Monday, February 06, 2006

Denounce This Royal Line

When Younous Kathrada, an imam who preaches at the Dar Al-Madinah Islamic Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia, called the Jews "the brothers of the monkey and swine", well, I had no real problems with that. Yes, I'm sure he would be relieved to hear this, right? I don't agree with the man, by the way, but I like living in a society which lives, ideally, by a certain standard. Free speech? Then free speech for everyone, no exceptions. The point is not what the standard is, but that the standard is maintained.

What I have a problem with is the Islamic response to the same kind of insults against Islam. Killing a Roman Catholic priest? Burning down Danish embassies (the moronic arsonists also casually burned down the non-offending Chilean and Swedish embassies, by the way). Using guns and taking over the EU office in Palestine? All this, THREE MONTHS AFTER THE INSULT WAS FIRST KNOWN? So what this means is, the bully is allowed to call the other kids names, but if the other kids insult him, well, he's going to chop their heads off. A professor of mine, an exile from Baghdad, used to say, "Allah is infinite justice and infinite mercy". The Muslim response to the Danish newspaper's insults have made a mockery of that professor's words.Islam has no standards, it moves the standard to suit itself. Islam is now synonymous with hypocrisy and fear-mongering. Islam is a shame to the nations of Arabia.

"I Will See You In Far-Off Places" + Morrissey
"Dear God, Please Help Me" + Morrissey

The very last track on the new Morrissey release is reportedly called "At Last I Am Born". Nice to see the man is keeping up the great tradition of the British confessional—circa 1870, that is, or whenever Dickens was cranking out those huge birth-to-desolate-marriage slash semi-autobiographical novels, which, by the way, reminds me that it's sort of sad to see the singer abandon his Liberal-hearted Wilde for the more Socialist Dickens, although that's what is bound to happen when you gain an audience of the underprivileged (read "Latino") like this man has found in what has now been officially renamed Moz Angeles. You know, I can write lines like that all day. The only thing that could possibly be more inflated than a sentence like that is one of the Moz Master's songs, or two of them, then, off his new CD. And I'm not that keen on either song. The first tune is like the worst parts of Quarry, great guitars and soaring vocals really not making up for the sloppy focus of the lyrics, and the second tune, while better than the first, could still be SO MUCH better. Don't get me wrong, emo is amazing, and everyone, I think, will be rightly eating this second single up (it's not bad, it IS good)—it's just that Morrissey can shine so much brighter than the Starbucks version of himself that he's currently selling. I'm not against new Morrissey (I thought "Irish Blood, English Heart" was a genuinely great song, great tune, great lyricology, even better when it came to "First Of The Gang"), I'm not even against laziness or self-parody or so-called selling out. I'm just against music done on the cheap and sold as gold. I'm against buying B-sides packaged as A-listers. Stephen Patrick Morrissey, I love you, please let the rest of your CD contain some really great tracks, even if it's only one track, at least one.

The Simple Art Of Murder + Raymond Chandler There appears to be a lot of versions of this book out there. The version I'm reading was published by Hamish Hamilton, Ltd., copyright 1950. It contains a short introduction by the author, then "Finger Man", "Smart-Aleck Kill", "Pick-Up On Noon Street", "The King In Yellow", "Pearls Are A Nuisance", "Nevada Gas", "Spanish Blood", and the essay, "The Simple Art Of Murder". Just a note, for now, on the very first story, "Finger Man": in a brief passage which puts my ranting to shame, Marlowe observes—

I didn't say anything. I was way past the age when it's fun to swear at people you can't hurt.

I like Philip Marlowe. I think we all like the man. He's balanced, he keeps a cool head, he turns his anger on other people only when it's the right thing to do, the last thing to be done. Everybody is guilty in "Finger Man" That's not important. Everybody is always guilty in Marlowe's California, even Marlowe. The point is the standard. The standard must be maintained. Criminal is one thing, hypocrisy a very much worse thing, betrayal the worst of all. What to do, then? Down those mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, right? Marlowe is the hero (he goes by other names in this collection, but he is always a hero), and Chandler is the author who creates him. In whose image, I idly wonder?

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