gong mandalaplanet gong News



System 7 - Phoenix CD System 7 - "Phoenix" available now - posted Sun 23 Dec'07

The wonderful new System 7 album 'Phoenix' is now available from the Kasbah. You can hear mp3 samples of all tracks and see the gorgeous promotional manga-style animation video for the title track, 'Hinotori' if you visit the a-wave site.

The album, inspired by the manga graphic novel series "Phoenix" by Tezuka Osamu - one of the founding fathers of Japanese manga culture, features musical collaboratorations from Jam el Mar (of Jam and Spoon), Son Kite, Eat Static, Slack Baba, Daevid Allen and Mito from the Japanese band Clammbon. The music portrays, in a variety of ways, travel through time and space, life, death and rebirth, with each track inspired by characters or images from the books. Also highly recommended is his series on the life of the Buddha which also spans 10 or 11 volumes. Both the Phoenix and the Buddha series are available in English.


Gongishness in Print - posted Thr 20 Dec'07

The Nov/Dec issue of UK's 'Rock 'n' Reel' has a cover mounted CD to celebrate 17 years of the existence of Voiceprint, inside are a some pages of history come promo written at Voiceprint. The CD features 'Magick Brother' from the first BMO CD, 'Studio Rehearsal Tapes - Daevid Allen and Euterpe. There are other tracks from Hawkwind, Robert Wyatt, Bill Bruford and Fish. The last few copies of this issue are available from 'Rock 'n' Reel'

There is an article on daevid in a forthcoming issue of 'Dazed and Confused', a UK based magazine of - "Art, fashion, film, music and ideas". Down here in Glastonburied it's a choice of 'Country Wife', or 'Nuage Monthly', so I've not actually seen a copy yet.

Also in the pipeline is an article on Space Rock releases to appear in a future issue of 'Record Collector'. It is being written by the knowledgeable and Gong-friendly Mr Ian Abrahams. I bet you find you know, and perhaps own several of the featured releases. The recently re-vamped 'Record Collector' web-site.


Suze the Blues Farewell Double CD-R - posted Fri 14 Dec'07

Available direct from Kif Kif is a double CD-R taken from a good quality cassette recording of an impromptu jam set by members of the original 1976 Here & Now band and friends at Suze's fare-theewell gathering earlier in the year. It's a limited edition of just 200 copies and all the profits will be donated to the funeral costs. It costs just £7.77 and all the details about how to get a copy are on KK's site - http://www.herenow.be/


daevid Brazilian pics - updated Thr 29 Nov'07

According to an e-mail from daevid the recent Gong Family shows in Brasil were a huge sold out success (one was to 2000 people), and the whole trip was apparently tremendous fun, "Everything is going magnificently well with Fabio shining as first class submarine captain". The Gong vibe certainly seems to live, breathe and probably samba with gusto over there.

There are a few photographs in the "Daevid Allen no Brazil" forum section of http://www.soundchaser.com.br/, on page 8. There may be more somewhere on that site, but unfortunately with totally no Portuguese I have no idea where they might be, maybe you can find them. The ones I did find (example below) are by Fernando E. Aznar and are very good.

daevid allen in brazil
Photograph by Fernando E. Aznar
Josh Pollock, I believe Fred Barley on drums, and a rather dapper looking alien in Brazil

There may well be more news and pictures of the Brazilian gigs on Fabio Golfetti's web-site http://www.invisivel.com.br/daevid in due course.


Couple of Gongish Links - posted Thr 08 Nov'07

First is George Starostin's take, on Gong and their albums. A good fun read even if one doesn't always agree with his conclusions. http://starling.rinet.ru/music/gong.htm

The second is a link to a review of 'Good Morning' by John Kelman, the senior editor of the web-site - he seems to like it. http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=27447


Tim Blake - Waterfalls Part2 download available - posted Mon 22 Oct'07

The second section of the legendary Waterfalls In Space tape, "From Outta Space", is now available for download via Tim's web-site. I have no doubt it is every bit as sparklingly wonderful as the first part - essential.
http://moonweed.free.fr/lake/moonweed.html


Tim's 'Gong in the '70s' download - posted Fri 28 Sep'07

'Gong in the '70s' is now available as a 320kps mp3 download via Tim Blake's web-site, and, he says, sounds pretty dam fine. You can also download most of Tim's solo albums and the wonderful 23 minute 'Waterfalls in Space' extract, more of which I do hope will appear sometime in the future.


