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The Red Pill

theredpill

A controversial new work from Blake Nelson

Blake Nelson’s latest adult novel The Red Pill (2019) describes how a liberal advertising exec is slowly sucked into alt-right circles after accepting dating advice from his truck driving brother-in-law, Rob. Martin Harris, newly divorced at 40, is an advertising exec with roots in New York. However, hapless Martin has been out of the dating scene for a while and now has trouble meeting women in the current feminist ‘me too’ climate. Martin fumbles about the dating pool and when Tinder fails, he cautiously accepts advice from his Trump-supporting brother-in-law, Rob.  Martin is unconvinced by these ‘go-for-it’ dating strategies, however, he soon finds that his dating life is improving as he starts to utilize the techniques set out by Pick-up Artists in the ‘manosphere.’  Martin thrilled in his new successes, soon finds that Trump’s astounding victory in the elections is putting a damper on his newly found dating successes. The Red Pill addresses the chasm between feminism and the sexual revolution of the past.

Blake also addresses what it means to be ‘Red Pilled’.  Red Pillers prefer the gritty, painful, ugly truth; and a popular theme with this crowd is the idea that men who want sex should “just go for it” set against a world of resistance and ‘me-too’. The red pill sector tends to be more radically right.

So much for Martin’s clumsy attempts at dating. Martin himself is offended by the blogs as he begins to peruse these for dating techniques. The Red Pill term describes a loose group of political activities with extremist leanings that focus on men’s rights, and this is the world Martin stumbles into. This community feels oppressed by the left-liberal society and sees feminism as a myth. Sat at his desk at work, he quickly turns off the computer and clears the browser history, trying to make sure that all offensive material has been erased. Once he is sure it is clear, he feels he can safely leave the room and heads to the loo to wash the stench off. Martin’s social life then gets thrown a spanner in the works due to the recent conflict between Left-liberal feminism and Trump’s America, and it is this conflict that results in his world view becoming no longer sustainable in his own mind.

Martin falls deeper and deeper into the manosphere where he is making gains sexually by employing their techniques for dating and leans ever further toward right-wing views from this predominantly male blogging community. Juxtaposed with this is the radical left-liberal feminism of the young women, he is attempting to connect with, particularly predominant in a place like hipster Portland. Blake balances this dissonance, against the backdrop of the Trump Presidency, which threw a large proportion of the left feminists and other ultra-liberal groups into full panic mode, depression, anger, and shocked disbelief as they stood on the precipice of this disturbing abyss. It is this split that occurs very much down male/female lines, where the majority of women, angrily stand hand in hand, dead set against Trump’s misogynistic worldview.

While Nelson normally writes in the young adult genre, generally locating these stories in or near Portland, a city he is well acquainted with, this book is more focused on adult themes. It perceptively addresses dating in the current socio and political climate in a society that is very divided. This fiction is based on the hostile socio-political world of Trump vs the ‘Woke,’  which Martin is drawn into and affected by, ultimately to his cost.

You can buy The Red Pill here.

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The Havering Post

The Havering Post.  Double-sided A4.  Colour.  March 2019.  Available in pdf form from Facebook/Independent Havering: https://www.facebook.com/groups/499768197023360/

THE HAVERING POST is a local publication produced in support of several Residents Association groups & independent parties in the London Borough of Havering.  Havering would have been part of Essex before it was transferred to London by the London Government Act 1963.  This same act effectively created what is now known as Greater London as it abolished the administrative county of Middlesex and also absorbed parts of Kent, Surrey and Hertfordshire.

The Facebook site of Independent Havering – https://www.facebook.com/groups/499768197023360/about/ – informs us that it is ‘a pressure group campaigning to maintain and improve our borough’s quality of life.  It aims to lobby and hold national and, especially, local Government and bodies to account for their actions.  In the event of a future independent/RA Council it would aim to work closely with them to ensure promises are delivered but also have their ‘back’ if so.’

