Cultural Dissent

Utopia
Directed by John Pilger
http://utopiajohnpilger.co.uk

The latest documentary by Emmy and BAFTA award winning film maker and journalist, John Pilger, contrasts two very different worlds: one of white aspiration on Sydney’s northern beaches, and the other the Aboriginal community in the ironically named town of Utopia, located in central Australia.

The town has been assessed as the most disadvantaged and poorest community in Australia. The distinction could not be more stark.

Well, January isn't even over and the race for Biggest Hypocrite of 2014 is well under way. And the ever-reliable contenders from Parliament House in Canberra already have some serious competition in the media.

Over 200 people laughed until it hurt at the 'Welcome to the Abbottoir' comedy night held in Sydney on November 9. Featuring Michael Hing (as seen on SBS TV), Twiggy Palmcock (famous for crashing Tony Abbott's election night party), Hannah G (Newcastle-based comedian) and Carlo Sands (Green Left Weekly), the evening was organised by Green Left Weekly and filmed by Green Left TV. Watch all four performances below.

Phoenix
Jimblah
Elefant Traks
2013
www.elefanttraks.com

Most people fear fire, but Jimblah embraces it. The element flares up again and again in the rapper's searingly original work - from his first album, Face The Fire, to the one that just rose from its ashes, Phoenix.

Scandal! A Radical Burlesque
Performed by Lush Cabaret
Produced by Zelda Da

Political cabaret is alive and well in regional Queensland as audiences flocked to the latest production by Lush Cabaret ― Scandal! A Radical Burlesque ― which was performed in Cairns from November 27 to 30.

The talented cast and crew presented a fantastical romp through Australia's political landscape with the thrills and spills of burlesque, along with the bite of incisive political satire.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth & Donald Sutherland
Directed by Francis Lawrence
In cinemas now

The Hunger Games brings revolution to the big screen in an action-packed film adaption of author Suzanne Collins’ trilogy.

The second film, Catching Fire, takes off nicely where the first left off. It lifts the bar in every aspect, from the intensity of the storyline, to the performances and production quality.

Conflict In The Unions: The Communist Party of Australia, Politics & the Trade Union Movement, 1945-60
By Douglas Jordan
Resistance books, 2013
312 page, $30

Conflict In The Unions is an important new book examining the union activity of the Communist Party of Australia during a very turbulent time in Australian and world politics. The book looks at the period of 1945-'60, when the Cold War reached its height.

Green Left Weekly is taking a break for the summer from December 11 to January 22. To fill the void, it asked staff, contributors and others to recommend their favourite books of the year.

Rachel Evans
Green Left Weekly writer, activist, organiser
How to Make Trouble and Influence People
By Iain McIntyre
http://goo.gl/l7GOfx

There are times when the line between shock, rage and sadness become so blurred it is impossible to know when the flow of emotion ends or begins.

The shock and rage come from hearing about an African-American student violently tormented by his three white housemates at San Jose State University in California. Thrown together randomly as first-year students tend to be, Logan Beaschler, 18, Joseph Bomgardner, 19, and Colin Warren, 18 found common cause in acts of racist sadism against their fourth housemate.

Tap Tap
New Dub City
Raspect Records
November 18, 2013
www.newdubcity.com

Melbourne dub-rap-reggae collective New Dub City have just released their politically punchy and sonically spotless second album, Tap Tap. Frontman, producer and author Ali MC spoke to Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward.

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12 Years a Slave
Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch
Directed by Steve McQueen

12 Years a Slave has received countless accolades from critics. The New Yorker has called it “easily the greatest feature film ever made about American slavery”.

High praise, and the end result lives up to it. The film is a moving portrait of Solomon Northup's struggle to survive as a man while he is made to be a beast to enrich a Southern ruling class.

The New York Yankees of Egyptian football, Al Ahly, have officially expelled one of its top players, striker Ahmed Abdel Zaher.

Did this extraordinary act take place in the aftermath of a heartbreaking loss? No, the team had actually just triumphed 2-0 and Zaher had even scored a goal.

Was there an off-field scandal? Did Zaher find himself caught with steroids, or bullying teammates or running a dog-fighting ring? None of that. He was, by all accounts, a model citizen.

In the same boat
Channa Wickremesekera
Bay Owl Press, 2010

It almost seems superfluous to review this book. At a mere 62 pages, it is barely a novella — a short story, perhaps. Why not just read the book, and skip the review?

Once you start, if it's going to appeal to you at all, the first few pages will draw you in and you will finish it in the same sitting.

Haiti’s New Dictatorship: The Coup, the Earthquake & the UN Occupation
Justin Podur
Pluto Press, 2012
280 pp, $44.00

There seems to be no lie too base, no crime too awful that the “international community” has not committed against the tiny nation of Haiti ― the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

Canadian solidarity activist Justin Podur explains in exacting detail every slander and misrepresentation peddled by imperialist governments and retailed by the Western media to justify the continuing denial of Haitian sovereignty that began in 2004.