Kala It's a… Baby! - updated Thr 27 Sep'07

Kala is inducted into the family upon receiving her first wooly hat

Or as daevid put it:-
KALA KOALA born wed 26 september 07 03.42AM
A TINY HUGE GODDESS IS BORN!!!
we are all in love!!!

daevid and Gilli's son Orlando and partner Navi had a little baby girl on the night of 26th at about 3.45 a.m. Despite a long labour which ended up with a Cesarean birth everybody is now fine and dandy. The baby has dark hair, like her mother, is hale and hearty, and is called Kala. I'm sure she carefully chose to join clan Allen and was fully aware of the adventurous and surprising life she will be undoubtedly be leading, at least I do hope so. Welcome Kala.

Being somewhat attached to the physical realm as we all tend to be, it makes a nice change to announce an arrival rather than a departure.

New Archive Posts Updated Wed 26 Sep'07
A tidy up of the old confuser usually reveals interesting bits and pieces that I meant to post on the site but somehow overlooked or never got round to doing. Here are some jewels from the depths of the hard drive - more very soon:-

Marc Blanc Interview Marc talks about the Bananamoon Band and early Gong. Translated from French, from the 'Je ne fume pas des Bananes' CD booklet.
Lars Fahlin Interview daevid talks in 2002 about 'Zero To Infinity' and alot more besides - well you try and stop him.
'Good Morning!' Lyrics To celebrate the return of this uplifting classic I've posted the complete lyrics - also because they have made a bit of a dog's dinner of them in the re-mastered reissue.
'Fish Rising' Lyrics Steve Hillage's words can also inspire raising the holy vibration within as well.

While I was working at the lyrics section I thought might as well start working on a few more albums. Squirrelling around un-earthed more lyrics on the computer already to post, plus I typed in some more…but I am absolutely totally open to receive any that you either have on your computers, or care to work out for everybody, type up, and e-mail to me. I used to have such long fingers - help save what is left of them and help complete the lyric library…library…library (that's the echo of my voice fading away as it sometimes seems as if I'm calling for help in an empty room here)…never mind, don't worry.

Here are some of the albums for which we have at least started to gather lyrics.
Gong - 'Magick Brother' Lyrics - thanks to daevid's handwritten originals from the GAS archives
Here & Now - 'Fantasy Shift' Lyrics - thanks to H&N '83 tour booklet from the GAS archives
daevid allen - 'Bananamoon' Lyrics - thanks to daevid's handwritten originals from the GAS archives
University of Errors - 'e2x10=tenure' Lyrics - thanks to Rob in Oz
Tim Blake - 'Blake's New Jerusalem' Lyrics - thanks to Tim himself


Angel's Nest - updated Sun 16 Sep'07

Thanks to a Forum posting by Hi-T Moonweed for this - If you are familiar with Google Earth type in these co-ordinates - 48º14'39.35" N 3º21'59.11" E to zoom in from deepest space, dare I say like a Flying Teapot, onto Le Pavillon du Hay, the communal home of Gong in the early 70's and the magick forest which surrounds it, and of course where Angel's Egg was conceived and recorded. Can anyone find the co-odinates of some other Gong landmarks such as Middle Farm in Whitney or the Bananamoon Observatory in Deya?

daevidpavillonduhay2006.jpg
daevid outside Le Pavillon du Hay, Autumn 2006.