The Independent Havering group appears to be very well organised with lots of local ‘grassroots’ support.  In fact, the last local council elections (held in May 2018) nearly saw them sweep away 17 years of Tory rule in the borough.  Bizarrely four Residents Association councillors, who were elected on a anti-Tory ticket, later jumped ship to support the Tories.  One later went on to join the Tory Party itself.  Even more bizarrely, all Labour councillors seem to support the Tory administration!

It should come as no surprise then, that issue 1 of the Havering Post (HP) examines the question of ‘democracy denied’ at both a local and national level.  Refreshingly, however, as well as pointing out how democracy can be turned on its head, it also notes that future issues will ‘look at Proportional Representation, a ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) option on ballot papers, Referendums, Preferendums and Voter Recall.’

As noted above, the Havering Post (which is written to a Daily Mail standard) looks at national and local cases whereby the electorate has been cheated.

As its national example it cites the case of what used to be known as The Independent Group (TIG).  It was founded earlier this year when disgruntled pro-EU Tory and Labour MPs quit their respective parties.  Counter Culture readers may recall that, at the time, these MPs came across as very ‘high and mighty.’  However, as the HP notes, despite being elected as Labour or Tory candidates they ‘all refused to resign their seats and intend to stand as candidates for TIG in any subsequent by-elections.  In doing so, they have shown that they have no morals or honour.’

The paper then looks at the denial of democracy in Havering itself.  As described earlier, several Residents Associations (RA) and Independent groups had united under the ‘Independent Havering’ banner and were really giving the Tories a run for their money.  Thus began the political shenanigans.  As the Havering Post notes:

‘Things were so tight that the local Tories had do some horse trading.  It appears that some Residents Association and Independent councillors were approached by the Conservative Party and were offered positions to help them to set up a Havering Council Administration. In the event, four of them jumped ship.  Known as the ‘Back Stabbers’, they are Michael-Deon Burton (who even joined the Tory Party), Brian Eagling, Martin Goode and Darren Wise.’

The rather thoughtful (and insightful) remarks of one local voter are also quoted.  In part, he or she declares that:

“It’s not like they defected half way through their term, but on the first day. This cannot continue – some judicial review needs to be put in place to stop councillors swapping sides. I am totally disgusted. They have no morals.

I find it a personal insult to hear that some people in the RA and Independent coalition feel it is OK to lie to us, your electorate, by way of selling their soul to the Conservatives, just so they can form a majority party to lead our council. 

I can assure you I will personally do my best to make sure that the people in those wards know full well what they voted for. If we the electorate wanted to be lied to, we would vote Labour or Conservatives.’”

The idea of some legislation being brought into place (to stop elected officials jumping ship) is interesting.  The HP declares that those who switch sides ‘are guilty – at the very least – of betrayal and bad faith. Some may say that they’re also guilty of deliberately deceiving voters.’

Whatever the case, those with honour ‘would do the right thing’ and promptly resign their seat and fight a by-election under their new colours.  To date, none of the Havering ‘Back Stabbers’ nor the TIG MPs have done so.  Depending on the circumstances, it sadly doesn’t really say much for the calibre of those elected officials who turn their backs on their policies, manifestos and the people who campaigned so hard to get them elected.  Is it any wonder why so many people feel disconnected from the political system?

To sum up, the Havering Post provides a robust defence of real democracy.  It highlights the failings of democracy (giving local and national examples) but presents a well-argued case for more – and not less – democracy.  This is particularly apt given present circumstances whereby the establishment ignores the democratic will of the people, if it goes against the interests of the establishment – à la Brexit!

Hopefully issue 2 will be in the offering soon.  No doubt it’ll concentrate on local affairs, but as stated earlier, future issues ‘of the Havering Post will examine other ways in which we can make both national and local politics more representative of the people. Thus we’ll look at Proportional Representation, a ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) option on ballot papers, Referendums, Preferendums and Voter Recall.’  What’s being proposed here seems to be a purer form of democracy based on participation as opposed to representation.  Here, popular participation (a form of personal self-determination whereby voters exercise action and responsibility) will replace the current system of handing over power and responsibility to others.  With the political air full of doom, gloom and negativity, it’ll be refreshing to read something that’s extremely positive and forward looking.