The Circle
By Dave Eggers
Hamish Hamilton, 2013
491 pages

The Circle is a novel for our times. It is an indictment of Big Data and surveillance society, and also speaks to the difficulty many white-collar workers face in the digital age, in maintaining a separation between their working and private lives.

Big Coal: Australia’s Dirtiest Habit
Guy Pearse, David Mcknight, Bob Burton
Newsouth Publishing, 2013, 257 pages, $34.99 (pb)

You don’t have to look far to see why Australians are locked in an absurd and vicious circle of climate change, burning more coal to, for example, run more air conditioners to cope with the more severe heat waves from the global warming resulting from burning more coal.

In a hard-hitting interview on October 19 for Le Mur a des Oreilles, a program on Belgian station RadioPanik, Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri delivered his clearest statement yet of his political commitment and rejection of the Israeli state’s use of cinema as a propaganda tool.

In the interview, the star of films such as When I Saw You and describes his childhood desire to be a painter, his initial reluctance to act, and his family’s major position in Palestinian theatre and film.

As an inveterate film fan, I turn to the listings every week and try not to lose hope.

I search the guff that often passes for previews, and I queue for a ticket with that flicker of excitement reminiscent of matinees in art deco splendour. Once inside, lights down, beer in hand, hope recedes as the minutes pass. How many times have I done a runner?

There is a cinema I go to that refunds your money if you're out the door within 20 minutes of the opening titles. The people there have knowing looks. My personal best is less than five minutes of the awful Moulin Rouge.

Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield
Jeremy Scahill
Serpent’s Tail, 2013
642 pages

With his first drone strike in Pakistan just a few days after settling into the White House in 2009, the freshly minted Democratic President, Barak Obama, not only authorised the assassination of a handful of probable terrorists but killed up to two dozen innocent civilians.

Your 14-year-old daughter is dumped on your freezing front lawn in a state of chemically induced incoherence with her shoes off and frost stuck in her hair. She tells you she was raped. You hear her 13-year-old best friend was also raped that same night.

Your daughter is then bullied as a tape of the incident passes around her high school. You wait for the indictments and some semblance of justice, but one of the accused is a football star from one of the area's most prominent and politically connected families.

IED EP
Pataphysics
Out November 8
www.pataphysics.com

Multi-lingual multi-instrumentalist Pat Marks fronts the multi-faceted Melbourne band Pataphysics. As the critically-acclaimed "guerilla hip-hop" outfit prepare to launch their new EP, Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward spoke to Marks about his multifarious pursuits, from refugee rights to juvenile justice.

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You've worked with refugees for a long time. Tell us a little about the work you do.

I was introduced to Gazan hip-hop act Revolution Makers when I saw them perform a rare live hip-hop performance in Gaza City during PalFest in May.

Since then the duo, brothers Mohammed and Osama Elsusi, have put out a number of new songs. Their newest song, “What’s going on”, features Ayman Mghames.

The Big Truck That Went By, How the World Came to Save Haiti and left Behind a Disaster
By Jonathan M. Katz
Palgrave Macmillan, 2013
282 pp., $24.95

On January 12, 2010, Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, was devastated by a huge earthquake.

Death toll estimates range from between 100,000 to more than 300,000. Nobody really knows, because Haiti was poorly governed beforehand and virtually taken over by foreign governments and non-government organisations (NGOs) afterwards.

Madlands: A Journey to Change the Mind of a Climate Sceptic
Anna Rose
Melbourne University Press, 2012
357 pages, $19.99 (pb)

Anna Rose, a young climate change activist, was warned by her many colleagues in the environment movement of the risks of agreeing to do a television documentary, screened earlier this year by the ABC, pitting her against the former Liberal Party senator, science minister and climate change denialist Nick Minchin.

Murder in Mississippi
John Safran
Penguin, 2013
368 pages.

There probably has never been a true-crime book quite like Murder in Mississippi.

Melbourne-based “documentary filmmaker of sorts” John Safran filmed a segment for his most recent TV show Race Relations that featured Mississippian white supremacist Richard Barrett. Barrett took legal action, however, preventing any footage of him being used.

Left Hand Drive
Craig McGregor
Affirm Press, 2013
334 pages $24.95 (pb)

Two experiences of institutional conformity — as a boarder at an elite private school and as an Australian army conscript — bequeathed a lifelong “fear and hatred of authoritarian systems” to Craig “Rob-Roy” McGregor, a blues-playing guitarist, would-be rebel, fringe Bohemian, journalist, novelist, cultural studies professor and fierce believer in equality.

Recently, Mamamia editor Mia Freedman wrote a blog post railing against Kim Kardashian. While by no means do I hold Kardashian up as a demonstration of feminism, I think that Freedman has this wrong, very wrong.