3 musketeers daevid allen - by Rudy and Anthony Shaw - posted Wed 12 Sep'07

Nina Simone told me that she did not like psychedelic rock-music played by white people with one notable exception. That was a weird band called GONG. She really loved Magic Brother/Mystic Sister and the albums that followed. She was not a completist, but sometimes on tour she would play Daevid Allen's "Now Is the Happiest Time Of Your Life" over and over (she really loved "Poet For Sale") and from time to time she would sit by the piano and make her very own versions "Only Make Love If You Want To" and ask me to put in some fills. My guitar never really fitted in, but it opened my eyes and ears. For some odd reason the strongest woman amongst women never had the nerve to perform these tunes in public. Rudy

The story of Daevid Allen is the tale of a life lead in tenacious adherence to ideals of what are often considered 'hippie visionary', but are also a reflection of a desire to go beyond goals of personal glory or financial success: "I've always had a very particular conception of music. In my point of view, there is no reason for making so-called 'popular music' simply for personal glory or financial reasons. That is not enough of a motivation for me, I need higher aspirations. I need to feel that my music helps society and the human race in general to move forward." This has lead sometimes to loss of copyright revenue in return for retention of artistic integrity.

The result of this scant disregard for material accretion may be a further incentive for him to pursue such an active performance schedule, but from conversation you feel is more the source of energy for an ever-expanding orbit of creativity. Here is an artist whose productive years span most of the later twentieth century, but whose capacity for subsuming new forms, while retaining his own whimsical surreal style, seems bound to continue unabated well into the next.

In recent conversation he alluded to the possibility of release of work commenced in Japan with former colleagues Hugh Hopper and Chris Cutler under typically teasing title BRAINVILLE. One can only speculate how this man's continued work will continue to outcircle the distant orbits of his accomplishments to date. - Anthony Shaw

Here & Now - Coaxed Out From Oxford Posted Fri 07 Sep'07
"Coaxed Out From Oxford", one time Here & Now gig sales tape way back in the early '80s, tidied up and dusted down for our digital delight, is now available to pre-order in the Kasbah. The original release date of 24th September has been moved back to the 22nd October to accommodate the distributor's requirements, but that date will not move again. The release, at a very good price I may add, is limited to just 1000 copies and will be in rather splendid colourful didgi-pak with liner notes by Keith the Bass.

After a very productive and often thunderously creative rehearsal in Glastonbury over the past 3 days many H&N plans are afoot. One is to record a new album with the new line of Keith and Steffe, and Merv and Joie of Eat Static, Autumn recording dates have been penciled in - and to this end the band's share of the income from 'Coaxed Out' will go towards making this a reality. A new album also makes the desire and possibility to gig much stronger - feelers are out, not just for the UK, but also for Europe and even North America (!) - contacts and progress have been made. So the basic message is - if you want a new Here & Now album, and from what I heard of the new material - trust me you do, and the possibility of them gigging at the end of your road - wherever that road may be - buy "Coxed Out of Oxford". Simple really and dam exciting, creating what we want by having what we want.

I don't know whether this little tale is really true or apocryphal: On Wednesday Keith and I were sitting in the GAS office, him fiddling around with the Here & Now My Space page (well worth a visit), and me doing something else on the other computer (accounts probably!), when the phone rang. It was a Welsh type Gong/Here&Now-ster, who said he'd been watching Matthew Wright on UK TV, who announced a new slot in his magazine-type programme called "It's the Little Things". He then when on to say something along the lines of, "This is named after a song by a great band called Here & Now", and then something else about the eccentric or unique nature Gong. We know Matthew is a big Hawk-fan, and sometime backing vocalist for them, and he has in fact brought a couple'o bits and pieces from the Kasbah in the past, but if what was reported by our Welsh friend is true - it's odd, that's all I can say, very odd.


Old Friends - posted Fri 07 Sep'07

One of the joys of running GAS and being a relatively stable point in the Gong universe, (physically if not mentally), is that eventually old friends drop by and say hello. There are few from Gong's long and rich life that have not yet done so. Even the least 'visible' have made contact over the years and I am able to put them in touch with daevid and Gilli. Last month I received e-mails from two of 'mislaid' beings (although I'm sure they always knew where they were), drummer Mac Poole and Tomas Lipps, aka artist Tom Fu.

