Saturday, February 13, 2010


“He’s always like this on the thirteenth of the month.”

A couple of days ago, I ran a lengthy quote from Howard Beale – the Mad Prophet of the Airwaves in the movie Network, and rather reopened the debate on decentralization and disengagement from totalitarian corporate capitalism. One anonymous poster suggested, “we don't need to buy HDTV. Or cable. We can wear used clothes. And barter for books. And get food from a local farmer co-ops. We can keep everything within our own communities. Even if that means moving from cities to smaller towns where land is more plentiful.” For my part, I harbor grave misgivings about the whole business of rural retreat. I firmly believe that radical change cannot be achieved without mass confrontation of some kind, be it in the style of Gandhi, or armed-and-Bolshevik dangerous. I also worry that the power structure has been long schooled in how to deal with radical rural communes or communities all the way from the crushing of the Levelers and the Diggers in 17th century England, through to Jonestown and the Branch Davidians at Waco.
I also cannot subscribe to any revolution that cannot hold on to the technology. Science is not a luxury. It is humanity at its most noble. We stand on the threshold of wherever String Theory might lead, and the Singularity may only be a quarter-century away. Since I am not about to give that up (should I live so long) for digging carrots out of the dirt, can anyone educate me? How do the rebels seize an ISP? Classic Guevara-style guerrillas always seized the radio station early in the taking of the city. It’s the same tactic written more high-tech. This is the overcrowded 21st century and our solutions may not only have to be more drastic, but also far more complex.
And while I was still frowning over those conundrums, someone calling himself Man mounted something that felt close to a Stalinist blitzkrieg. Demanding to know “are these songs supposed to be ironic? They are all from the sixties and all more proof that pretty much whatever posture someone from that era assumed, they and their fans will do otherwise.” Fans? Does that mean you? Man then went on describe “artists and revolutionaries” as “grotesque reality of nightmares past” and I was grimly instructed to leave “the pics of dead blonds to the wanker caste and focus entirely on practical solutions.” And if that wasn’t enough, even my good pal HCB weighed in on the 1960s with “we've been picking over the bones of the golden age for an awfully long time.”
Initially I was furious and banged my curmudgeon fist on the keyboard, declaring angrily that it was my blog and I’d post what I damn well liked, motherfuckers, but, later, contrition set in. Yes, my friends, I now freely admit my moribund guilt. I found Elvis in the 1950s and made my anarchic bones in the 1960s, a wonderful time when stoned girls danced on my stage, semi-naked, until ushered off by the Hells Angels. (See above.) It was a lot if fun in that scant five minutes between the Pill and AIDS, and much of what goes up on Doc40 is intended as a history lesson, or just an old timer telling tales of the velvet trenches. But there’s also more to it than just geriatric nostalgia. The complained-of Marilyn Monroe is the perfect example.
An image of Marilyn has the resonance of a multi-faceted, 20th century fertility icon, and lends itself to a wide spectrum of symbolism and artistic exploitation. The reason I use her has nothing to do with wanker masturbation. It is because – even after more than half a century – there is nothing with equal cognitive impact. You simply do not achieve the same effect with Scarlett Johansson or Miley Cyrus. If you don’t believe me, just try it. It’s same with the music I post. Sure, a lot of it is from the 1950/60/70s, (and a lot isn’t) but that’s not only because it’s the music I know and love. Much of it simply hasn’t been superseded by any new and more powerful rock & roll malcontent anthems.
When Man demands that I “focus entirely on practical solutions” I can only responded why me? I’ve been walking point on my fraction of this adventure since Jack Kennedy was shot. Where are your plans, Man? Where are your practical solutions? Can I look them up on line, or do I need to buy the book? When are you young people going to put down your fancy phones for long enough to surprise the old man with something new and uniquely dangerous? I becoming a little bored with the waiting.

