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I Was Julian Assange’s Ghost Writer: The Fantastic Story Of ‘Swedish Whores, Pentagon Bores And Being Hitler
ANDREW O’Hagan’s wonderful essay on ghost writing Julian Assange’s autobiography is better than any book on the Wikileak’s puiblisher.
Highlights from it are:
Assange didn’t want to write the book himself but didn’t want the book’s ghostwriter to be anybody who already knew a lot about him. I told Jamie that I’d seen Assange at the Frontline Club the year before, when the first WikiLeaks stories emerged, and that he was really interesting but odd, maybe even a bit autistic. Jamie agreed, but said it was an amazing story. ‘He wants a kind of manifesto, a book that will reflect this great big generational shift.’
At 5.30 the next day Jamie arrived at my flat with his editorial colleague Nick Davies. (Mental health warning: there are two Nick Davies in this story. This one worked for Canongate; the second is a well-known reporter for the Guardian.) They had just come back on the train from Norfolk. Jamie said that Assange had poked his eye with a log or something, so had sat through three hours of discussion with his eyes closed.
Well, they would buy it once they’re pocket had been emptied by this TV advert:
WITH J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars Episode VII in the pipeline comes the news that Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher will reprise their iconic roles in the George Lucas franchise for the first time in over thirty years, since 1983’s Return of the Jedi.
What impacts have time and ageing had upon courageous Empire-busting rebels Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia?
FLASHBACK to October 6 1943: Actress Tallulah Bankhead, who won the Drama Critics Award in 1948 for her performance in the Thornton Wilder Pulitzer prize play, Skin of Our Teeth, has returned to Hollywood after an absence of 11 years. She will have the role of Mrs. Porter in Lifeboat, a Twentieth Century-Fox picture, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. He read her 90 pages of the script over the phone to New York, and then she headed Westward. Miss Bankhead and Mr. Hitchcock dining in Hollywood, Los Angeles.
Alfred Hitchcock would later note on Tallulah Bankhead flashing the crew: “I don’t know if this is a matter for the costume department or hairdressing.”
YOU will no doubt have seen the state of the Ukraine at the moment. Some of the images that have come from that corner of the world have been powerful, depressing, exciting and downright upsetting.
Kiev was ablaze and government snipers picked off Ukrainians at random and the whole bloody, gory thing was enough to make you hide under your bedsheets and cry forever.
THE trouble with American situation comedies in the 1970s and 1980s was that you never knew what you were going to get when you tuned in: was it going to be light-hearted entertainment or tales from the darkside? There was nothing worse than sitting on the couch, ready for 30 minutes of laughs, and instead being served a smorgasbord of human suffering.
In their lust for an Emmy, sitcom writers got it into their heads that there just had to be “special episodes”. With these stories, the comedy came to a screeching halt in favor of some of the most brutal narratives imaginable. What made it so nefarious is that these shows generally were fun and silly…. then they turned on a dime, delivering terrifying accounts of sodomy and molestation. You never knew what you were going to get, so you were unprepared for the nightmare unfolding before you.
I’ll begin with the most infamous example of them all….
1. Diff’rent Strokes
“The Bicycle Man” Parts 1 and 2 (1983)
Season 5, Episodes 16 and 17
FLASHBACK: 17/05/1964. Music – Lord Willis listens to the Yardbirds in his back garden – 1964
Lord Willis, who recently attacked ‘The Beatle Cult’ in a House of Lords speech is pictured with his daughter Sally, as they listen to the Yardbirds in the back garden of his home in Shepherd’s Green, Chislehurst, Kent. The Yardbirds, a pop-group of five ex-public school boys from the Richmond area of Surrey, had unexpectedly visited Lord Willis to explain ‘what pop music is all about’. Lord Willis, the scriptwriter who created television’s ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ invited them into the garden where he was sunning himself. After a discussion, he then asked them to play. The group, who favour hairstyles short and long, are left to right: Eric Clapton, 19, Paul Samwell Smith, 21, Keith Relf, 21, Jim McCarty, 20 and Christopher Dreja, 18.
FLASHBACK to 22/05/1964: A Vietnamese soldier ties the hands of a Viet Cong guerrilla to an armored troop carrier before dragging him through the stream in an effort to make him talk. The prisoner of war was caught with a weapon and documents during an operation held by Vietnamese troops in Dinh Tuong province south of Saigon, morning of May 22, 1964 during the Vietnam War.