Reviewed by John Jenkins

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And They Played Shang-A-Lang

andtheyplayedshangalangEdinburgh Little Theatre
At: Hill Street Theatre.
12:25pm until 25 August.

“And They Played Shang-A-Lang” is a rip-roaring musical comedy that takes us through life, love, and death with a musical soundtrack from the 1970s.

It opens with a young woman mourning the untimely death of her uncle and turning to read the memoirs of his childhood. The uncle then appears as narrator and takes the audience through a roller-coaster account of his growing-up during a decade well remembered for its music. We experience such landmarks as the school disco and nativity play, girls and boys going through the awkwardness of asking for a first dance, family gathering at Hogmanay and how we lose those family members over time. While at times poignant, the overall feel of this show is vibrant and happy and the music and energy of the cast easily got members of the audience clapping, tapping their feet and singing along to numbers by groups including Queen, Abba, Sweet, and The Bay City Rollers.

Not everyone will be old enough to get the references to Argentina 1978 or the food and drink of those times but that should be no barrier to enjoying this production!

The actors in this show deserve praise for a fine performance which encompassed acting, singing, and dancing.

If you are looking for a lunchtime show this Fringe event should be high on your list.

Reviewed by David Andrews

#edinburghfringe2019 #edinburghfringe

You can buy tickets here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/w…/and-they-played-shang-a-lang

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Memories of Hoxton, Shoreditch, East London

hoxton-street-300x199

Hoxton Market – like much of inner East London – has changed considerably over the years.  

I WAS born and bred in East London.  Despite not living there for many years now, there’s no mistaking my accent.  Like any Cockney, I still drop my ‘h’ when speaking and pronounce anything that starts with ‘th’ as an f.  Thus, thirteen become ‘firteen’ and thirty becomes ‘firty’.  I still use a lot of slang words and whilst I’ve lost a lot of backslang (I haven’t spoken it in around 35 years and would probably need to sit down and write much of it out these days!) talking in double negatives – “I ain’t never going to do that again”– makes perfect sense to me.  To be really honest, I have trouble understanding people with posh or ‘plummy’ accents and really have to concentrate on what they’re saying!

So why am I telling you all this?

The main reason is that a little while ago I came across an excellent Facebook site called Memories of Hoxton, Shoreditch which you can check out here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/46495127566/  It has nearly 6,000 members and it encourages them to post ‘memories or photos of growing up in Hoxton’ – although folks are asked not put up anything about football, politics and religion as they often cause arguments!

When I was growing up, Hoxton was only about a five minute walk away from where I lived.  I spent many hours in the general area – and specifically in Hoxton Market where I worked for a couple of years as a barrow boy on an egg stall.

Before I got the job I was very familiar with the market itself.  It consisted of a wide variety of shops (from funeral parlours to pie & mash shops) as well as stalls that seemed to sell everything under the sun.  There was even a Woolworths – remember them?!!

Like many youngsters who grew up in the mid to late 60s, it was more or less obligatory to help my mum with the errands.  (This was way before the weekly shop to a massive out-of-town supermarket became the norm – indeed, from memory, the nearest supermarket at the time was a Tesco’s at Ridley Road Market in Dalston.) Therefore, two or three times a week I accompanied mum down to Hoxton Market.  Here my main job was to carry some of the items that she had bought.

Saturday was the main food shopping day, and most children would have followed their mum around, for what seemed like hours on end.  Although my mum was only really shopping for food, she seemed to look at every other stall as well – and clothes stalls, in particular!  As mum was a seamstress by trade, she’d examine in minute detail the way buttons, hemlines and zips had been sewn.  If something wasn’t to her liking she’d slowly shake her head from side to side, purse her lips and mutter ‘tut-tut.’