And, talking of anthems, click here for The (ironic) Ramones

The secret word is Venerable


Some dire crap has been corporately foisted on the youth culture down the years. Some of you may remember Pop Rocks, or Squirt Gum, or Screaming Yellow Zonkers. K Rave may well be right in there with the worst of them. The story comes from

“The other day we got sent some cereal. Attached was a press release so bizarre and pretentious we can only assume that Kellogg’s are embracing some new trend of reverse-psychology PR and are secretly hoping we’ll take the piss out of it, and that it would go viral and become some edible version of The Room for post-ironic 20somethings. Well, OK Kellogg’s, you win. We’re writing about the only cereal that “surfs the youth culture wave.” Unfortunately, after extensive product-testing we’ve discovered that K Rave tastes like shit and it inflamed our intern’s IBS. So, no one buy it, just click through and read the press release, then forget it even exists. It’s worth noting that this ketamine-themed cereal also boasts the unabashedly rapely slogan “Dare to unleash the predator in you!” and the box is covered in sperm.”



Friday, February 12, 2010


By way of a Friday medical spot there appears to be good news for those of us who worry about all those brain cells we have destroyed down the years by fun and abuse – good news even for those who have lost so many they are no longer capable of worrying. The little buggers can seemingly grow back, although it may be a case of use them or lose them, so get to thinking real hard, brothers and sisters.

"In the 1990s scientists rocked the field of neurobiology with the startling news that the mature mammalian brain is capable of sprouting new neurons. Biologists had long believed that this talent for neurogenesis was reserved for young, developing minds and was lost with age. But in the early part of the decade Elizabeth Gould, then at the Rockefeller University, demonstrated that new cells arise in the adult brain - particularly in a region called the hippocampus, which is involved in learning and memory.
Fresh neurons arise in the brain every day. ... Recent work, albeit mostly in rats, indicates that learning enhances the survival of new neurons in the adult brain, and the more engaging and challenging the problem, the greater the number of neurons that stick around. These neurons are then presumably available to aid in situations that tax the mind. It seems, then, that a mental workout can buff up the brain, much as physical exercise builds up the body. – Tracey J. Shors, "Saving New Brain Cells," Scientific American

And in a less cheerful medical item, I note that former President Bill Clinton was in Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. He had chest pains and went to the hospital and got a stent. He was expected to spend the night there. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reported that Clinton had been having chest pains. Clinton is 63 years old. I’m 66 years old and when I have chest pains I take an aspirin and hope I don’t die. In a system where insurance companies calculate cost points at which treatment for children with cancer is denied, I’m precluded from coverage by an existing condition that I've had since I was a toddler. Such is the way of it with healthcare in the USA. I may have to move back to England and the evils of single payer socialism if I want to live to see the end of the world in 2012.

And now click here for the Rolling Stones' “Dear Doctor”. It’s ironic and it’s from the 1960s. Anyone got a problem with that?

The secret word is Medication


If you like cartoon pigeons you’re going to love this one -- sent by Mr.MR -- who comes within the edge of a feather of starting a nuclear war. (But is that a donut or a bagel?) Click here.


Thursday, February 11, 2010


Okay, so pop culture is getting weird, but this symptom is weirder than most. It comes close to the Monty Python killer joke sketch, but, I have to confess, the idea of writing a song that starts guys slaughtering each other in bars is an awesome concept.

“GENERAL SANTOS, the Philippines — After a day of barbering, Rodolfo Gregorio went to his neighborhood karaoke bar still smelling of talcum powder. Putting aside his glass of Red Horse Extra Strong beer, he grasped a microphone with a habituĂ©’s self-assuredness and briefly stilled the room with the Platters’ “My Prayer.” Next, he belted out crowd-pleasers by Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck. But Mr. Gregorio, 63, a witness to countless fistfights and occasional stabbings erupting from disputes over karaoke singing, did not dare choose one beloved classic: Frank Sinatra’s version of “My Way.” “I used to like ‘My Way,’ but after all the trouble, I stopped singing it,” he said. “You can get killed.”
The authorities do not know exactly how many people have been killed warbling “My Way” in karaoke bars over the years in the Philippines, or how many fatal fights it has fueled. But the news media have recorded at least half a dozen victims in the past decade and includes them in a subcategory of crime dubbed the “My Way Killings.”
The killings have produced urban legends about the song and left Filipinos groping for answers. Are the killings the natural byproduct of the country’s culture of violence, drinking and machismo? Or is there something inherently sinister in the song?
Whatever the reason, many karaoke bars have removed the song from their playbooks. And the country’s many Sinatra lovers, like Mr. Gregorio here in this city in the southernmost Philippines, are practicing self-censorship out of perceived self-preservation.”
(Click here for the rest of the story)

Click here to try it for yourself

Click here to try it with Elvis

Click here to try it with Sid (and, of course, all three singers are dead.)

