Showing posts with label England. Show all posts
Showing posts with label England. Show all posts

Monday, April 06, 2020

The records that made me (some of 'em):
Never Mind the Bollocks

OK, back to the coal mine -- with my ghetto blaster.

The weekend intruded upon my recounting of 10 influential albums in my life. We resume the recounting with No. 6 in the series . . . the Sex Pistols' 1977 bombshell, "Never Mind the Bollocks."

I got stories about the Sex Pistols. I'll draw upon a 2006 blog entry to tell you about that anew.

But that story starts in the summer of 1977, when my Aunt Ailsa, an English war bride, flew home to Southampton to visit family. By that time, befuddled American foreign correspondents were sending back dispatches about this British phenomenon called "punk rock" and its antihero leaders, the Sex Pistols.

The current single by Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Paul Cook and Steve Jones was "God Save the Queen." It had been banned by the BBC. I was 16. Naturally, I had to have it.

And when Aunt Ailsa got back to Baton Rouge, I did. As far as I knew, I had the only Sex Pistols record in town. Maybe one of the few in the United States. You certainly didn't hear the Sex Pistols anywhere on local radio.

I preferred to think my aunt had to go in the back door of a Southhampton record shop and ask a cannabis-toking clerk "I say, do you have the stuff?" And then, in my teenage imagination, the clerk put down his bag of chips, slipped the 45 into a brown paper bag, and handed it to her. She then would have put a pound note into his resin- and grease-tainted hand, immediately lit a cigarette to mask the smell of second-hand marijuana smoke clinging to her clothes and slipped back out the back door.

MORE LIKE IT, she went in the front door of HMV, grabbed "God Save the Queen" off the rack and paid the teenage clerk at the front counter.

I like my 16-year-old imagination's version better.

Anyway . . . the fine folks in Red Stick thought the Beatles were dangerous and the Rolling Stones were spawns of Satan. Little did they know.

For example:
God save the queen
The fascist regime
They made you a moron
A potential H-bomb

God save the queen
She's not a human being
and There's no future
And England's dreaming

Don't be told what you want
Don't be told what you need
There's no future
No future
No future for you

God save the queen
We mean it man
We love our queen
God saves

God save the queen
'Cause tourists are money
And our figurehead
Is not what she seems

Oh God save history
God save your mad parade
Oh Lord God have mercy
All crimes are paid
Oh when there's no future
How can there be sin
We're the flowers
In the dustbin
We're the poison
In your human machine
We're the future. . . .
MAN, I WAS a blue-collar kid in the Deep South. I was, for the first time in my life, at a school where ideas mattered and, like, thinking was encouraged and not reason to label you a weirdo or a "n****r-lover" -- or maybe "queer."

I mean, in the redneck corners of Louisiana, one did not lightly refer to thespians while among people who thought a thespian was other than what he or she actually was.

No, being at Baton Rouge Magnet High School blew a blue-collar kid's mind wide open in a Technicolor frenzy of Dreaming Big. Such was life at the Maggot School.

"The Maggot School" is what White Trash Nation called Baton Rouge High throughout my tenure there -- 1976-79. It was the place where all the geeks, brainiacs, musicians and thespians could be weirdos together in relative harmony and contentment. Hey, at BRHS, it was good to be a thespian.

If Student X had admitted to being a thespian at Broadmoor Junior High, I garon-damn-tee you someone would have beat him (or her) up and administered an enthusiastic version of the Toilet Water Taste Test. And the boys would have been even more vicious.

You just as well had put on an ascot and admitted to being a Homo sapiens. Or, better yet, called Junior Martinez (pronounced MART'un-ez) a Homo sapiens.

Anyway, Baton Rouge High, by the 1975-76 school year, was a struggling inner-city school whose halcyon days had gone the way of poodle skirts, B-52s (the hairdo, not the band) and "separate but equal." Then someone had an idea -- a magnet school for academics and the performing arts.

My parents were leery of this thing (I'll bet you can guess why), but I got to go. Miracle of miracles!

Well, Baton Rouge High had -- and still has -- a radio station. A real, honest-to-God, student-operated, over-the-air FM radio station -- WBRH. And thus, in high school, your Mighty Favog learned everything he needed to know.

