Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Literary and Political Catholicism of Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh

A neat essay by Ben Granger over on Splinters, which manages to capture the essential aspects of the work of both writers:
"In many respects the authors could scarcely be more different. Greene’s milieu was the forgotten corners and back alleys of life. The jittery street gang, the persecuted runaway, the jaded official in a fading Imperial outpost. Boozy landladies, failed accountants. Greene’s every fibre was tuned with sympathy for the underdog, siding with the rebellious and the forgotten, his narrative home the sleazy underbelly of life. Not so Waugh. His territory was the landed estates of the southern counties and their intersection with the cold elites of London high society. While his misanthropic satire found endless and endlessly amusing reasons for his narrative contempt towards the dramatis personae of lower gentry and upper bourgeois who populated his books, there was no denying that, at heart, he identified with them. "

(url shortened at tinyurl)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Utah Phillips: folksinger, storyteller and railroad tramp

Singer Dave Rovics writes about Utah Phillips who died on May 23rd:

"To hear Utah tell the stories of the strikes and the free speech fights, recounting hilariously the day-to-day tribulations of life in the hobo jungles and logging camps, singing about the humanity of historical figures such as Big Bill Haywood, Joe Hill or Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, was to bring alive an era that at that point only seemed to exist on paper, not in the reality of the senses. But Utah didn't feel like someone who was just telling stories from a bygone era -- it was more like he was a bridge to that era."

There is also an obituary written by his family:

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Child on the Street

Ken Worpole writes about children's street games and the importance of play in underpinning a free society:

"As the events of 1968 are commemorated, it is worth noting that it was the postwar celebration of children's play that anticipated the reclamation of the street as a domain of political liberty. Even the Opies realised that many children's games were an implicit form of political protest, as when they saw that dangerous games of risk such as Last Across the Road were an "impulse of the tribe" against the encroachment of the car into their sacred territory. This position was endorsed by the anarchist Colin Ward in his seminal 1970s book, The Child in the City, the last great expression of belief in the power of play to turn the street and the playground, if not the world, upside down."

Read the full article in The Guardian:,,2277916,00.html

Punk Rock Baby

Cartoon animations of songs by David Rovics, and others illustrated by
Norwegian artist Bjorn-Magne - including "Punk Rock Baby" and "Bullies":