The secret word is Refrain


Our pal Wendy sent us this free movie that she describes as a “prequel to Lord Of the Rings - made for 25,000 pounds (sterling) by some gal in the UK” – in fact a lady called Kate Madison, who also cast herself as a sword wielding heroine. It’s a remarkable piece of work, like fan fiction graduating to fan film. The official website tells us…

“This hour long original drama is set in the time before the War of the Ring and tells the story of the DĂșnedain, the Rangers of the North, before the return of the King. Inspired by only a couple of paragraphs written by Tolkien in the appendices of the Lord of the Rings we follow Arathorn and Gilraen, the parents of Aragorn, from their first meeting through a turbulent time in their people's history.” Click here to watch.


The twins – Andrea and Anthea – could maintain their regimentation even under the most extraordinary circumstances.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Last night I watched part of the movie Network. I hadn’t seen it in a long time, and it came as something of a minor shock. In 1976, when the movie was released, it was close to being a work of science fiction; Paddy Chayefsky’s vision of a near future in which corporate media had driven itself insane and corporate corruption had negated the last remaining shreds of demo. Last night, I realized to my horror that we have now reached the reality of what was once a projected satiric fantasy. We live – or, more accurately, we drown – in a seamless media delusion in which nothing can be changed or repaired unless it is wholly in the interests of our corporate master, who, in turn, have grown wholly and fatally myopic in their quadrant of the insanity. I could rant on at length, but, hell, it’s late. I’ll leave it to Howard Beale. More than just the “mad as hell” speech that everyone remembers. But don’t forget. They killed Howard Beale when his ratings tanked.

“So, you listen to me. Listen to me: Television is not the truth! Television is a God-damned amusement park! Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, side-show freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We're in the boredom-killing business! So if you want the truth... Go to God! Go to your gurus! Go to yourselves! Because that's the only place you're ever going to find any real truth. But, man, you're never going to get any truth from us. We'll tell you anything you want to hear; we lie like hell. We'll tell you that, uh, Kojak always gets the killer, or that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie Bunker's house, and no matter how much trouble the hero is in, don't worry, just look at your watch; at the end of the hour he's going to win. We'll tell you any shit you want to hear. We deal in illusions, man! None of it is true! But you people sit there, day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds... We're all you know. You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here. You're beginning to think that the tube is reality, and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you! You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even think like the tube! This is mass madness, you maniacs! In God's name, you people are the real thing! WE are the illusion! So turn off your television sets. Turn them off now. Turn them off right now. Turn them off and leave them off! Turn them off right in the middle of the sentence I'm speaking to you now! TURN THEM OFF...
You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here, you're beginning to believe that the tube is reality and your own lives are unreal. You do. Why, whatever the tube tells you: you dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even think like the tube. This is mass madness, you maniacs. In God's name, you people are the real thing, WE are the illusion. Right now, there is a whole, an entire generation that never knew anything that didn't come out of this tube. This tube is the gospel, the ultimate revelation; this tube can make or break presidents, popes, prime ministers; this tube is the most awesome goddamn propaganda force in the whole godless world, and woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people.”

Now click here for “We’re Not Gonna Take It” By The Who.