The college education was for my liver.

ANYWAY . . . let me tell you about when WBRH introduced Baton Rouge to punk rock in 1977.

I found out about the Sex Pistols on Weekend, the NBC newsmagazine that preempted Saturday Night Live once a month back in the day. In this case, "back in the day" was, I reckon, spring 1977. Anyway, it seemed that the Pistols were about as pissed at the world as my teenage self, they could rock and -- best of all -- they terrified polite society as much as anything I had seen in my young life.

The fall of '77, I was enrolled in Radio I. I wasn't allowed an air shift yet; back then you first had to get a federal license -- by passing an exam. But I knew bunches of people in Radio II who had their third tickets (radio operator's licenses). Soon, the Sex Pistols were on the Baton Rouge airwaves, via the 20-watt blowtorch signal at 90.1 FM.

One fall afternoon, I was sitting in with Charles, a junior, during the afternoon rock show. He was skeptical of the Sex Pistols, but played it and asked for listener feedback. What feedback you get from a high-school FM blowtorch (that is, not a bunch) was decidedly mixed.

AFTER A WEEK or so of playing Baton Rouge's one copy of a Sex Pistols record, we did get some strong feedback. It was from the licensee of WBRH, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board. And it went something like this: We don't know what the hell that is you've been playing on the radio station, but we want you to cut it out. NOW!

The radio instructor and general manager, John Dobbs, liked his teaching gig. The 45 was confiscated, and the Sex Pistols faced the same fate at WBRH that the lads did at the BBC. Banned.

I did retrieve my record from The Iron Fist of the Oppressor, but only after I agreed never to bring it back. It sits, carefully preserved in its famous picture sleeve, in a plastic file box, along with all my other 45s from Back in the Day.

Now, Charles was -- is? -- an interesting guy. Think of Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties a good five years before there was a Family Ties. Only African-American.

It probably was in the spring of '78 that I was again hanging out with Charles in the radio control room, playing the likes of David Gilmour, The Fabulous Poodles, Toto, the Cars, Journey and Queen. Maybe some Commodores -- Brick House, baby! -- and Parliament/Funkadelic.

Well, that day, obviously not enough "Brick House" or "P-Funk."

(Flash. Flash. Flash. Hey, radio-studio phones flash; they don't ring. OK?)

Charles: WBRH!

Caller: Hey, man, why don't you play some n****r music, man! ("N****r" = Not Polite, Racist and Offensive Term for African-American -- then, now or ever.)

Charles: Uhhhhh, excuse me, but I happen to be black.

Caller: Oh, uhhh, oh . . . oh, I'm sorry, man! How about playin' some BLACK music for me, man!

Charles: I'll see what I can do. (Slams phone down.) Redneck son of a bitch!
I DON'T THINK the guy got his "n****r music" played, man.

Now, I think there was a point to this post when I started it. I'll see whether I can get back to it.

When the Sex Pistols' first LP, "Never Mind the Bollocks" -- you know, the point of this whole missive -- came out in November 1977, I made it to the Musicland at Cortana Mall in the manner of someone whose head was on fire and his ass was catchin'.

Is what I'm sayin'.

And it did not disappoint when I got it on the stereo. I was dangerous, too -- in both 45 and 33⅓.

I'd like to think I still am at age 59. My wife of almost 37 years might disagree.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Britain's humiliation, America's shame

This is what Donald Trump does when he is a guest of what was our closest ally. When he is a guest of Theresa May. Timed for when he is there.

Adolf Hitler would have inflicted no less than the humiliation this walking, talking, bloviating turd with a bad haircut just visited upon the British prime minister. If politics is life and death -- and often it is in this world -- May surely will die of embarrassment, and this indignity at the American president's tiny, tiny hands is upon all the United Kingdom by extension.

Trump Baby
It is shameful, and that shame is upon all the United States as well. We have become a shameful country -- through our fault, through our fault, through our most grievous fault. For the time being . . . for a little while still . . . we are one people as Americans, and it is we who elected this despicable son of a bitch.

This sad, troubled land is riven by many things in this unfortunate age. But for now, the most deadly serious divide in the United States is this: On which side do we stand? 

With this evil man, this existential threat to the very idea of America, or against this plague upon decency and the rule of law?

