Heathcote Williams

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I only learned about Heathcote Williams by seeing his obit today in The Guardian. What a remarkable man and mensch, polemicist, artist, author, and poet. I can’t believe that I did not know about him.

JULY 2 2017
From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heathcote_Williams (complete text at this link)

Heathcote Williams (15 November 1941 – 1 July 2017) was an English poet, actor, political activist and dramatist.He wrote a number of book-length polemical poems including Autogeddon, Falling for a Dolphin and Whale Nation, which in 1988 became, according to Philip Hoare “the most powerful argument for the newly instigated worldwide ban on whaling.”.Williams invented his idiosyncratic ‘documentary/investigative poetry’ style which he continues to put to good purpose bringing a diverse range of environmental and political matters to public attention. In June 2015, he published a book-length investigative poem about the ‘Muslim Gandhi’, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, ‘Badshah Khan’.

– Heathcote Williams, by and about https://www.youtube.com/user/Babylonroyal
Babylonroyal 144 videos > https://www.youtube.com/user/Babylonroyal
Exploring polemics through poetry and montage. Primarily inspired by Royal Babylon: The Case Against The Monarchy by Heathcote Williams

The Guardian, obit
Heathcote Williams, radical poet, playwright and actor, dies aged 75

His poems blasted the arms trade, consumerism and the tabloids, and he was also an accomplished painter and sculptor

Sunday 2 July 2017 08.54 EDT Last modified on Sunday 2 July 2017 17.00 EDT

Heathcote Williams, the radical poet, playwright, actor and polymathic English genius, has died at the age of 75. He had been ill for some time and died on Saturday in Oxford.

He was the author of many polemical poems, written over four decades in a unique documentary style. They included works about the devastation being wrought on the natural environment – Sacred Elephant, Whale Nation and Falling For a Dolphin – and Autogeddon, a grim and majestic attack on the car.

Williams also wrote several successful stage plays including AC/DC, which premiered at the Royal Court in 1969, and The Local Stigmatic, commissioned by Harold Pinter and revived in 2014 at the Old Red Lion Theatre in London on its 50th anniversary. His most recent play, Killing Kit, was about the life and death of Christopher Marlowe.

Scruffy on screen and off, Williams appeared in several films, often in cameo roles. He was a notable Prospero in Derek Jarman’s 1979 production of The Tempest. Other credits were Sally Potter’s arthouse Orlando, based on Virginia Woolf’s novel, and Hollywood’s Basic Instinct 2.

Williams was a very talented figure. He was an accomplished painter – his vivid works hung at the Oxford home he shared with his partner, Diana Senior – and sculptor. He was an impressive conjuror and a member of the Magic Circle. One of his TV plays, What the Dickens!, featured Dickens performing magic shows for children.

His literary output was prolific. It included a book on Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, published when he was 23, and in later life he wrote several poems a month, driven by news and current affairs. As mainstream publishers dried up, these appeared online as YouTube video montages, often narrated by the actors Alan Cox and Roy Hutchins.

At heart, Williams was a revolutionary. The historian Peter Whitfield placed his work in a “great tradition of visionary dissent” stretching from William Blake and John Ruskin to DH Lawrence and David Jones. His poems – blasting the arms trade, consumerism and the tabloids – were “wonderfully innocent” and at the same time “wonderfully streetwise”.

There were comparisons with Percy Bysshe Shelley, the subject of one of Williams’s later long poems, Shelley in Oxford, published in 2012. Both were rebels who wrote with passionate social anger. Like Shelley, Eton-educated Williams didn’t finish his Oxford degree.

In his 60s and 70s, Williams found it difficult to walk any great distance. This confinement did nothing to diminish his creative energies nor his anger at the direction in which society was going in the hucksterish era of Brexit, Boris Johnson and Donald Trump.

Williams retained his principled fury to the end. In 2016 he published Boris Johnson: The Blond Beast of Brexit – A Study in Depravity, an excoriating attack reprising the foreign secretary’s lies, evasion and adultery, sold as a pamphlet from the London Review of Books bookshop. Another work, Royal Babylon, lambasted the Queen.

His last volume of poetry about Trump, American Porn, was published in January. Williams wrote that Trump’s real name – Drumpf – “suggests dumbness, even the passing of wind/ As well as the merciful transience of fame.”


