Cultural Dissent

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.

The election showed
Most people in our country
Still unwilling to take the plunge
Towards system overhaul

Chosing instead to remain
Blind in the face of climate change
Deaf to the groans of the earth and its poor
Dumb to the call for justice and peace
Heads spinning with doublespeak
And massive media manipulation

Wondering how to cope with this
Collective conservatism and the
Pettiness of political leaders
I wander around the flat
A little bewildered and sad
To find myself in front of
My bedside bookshelves

Metamorphosis
Why Marx was right
Unfinished Animal

Digital Disconnect:
How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet Against Democracy

Robert W McChesney
Spring 2013
www.thenewpress.com

When award-winning author Robert McChesney wrote a much-needed political and economic analysis of the internet, the reaction from his peers was not quite what he expected.

Verbal Reality Volume 2
Provocalz
Coming October 2013
www.provocalz.bigcartel.com

Rapper Provocalz has dedicated a song to Australia's Liberal and Labor parties on his new album - but it won't be music to their ears.

On his track "Liberals or Labor", the Indigenous emcee suggests the two big parties are so contemptuous of voters that some, like him, might consider swapping their ballots for bullets:

Liberals or Labor, they both leave us to rot
So it's criminal behaviour, politicians get shot
Pop pop pop pop!
It's that real hip-hop, hip-hop

From Mexican revolutionaries to Argentine street kids, Pinochet’s Chile to Mayan eco-warriors, the Eighth Sydney Latin American Film Festival shines the light on Latin America’s dark past as well as its ongoing struggle against corporate imperialism and environmental destruction.

From September 4 to 15, the festival screens 22 new-release feature films and documentaries from Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, the US and Australia.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. They don’t say what a gif is worth, but as if for good measure, we’ve gotten both out of the performance by Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke at MTV’s Video Music Awards on August 25.

The Signal And The Noise
Asian Dub Foundation
Out now in Japan, rest of the world soon
www.asiandubfoundation.com

Legendary punk-dub-electronica group Asian Dub Foundation are celebrating their 20th year with the release of a typically topical new album, The Signal And The Noise. Green Left's Mat Ward spoke to founding member, guitarist and band leader Steve Chandra Savale, a one-man riff factory who always has his finger on the political pulse.

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Elysium
Written and directed by Neill Blomkamp
Starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga
In cinemas now

In the mid-22nd century, Earth has become a crowded, polluted, poverty-stricken slum. While the poor, mostly black and brown residents of Earth, struggle with dangerous working conditions, substandard public services and brutal robot police, the 1% have escaped to Elysium, a pristine floating space station orbiting Earth.

The Passion Of Bradley Manning: The Story Behind the WikiLeaks Whistleblower
Chase Madar
Verso, 2013
181 pages, $19.95 (pb)

The issue in the trial of Bradley Manning, the source of tens of thousands of US military and state secrets leaked to WikiLeaks, is, in some eyes, simple.

“He broke the law,” lectured United States President Barack Obama, conveniently overlooking, as Chase Madar comments in his book on Manning, the routine violation by the ruling elite of the principle that “rules are rules”.

The Bracegirdle Incident: How an Australian Communist Ignited Ceylon’s Independence Struggle
Alan Fewster
Arcadia/Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2013
173 pages, $39.95 (pb)

In 1937, Ceylon’s British Chief of Police reported that “it is clearly dangerous” to allow the Australian communist Mark Bracegirdle, to remain in the country “stirring up feelings against employers of labour and against the British Government”.

While waiting at Tokyo's Narita International Airport to board his flight to New Zealand on August 13, US progressive singer-songwriter David Rovics was informed that he was banned from entering New Zealand.

The Portland, Oregon-based Rovics is known for his extensive touring, doing concerts in support of progressive causes and workers' struggles in the US, Europe, and Australia.

There are few people in the sports world I respect more than Cyd Zeigler, the founder of the website Outsports, which deals with the sporting lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes.