"Which side are you on, boys? Which side are you on?"

FROM THE article in today's edition of The Sun:
Theresa May’s new soft Brexit blueprint would “kill” any future trade deal with the United States, Donald Trump warns today.

Mounting an extraordinary attack on the PM’s exit negotiation, the President also reveals she has ignored his advice on how to toughen up the troubled talks.

Instead he believes Mrs May has gone “the opposite way”, and he thinks the results have been “very unfortunate”.

His fiercest criticism came over the centrepiece of the PM’s new Brexit plan — which was unveiled in full yesterday.

It would stick to a common ­rulebook with Brussels on goods and agricultural produce in a bid to keep customs borders open with the EU. Mr Trump told The Sun: “If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal.

“If they do that, then their trade deal with the US will probably not be made.”

Mr Trump made the bombshell intervention during a world exclusive interview with The Sun — the only British media outlet he spoke to before his arrival in the UK for his first visit as President.

It will pour nitroglycerine on the already raging Tory Brexiteer revolt against the PM.

And in more remarks that will set off alarm bells in No10, Mr Trump also said Mrs May’s nemesis Boris Johnson — who resigned over the soft Brexit blueprint on ­Monday — would “make a great Prime Minister.”

A big US-UK trade deal, long promised by Mr Trump, is cherished by Leave campaigners as Brexit’s biggest prize.

But the President said Mrs May’s plan “will definitely affect trade with the United States, unfortunately in a negative way”.

He explained: “We have enough difficulty with the European Union.

“We are cracking down right now on the European Union because they have not treated the United States fairly on trading.

“No, if they do that I would say that that would probably end a major trade relationship with the United States.”

Questioned on Boris’s comments at a private dinner two weeks ago that Mr Trump “would go in bloody hard” if he was negotiating Brexit, the President swiftly replied: “He is right.”

He added: “I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it but she didn’t agree, she didn’t listen to me.

“She wanted to go a different route.

“I would actually say that she probably went the opposite way. And that is fine.

“She should negotiate the best way she knows how. But it is too bad what is going on.”

IF I WERE Queen Elizabeth . . .  and the U.K. is exceedingly lucky I am not . . .  I would serve Donald Trump some of Minny's chocolate pie for tea. After he had eaten the whole thing, I would inform him that I thought it complimented pee tapes quite well.

Then I would inform him that NO FOREIGN LEADER treats any prime minister of mine, Tory or Labour, as he has treated Theresa May, and to get his vulgar, orange arse out of my goddamned castle.

Being 92 and royal has its privileges.

God save the queen.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

George Martin: Genius behind the geniuses

Back at Abbey Road, Martin gave The Beatles the chance to respond to his dressing down. "I've laid into you for quite a long time," he said. "You haven't responded. Is there anything you don't like?" 
"Well, for a start," replied George Harrison, "I don't like your tie." 

The quip broke the ice and The Beatles relaxed into comedy mode. 

"For the next 15 to 20 minutes they were pure entertainment," recalled Norman Smith. "I had tears running down my face." 

Despite his misgivings, Martin eventually decided The Beatles had "the potential to make a hit record" and gave them a recording deal on 6 June (backdated by two days so as to secure copyright to the recording session). 

He later admitted it was their "tremendous charisma" rather than their music that won him over. "When you are with them, you are all the better for being with them and when they leave you feel a loss," he told Sue Lawley. 

"I fell in love with them. It's as simple as that."

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

And that's the way it @#$%*&!!! is . . . .

Alrighty, folks. This is your NSFW video of the day.

Here, at wits' end dealing with a producer back at the station, British reporter Jonathan Pie gives us the real news. Which is a lot closer to the truth than the "official" news.

"Jonathan Pie," alas, is really comedian Tom Walker, as reported by the Russian-government website Sputnik News. Which is just as well, I suppose. Pity the real TV journalist who gets fed up and tells the unvarnished truth . . . and then has the outtake go viral.

Now, what I'd like to see is a real newscast by American and Russian anchors who get good and cranky, then cut the official propaganda of each superpower to shreds . . . thereby arriving at something like the truth.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

%*(#!^& brilliant!

OK, this isn't safe for work. Or your little kids.