Mac was pointed out that he is in fact the Gong drummer in the 1972 archive French TV footage, not Laurie Allen as had been erroneously posted. He didn't say what he was up to these days, but he's still on the Planet, which is good. Apparently the complete footage of both the '72 and '71 French TV Gong films can be found on You Tube - go hunt it down, it's good.

Mac Poole with Gong in 1972 Tom Fu
Mac Poole with Gong in 1972 Tom Fu going to pot

Tom Fu, one of Soft Machine's original roadies, provided much of the artwork of 'Angel's Egg'. He is now a stone-mason/stone artist of note and can be found at The Stone Foundation (who hold a yearly symposium in Deya of all places - "Yes Captain the temporal synchronization engines are now fully interlaced with the main perceptual matrix - and the kettle is on."). Tom told me was that he also drew the cover for the Kevin Ayers' album 'Shooting At The Moon', which I had not realised before. Sure enough the similarity in style between that cover and the inside of 'Angel's Egg' is obvious.


Suze by Tina Suze da Blooze Farewell - updated Wed 05 Sep'07

Suze Allport, aka Suze da Blooze, a vital and vibrant part of the early Here & Now and Planet Gong bands and travelling family has died on Sunday 19th after a long illness. She was an integral part of the music and energy of all those Free Tours in the 70's, as any of you who experienced it, or have ever tuned into the vibration will know. Love, healing and joyful memories to all who were close.

Kif Kif has added a special Suze pages to his web-site http://www.herenow.be/suze.htm which are blossoming with some wonderful photographs (the photo above is by Tina). There is also a guest book where you can leave messages of condolence and happy memories of Suze as support for all her family and friends.

"a beautiful, brave soul she was - she never shrank from any test or experience, but embraced it all in her own inimical way…
She was with us through thick and thin in those halcyon early days, she kept the faith with us, and was a source of love and inspiration to us all…
Had a good weep and a long look back, and now feel resigned to her passing - all too soon, too soon… Bless you Suze, go well, as you did in life… Keith the Bass

The funeral and final gathering were held on 1st September in Herefordshire. It was a most moving and celebratory event attended by over 150 family and friends. She was laid to rest in a cardboard coffin decorated with hand painted flowers, and the original Here & Now band of Kif-Kif, Twink, Keith and Steffe pulled out the stops at the wake to celebrate Suze's life and herald her return home.

Moonweed Free! Posted Thr 30 Aug'07
Tim Blake's period of home incarceration officially came to end on Tuesday 28th - a Full Moon day of course (how does that stuff always happen?) - he is now a free man once more. After so many months out of circulation he is naturally keen and eager to get out there and work, play and generally perform, and I would imagine that after such a period at home and in his studio his 'chops' are in very fine fettle. He can be contacted via his web-site - http://moonweed.free.fr/


Tim Blake - 'Waterfalls In Space' download - updated Thr 23 Aug'07

Part of the legendary Tim Blake/Jean-Philippe Rykiel 'Waterfalls in Space' tape is available for download at Tim's download page. His other albums are also available there as legitimate downloads.

Waterfalls in Space is well re-mastering from the source tapes and is as clean as whistle, there is no old cassette copy or pirated download that can hold a candle to it. If you have any love or admiration for what Tim and JP are all about, or the history of synths in general, I think you will adore it. The price is about 3 quid, it's around 24 minutes long and worth every penny.

Steve Hillage Q & A Session Posted Wed 15 Aug'07
Here's a link to a Steve question and answer session from last December's Beatmag. So if you want to know what he goes for when the munchies strike, what football team he supports as well the answers to some rather more musical questions this is the place.

