively and ongoing discussion about the veracity of the clip on the Twitter thread—with most signs indicating it is authentic—and moreover the serious underpinning discussion of the overthrow of government through military uprising parallel. The workout video was an entry to a daily competition organised and sponsored by the Ministry of Health and Sports that encourages people to record themselves doing aerobics under a certain hashtag and share to social media. A collusion of circumstances, including social distancing, afore-mentioned coup that created spotty connectivity in Myanmar’s capital throughout the day and effective news blackout, the assumption that the tanks and SUVs were added security for the opening session of parliament. To add another dimension to this strange milieu, the song, incidentally, “Ampun Bang Jago,” has become a protest anthem against the Indonesian government—the Malay sarcastically translating to “forgive me, master” and meant to mock authorities.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

the thirty-seventh of december

Being quite chuffed with the results of the run-off elections in Georgia which takes control of the Senate out of the hands of the GOP under leadership of Kentucky Palpatine and making the chamber evenly split with Vice President Harris the deciding vote in case of a draw and just having finally watched a poignant, humorous send-off the past year with Death to 2020, seeing an armed mob of pro-Trump extremist storm the Capitol during the joint session of Congress to affirm the ballot results of the US Electoral College was a bit of whiplash. Incited by Trump’s urging a crowd of supporters to march on the legislator to oppose the certification process and reverse the results, the clashed with and overpowered police forces, four individuals dying during the violence, and broke into the chambers of the House and Senate. Representatives were evacuated but four hours later, the joint session was re-convened with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris declared victors in what is generally an anodyne and sedate formality—with objections and abstentions entertained in due process. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, overseeing the process along who had her office ransacked by an insurgent said, “We know that we’re in difficult times but little could we have imagined the assault that was on our democracy today. To those who strove to deter us from our responsibility, you have failed.” Most challenges failed to garner a champion and the votes stood, with the joint session adjourning for Arizona and Pennsylvania with the separate chambers debating the objection for an allotted two hours. Legislative business will continue overnight and into the morning until all the votes are certified.

Thursday, 24 December 2020

assassins’ creed or top-level domain

Occurring in Paris on this day—the third of Nivรดse IX (otherwise Christmas Eve, 1800)—the royalist plot of thee rue Saint-Nicaise to kill le Consulat of the Republic narrowly failed with Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife Josephine just barely escaping with their lives. In the late afternoon, the plotters had positioned their machine infernale and loaded it with gunpowder and ammunition as Napoleon proceeded to the opera to attend an oratorio by Joseph Haydn, whom reportedly slumbered during the ride and slept through the attempt on his life, whilst one unwitting co-conspirator and five by-standers were killed, afterwards insisting on attending the performance. This account later led Sigmund Freud to the conclusion as part of his psychological profile that the man was a sound-sleeper and dreamt of past battles, underminings that he had survived, thus cementing the idea that dreams—in the main—echo, correlate with wake-up calls in popular culture.

Thursday, 10 December 2020


Via Duck Soup, we are directed to another year-in-review told through the editorial board and camera pool of The New York Times, month-by-month of 2020, which serves as an incredible reminder to headline the lack of correspondence between the world depicted in the first quarter with what was just over the horizon. All captioned and curated, one can explore these pivot-points, especially those that receed apace from the present, in this interactive retrospective. As indelible as 2020 seems, it’s surprising what iconic images seem to belong to another time and place.

Friday, 4 December 2020

fraunces tavern

As our faithful chronicler reminds, on this day in 1783, a week after his triumphant re-entry into New York City, General George Washington disbanded and dismissed the officers of the Continental Army during a formal fรชte held at the storied public house (see also) at the corner of Pearl and Broad. Yet still a dining establishment and museum with artefacts and exhibits relating to the American Revolution, the mansion converted to tavern originally named the Queen’s Head was witness to several preceding and pivotal events. Meeting place of the local chapter of the secret society of the Sons of Liberty members organised protests against the 1773 Tea Act and subsequent import tax with a parallel Tea Party, tossing the cargo into the harbour disguised as Native Americans—as was done in Boston and as the war of secession approached its end, a sort of truce was negotiated to placate American leadership that none of their property—meaning formerly enslaved individuals who were emancipated by the British after impressment or other service to the Crown—be allowed to depart with the British, though the representatives of latter were relatively successful in ensuring that their freedom was their own and could be evacuated. Later during January 1785, under the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union (the purpose of the Continental Army was only to oust the British and then each would go its own separate way) the federal offices of Foreign Affairs, War and Finance were held there with the city as the first capital until 1790 when relocated to Philadelphia whilst Washington, District of Columbia was constructed over the next decade.

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

words of an unprecedented year

Whereas in times past, the Oxford English Dictionary nominated one representative term to sum up the Zeitgeist, lexicographers due to the dread fullness of 2020 could not settle one word and instead have underscored dozens encompassing the pandemic, changed social norms, civil unrest, disinformation and systemic racism. Read the whole report and get some insight into the research and vetting process at the link up top.

Thursday, 12 November 2020

set me free

Three days after the Wall unexpectedly opened, an impromptu, eleven-hour long Konzert fรผr Berlin was held for an estimated fifty thousand visitors in a West Berlin concert hall on this day in 1989.  The line-up included Melissa Etheridge, Joe Cocker & Band, Udo Lindenberg, Nina Hagen, BAP, Nena, die Puhdys and many more. Residents were asked to position their radios in their windowsills so the audio would be available to all, with the Governing Mayor of West Berlin acknowledging the historical significance of this first all-German rock concert and opening the show, especially emotionally charged at that pivotal moment. Both mayors jointly opened more crossing points to accommodate the crowds now crossing freely.  Not broadcasting counter-programming but most radio stations and television networks carried a benefit concert from the city’s philharmonic that had been scheduled well in advance, so not much actual footage from the event is available but performers reprised their numbers for a studio album.

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

electoral integrity

Despite couching his authorisation with caveats, the United States Attorney General is showing partisan bias in directing federal prosecutors to investigate voting irregularities and tacitly endorses the defeated Trump’s disinformation campaign and narrative that the Democrats rigged the election. While it behoves one to recall that it was the Justice Department that conjured up a battalion of shock troops to disappear problematic protesters in what were interpreted as Democratic strongholds, this chicanery of sore losers (and continued purges) will not translate to a coup d’รฉtat in any sense with democracy and its institutions berated and bedraggled as they may be still prevailing despite the pandemic, economic collapse, plus massive and concerted efforts of disenfranchisement—still the people spoke.