But come to think of it, neither is life.

Anyway, watch the brilliant video that came out of a social experiment by the British poverty charity, The Pilion Trust, to see whether people really do care about the poor. Turns out they do. Which sets the charity up to deliver the advertising kill shot.

Just watch.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Noise nazis mind the bollocks

The sun not only has set on the British Empire, but now it's set on what's left of British civilization as well.

Never mind the lads and ladettes, skirmishing with the bobbies in the street . . . or on the street, prostrate in their own vomit.

Never mind last year's mindless riots all across England.

Never mind Hackgate . . . or Rupertgate, if you will.

Never mind austerity, either.

AND NEVER MIND Sarah Ferguson, for God's sake. All that could happen anywhere, and probably will. Hell, even Fergie -- the British one -- is kinda like if Snooki and Britney had gone to finishing school.

No, you know a great nation is finished well and good when it pulls the plug on Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney. Together.

In concert.

For the first time ever.

Why? All because a bunch of Westminster Council noise nazis dared not to, in the name of history, turn back the hands of time in the face of a 10:30 p.m. Hyde Park "noise curfew." How twee . . . in a vaguely fascist kind of way.

When Britain's contributions to music begin to equal its achievements in dentistry, it's just time for 'em to hang it up and let the French run the joint. Again.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Ministry of Silly Passports

Great Britain won't let Iroquois lacrosse players into the country because, to Her Majesty's government, their papers aren't in order.


AFTER ALL, reports The New York Times you can't be too careful, in this age of global terrorism, over whom you let into your country.
For a few hours on Wednesday, the Iroquois national lacrosse team thought its passport brouhaha had been resolved, thanks to a one-time waiver from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton clearing the way for it to travel to the world championships in England using tribal documents instead of United States passports.

But later in the day, the British government was said to have refused to grant visas to the team, even with Mrs. Clinton’s waiver, a potentially decisive setback for the team.

“We are deeply disappointed, and urge our friends and supporters to reach out to the British government to seek reconsideration,” Chief Oren Lyons of the Onondaga Nation, one of the six nations that make up the Iroquois Confederacy, said in a statement.

The team’s travel plans were first thrown awry last week when the British consulate asked for a written assurance from the United States government that the team would be allowed to re-enter the country using its tribal documents — an assurance that federal officials would not provide.

They changed their stance on Wednesday when Mrs. Clinton authorized the special waiver. The State Department provided the Iroquois team with letters providing assurance of their re-entry, said P. J. Crowley, the department’s spokesman.

Mr. Crowley told reporters in Washington that it would be up to the British government to decide whether to issue visas to the players based on those letters. But the Iroquois team described that decision as more of a formality, with the biggest hurdle — coming to an agreement with the State Department — having been cleared.

That turned out not to be the case. The British Consulate decided that the letters from the State Department were not sufficient because ultimately they were not passports, according to a United States government official informed of the decision.

“At this point there’s not a lot we can do,” Percy Abrams, the team’s executive director, said in a telephone interview. “We were given a set of demands, and then we met those demands — and then they were switched. That’s the way we feel.”

The U.K. Border Agency said in a statement that the British government would welcome the Iroquois team, but only if their players “present a document that we recognize as valid to enable us to complete our immigration and other checks.” The statement did not discuss the letters issued by the State Department, and a spokeswoman declined to elaborate. Until Wednesday morning, when Mrs. Clinton authorized the waiver, State Department officials had noted that federal law does not allow a tribal document to be used in lieu of a United States passport for international travel. (Security is one reason: The Iroquois passports are partly handwritten and do not include any of the security features that make United States passports resistant to counterfeiting.)
AND ONCE AGAIN, the Iroquois are reminded that with friends like the English, who needs enemies?

Perhaps the "people of the long house" would have had a lot more success getting to that English lacrosse tournament if they all had converted to Islam and gone around calling for death to all Jews, gays, etc., and so on. Maybe they might have even cultivated ties with al Qaida and urged their fans to blow up s*** all over Blighty.

Or maybe they just could have said they were Arab dissidents trying to get the hell out of the Great Satan after a vacay gone bad -- that they were longing for a friendlier, more self-hating spot for a little R and R.