Sound of the Cities - Web Mag Posted Tue 14 Aug'07
The second edition of the Sound of the Cities web-mag is now available online and is packed with all sorts of fascinating goodies, top of the list for us folk here being a recent interview with daevid. Go have a look I think you will be very pleasantly surprised by all that you find there.

GONG - RARE EARLY 70'S FILM ONLINE Posted Wed 04 Jul'07
Loads of French television archives are available on-line and thanks to an eagle-eyed Gongster who recently contacted me I can point you at some extremely rare Gong film footage. The link - www.ina.fr/archivespourtous/ - will open a page on the French web-site where you will see in the centre two small images. These are samples of an early 70's half-hour rock music programme called 'Pop Deux'.

The most readily accessible Gong footage is in the 1972 programme as it is the first item and starts only a minute or so into the free sample provided. I have known about the existence of this film for some time and we believe there is more in existence somewhere. It was shot on 26 April 1972 at Nanterre University and the Gong band is daevid, Gilli, Didier, Christian Tristch, and with Mac Poole on drums (not Laurie Allen as I mistakenly wrote before).

You will recognise the music as being the same as the Glastonbury Fayre '71 opener. It's interesting to see a fetchingly face-painted Bloom deftly providing back-up rhythms to Laurie Allen, as he uses drumsticks on a pair of Morrocan pottery drums. After the pounding drums/rhythmic-gliss/space-whisper section daevid, in his best stripey flares, springs into action in a manner which would not be out of place fronting Acid Mother's Gong now - who said things weren't like they used to be?

The footage in the 1971 programme, which is a completely new to all of us, is filmed in crisp, sharp colour and features the same line-up as the 1972 film, but with Rachid Hourai on drums! This makes these images incredibly rare, there are very few photographs of Rachid even in the GAS archives. Unfortunately the Gong film is near the end of the free sample so fades out before the end. Apparently the live Gong footage is followed by an interview with daevid, but you have to use the buy or 'hire' option provided and download the complete programme to see that.

There is a powerful risk-taking urgency and a wonderful primal source energy in the early Gong music and it's great to actually be able to see this in action. For convenience we have in recent years fallen into habit of calling the later 'Trilogy' band, "classic" Gong, which I've always felt does a disservice to what went before, and of course afterwards - every era of Gong has at times been "classic". One could argue that as the mid/late-seventies band has become more frozen our memories or record collections that the 'true', vibrant and creatively changing Gong spirit, as represented by the adventurous pathways individual members have taken since 1975, has become obscured. Perhaps something was inevitably pickled by Virgin's big budget expenditure and the comodification of that creative ideal physical form, in vinyl? Ah,the old Catch-22.

Brainville - Luc's photographs Posted Wed 20 Jun'07
Here are some very fine photographs of the awesome and mighty Chris Cutler backed by some passing musicians, (a Mr D. Allen, Mr H. Hopper and Mr D. Malherbe - I think), in the band known as Brainville at Le Triton on June 8th. Luc's Brainville pics.

Hari Hari the 'Wicked' man Posted Wed 20 Jun'07
Rob 'Wicked' left the physical world behind in his sleep last night. He was the owner of that unique and very special place we had lovingly come to call the 'Gong Pub', The Fawcett Inn in Southsea. He was a true friend and supporter of the entire Gong family and had been so forever. There have been so many memorable free gigs at the Fawcett over the years, he put himself on the line for us all again and again and there was nothing he wouldn't do to help if he possibly could. Deep love and support to Jackie and all Rob's family and his hundreds of friends. He was special and had one of the biggest hearts.

I am so glad to have been there at the Fawcett with daevid and Mark Robson at the gig at the end of May to see Rob so happy and positive with Jackie in the newly re-vamped and focused Fawcett after a difficult couple of years. Rob was also such a supporter of the whole Stonehenge/Solstice/Festival ethos, he never missed going to the stones, where he would have been going, well, today. Maybe he should have been known as Rob 'Wiccan', though he did have a wicked sense of humor. So sad for all left behind - but Rob, what a gracefully timed departure from the stage mate - one love. I can hear his chuckle now.

