Bem Bulletin #1: November 2014 – Julien Blanc, Building Castles and the Negative Dialectics of Myleene Klass

Clash of the titans

Clash of the titans

This month at Bem Towers: we lamented society’s magpie-materialism in the wake of the release of Apple’s iPhone 6; we got annoyed at blatant BBC bias as it stuck to its guns over excluding the Green Party from next year’s leaders’ debates; and in the third and final part of what we might as well call our Pretentious London Trilogy, we finished our politicised amble around the capital in the plutocrat’s den itself, Canary Wharf.

And, on the Bemolutionary turntable this month: wholesome wanky guitar music from the glorious Guitar Trio, in our continuing tribute to dear departed flamenco messiah Paco De Lucia; and squeaky banjo-communist Eugene Chadbourne, with his perennially relevant geopolitical ditty, ‘Dirt’.


In this month’s Bem Bulletin:

1. Welcome to the jungle/first Bem Bulletin

2. The Negative Dialectics of Myleene Klass

3. Julien Blanc, ‘Pickup Artist’

4. Big buildings, wastes of time, wastes of life


1. Welcome to the first Bem Bulletin! In the old, Further Education-related days, the then-embryonic Bemolution put out about two issues of the Bem Bulletin, a rubbish half-satirical newsletter filled with in-jokes written for and read by five people.

Ever on the lookout for ways to avoid having to think of anything original, we’re now nicking the name and sellotaping it to an entirely different concept – namely a new monthly blog feature in which we prod at mainstream news stories we haven’t got the time/mental stamina to cover in customary 1.5k-word shamblo-essay format. On the side, we’re also going recap what we’ve been writing this month and talk about what we’ve got lined up for next. Continue reading

Auntie and The Greens: BBC Bias and the Leaders’ Debates

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett flanked by Deputies Amelia Womack and Shahrar Ali

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett flanked by Deputies Amelia Womack and Shahrar Ali

The BBC’s handling of the Leaders’ Debates is obviously scandalous, but, given its past conduct, shouldn’t be surprising.

The BBC is refusing to let the Green Party in to the televised debates it’s planning in advance of next year’s General Election. Auntie has decided that Nigel Farage and his hard-right intifada are worthy of admission, and that Natalie Bennett’s Greens aren’t.

In a letter to the Green Party’s communications director, the BBC explained its reasoning: “UKIP has demonstrated a substantial increase in support since 2014 across a range of elections along with a consistent and robust trend across a full range of opinion polls; the Green Party had not demonstrated any comparable increase”.

Green supporters and assorted irked progressives responded: the Greens beat the Lib Dems in this year’s Euro elections, they argued, receiving 1.2m votes, 150,000 more than Clegg and co. They’re now polling neck-and-neck with the Liberals in opinion polls. The Greens are the fifth biggest party in the Scottish Assembly, and the third biggest in the London Assembly. Since January, membership of the Green Party of England and Wales has jumped 45%. They’ve had an MP in Parliament for nearly five years – UKIP have only had one for about five weeks.

We’re probably well in the minority in thinking the leaders’ debates are an awful development, further chiselling down what should be a vast, complex, citizenry-engaging discussion about how societies are run into a rubbish squabble over who gets the top job. They’re a stunningly shallow American export we never should’ve touched, and need scrapping immediately.

Almost inevitably, though, they’re here to stay. And if that’s the case, and some are going to feature upstart xenophobe Nigel Farage, of course they need to include the Greens, if not Plaid Cymru, the SNP, and RESPECT’s George Galloway too. Continue reading

Mediterranean Sundance (Paco de Lucia, Al di Meola and John McLaughlin)

Here’s a video of the Guitar Trio performing in its McLaughlin/de Lucia/di Meola configuration late on in its lifespan, this time at a benefit concert for War Child organised by superstar Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti. Musically, they’re not at their best – not at their best is still very, very good for musicians of this standard – but this video nicely shows off their contrasting styles, Paco’s clucking flamenco rhythm, the Mahavishnu’s burblingly fast Indian-influenced jazz-fusion, and di Meola’s melodic Latin-influenced lines. For the Trio at its mesmeric best, see the 1981 live album Friday Night in San Francisco.