Maybe then the Brits would have rolled out the red carpet for the Iroquois lacrosse players.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Poor, poor pitiful Brits (sniff)

Pity the poor British. Apparently, we're being mean to them.

It's even said that Barack Obama hates them.

And there's this one other little thing. They're invested up to their formerly stiff upper lips in BP stock, which is getting pretty close to becoming worthless.

To paraphrase the illustrious
Eric "Otter" Stratton,
"Hey, you f***ed up, you trusted 'em." That mournful sound you now hear is the world's smallest violin playing "My Heart Spills Crude for You."

THIS SAD, SAD tale of woe and ruin from across the waters comes to us from MSNBC:
“Obama’s boot on the throat of British pensioners” read the front-page headline in Thursday's Daily Telegraph, which added that the president's "attacks on BP were blamed for wiping billions off the company’s value."

“U.K. alarm over attack on BP” was the Financial Times' take on the crisis, which it suggested could damage transatlantic relations. The newspaper accused President Barack Obama of employing "increasingly aggressive rhetoric" against BP.

Shares in BP hit their lowest level in 13 years on Thursday. According to the Telegraph, BP executives are so worried that Obama’s comments could continue to drive down BP's share price that the firm has asked Prime Minister David Cameron to intervene. Cameron is due to speak with Obama this weekend.

Obama and U.S. officials have repeatedly referred to BP as “British Petroleum” -- despite the fact that the company officially changed its name in 2000. Some have interpreted this as an attack on the country's reputation.

Last Friday, Obama declared “what I don’t want to hear is, when they’re spending that kind of money on their shareholders and … TV advertising, that they’re nickel-and-diming fishermen or small businesses here in the Gulf.”

Some are concerned about the battering the U.K.'s image is taking in the U.S.

"I do think there's something slightly worrying about the anti-British rhetoric that seems to be permeating from America,” Boris Johnson, London's New York-born mayor, told the BBC on Thursday. “I do think that it starts to become a matter of national concern if a great British company is being continually beaten up on the international airwaves.

"I would like to see a bit of cool heads and a bit of calm reflection about how to deal with this problem rather than endlessly buck passing and name calling."

At London’s King’s Cross train station, Thelma Aengenheister echoed the mayor’s sentiments.

“It’s easier for Obama to kick a British company than an American one; there will be fewer repercussions,” said the 80-year-old, who was on her way to Brussels. “It’s like kicking someone when they’re down. But I do feel for the people of Louisiana, it must be dreadful for them.”
OH, YES. It is "dreadful" for the people of Louisiana. Then again, they're used to people -- and companies . . . and countries (particularly their own) -- being dreadful to them.

I don't live there now, but I was born and raised there, and my family has been In Louisiana since long before "les Americains" were. So I don't think the people of the Gret Stet would mind too much if I said a few words to these "dreadfully" put-upon Brits on their behalf:



British Petroleum-slimed.


Saturday, June 05, 2010

When wankers get portfolios

While the shores of America's Gulf coast are slowly being choked to death by a foul tide of British-owned petroleum, some in the new UK government are terribly, terribly concerned that the colonials are being mean to them.

No, really.

British Petroleum -- as a byproduct of greed, corner-cutting and blatant disregard for, well . . . everything -- killed 11 American oil workers, 140 miles and counting of the Louisiana coastline, God-only-knows how much of the Gulf's wildlife and ecosystem, a big chunk of the Dead Pelican State's economy and culture, and then the livelihoods of thousands all along the coast, and now some asshole minister in the British government is terribly, terribly concerned that Americans are saying harsh things about the Limeys?


YOU CAN'T make this crap up. It's in the Daily Mail:
Vince Cable has hit out at the "extreme and unhelpful" anti-British rhetoric from the U.S. over BP's handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The Business Secretary stopped short of criticising President Barack Obama personally, and declared that Britain should not use "gunboat diplomacy".

Some MPs, however, have said Mr Obama was wrong to blame Britain for the problem.

The comments, which came yesterday as BP announced that a plan to funnel the oil away had partially worked, risked provoking a trans-Atlantic rift.

American politicians and broadcasters have laid the blame for the accident on the Deepwater Horizon rig at the feet of the UK - despite BP being a multinational company.