“…But as every previous generation of Americans understood, a truly open market is one of our fundamental democratic institutions.”

“Over the past four years of financial collapse, many of us have come to view markets as a fantastical scam: a giant mechanism geared to transfer our hard-earned dollars into the hands of a few select bankers. And when it comes to the Wall Street markets we rely on to trade our equities and debt and commodities, this sentiment is not all wrong.
But as every previous generation of Americans understood, a truly open market is one of our fundamental democratic institutions. We construct such markets to achieve some of our most basic rights: to deal with whom we choose, to work with whom we choose, to govern our communities and nation as we (along with our neighbors) choose.”From http://harpers.org/archive/2012/02/0083788

#history #education #politics #ows #monopoly #antitrust #teddyroosevelt

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Clickable news map of Middle East

(From http://www.washingtonpost.com, Feb 21 2011)
“Middle East in turmoil

Anti-government protests are spreading rapidly through the Middle East and North Africa. Use this chart to keep up with all of the demonstrations, day by day. ” Click on the country name tabs below the map to read more.

Hosni Mubarak, no longer living in de- Nile

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p4njL-3k

I predicted he’d do it by Feb 9. I was a little off. Sudan still in the hands of ex-dictator’s right hand man. i dont think the Egyptians are gonna let anything like that happen to them, no mubarak jr, no usa/approved bullshit and whoever leads is NOT going to get Lumumba’d (new wrd).  Inch’allah, there will be no Ford to pardon this asshole, but I don’t care, becos I don’t think he’s gonna be able to fly the coop w/ billions to Switzerland. Hundreds of lawyers and doctors flooding the streets of Cairo, wow, how cool. I made another prediction back when the Internet was a baby, that it was the most important event since the printing press and people looked at me like I was crazy. My hopes have always been that the Net would set the world free. Governments are gonna have a harder and harder time covering their pathetic scrawny ugly butts. The Internet is the AntiBigBrother. Now if we can just figure out global warming, overpopulation and the dying planet, we may look forward to the next 7 generations. VENCEREMOS!

Talking Atomic Blues: “…All men could be cremated equal”

Talking Atomic Blues
(Vern Partlow)

I'm gonna preach you all a sermon 'bout Old Man Atom,
And I don't mean the Adam in the Bible datum.
I don't mean the Adam Mother Eve mated,
I mean the thing that science liberated.
You know Einstein said he was scared,
And if he's scared, brother, I'm scared.

Yes, life used to be such a simple joy.
The cyclotron was a super toy,
Folks got born, they'd work and marry,
And "atom" was a word in the dictionary;
And then it happened. . . .

These science guys, from every clime
They all pitched in with overtime.
Before you knew it, the job was done;
They'd hitched up the power of the doggone Sun,
Splitting atoms, right and left,
While the diplomats . . .
Were splitting hairs . . .

Then the cartel crowd up and put on a show,
They're gonna turn back the clock on the UNO.
Grab a corner on atoms and maybe extinguish
Every damn atom that can't speak English.
Down with foreign-born atoms!
America for American atoms!
Step right up, folks, and let's atomize world peace.  .  .

Ah, but the atom's international, in spite of hysteria,
Flourishes in Utah, also in Siberia.
He don't care about politics
Or who got what into whichever fix.
All he wants to do is sit around . . .
And have his nucleus bombarded by neutrons.

Yes, it's up to the people; the atom don't care.
You can't fence him in; he's just like air.
And whether you're white, black, red or brown,
The question is this, when you boil it down,
To be or not to be!
That is the question. . .

And the answer to it all ain't military datum,
Like "Who gets there fustest with the mostest atoms,"
But the people of the world must decide their fate,
We got to stick together or disintegrate.
We hold these truths to be self-evident:
All men
Could be cremated equal.

