micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links

Welcome to the musings and notes of a Cadillac, Michigan based writer named Micah Holmquist, who is bothered by his own sarcasm.

Please send him email at micahth@chartermi.net.

Holmquist's full archives are listed here.

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Sites Holmquist trys, and often fails, to go no more than a couple of days without visiting (some of which Holmquist regularly swipes links from without attribution)

Aljazeera.Net English
AlterNet (War on Iraq)
Alternative Press Review
Always Low Prices -- Always
Another Irani online
antiwar.com (blog)
Asia Times Online
Axis of Logic
Baghdad Burning (riverbend)
BBC News
blogdex.net ("track this weblog")
The Christian Science Monitor (Daily Update)
Common Dreams
Daily Rotten
Democracy Now
The Drudge Report
Eat the Press (Harry Shearer, The Huffington Post)
Empire Notes (Rahul Mahajan)
frontpagemag.com (HorowitzWatch)
Guardian Unlimited
The Independent
Information Clearing House
Informed Comment (Juan Cole)
Iranians for Peace

Iraq Dispatches (Dahr Jamail)
Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation
Iraq Occupation and Resistance Report (Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice)
Mr. Show and Other Comedy
The Narco News Bulletin (blog)
The New York Times
Occupation Watch
Political Theory Daily Review
Press Action
Project Syndicate
Raed in the Middle (Raed Jarrar)
The Simpsons Archive
Simpsons Collector Sector
Technorati ("search for mth.blogspot.com")
United States Central Command
U.S. Embassy Baghdad, Iraq
War Report (Project on Defense Alternatives)
The Washington Post
Wildfire (Jo Wilding)
wood s lot
www.mnftiu.cc (David Rees)

Blogs that for one reason or another Holmquist would like to read on at least something of a regular basis (always in development)

Thivai Abhor
As'ad AbuKhalil
Ken Adrian
Christopher Allbritton
Douglas Anders
Mark W. Anderson
Aziz Ansari
Atomic Archive
James Benjamin
Elton Beard
Charlie Bertsch
alister black
Blame India Watch
Blog Left: Critical Interventions Warblog / war blog
Igor Boog
Martin Butler
Chris Campbell
James M. Capozzola
Avedon Carol
Elaine Cassel
cats blog
Jeff Chang
Margaret Cho
Citizens Of Upright Moral Character
Louis CK
Les Dabney
Natalie Davis
Scoobie Davis
The Day Job
Jodi Dean
Dominic Duval
Steve Earle
Daniel Ellsberg
Tom Engelhardt
Lisa English
Barbara Flaska
Brian Flemming
Joe Foster
Yoshie Furuhashi
Al Giordano
Rob Goodspeed
Grand Puba
Guardian Unlimited Weblog
Pete Guither
The Hairy Eyeball
Ray Hanania
Mark Hand
Hector Rottweiller Jr's Web Log Jim Henley Arvin Hill Hit & Run (Reason) Hugo Clark Humphrey Indri The Iraqi Agora Dru Oja Jay Jeff Lynne d Johnson Dallas Jones Julia Kane Blues Benjamin Kepple Ken Layne Phil Leggiere Brian Linse Adam Magazine Majority Report Radio Marc Maron Josh Marshall Jeralyn Merritt J.R. Mooneyham Michael Scott Moore Bob Morris Bob Mould Mr. Show and Tell Muslims For Nader/Camejo David Neiwert NewPages Weblog Aimee Nezhukumatathil Sean O'Brien Patton Oswalt The Panda's Thumb Randy Paul Rodger A. Payne Ian Penman politx Neal Pollack Greg Proops Pro-War.com Pure Polemics Seyed Razavi Rayne Simon Reynolds richardpryor.com Clay Richards Mike Rogers Yuval Rubinstein
Steven Rubio
Saragon Noah Shachtman Court Schuett The Simpsons Archive Amardeep Singh Sam Smith Soundbitten Jack Sparks Ian Spiers Morgan Spurlock Stand Down: The Left-Right Blog Opposing an Invasion of Iraq Aaron Stark Morgaine Swann Tapped (The American Prospect) tex Matthew Tobey Annie Tomlin Tom Tomorrow The University Without Condition Jesse Walker Warblogger Watch Diane Warth The Watchful Babbler The Weblog we have brains Matt Welch
Alex Whalen
Jon Wiener
Lizz Winstead
James Wolcott
Wooster Collective
Mickey Z

Friday, February 28, 2003
Who defanged "London Calling"?

Sunday, for the first time in my life, I watched the Grammy Awards. O.k. I didn't watch the whole telecast. I consider awards for artistic endeavors that have more than one judge to be pointless since tastes are so different between people. And I certainly didn't watch it to see the likes of Eminem or Kid Rock perform. Instead I watched a few minutes of it for the expected tribute to the late great Clash frontman Joey Strummer.

Near the end of the show, the screen was filled with the names and pictures of important people in the music business who passed away in the last year. The very last fallen individual was Strummer, which cued nicely to the unmistakable opening riffs of the Mick Jones/Strummer classic "London Calling."

"This one's for Joe," said Bruce Springsteen before he, Elvis Costello, David Grohl and Steven Van Zandt traded verses on a ferocious version of "London Calling" that also featured Tony Kanal of No Doubt on bass and drummer Pete Thomas. This wasn’t a time for a reworking and this version was true to the original, which wasn't a given due to the undeniable temptation for sentiment over anger. Yet the song here had all of the power of the original. Van Zandt's sloppy snarling of the line "An' you know what they said? Well, some of it was true!" perfectly conveyed the message. In a better world, this performance would have sparked far more discussion than the Michael Jackson freak and joke show.

But in this world the song barely registered. If Matt Drudge is to be believed, CBS -the television network broadcasting the Grammys- was worried that that ceremony would turn into a festival of artists condemning the escalation of the U.S.’ war with Iraq and Sheryl Crow says she was warned by the Grammys to not make anti-war statements. All of this and yet the an anti-militarist song like "London Calling" didn't register as such. Robert A. George of The National Review, for instance, covered the ceremony and noted the performance of "London Calling" yet didn't include it in his round-up of the anti-war sentiments expressed on the show.

It would be easy to blame this on the fact that "London Calling" was, with Strummer's permission, recently farmed out for automobile commercials where the context was hardly clear. How, after all, is it possible to take a political message seriously from an artist shilling a product unrelated to their art? "You do a commercial, you're off the artistic roll call forever," Bill Hicks, who passed away nine years ago Wednesday, once said. "If you do a commercial, there's a price on your head, everything you say is suspect."

I was tempted to go along with this explanation until I remembered reading another Clash song, "Rock The Casbah," being interpreted as pro-U.S. military intervention in the Middle East merely because it was critical of the policies of Arab governments. The public often does not grapple with the obvious meanings of the songs they like. The most notable example where this happened is Springsteen's "Born in the USA." Perhaps it is possible that those who didn't see anything political about the performance of "London Calling" at the Grammys just didn't understand what the song was about.

But the more I think about this matter, the more I have to believe a third explanation is most accurate. Despite the politics involved with Strummer's public persona, he was still very much a musician and that is how the public reacted to his death this past December. It wasn't seen as a loss from the world of politics but rather from the world of music. It thus should come as not surprise that this performance of "London Calling" was not viewed as tribute to a musical figure, which of course does not necessarily bring up the issue of politics.

Still, this fate is more than a touch tad. Music surely can't spur revolution but it should at least be able to convey a specific message. If it doesn't do that, it is nothing but mere "entertainment."

(For another look at the "London Calling" Strummer tribute, read this post by Steven Rubio.)