War is always ugly.
Religious Arizona Business Owners Can Legally Refuse To Serve Gays, Jews, Satanists, Muslims And Other Christians
IT is now legal to refuse to serve gays in Arizona shops and hotels – but only if it offends your religious beliefs.
State senators voted Wednesday to let businesses refuse to serve gays based on owners’ “sincerely held” religious beliefs. The 17-13 vote along party lines, with Republicans in the majority, came after supporters defeated an attempt to extend existing employment laws that bar discrimination based on religion and race to also include sexual orientation.
Wow, indeed. Bigotry is ok so long as it complies with rules you believe in. We’re all religious now.
This is intolerance dressed up as equality.
Arizona’s Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler explains:
“This bill is not about discrimination. It’s about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.”
Yarborough is the Executive Director of the Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization. He was a co-founder and served on the school board for Valley Christian High School from 1981-2005.
Sen. Yarbrough leads a bipartisan group of legislators and citizen group leaders known as the Arizona Values Action Team which supports public policy that is pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-school choice and pro-religious liberty.
He is not alone:
“We are trying to protect people’s religious liberties,” said Rep. Steve Montenegro, R-Litchfield Park. “We don’t want the government coming in and forcing somebody to act against their religious sacred faith beliefs or having to sell out if you are a small-business owner.”
As he notes, “it could soon be legal for Satanists to discriminate against Christians in Arizona.”
EXIT via the gift shop. Goldblog spotted one at the German”s Dachau concentration camp. Rachel Salamander’s bookshop “Literaturhandlung”, in the visitors’ center of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, “specialises in the history of Dachau Concentration Camp and those persecuted by the Nazi regime, but books on related topics are also available. There are also a number of books on Jewish culture and literature.”
A BIG (helping) hand please for the fall guys…
A month of extreme weather and Winter Olympics has brought the downfall of members of the public…
February 20 1993: John Venables and Robert Thompson Charged With Murder Of James Bulger In Liverpool
ON This Day in photos – February 20 1993: John Venables and Robert Thompson (both aged 10) are charged with the abduction and murder of two-year-old James Bulger in Liverpool.
James went missing from the Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle the Friday before. His mother and father made appeals for his safe return.
EVERY now and then, Hollywood comes up with a good concept, and then competing studios rush to ruthlessly exploit it. Remember the summer of 1998, and dueling asteroid pictures Armageddon and Deep Impact?
Or 1988, the year of the “body switch” movie like Big, Vice Versa and 18 Again?
DAILY Mail writers don’t have children, they have material. Among the coterie of wearisome women columnists that pour out self-parody in prose for the Daily Mail’s malevolent Mekon boss, Paul Dacre, Shona Sibary is the worst offender. While Liz Jones mines her own mental illness for copy, Sibary exploits her four children repeatedly and shamelessly, embarrassing them in print and online even more frequently than Samantha Brick mentions her horny-handed hairy scary of a husband.
FLASHBACK to 1950: test / not a test:
ANYONE heading on a one-way trip to Mars will be sent to Hell.
The fatwa committee under the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the UAE has decreed:
“Such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam. There is a possibility that an individual who travels to planet Mars may not be able to remain alive there, and is more vulnerable to death. Whoever opts for this hazardous trip is likely to perish for no righteous reason and thus will be liable to a punishment similar to that of suicide in the Hereafter.
“Protecting life against all possible dangers and keeping it safe is an issue agreed upon by all religions and is clearly stipulated in verse 4/29 of the Holy Quran: Do not kill yourselves or one another. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.”
HAVE you been wasting precious hours of your day wondering where A Flock of Seagulls got their name? Well, wonder no more. Before your very eyes are the etymologies of 1980s pop-synth and post-punk bands, illuminated for posterity. No more shall mankind contemplate the origin of Kajagoogoo. Mystery solved.
Named after a gang of children that Geldof had read about in Woody Guthrie’s autobiography, Bound for Glory.
Trevor Horn imagined a futuristic computer creating a synthetic band “The Buggles”, a corruption of The Beatles
Dexy’s Midnight Runners
Dexedrine, a brand of dextroamphetamine – the original ADHD medication, and a once popular recreational stimulant.
Any excuse to hear this. (Cue the school disco frenzy.)
Named after the villain in Barbarella, Dr. Durand Durand
Fine Young Cannibals
From the 1960 film All the Fine Young Cannibals starring Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood.