I tweeted Zeigler's excellent article titled “Don’t Boycott Olympics Ban Russia From Competing Instead” precisely because it was incisive and made me think. I do, however, feel that on principle I need to state that I strongly disagree with his central premise.

Birdz Eye View
Birdz
Impossible Odds Records
July 11, 2013
www.birdz.bandcamp.com

Most rappers use their publicity photos to show off their bling, but Nathan Bird uses his to show off something a little more challenging - his books.

Love & Struggle, My Life in SDS, the Weather Underground & Beyond
By David Gilbert, PM Press, 2012
336 pp, $22.00

From the earliest anti-capitalist revolutions, starting almost as soon as capitalism cemented its political mastery of Europe in the late 1700s, there has been dispute between those whose moral outrage at oppression led them to conspiratorial methods and those saying that open political struggle is superior.

Originally this debate was between the Blanquists and Marxists and later between Bakuninite anarchists and (again) Marxists.

Born Free
Ben Iota
Butterthief Records
June 20, 2013
www.beniota.com

Radical rapper Ben Iota stands out in Australian Hip-Hop like a refugee boat in an empty ocean. Green Left's Mat Ward spoke to him about his new EP "Born Free".

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In The Shadow of Gallipoli: The Hidden History of Australia in World War 1
By Robert Bollard
New South Publishing, 2013
223 pages (PB), $32.99

Every year, around ANZAC day on April 25, hordes of Australian tourists and backpackers descend on the shore of Gallipoli in Turkey to commemorate the first battle in which Australians took part in World War I in 1915.

ANZAC day has experienced a resurgence in popularity over recent years. Governments have helped by promoting nationalistic myths about how the unsuccessful campaign was “where Australia was born”.

Lyrikal Kombat
Red Eye Balaz
www.facebook.com/RedEyeBalaz

Kerser is one of the best-known acts in Australian Hip-Hop. The south-west Sydney emcee has built a huge following by pitching his hardened battle-rap skills against some of the biggest names in the game.

On July 26, radical hip-hop producer Agent of Change released a "beat tape" to mark the 60th anniversary of the start of the Cuban Revolution.

Agent of Change, also known as London-based activist and writer Carlos Martinez, said: "The 18 hip-hop instrumentals - with a couple of feature verses from Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela - celebrate Cuban culture, drawing influence and samples from Cuba’s diverse musical heritage."

Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History; A Play in Three Acts
CLR James, edited by Christian Hogsbjerg
Duke University Press 2013
222 pp., $47.99

Hegel, Haiti & Universal History
Susan Buck-Moss
University of Pittsburgh Press 2009
176 pp., $89.99

“I was born a slave, but nature gave me the soul of a free man,” said Toussaint Louverture, the leader of the successful Haitian slave revolt of 1791 to 1804.

Where on my body
are your eyes zigzagging?
I die for you!!
The hungry bludger gambling
With the lice in my empty pocket
and still hung over in the Zipper’s ducts
Where have muted body parts been penetrated by the drill
With shafts as thick as Imperialism
Whose begging is never ending, as the “Taleban” that you are?
Laughter is wounded,
And Samarkand, with a skirt full of pebbles
And a hole,
the forbidden commodity
of the black market.
Hole, hole!
Oh, so ruthless
Fascism has had no mercy
To the body, to the rectum, to the shoulder blade,
Even to the damp pants

Bring The Sun Out EP
Impossible Odds
Classik Nawu
Coldwater Band
July 2013
www.impossibleoddsrecords.com

"Land rights is a load of crap," says Kaylah Truth. They are not the kind of words you'd expect to hear from a radical, politically-savvy Indigenous rapper. But Truth, of militant Murri hip-hop group Impossible Odds, says she has learnt from bitter experience to pursue sovereignty instead.

On the band's album, Against All Odds, she raps:

I no longer need my fists to fight
I just write whenever those emotions do arise

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