Copyright Bibo Music Publishers, 1950

OM on the range Or: The Shortest Peoples’ History of the United States

(10 points for each correct answer, 2 bonus questions)

Multiple choice:

  1. Was The Cuban Missile Crisis about Pearl Harbor? The Main?
  2. Were the invasions of Panama and Granada about Pearl Harbor? Protecting Our Backyard? Godless Communism?
  3. Was Desert Storm about Pearl Harbor? Oil?
  4. Is the war in Iraq about 9/11? Pearl Harbor? Oil?
  5. Was the Vietnam war about the Gulf of Tonkin? Pearl Harbor? Godless Communism? Oil?
  6. Was the Korean War about Godless Communism? Pearl Harbor? Oil?
  7. Was World War Two about Pearl Harbor? A Very Bad Man? You’re sure it wasn’t Pearl Harbor?
  8. Was World War One about Pearl Harbor? World War Two?
  9. Was The Spanish American War about The Main? Pearl Harbor? Yellow Journalism? Patty Hearst? William Randolph Hearst? Teddy’s Height Problem?
  10. Was The Civil War about Pearl Harbor? Slavery? Sudden Onset Indignation?
  11. Was the eradication of Native Americans about Pearl Harbor? Iron Horses? Buffalo? Rampant greed? Poor Hygiene?
  12. Was American Revolution about Pearl Harbor? Boston Harbor?

This is an open book test because that’s the only kind you can pass. You will find all your answers here, good luck.

AmericaAllen Ginsberg

America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.
I can’t stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb
I don’t feel good don’t bother me.
I won’t write my poem till I’m in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I’m sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.
Burroughs is in Tangiers I don’t think he’ll come back it’s sinister.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?
I’m trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
America stop pushing I know what I’m doing.
America the plum blossoms are falling.
I haven’t read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for
America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies.
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid and I’m not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet.
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there’s going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Marx.
My psychoanalyst thinks I’m perfectly right.
I won’t say the Lord’s Prayer.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I still haven’t told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over
from Russia.

I’m addressing you.
Are you going to let our emotional life be run by Time Magazine?
I’m obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore.
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
It’s always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie
producers are serious. Everybody’s serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am America.
I am talking to myself again.

Asia is rising against me.
I haven’t got a chinaman’s chance.
I’d better consider my national resources.
My national resources consist of two joints of marijuana millions of genitals
an unpublishable private literature that goes 1400 miles and hour and
twentyfivethousand mental institutions.
I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of underpriviliged who live in
my flowerpots under the light of five hundred suns.
I have abolished the whorehouses of France, Tangiers is the next to go.
My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I’m a Catholic.

America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?
I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as individual as his
automobiles more so they’re all different sexes
America I will sell you strophes $2500 apiece $500 down on your old strophe
America free Tom Mooney
America save the Spanish Loyalists
America Sacco & Vanzetti must not die
America I am the Scottsboro boys.
America when I was seven momma took me to Communist Cell meetings they
sold us garbanzos a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the
speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the
workers it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the party
was in 1935 Scott Nearing was a grand old man a real mensch Mother
Bloor made me cry I once saw Israel Amter plain. Everybody must have
been a spy.
America you don’re really want to go to war.
America it’s them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.
The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia’s power mad. She wants to take
our cars from out our garages.
Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Reader’s Digest. her wants our
auto plants in Siberia. Him big bureaucracy running our fillingstations.
That no good. Ugh. Him makes Indians learn read. Him need big black niggers.
Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help.
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?
I’d better get right down to the job.
It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts
factories, I’m nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.


More about emailing Al Gore

Some of this won’t make sense unless you read my previous Gore posts, btw.

My techie friends point out that email FORMS pop-up when you click on “contact us” in many websites because it helps them help you by getting vital info up-front, while helping them help them to “harvest” (love that term!) information about the sender. Well, in Mr. Gore’s case, even that was not available.

At any rate, we certainly are seeing a new Al here (I still think it’s not to late for him to drop some quality Sandoz product and REALLY not take it anymore). He’s been instrumental in the creation of the new billion dollar prize for a global warming solution, and although I have not seen it yet (my bad, I know) I think I’m on terra firma in opining that “An Inconveniant Truth” is the most compelling (popular/non-academic) case yet made for the FACT and CRITICAL NATURE of global warming.

Which brings me to talking about Hillary Clinton’s latest response to why she voted for the war in Iraq. Allow me to summarize her response (minus the firm voice and steely girl-scout gaze):

“Well…uh…I jes thought…uh…my gawd…mah president is tellin’ me that these ayrabs have weppuns of mass destruction and …uh…well jeez…mah own husband wuz a presidaint oncet…so I couldn’t imagine that any presidaint could tell a lie!!! So..uh…of course I voted for the war appropriations.”