The secret word is Hell


The first Native Tribe to officially support Barack Obama for president is now waiting for him to declare the reservation a disaster. According to a Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) press release, 3,000 utility poles were downed during recent severe storms. CRST Chairman, Joseph Brings Plenty, has declared a state of emergency.Thousands of CRST residents have been without water, heat, and electricity for over two weeks. Experts relate it may be as long as one month to restore power across the reservation. Wind-chill factors in central South Dakota have been subzero. Brings Plenty worries the reservation’s all ready overburdened water system, which consists of pipes running through the reservation, will fail. Neighboring off-reservation communities are also affected, because the reservation pipelines feed those communities. The tribe is very grateful for assistance from the Navajo Nation, Army Corps of Engineers, South Dakota National Guard, and State’s Department of Public Safety.But, much more help is needed. Click here for more information



Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Now we learn that if you go online with a hot conspiracy theory you’ll have the FBI – or the NSA or some other agency too black to even have initials – all over your ass, attempting to ram you full of "cognitive diversity." Or you will have if some of the Harvard control freaks in the White House have their way. Those crazy conspiracy theories are just too whacked. They cannot be permitted to run around loose. Opponents of the idea claim US secret police trolling the net will take us back to the 1960s, Hoover’s FBI, and black ops like COINTELPRO. They are almost certainly right. I’d also point out how, when the first rumors about COINTELPRO and CIA domestic games like CHAOS and MKULTRA began to circulate, they were dismissed and dissed as crazy conspiracy theories.

“A high-ranking official in the Obama administration has come under fire in the past few weeks for suggesting that it would be a good idea to deploy federal agents to "cognitively infiltrate" political groups that believe in conspiracy theories. "Cognitive infiltration" may just be a fancy way to describe what chat room trolls do every day, but it's downright Orwellian in its implications, summoning visions of disinformation campaigns, agents provocateurs, and J. Edgar Hoover's COINTELPRO. The official is Cass Sunstein, the long-time University of Chicago law professor (he has since moved on to Harvard), who is currently serving as director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Sunstein's proposal was not issued under the auspices of the government, but in an academic paper. Co-authored with Harvard Law School Professor Adrian Vermeule and published in The Journal of Political Philosophy in 2008, "Conspiracy Theory" surveys the existing scholarship on the origins and characteristics of conspiracy theories and contemplates whether or not governments should try to neutralize them. In general, it takes a social sciences approach, arguing that conspiracy theories are neither legitimate political ideas nor symptoms of a psychological disorder, but are rather the inevitable distortions of closed-off, self-reinforcing belief systems. Using government agents to inject "cognitive diversity" into those communities, it suggests, just might provide the body politic with an antidote to the thought contagions they inspire.
Glenn Greenwald ripped into Sunstein's "truly pernicious" article in Salon. "Note how similar Sunstein's proposal is to multiple, controversial stealth efforts by the Bush administration to secretly influence and shape our political debates," he wrote. "There is a very strong case to make that what Sunstein is advocating is itself illegal under long-standing statutes prohibiting government 'propaganda' within the U.S., aimed at American citizens." The far right World Net Daily was no less alarmist: "Top Obama czar: Infiltrate all 'conspiracy theorists,'" its headline read. "Presidential adviser wrote about crackdown on expressing opinions."
Click here for the rest.

Click here for “I Spy For The FBI” by Jamo Thomas

The secret word is Policeman


“Jack and I are already a conspiracy theory – in fact, multiple conspiracy theories.”


Monday, February 08, 2010


“Farren had my number years ago.”

Although La CityBeat went out of business months ago, I wondered last night, as I idled online, if the website was still up. And yes, it was. There was even a file of my old columns. Click here to check it out. This one about Dick Cheney from 2007 has certainly stood the test of time.

