Islam and Violence – getting our thoughts in order

I posted last week on my outrage and revulsion of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, 7/Jan/2015. Those of us in the UK, France, other European and Western countries, and many around the world, expressed similar outrage. Now what?

I spent a good part of the last week thinking about my own reaction, and researching all manner of Islam-related topics on the net. To my surprise, along with much to be depressed about, I found some specific and unexpected resources – all created by Muslims – that give me some hope. (See ‘Resources’ in the middle of this post).

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Remembering Gough Whitlam

Gough Whitlam, one of my few political heroes recently died, aged 98.

gough_whitlam

In 1975, aged 10, I was in grade 5, in Brisbane, Australia. The news that the Labor government of Gough Whitlam had been dismissed by the governor general John Kerr came on the radio in the classroom (teachers of course knew it was imminent). The kids around me cheered. I had no idea why. Our household was a labor-voting household. Years later, I realised it was because I was at a private (Catholic) school, mostly full of kids whose conservative parents wouldn’t have realised that something called ‘society’ was at least partially responsible for their personal success.

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Gun control: a debate in need of framing

Is the aftermath of the most recent gun massacre in the US any different from those before? Many hope so due to the fact that the dead were mostly little kids of the ages of 5-7; it seems such an unacceptable atrocity that even the gun lobby would realise the need for change. Right? I doubt it. But it doesn’t mean no progress can be made. [this post updated with DailyBeast poll link under opinions 23/12/2012].

Newtown flag of honour

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Ginger Baker – bringing African rhythms into modern music

Ginger Baker

Saw Ginger Baker’s African Jazz Confusion the night before last at Ronnie Scott’s in London [I had made a longer post, but it was trashed by WordPress]. Suffice to say a great experience: with Abass Dodoo (Ghana; can’t wait to see him again somewhere) on African percussion, Alec Dankworth on bass (great musician, wonderful rhythmic and melodic sensibility) and Pee Wee Ellis (a legend in his own right – ex-James Brown, Van Morrison, many others) on sax.

I love Ginger Baker’s style – his rolling, bounding river of beats just goes on and on, giving real movement and emotion to the music. This isn’t esoteric jazz or academic jazz drumming, this is something that taps into an underground river of rhythm and makes you want to get up and move, and start hitting some drums yourself. Younger ‘musicians’ and bands take note.

Never the Bride: real rock with soul

Every so often I walk over the river to the famous (among Jazz & eclectic music-heads in London at least) Bulls Head in Barnes. Every time I think I am going to see some small possibly interesting gig in the 100 or so seat jazz room. And every time I am blown away by quality, and I think, hm, this should be a 1,500 seat gig. London is funny like that. There are these strange places where hardly any people can fit, and superstar quality just turns up on any night of the week.

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And now the cine-bad: the Unwatchable Films List

I created a new permanent page for Unwatchable Films. It’s a specific thing – not just bad films, but truly unviewable ones that have a similar effect to a general anaesthetic. They have their own criteria, and are nothing like the ’25 films so bad they’re unmissable’ lists you often see. I am talking cinema CRIMEs here. Please contribute.

Cinema, alive and well

Over the last few months, I have managed to squeeze in enough thought-provoking films to think that my favourite medium is still alive and well. We drown daily in a such a stultifying rain of nonsense and noise that it sometimes it seems that any sign of intelligence must be a mistake. Here are some rays of hope.

Melancholia (dir. Lars von Trier): ***
We need to talk about Kevin (dir. Lynne Ramsay) *****
The battle of Warsaw: 1920 (dir. Jerzy Hoffman) ***
Incendies **** (dir. Denis Villeneuve)
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy **** (dir. Tomas Alfredson)
The Skin I Live In **1/2 (dir. Pedro Almodovar)
The Debt ***1/2 (dir. John Madden).

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