'GIVING IS GOOD' - CHARITY CD FEATURING MOONIES, NIK T and DAEVID Updated Thr 18 Jan'07

Now here's a great way to begin the year. Dave Sheppard of the 'Triple Cuppa' gigs in deepest Kent has released a CD, 100% of the proceeds of which are being donated to the global charity the 'Meningitis Trust'.

It features live recordings from the 'Garden Party at Rawlinson End' on 19th Aug last year, with 6 tracks from Nik Turner's Galaktikos, 3 from Kangaroo Moon and a specially recorded gig intro by daevid sent over from Australia - sort of his first 'virtual' gig. The CD is strictly limited to 500 copies only. It's available from Dave - price: £10 plus £1 p+p (mainland UK) - ring +44 (0)1303 863474 for more details.

cover artwork Hadouk Honoured Posted Sun 10 Jun'07

Looks as if Didier is about to try and get a tune out of the award - he probably could. Thanks to Luc Pilmeyer I can pass on the happy news that Didier Malherbe and the Hadouk Trio have received a prestigious music award in France, the 'Victoire du Jazz' as 'Artists of the Year', the ceremony was also broadcast on the FR3 TV channel.

The music business is so very bizarre. Hadouk's last album 'Utopies' sold over 16,000 copies in France last year and the band get this great acknowledgement from their peers. However because the album has no worldwide distribution to speak of it has sold 150 copies in the entire rest of the planet (about half of those via this website, the rest in Canada probably), and the band couldn't get arrested in the UK let alone sell out a gig. Very odd. Still we love them and so apparently do France.

KURT VONNEGUT Posted Sun 15 Apr 2007

© 2003 In These Times

Knowing What's Nice
by Kurt Vonnegut
November 6, 2003

Author's note: I'm working on a novel, If God Were Alive Today, about a fictitious man, Gil Berman, 36 years my junior, who cracks jokes or whatever in front of college audiences from time to time, something I myself have done. Here are excerpts from some of what I myself said onstage at the University of Wisconsin in Madison on the evening of September 22, 2003, as we touch off the last chunks and drops and whiffs of fossil fuels.

K.V.
September 24, 2003
Sagaponack, New York

It must be kind of spooky to be a student or teacher in a university as great as this one, with its libraries and laboratories and lecture halls, while knowing it is within the borders of a nation where wisdom, reason, knowledge and truth no longer apply.

I realize that some of you may have come in hopes of hearing tips on how to become a professional writer. I say to you, "If you really want to hurt your parents, and you don't have the nerve to be a homosexual, the least you can do is go into the arts. But do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites, standing for absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college."

But actually, to practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it. Dance on your way out of here. Sing on your way out of here. Write a love poem when you get home. Draw a picture of your bed or roommate.

And hey, listen: A sappy woman sent me a letter a few years back. She knew I was sappy, too, which is to say a lifelong northern Democrat in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt mode, a friend of the working stiffs. She was about to have a baby, not mine, and wished to know if it was a bad thing to bring such a sweet and innocent creature into a world as bad as this one is. I replied that what made being alive almost worthwhile for me, besides music, was all the saints I met, who could be anywhere. By saints I meant people who behaved decently in a strikingly indecent society. Perhaps some of you are or will become saints for her child to meet.

And now I want to tell you about my late Uncle Alex. He was my father's kid brother, a childless graduate of Harvard who was an honest life insurance salesman in Indianapolis. He was well-read and wise. And his principal complaint about other human beings was that they so seldom noticed it when they were happy. So when we were drinking lemonade under an apple tree in the summer, say, and talking lazily about this and that, almost buzzing like honeybees, Uncle Alex would suddenly interrupt the agreeable blather to exclaim, ''If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.''

So I do the same now, and so do my kids and grandkids. And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is."

That's one favor I've asked of you.

Now I've got another one, a show of hands. How many of you have had a teacher at any point in your entire education who made you happier to be alive, prouder to be alive than you had previously believed possible? Now please say the name of that teacher out loud to someone sitting or standing near you.