“The humorous suggestion has more than once been made that Dick Cheney is, in fact, something other than human. Most recently Maureen Dowd came close to calling the vice president an alien in her New York Times column: "I've always thought Cheney was way out there - the most Voldemort-like official I've run across. But ... I never imagined that he would declare himself not only above the law, not only above the president, but actually his own dark planet."
At the opposite extreme, conspiracy theorist David Icke seriously claims that Cheney is actually a shape-shifting reptilian from inside the Hollow Earth with an agenda of world conquest. But Icke, a former British soccer player whose theories cloak a virulent and calculated anti-Semitism, can hardly be considered a reliable source. He does, however, illustrate the odd frequency with which science fiction is used to denigrate the veep.
This seems a unique phenomenon in American political and cultural history. Certainly, every president and vice president has come in for his share of abuse: FDR and JFK were both called communists, Nixon was a crook, Gerald Ford was a stumbling doofus, Jimmy Carter was ineffectual, Reagan was a puppet, Dan Quayle was a moron, Bill Clinton couldn't keep his pants zipped, and LBJ picked up beagles by their ears. All offensive, but strictly terrestrial. Cheney, on the other hand, with approval ratings that dipped as low as 18 percent in mid-2006, may have alienated so many of us that we look for alien metaphors to express our loathing for the man.
An intensive Web search (during which my computer froze, I swear) revealed that the Cheney-as-alien concept runs deep. He was referred to as "Dark Lord of the Sith" more times than I care to count, and his face has been Photoshopped onto every unholy phase of Anakin Skywalker metamorphosing into Darth Vader. On June 27, a Cheney-is-an-alien joke appeared on the blog of an anonymous Washington lawyer ( The author mock-quoted White House Press Secretary Tony Snow as saying Cheney had "complete immunity from everything" and "not only is he not part of the Executive Branch, but strictly speaking not even part of the human race."
Instead of Star Wars, a blogger called Defective Yeti used the Alien movie cycle for an elaborate parallel. "The xenomorph has a complex lifecycle," D. Yeti writes. "After hatching from an egg, the 'facehugger' implants an embryo deep within the body of the host organism. Sometime later the parasite violently emerges from its carrier, then rapidly grows to a near-perfect killing machine. This reminds me of nothing so much as Dick Cheney. He found a host organism easily enough. In 1999, Cheney headed up Bush's Vice-Presidential Search Committee, only to announce that he was the most qualified man for the job. After Bush was elected, Cheney gestated deep within the body politic. Now, his metamorphosis is complete, he ruptures forth ... and if the democracy that incubated him is killed in the process, so be it ... In January 2009 it will be fun to watch Hillary strap herself into a power-loader, and blow Cheney out of an airlock."
Of course, Cheney himself hardly confirms his humanity. The abnormal arrogance, the mysterious disappearances, the strange beliefs in the nature of his office the weird demand that Google Earth pixilate his official residence, and recent revelation on HuffPo that "Cheney runs to an undisclosed location because he, his doctors, and the Secret Service know that his pacemaker is not shielded from EMR [electronic medical records] or EMP [electromagnetic pulse]" all provide grist for speculations straight out of Invasion of Body Snatchers. The recent news of the Mosler, man-sized safe in Cheney's office, however, took one blog commentator straight in the direction of H. P. Lovecraft: "Be warned that it's not really a safe," goes the posting. "When you open the door to that safe, it actually leads straight to hell."

And click here for Bob singing Masters Of War which has also stood the test of time.

The secret word is Paranormal


I mean, it is Black History Month.


(Image lifted from Brusquelles)

CLICK! (Your dossier grows)

Sunday, February 07, 2010


Wow! This makes my old monochrome plastic models from the National History Museum so redundant.
“Pigments have been found in fossil dinosaurs for the first time, a new study says. The discovery may prove once and for all that dinosaurs' hairlike filaments—sometimes called dino fuzz—are related to bird feathers, paleontologists announced today. The finding may also open up a new world of prehistoric color, illuminating the role of color in dinosaur behavior and allowing the first accurately colored dinosaur re-creations, according to the study team, led by Fucheng Zhang of China's Institute for Vertebrate Paleontology. The team identified fossilized melanosomes—pigment-bearing organelles—in the feathers and filament-like "protofeathers" of fossil birds and dinosaurs from northeastern China. Found in the feathers of living birds, the nano-size packets of pigment—a hundred melanosomes can fit across a human hair—were first reported in fossil bird feathers in 2008.” (Click here for more.)

The secret word is Festive


Lydia could not get a single Frozdick to accept her call.


Image supplied by Valerie