A Flock of Seagulls
Taken from the lyrics to “Toiler on the Sea” by The Stranglers
We ventured overland
Fought with the aliens
The young ones used their hands
Pointed the way to a flock
A flock of seagulls!
Frankie Goes to Hollywood
A random headline from the New Yorker magazine (the “Frankie” in question referred to Frank Sinatra)
A fictional band mentioned in Anthony Burgess’s novel, A Clockwork Orange.
Named after the board game. The heavy metal umlauts were added for effect.
Inspired by the band XTC and Australian jam makers IXL, they decided on a foreshortened version of “inaccessible”.
Jesus and Mary Chain
Allegedly from a breakfast cereal package which advertised that you could send off for a free Jesus and Mary chain.
A slight variation on a baby’s first sounds: gaga googoo
42 as in the answer to the meaning of life in the Douglas Adams book The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy
Love and Rockets
After the Jaime and Mario Hernandez alternative comic books
Homage to Madness a song by reggae artist Prince Buster.
Ready to the the Rude Boy dance that anyone could do (again, any excuse):
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
They wanted a name that in no way would confuse them as a punk band. I think they succeeded.
Named after the Platters song The Great Pretender.
Public Image, Ltd.
After the Muriel Spark novel The Public Image
A homage to the Italian Marxist writer and political theorist Antonio Gramsci. The correct spelling in Italian to refer to “Political Writings” would have produced “Scritti Politici, but was changed to sound like the Little Richard song Tutti Frutti.
From the David Bowie song “The Jean Genie”
“Hes so simple minded he can’t drive his module,
He bites on the neon and sleeps in the capsule”
The band’s name originally was “Red”, but when the singer had to repeatedly clarify their name as “Red, simply Red”, it seemed to stick.
A combination of the nickname of MC5′s Fred “Sonic” Smith with “Youth” from reggae artist Big Youth.
The name refers to many hangings at Spandau Prison where the victims would twitch and jump (a macabre ballet) at the end of a rope.
A facetious tribute to The Velvet Underground’s oft-derided 1973 album Squeeze.
Tears for Fears
Inspired by “primal therapy”, developed by American psychologist Arthur Janov, who had John Lennon as a patient in 1970.
From the Thompson and Thompson characters from The Adventures of TinTin
Named after a Vulcan Elder on Star Trek
Originally, Huang Chung which they claimed translated to “perfect pitch” and the sound a guitar makes. The spelling was changed from “Huang” to “Wang” simply to make it easier to pronounce.
… and there you have it. You’re welcome.
Pick any historical subject and the Internet will bring it to life before your eyes. If you’re interested in vaudeville, you’ll find videos galore, while college football scholars can browse Penn State’s 1924 yearbook, complete with all the players’ names and positions. And every day, more history keeps washing up. Not long ago the news went out that a Philadelphia woman named Marion Stokes had recorded 140,000 VHS tapes of local and national news from 1977 to her death in 2012. Her collection has been acquired by the Internet Archive, and soon it will trickle onto the web.
This omnipresence of the past has weird effects on contemporary culture.
Take any genre of music, from death metal to R&B to chillwave, and the cloud directs you not just to similar artists in the present but to deep wells of influence from the past…
TO Gambia, where the country’s President Yahya Jammeh says homosexuals are akin to malaria-causing mosquitoes. They are “vermin”.
“Allah entrusted this position to Yahya Jammeh, and anybody who is averse to the decree of Allah can bite their nose.”
Jammeh made his comments not in private, but over a TV address. saying:
“We will fight these vermins [sic] called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively.”
FLASHBACK to 30/09/1987: BBC Radio One Breakfast Show DJ Mike Smith (right) is joined by former presenters of the early-morning slot as the network celebrates its 20th anniversary. From left: Dave Lee Travis, Noel Edmonds, Tony Blackburn and Mike Read.
What happened next?
Thalidomide was marketed as the sedative that would alleviate morning sickness. It had been sold to unsuspecting pregnant women between 1958 and late 1961, when it was removed from the market following evidence it disrupted foetal development.
IN 2005, then 18-year-old Kayla Finley rented the film Monster In Law on VHS from Dalton Video. (The film stars Jennifer Lopez, who was the top star before Kim Kardashian’s arse overtook).
Last week, Kayla went to her local police station in Pickens, South Carolina, to tell the cops about a harassment and stalking matter.