Mr Obama has continually referred to the company as "British Petroleum" although it changed its name to BP more than a decade ago.

Mr Cable said yesterday: "It's clear that some of the rhetoric in the U.S. is extreme and unhelpful."

He added that the fury being levelled at the company was "a reaction to big oil".

Mr Cable cautioned against the Government resorting to "gunboat diplomacy" by aggressively lobbying the White House on the oil company's behalf.

He said Mr Obama was treating BP no more harshly than he would a U.S. company such as Exxon -- the previous holder of the dubious record for the biggest oil leak in American history.

But other MPs voiced their concern about the hostile tone of the U.S.

Tory MP Andrew Rosindell said: "It is not the British government or the British people who are to blame. It's a multinational company and it is up to them to fix this."
HOW DOES ONE argue with such arrogance and condescension? One doesn't.

One just points out that the f***ing Brits are
evah so quick to condemn America and "brutish" Americans over our "insane gun laws" every time an English tourist takes a slug in the gut trying to score some weed in the 'hood, yet we're supposed to be nice about it when British Petroleum rapes whole cultures, peoples and ecosystems in the former colonies.

Holy s***, the "wogs" really do "begin at Calais" . . . and on the North American shoreline, don't they? And the wogs are supposed to . . . what? Say "Thank you, Tony, may we have another dose of death"?

NO, YOU CAN'T argue with the likes of Vince Cable and some of the other swells trolling the halls of Westminster. Or is is trolls swelling the halls of Westminster?

All one can do is remind the right members of Parliament what happened to Britain on Jan. 8, 1815 -- the last time it tried to screw with south Louisiana -- and leave the right members with some friendly final words.

Piss off.


Monday, November 16, 2009

When radio mattered

Once upon a time, radio mattered.

Once upon a time, popular-music radio mattered so much, "pirate" Top-40 stations off the English coast scared a government and provoked a massive official backlash.

Once upon a time, "pirate" disc jockeys were bigger stars than the musicians they put onto the airwaves -- and the youth of a nation fought to keep them on "free radio."

AND ONCE HER MAJESTY'S government -- in 1967 -- finally succeeded in pulling the plug, the staid facade of the British Broadcasting Corp., cracked under the weight of demands that it program for the people, not at the people. Later that year, BBC Radio 1 was born.

Top-40 BBC Radio 1.

Many of Radio 1's original DJs were hired off the pirate ships. Because the pirate ships mattered . . . and because radio mattered.

Across the pond and across four decades, things have changed mightily.
Because radio no longer matters.

At all.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Northern soul and Northern soul

There was a Casino in Wigan, Lancashire, but nobody gambled there.

No, there England danced. Young Brits would come from all over the country on weekends to dance the night away . . . and well into the morning. It was all about the phenomenon called Northern soul -- meaning northern England and American (and British) soul music.

THE EPICENTER was the Casino nightclub in Wigan, a gritty, working-class industrial town. Well, at least when places such as this in Lancashire -- and America -- actually manufactured things.

Above is a Granada television documentary on Wigan, the Casino, Northern soul and the plight of the working class -- and the resilience of the human spirit -- circa 1977. It's well worth a viewing, if for no other reason to reaffirm the truism that Brits and Yanks are a people divided by a common language.

What the hell were they saying, again? Subtitles, anyone?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Meanwhile on the isle. . . .

While English and Welsh "freshers" were out getting pissed last week, Rifleman Craig Wood, 18, was otherwise occupied after a short stint in Afghanistan.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

From an obscure British newspaper

Now, before all you folks in St. Louis go nuts and cause an international incident, remember that the writers at this little-known British newspaper probably eat Marmite, call lines "queues" and stand in them for hours for no discernible reason.

IN OTHER WORDS, they know not what they do (or say) -- they're English:

Twitter has decided to act after Tony La Russa, the coach of an obscure American baseball team, [emphasis mine -- R21] launched a legal action over a fake account. He claimed that postings in which he appeared to make light of the death of two of his players had been ‘hurtful’.

Twitter, which has six million users who can send instant blogs on their activities to anyone who chooses to follow them, denies it has any legal case to answer.

But it is now testing a new system to ensure that users can identify genuine celebrity accounts. In future, a tick alongside a name will guarantee it is genuine.