From the title “Are you a mother or a porn star?”, which degrades the ability of women who work in the porn industry to be effective parents, Freedman projects some extremely backward views on motherhood, sexuality and body image.

“It’s a massive display of powerful corporation dick-shaking,” British-born Tamil singer MIA said in response to being sued by the National Football League in the United States over her performance at last year's Superbowl performance.

“They want me on my knees and say sorry so they can slap me on my wrist.”

Call me old-fashioned, but as far as celebrity outlaws go, I’ll take Ned Kelly over Chopper Read any day.

The rise to fame of recently deceased Mark “Chopper” Read symbolised the emptiness of our celebrity culture. In a world governed by large-scale gangsters in control of big industry and finance, Read was a mere petty psychopath and opportunist who figured out how to turn a buck from the fact that, as he famously noted, “posh people love gangsters”.

“I am a gay, Irish, Catholic, alcoholic Pogue who is about to die from cancer — and don’t think I don’t know it,” Philip Chevron, who passed away on October 8, told the Irish Daily Mail in June.

The 56-year-old Chevron was best known as the guitarist for legendary Irish folk punk band The Pogues. However, his music career goes back to the founding of The Radiators From Space in 1976 — described as Ireland's first punk band.

A Dose Of Reality
Eskatology
September 2013
Download free here
www.eskatology.com

On his latest EP, A Dose Of Reality, Adelaide-based emcee Eskatology raps about the refugees he works with.

"I've worked with many refugees in my job as a youth worker," says the rapper, who is giving the 10-track EP away as a free download.

Freeloading: How Our Insatiable Hunger For Free Content Starves Creativity
Chris Ruen
Scribe
2011, audiobook coming soon
www.chrisruen.com

Karl Marx: A Nineteenth Century Life
Jonathan Sperber
Liveright Publishing, 2013

In life, Karl Marx lived a tumultuous, revolutionary life. His death, too, has been less than tranquil.

Alive, he was the best hated man in Europe. For the ruling classes and police spies he personified the “spectre” that was haunting the continent, the demonic rise of workers’ revolution.

After his death he was bleached of his humanity, canonised by admirers and slandered by enemies. Both misrepresented him.

Groggy
Art exhibition by Todd Williams & Therese Ritchie
Northern Centre for Contemporary Art
Viney Lane, Darwin
Until October 12

“My name is Chips Mackinolty and I am an alcoholic …

“Everyone assumes that grog is an exclusively Aboriginal problem. That is simply not true. Around 50% of Aboriginal people don’t drink at all.

“If the Northern Territory were a nation, we would have the third-highest per capita consumption in the world, and that is not down to Aboriginal Territorians, but to non-Aboriginal people living here.”

Clive: The Story of Clive Palmer
Sean Parnell
HarperCollins, 2013
328 pages, $39.99 (hb)

When the local council denied planning permission for the Queensland National Party’s media director, Clive Palmer, to build a 66-story townhouse development on peaceful rural land in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast in 1984, Palmer’s party and state government mate, Russ Hinze, helped the rich guy out by overturning the council decision.

When he was assaulted by a gang of black-shirted Golden Dawn thugs on the night of September 18 in the Keratsini district of Athens, 34-year-old Pavlos Fyssas — a big and powerful man — was with his girlfriend and another couple.

It smells like everything sweet and nice but you can never get enough of it.
It tastes like chocolate that turns into vinegar but you can’t stop eating it because the chocolate’s so good and you think one more bite can’t hurt.
It sounds like drums echoing in the hallway drawing you into a small room, almost controlling you.
It feels like you have everything but not enough.
It looks like a moth attracted to a burning flame only soon to turn into ashes.

[Jada Pearl Narkle is a 12-year-old student in Perth.]

Real Talk: Aboriginal Rappers Talk About Their Music & Country
By Mat Ward
100 pages
Download for free

Australian hip-hop pioneer Urthboy told The Music Network last year: “I was asked to write about the state of hip-hop in Australia. I’d prefer to shine a light on what may be the future of it: Indigenous Hip-Hop.

“Indigenous artists carry a profoundly engrossing and intriguing story for international audiences, yet it’s barely understood by many Australians.”

Whitenoise
Sole
September 17, 2013
www.soleone.org

As US president Barack Obama ramped up his rhetoric about Syria's chemical weapons on September 17, US rapper Sole released his latest album, which reflects on his country's chemical weapons attack on the Iraqi city of Fallujah. Green Left's Mat Ward spoke to the prolific political emcee, who started releasing records in 1994, when he was just 16.

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Red or Dead
By David Peace
Faber & Faber, August 2013

No socialist in 60 years of British life has had more followers than Bill Shankly; no-one on the left has had greater success.

Taking over as manager of Liverpool Football Club in 1959, with his team struggling in the second division, by his retirement in 1974 Shankly had guided Liverpool to three league titles, two FA cups and the club’s first European trophy, the UEFA cup.

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