2016 was terrible – but not for the reasons you think

For billions of human beings, Brexit, Trump and dead celebrities are the least of their worries

pay-the-celebs-who-died-in-2016-as-sergeant-peppers-lonely-hearts-club-album-cover
That viral Sgt Pepper’s 2016 picture that’s since had to be updated about twelve times

A year that started with the death of David Bowie and ended with Donald Trump as President Elect was never going to go down well. The ‘curse of 2016’ narrative surfaced early. Famous faces were kicking the bucket by the busload. Fascist-looking right-wing populism was on the rise. By now, as people look back on Trump, Brexit and a frankly surreal procession of celebrity deaths, talk of that ‘curse’ has hardened into a more blunt and straight to the point social media catchphrase — ‘fuck 2016’.

What it proves, more than anything, is our catastrophic insularity — our short-sightedness, our fixation with the trivial, and our profound detachment from suffering elsewhere in the world. Is it a shame some talented people have died? Yes. Is it terrible that far-right rhetoric is winning elections. Yes. Continue reading “2016 was terrible – but not for the reasons you think”

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Bem Bulletin #3 – January 2015: Malawi Floods, Boko Haram & SYRIZA

SYRIZA

This month: we reflected on society’s erratic internationalism in the wake of the outcry over the Charlie Hedbo massacre; we tried to excuse our abysmal taste in bad action films with dubious politics; and we presented a nice bit of pragmatic radicalism from the mouth of Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias.

… And on the musical front: delightfully odd bedfellows, schmaltz-pop guitar wizard Les Paul with Mary Ford, and West Country weirdo PJ Harvey.


In this month’s Bem Bulletin:

1. 2015

2. Malawi Flood

3. Boko Haram Massacre, Nigeria

4. SYRIZA Continue reading “Bem Bulletin #3 – January 2015: Malawi Floods, Boko Haram & SYRIZA”

Coffin For The Head Of State (Fela Kuti)

In February 1978, a small polygamists’ commune-cum-recording studio in Lagos, Nigeria, was attacked then burnt to the ground by a thousand soldiers loyal to President General Olusegun Obasanjo. During the assault, troops threw a 77 year-old woman out of a second floor window, and after eight weeks in a coma she unsurprisingly succumbed to her injuries. She was Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, venerable women’s’ rights campaigner and the first Nigerian woman to legally drive a car. She was also the mother of the owner and founder of the compound, musician, composer, Afrobeat trail-blazer, and outrageously individual political dissident Fela Kuti. Continue reading “Coffin For The Head Of State (Fela Kuti)”