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March 24, 2011

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Random Act of Kindness 3: The Price of Petrol

March 24, 2011

Realised I haven’t done one of these for quite a while but a friend of mine confessed (in a very bashful, awkward way when it randomly came up as a topic in conversation) to having done this recently:

Picture the scene, you’ve had a hard day at work, you’re stressed, you’re tired, and then to top it all off your car’s running low on petrol. Anyone who knows how expensive petrol in the UK is these days will know that filling up with petrol is a truly torturous experience. You pull into the petrol station, maybe you have to queue, maybe you get honked for not queuing properly; it just seems to be one of those days. You undo your seatbelt, get out of the car, take the pump out of the stand and start to fill your car, all the while watching as the money on the little screen keeps spinning up and up and up. You fill the car and look at the price in resigned disbelief, depressed you head over to pay. There’s a queue to pay (there always seems to be in petrol stations for some reason) and someone at the front of the queue takes an unreasonable amount of time deciding between flavours of chewing gum and you start to fantasise about smashing their head through the glass screen. Finally you make it to the front of the queue, tired, angry, completely fed up, and you pull out your credit card (already overdrawn by the way) and go to pay when the guy behind the till says

“Excuse me, sorry, you don’t need to pay. That guy’s already paid for you.”

And he points across the forecourt at a guy in suit walking quietly back to his car. You stand there a little dumbfounded and watch as the man in the suit gets into his car and drives innocuously away.

Howl: The Movie

March 21, 2011

Since I just linked to the original Howl poem, I thought it was only fair to mention the recent film based on a performance of the poem by Allen Ginsberg, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, and starring James Franco. The film got a bit slammed by the mainstream critics who quite rightly pointed out that it was difficult to make an engaging film based entirely and exclusively on a single poetry reading, but it seemed pretty popular with the film festivals and Franco’s performance has had typically good write-ups.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1049402/

 

 

What’s in a Name?

March 21, 2011

For those of you who hadn’t already guessed the title of this blog “TheHowl” is a reference to the opening statement of the Beat-poet cult-hero Allen Ginnsberg. I thought it was probably time I gave credit where it was due and posted a link to the full poem here…

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix…”

Some random musings…

March 19, 2011

Just some random things I jotted down in moments of pensive boredom…

  • On doctors:

Doctors are like the stage-hands of life: They sweat and slave but all the drip, drip, dripping of saline and morphine and the hiss of the syringe and the soundless slice of a scalpel are only background noises for the singing and crying and loving and laughing of the real performance. Drama, hustle, bustle, desperation and triumph all live within the hospital walls, but in truth the world begins when the electronic doors slide open and you emerge, blinking into the bright sun spotlights and the main act begins. And all the hours and seconds of their lives ticking and rushing quickly past, and the millions of pounds and the constant thrashing of thousands of minds all exist for one single reason: the show must go on.

  • On the Beat Generation (this was partly in response to an article in the guardian – I’ll  find this and post it another time):

There is no beat revival-that’s an old man’s game and it has nothing to do with reviving, its just the reminiscing  of persons who are long past their best. Why do I like the beats today? I’ll tell you  why; its because before the beats out grew themselves and turned soft and hippie and shit, before every ass hole and his mum wanted to sit in a field and hold hands, before that point  the beats were primarily about anger. Everything they did and lived for was just to say a big FUCK YOU to the man and the system, and basically anyone who said they couldn’t do something.

  • On ME!:

I am vehemently committed to all things subversive, not to anarchism, which implies only destruction, but to the creative re-imagination and re-construction of every aspect of our human existence; to peering cautiously around the edges of what we know and who we are, glimpsing for a moment the future and the past and, in the simplest terms, the limitations of everything we do.

 

 

 

 

What on Earth…?

March 18, 2011

Its been a crazy couple of weeks in international affairs: what with the on-going, possibly escalating, possibly now resolved situation continuing in Libya, more protests and Government perpetrated ant–protest brutality in Bahrain and attempted protests just about everywhere (Yemen, China etc). As if all that wasn’t enough for the hypochondriac-conspiracy theorists to worry about Japan was rocked by a huge earthquake (registering 8.9 on the richter scale, the largest in Japan since records began), which was swiftly followed by a huge tsunami. This natural disaster has decimated the country, leaving thousands dead, more unaccounted for and many, many more homeless. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the tsunami managed to damage the cooling equipment at Fukushima nuclear power plant, threatening the biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. The plant currently stands at point 5 on the 7 point international risk factor scale. My thoughts go out to anyone involved in any of these situations.

Just thought I’d share a couple of things that have struck me over the past couple of weeks:

1. China’s silent protest

Testament to huge deprivation of basic freedoms that Chinese citizens are subjected to, their response to growing the international protest movement was to propose a protest where members simply walked silently through the streets. Even this protest was massively stamped on by the Chinese authorities  but I just loved the idea of thousands of people walking together silently in the name of freedom.

You can read a bit about the protests and the governments totalitarian suppression of them here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12666701

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12658963

2. In Rwanda, they did nothing. In Sudan, they did nothing. There are countless examples of the UN failing to intervene and protect innocent civilians in atrocities across the world. But today the news came that the UN voted to approve non-ground troop interventions in protection of the Libyan people from the vengeance of Colonel Gaddafi. News that British and French planes were ready to launch for attack in the immediacy caused a dramatic turn around and announcement of a cease fire by Gaddafi’s foreign secretary – what happens next? Who knows. A turning point in global politics or simply further proof that the heart of the West only bleeds for the black, sticky stuff (oil)?

Anyway the BBC seemed to be first on the ball with this one:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12787739

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/03/18/us-libya-idUSTRE7270JP20110318

3. The last two points are in a similar vein and I have to say the second is much more striking than the first, but I did love the stoic, matter of fact manner of this member of the British rescue team to Japan, who utterly refused to play ball with any kind of media hysteria:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12724918

4. I was completely astounded/awe-struck/humbled by the attitude of the 150+ Japanese engineers facing huge levels of radiation in their struggle to repair the nuclear reactor at Fukushima. They are being hailed the “Fukushima 50” because they work in shift teams of 50 people. Somehow heroic doesn’t seem to do them justice.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12779510

A Short Poem On Banter

March 18, 2011

Banter.
Banterrr.
Banter. Banter.
Banter, Banter, Banter, Banter,
BANTERRRRRR…
F*ck Off!

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