OK? All done? "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is."

I'll be 81 on November 11. What's it like to be this old? I can't parallel park worth a damn anymore. Please don't watch when I try to do it. But no matter how bad things may get for me, the music will still be wonderful. My epitaph, should I ever need one, God forbid: "The only proof he ever needed of the existence of God was music."

You and the police are entitled to know, since I am going to spend the night near you, that I am both a Humanist and a Luddite. I may hold a Black Mass in the parking garage of the Best Western Hotel, if I can find a neo-conservative baby to sacrifice.

Do you know what a Humanist is? I am honorary president of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that functionless capacity. We Humanists try to behave well without any expectation of rewards or punishments in an afterlife. We serve as best we can the only abstraction with which we have any real familiarity, which is our community.

We had a memorial services for Isaac a few years back, and at one point I said, "Isaac is up in Heaven now." It was the funniest thing I could have said to a group of Humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, "Kurt is up in Heaven now." That's my favorite joke.

Do you know what a Luddite is? That's a person who doesn't like newfangled contraptions. Contraptions like nuclear submarines armed with Poseidon missiles that have H-bombs in their warheads, and like computers that cheat you out of becoming. Bill Gates says, ''Wait till you can see what your computer can become.'' But it's you who should be doing the becoming. What you can become is the miracle you were born to work - not the damn fool computer.

Now you know what a Humanist and a Luddite are. Do you know what a Twerp is? When I was in high school in Indianapolis 65 years ago, a Twerp was a guy who stuck a set of false teeth up his rear end and bit the buttons off the back seats of taxicabs. (And a Snarf was a guy who sniffed the seats of girls' bicycles.)

And I consider anybody a Twerp who hasn't read the greatest American short story, which is "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," by Ambrose Bierce. It isn't remotely political. It is a flawless example of American genius, like "Sophisticated Lady" by Duke Ellington or the Franklin stove. "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," by Ambrose Bierce.

I consider anybody a Twerp who hasn't read Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville. There can never be a better book than that one on the strengths and vulnerabilities inherent in our form of government.

Want a taste of that great book? He says, and he said it 168 years ago, that in no country other than ours has love of money taken stronger hold on the affections of men. OK?

And many of you, if not most, have surely at least dipped into that great book. But I can hardly call you Twerps, or even Snarfs, if you have never even heard of the next book I want to celebrate. Practically nobody has, since it is basically a medical text: The Mask of Sanity, first published in 1941 and written by the late Dr. Hervey Cleckley, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Medical College of Georgia.

Some people are born deaf, some are born blind or whatever, and this book is about congenitally defective human beings of a sort who are making this whole country and many other parts of the planet go completely haywire nowadays. These are people born without consciences. They know full well the pain their actions may cause others to feel but do not care. They cannot care. They came into this world with a screw loose, and now they're taking charge of everything. They appear to be great leaders because they are so decisive. Do this! Do that! What makes them so decisive is that they do not care and cannot care what happens next.

Now then, there's a good news and there's a bad news tonight. The bad news is that the Martians have landed in New York City, and are staying at the Waldorf. The good news is that they only eat homeless man, women and children of all colors, and they pee gasoline.

But seriously, if you read the supermarket tabloids you know that for the past 10 years a team of Martian anthropologists has been studying our country, the only country worth a damn on the whole planet - forget Brazil and Argentina. Well, they went back home last week because they knew how really awful global warming is about to be. Their space ship wasn't a flying saucer. It was more of a flying soup tureen. And they're little, only six inches high, but they aren't green. They're mauve.

By way of farewell, their little mauve leader said there were two things about American culture no Martian could ever understand. "What is it," she said in that teeny-weeny, tanny-wanny, toney-woney little voice of hers, "what can it possibly be about blow jobs and golf?"