Until recently, Twitter has had a liberal attitude towards celebrity impostors as long as it was clear that the postings were not genuine.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Adam Smith: A great (honorary) American

And a Brummie beheld a new day dawning in America, had a pint -- or six -- and, yea, he spaketh unto his newspaper across the waters, the Birmingham Mail.

"F*** you. I quit," sayeth Adam Smith -- a.k.a., Steve Zacharanda . . . a.k.a., "Mate, could you spare a quid?" -- and, behold, a Dutch-American web journalist presenteth his message unto YouTube, and YouTube speaketh unto Smith's masters at the Birmingham Mail.

It is written: "You can't quit; you're fired."

OF COURSE, the rest of the British press is having a jolly good time with all of this. The Times of London, for one:
Sometimes, you wake up following a drunken night out and realise you have sent an inappropriate text to an ex-girlfriend or your boss.

And sometimes you realise you have drunkenly admitted to plagiarism to camera, and spectacularly resigned from your job, shouting "F**k you' to your boss.

This is what happened to Birmingham Mail reporter Adam Smith on Wednesday morning, as footage appeared on YouTube of him writing a report on the US election, slumped on a Miami pavement, and barely able to speak.

Mr Smith, who also calls himself Steve Zacharanda in the hit video which was viewed almost 20,000 times in 48 hours, had taken a week's holiday to go to Miami to volunteer for the Barack Obama election campaign.

After the victory, and very much the worse for wear and drink, Smith was caught flopped against a set of railings, a laptop on his lap, filing an article about Mr Obama's victory for the Mail.

The maker of the video, a Dutch amateur journalist from Couscous Global, had stumbled across Smith by the roadside, and asked him what he was doing.

"I jumped on a plane on Friday to volunteer for the Barack Obama campaign," Mr Smith explained in a strong, if rather slurred, Brummie accent. "As an ill-advised promise, I've decided to say to my paper back home that I'd write about the American election.

"I wanted to be here because I'm here for history. The trouble is, the readers of the Birmingham Mail are going to get my version of history. And I'm just a little bit pissed..."

With a laugh and a clap of the hands, he added: "And thank god for the BBC, because I'm cutting and pasting, oh, baby!"

Not wanting to seem too unprofessional, he added: "I'm a proper news journalist."

To pile further misery on his ignominy, Mr Smith ended the video by announcing: "My name is Adam Smith, also known as Steve Zacharanda, who has just resigned from the Birmingham Mail, the Birmingham Post and the Birmingham Sunday Mercury, to set up my own magazine…F**k you, I'm doing what I want."

Mr Smith's employment status remains unclear today within a company which is undergoing significant restructuring.

Steve Dyson, editor of the Birmingham Mail, said: "This is an internal matter, so we cannot discuss it."

Asked about the company's attitude towards plagarism, he added: "Whilst we cannot discuss internal matters, plagarism will not be tolerated in any form by BTM Media Limited - although we do not believe that any has been taking place."

DEAR NEW YORK POST, I think you've just found Steve Dunleavy's replacement.

Meantime, Smith was "a bit scared to speak to work." No doubt.

"There's been words like outrageous, bringing the company into disrepute," he told the amateur videographer/reporter for Couscous Global. Actually, I found Smith to be a breath of fresh air.

Usually, you don't find reporters who are that honest and, frankly, hilarious. Give me a Brummie scribbler who's just a bit pissed (in the tipsy Brit sense of the word) any day, instead of 47 self-important, faux-objective "contributors" on American cable networks.

Disrepute? My ass.

Adam Smith took vacation time to come to America and volunteer for Barack Obama's campaign in Miami. His editors -- despite this -- prevailed upon him to write an election piece for the Birmingham News. Sans editor's note or "opinion" tag.

Who, then, ought to take ownership of the disrepute?

And, really, Smith didn't put together so bad a piece for being three sheets to the wind. Could have been much better, yes. But fairly remarkable for being that tanked.

The newspaper -- imagine! -- has taken down Smith's election piece, which (as far as I can tell) shows no sign of having been a "cut and paste" job at the BBC's expense. But you can find it here:

BIRMINGHAM Mail reporter Adam Smith is in America as Barack Obama is named as the next president. Here is his take on the atmosphere in the US:

A NEW chapter in world history has begun, and whatever happens, people in America will never forget this moment.