Oh what a bunch of brainless fuckwads we are….To listen to this horseshit, to allow all three branches of “government” to get gang raped by neo-nazi hooligans (not that the rapees aren’t scum too), to allow TWO elections to be stolen, to allow the camel of religion back under the tent (first the nose, then the hump), to send hundreds of thousands of people to unbelievably cruel deaths and maiming and loss, and to have the unmitigated conceitedness to worry a thousand times more for “our” dead and wounded vs. “their” dead and wounded, and perhaps most egregiously of all, to sanction by innaction an educational system that educates just enough people to keep the military/industrial complex alive while allowing 99% percent of the population to “graduate” from high school, college and university with just enough information to do their jobs and still not be able to find the US on a world map.

An hour ago, I heard (on demacracynow.org) a US senator say that he had no idea that the World Bank countenanced the sell-out of poor nations’ debts for pennies on the dollar. And I believe the poor bastard…he did not know…just like poor Hillary didn’t know.

Preaching to the choir.

This is my original (unedited by the editors) letter to the editor, in response to “1968 and all that” (Maurice Isserman), Reed Magazine, Winter 2007

I take issue with some of Maurice’s perspective on the hippies/politicos dichotomy in his fascinating article “1968 and all that.”


As a preface, I address this to issues at Reed as reflected in the World Outside.

Maurice states: “…we discovered to our dismay that most of our fellow Reedies failed to show much interest in joining us at the barricades in a replay of the 1968 Columbia Strike. Reed SDS neither enrolled nor spoke for most students. One problem (sic) was that the campus harbored many more hippies than it did politicos. To the outside world, the two groups may have been indistinguishable, but at Reed each knew how they differed from the other camp (…) for the hippies it was a revolution in consciousness and spirit, as in “you’d better free your mind instead.”

If, as he says, many in the “youth movement” of that time looked indistinguishable to earlier generations, it was not just that they (we) dressed similarly and wore long hair, beards and so on, it’s that there was a significant gray zone between what it was to be a “hippy” vs. “politico.” Was Arlo Guthrie a political or a hippy? Alan Ginsberg? And don’t throw Tim Leary at me, OK? That’s not fair.

Just because one did not join SDS or PRYM did not make one not political (sorry about the triple negative). If you wore the hippy/left drag of the day, it could be safely taken as rather reliable a priori statement about one’s political convictions. At that time and place, you were pretty much on target in believing that most most of us who were called “hippies,” whether members of the above or related political organizations or not, were indeed actively against the war. The marches and day to day protests were fueled by many more people than the relatively small faction of “activists” that Maurice refers to.

Many years back, Marlena Smith (political commentator on radio free KBOO, 90.7 on your FM dial), did a broadcast where she read an article about the world’s debt to hippies (not SDS, hippies). I found it to be a very moving, concise and articulate statement. Maybe someone can Google it or ask Marlena, but I just want to step up to the plate and say that the politico-social matrix was more complex than what he describes.

Whether one was more on the “hippy” or “political” side of things was the result of a complex of social phenomena. Social background, class and education affected which end of the spectrum people settled into (then as now). But one thing is sure, self-identified “hippies” like myself didn’t just sit around smoking banana leaves and worshiping George Harrison.

The SDS did not stop the war on their own, hundreds of thousands of frustrated, angry, peace-loving, militant, druggy, non-druggy, long haired, short haired, outraged, GI Joe’s Clothes wearing, paisley-clothed wearing young people, plus many from earlier generations, marched, fought and went to jail stopped the war. These same people promoted and advanced every other progressive issue that we still deal with today.

Furthermore, if more people did not identify with the politics of SDS and related organizations, it may be because some of those who did not join certain organizations did not have to wait 30 years to be disaffected by a lot of the attitudes, beliefs and narrow-mindedness of “The Left.”

If The Left traditionally factionalizes over “nothing,” this perception that Maurice espouses that many were called but few were chosen (ie. politically correct and not hippies) is an example of why Leftish politicos were and are so ineffective so often: they preach to the converted, unlike say, the Black Panthers.

(A side note: I worked on the successor “underground paper” to the “Willamette Bridge” alluded to in the article, called the “Portland Scribe” for which Maurice wrote many excellent articles. I believe that both these underground papers were published by Michael and Mary Wells. I’m not sure whether they were SDS members, I rather doubt it. Just a thought).

Frank Poliat, ’70