That is stuff from a novel I've been working on for the past five years, about a standup comedian at the end of the world. It is about making jokes while we are killing all the fish in the ocean, and touching off the last chunks or drops or whiffs of fossil fuel. But it will not let itself be finished.

Its working title - or actually non-working title - is If God Were Alive Today. And hey, listen: It is time we thanked God that we are in a country where even the poor people are overweight. But the Bush diet could change that.

And about the novel I can never finish, If God Were Alive Today: The hero, the standup comedian on Doomsday, not only denounces our addiction to fossil fuels, with the pushers in the White House. Because of overpopulation, he is also against sexual intercourse. His name is Gil Berman, and he says to audiences like this one, "I am a flaming neuter. I am as celibate as at least 50 percent of the heterosexual Roman Catholic clergy. Celibacy is not a root canal, and it is so cheap and convenient. Talk about safe sex! You don't have to do or say anything afterwards, because there is no afterwards."

Gil Berman goes on: "When my tantrum, which is what I call my TV set, waves boobs in my face, and tells me that everybody but me is going to get laid tonight, and this is a national emergency, so I've got to rush out and buy pills or a car or a folding gymnasium I can hide under my bed, I laugh like a hyena. I know and you know there are millions upon millions of good Americans, present company not excepted, who aren't going to get laid tonight."

"And we neuter vote! And I look forward to a day when the President of the United States, no less, who probably isn't going to get laid that night either, decrees a National Neuter Pride Day. And out of our closets we'll come. And we will go marching up main streets all over this great land of ours, shoulders squared, chins held high, and laughing like hyenas."

What about God, if He were alive today? Gil Berman says, "God would have to be an Athiest, because the excrement has hit the air-conditioning big time, big time."

© 2003 In These Times

da_system7gig.jpgSYSTEM 7 GIG POSTER BY DAEVID Posted Tue 13 Mar'07
Now here's a interesting and rather unique combination. Daevid was commissioned by Dewi, the promoter, to produce a gig poster for the Sunday May 6th 'Bindi Slippage' event in Talybont, near Bangor, N. Wales featuring System 7 and much more in benefit of the Colin Reid Countryside Trust.

You can see a larger version of the poster, which has fetching and remarkably lifelike alien renditions of Steve and Miquette in the top right-hand corner, via the daevid commissions Kasbah page.


STEVE HILLAGE 'INDEPENDENT' INTERVIEW + MORE Updated Thr 18 Jan'07
To publicise the release of the first four re-mastered Steve Hillage albums there was a short but entertaining interview with the man himself in Saturday's Independent newspaper. The online version can be read here:- The Independent Online Edition.

Other things to look out for are:- Features in Classic Rock (07.02), Beat Mag.net (Dec - Feb)

Confirmed Reviews: Record Collector, Classic Rock, Birmingham Post, Mojo (Feb), Q, Uncut Lead Review + Q&A (Feb), DJ (17.01), Drummer (Feb), Sunday Times Culture Reissue Of The Week (14.01).

Confirmed Reviews Web: Yahoo! Launchcast, Get Ready To Rock.com, Subba Cultcha.com

'PLANET FOR $ALE' CD Posted Wed 03 Jan'07
'Planet for $ale' Music composed/produced by Nigel Mazlyn Jones. Original art Pete Loveday. Includes remixes by Steve Hillage, Banco de Gaia and Guy Evans of Van der Graaf Generator. Produced by Dr Keith Halden.

In 1998, Dr Keith Halden created for BBC 2 Scotland, a powerful visual montage based on the words of the song 'Planet for $ale' by songwriter/composer, Nigel Mazlyn Jones. The song is a series of questions - "Planet for $ale in need of renovation, who'll give us two pence for a dead old globe" and "Why are the rich so bloody greedy, Why are governments so corrupt right to the core?" … and answers - "It needs a change of thinking, if we"re to go on living, bringing up our children on this planet green and blue, yes it needs a change of living, to keep the garden beautiful, we're only the caretakers, and we're only passing through"

Shortly available only through Nigel's website www.isleoflight.co.uk.

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