The people of the USA have elected the remarkable Barack Obama as their first African-American President.

Barack Hussein Obama, the son of a black Kenyan student and a white American woman, swept to power after millions of voters gave him a mandate for change.

Just 52 years after Rosa Parks started the Civil Rights movement by refusing to give up her bus seat, millions of Americans from all different races flocked to polls to elect Mr Obama.

In what will be regarded as one of the greatest political speeches in history, Barack Obama today reawakened the ‘American dream’.

In front of a crowd of 125,000 in Chicago, the President elect said: “I believe in the America that says to every challenge ‘‘Yes We Can’.

“The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

“And I promise you we as a people will get there.”

OK, Obama's speech was quite good. But "one of the greatest political speeches in history" is pretty far over the top. Even for an Obama volunteer.

I attribute the hyperbole to breaking the four-pint barrier.

On the other hand, is Smith's piece much more gushing than that of "objective" American journalists who weren't -- at least officially -- volunteering for Obama-Biden '08? And the guy, as evidenced by the second video, has a love of America that even Sarah Palin couldn't call into question.

Just for that, as a colonist, you have to love the bloke.

SO, LET ME make this official. Adam Smith is my new journalistic hero. And I'd be proud to down a pint or three with him any day.

Crunchy Con.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Fat, drunk and dentally-challenged . . .

. . . is no way for a country to go through life.

Who knew that the Brits' famed stiff upper lip got that way from trying to make it to the 'loo before blowing chunks?

FROM THE DAILY MAIL in London, we get this depressing account of the Big Night in the U.K.:
Binge-drinking revellers fuelled a chaotic start to 2008 as over-stretched ambulance workers battled to cope with emergency calls flooding in at a peak of one every eight seconds.

In the capital alone the London Ambulance Service had to deal with its highest number of emergency calls since the Millennium - the majority related to excess alcohol.

As midnight came and went there was mayhem as scores of drunken partygoers around the country tumbled into the streets, some wearing little more than their underwear.

Fights erupted and a string of dishevelled young men and women collapsed on benches and in doorways, too inebriated to remember or care that the night was supposed to be a celebration.

There to mop up the mess were thousands of emergency workers drafted in to provide cover on the busiest night of the year.

In the first four hours of 2008, London Ambulance Service (LAS) dealt with an astonishing 1,825 calls alone, peaking at over 500 calls an hour between 2am and 4am. The volume of 999 calls was up 17 per cent on last year' and four times worse than a normal night.

Meanwhile in the West Midlands the ambulance service fielded 1,400 calls in just five hours - a rate of one every 12 seconds. It was mirrored by the North East Ambulance Service which received 1,860 calls between 11pm and 5am.

Last night the astonishing number of calls to deal with booze-fuelled illness of injury prompted accusations that lives of those in real emergencies were being put at risk and demands for partygoers to wake up the costs of binge-drinking.

LAS spokeswoman Gemma Gidley said: "These calls put the Service under increased pressure to manage demand when we have to ensure we respond quickly to other patients with potentially life-threatening emergencies.

"People need to think about the real consequences of drinking so much that they require treatment."

In the south, the South Central Ambulance Service dealt with three times more incidents that normal.

OR, IN THE WORDS of that English prophet, Johnny Rotten:
God save the queen,
The fascist regime,
They made you a moron,
Potential H-bomb.

God save the queen,
She ain't no human being.
There is no future,
In England's dreaming.

Don't be told what you want,
Don't be told what you need,
There's no future no future,
No future for you!

God save the queen,
We mean it man
We love our queen
God saves.

God save the queen,
'Cos tourists are money
Our figure's head
Is not what she seems.

Oh God save history
God save your mad parade
Oh lord god have mercy
All claims are paid

When there's no future
How can there be sin?
We're the flowers in the dustbin,
We're the poison in your human machine,
We're the future; your future.

God save the queen
We mean it man
We love our queen
God saves.

God save the queen
We mean it man
And there is no future
In England's dreaming.

No future no future
No future for you
No future no future
No future for me.

No future no future
No future for you
No future no future
No future for you
No future no future for you.