Unlike supermarkets, the old fashioned street markets seemed to have a real atmosphere about them.  Many of the sights, smells and sounds have never left me.  In particular, the air always seemed to be full of raucous laughter.  Everyone who owned or worked on a stall seemed to be a real character – the wit and banter were second to none.  Needless to say much of it would now be considered X-rated and most definitely Politically Incorrect – and this was absolutely true of Hoxton Market!

The market was also a place to meet friends, neighbours and relatives.  I always lost count of the number of times that my mum would stop and have a natter with someone.  Luckily, virtually every mum would have been accompanied by a child so at least you had someone to talk to as well.

I got my first Saturday job in Hoxton Market via my mum as well.  She got it through a friend of a friend of a friend – a classic case of ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’.  On saying that, I’m inclined to think that there’s no better way to learn any sort of trade other than from the bottom up.  Over many working years I’ve seen many a university graduate put into responsible positions and whilst most of them were very personable many were, to coin a phrase, ‘all brains and no common sense’.

I started working in the market when I was about 14 or 15 (this would have been around 1974/75) and carried on for about two years.  Here I was a barrow boy – aka a gofer or general dogs body – on an egg stall.  As far as I can recall, there were no other egg stalls in the market so we always did a roaring trade.

My job was to basically to help whoever was running the stall.  I helped to set the stall up and both sell & replenish the stock.  I was quickly shown one of the tricks of the trade – placing the eggs at a very slight angle to make them look larger!

I worked with a few interesting characters.  One was a New Zealander who was living and working in London for a while before returning home to help run family sheep farm.  He wasn’t really looking forward to going home to spend the rest of his life working with the “stupidest animals in the world.”  For the life of me I can’t recall his name, but I can remember that he was a very calm, happy go lucky bloke.  He was also as strong as an ox and was a real grafter.

I also recall working with a biker who was in his mid 20s who was just known as ‘Big Chris’ due to him being way over 6’ tall.  He had really long hair and always wore a black leather motorcycle jacket.  He was also the person who introduced me into heavy metal bands like Deep Purple & Black Sabbath.  He had an in-depth knowledge of anything and everything relating to heavy metal and would talk non-stop about the subject.  Big Chris would often recommend different LPs, most of which are still in the roof space!

Apart from bikes and music his other passion was for burgers and bacon sarnies.  He was very generous with his money and one of my main jobs was to go to the local café and come back with these delicacies!  Looking back on it they should have come with a health warning as they were dripping in grease and covered in brown sauce.

After my stint as a barrow boy, I worked for the local library service.  This started off as a Saturday job but I was also able to get plenty of work during the school holidays.  Here I was mainly based at Pitfield Street Library (in Hoxton) but also covered worked Kate Greenaway Library (which was situated in the Fellows Estate) and the De Beauvoir Library which was part of the De Beauvoir Estate.  I love books so this was more a vocation than a job.  I have great memories of the reading room in Pitfield Street where you could spend hours reading all manner of papers, magazines and reference books.

One great difference between working down the market and in a library was the method of payment.  In the market you got paid cash in hand – generally with greasy and stained old banknotes – whilst at the library the wages arrived in a small window envelope.  This contained a small printed wage statement and, more importantly, your wages in the form of both coins and pristine banknotes.  The notes were always stapled together and I always managed to stab my thumb with the staple whilst trying to separate the notes.  You also had to sign for the whole lot in a huge book!

A little while ago, and out of idle curiosity, I posted a question (on the Memories of Hoxton Facebook site) asking how many people worked down the market.  I was absolutely blown away by the response – it seems as if virtually everyone had either worked in the market or knew someone who had.  Many were even related to some of the shop and stall holders.  Indeed, one of those who’d worked in the market was someone I’ve probably known for over 50 years from our early days at Randal Cremer Primary School – in Ormsby Street, Shoreditch – and then on to  Parmiter’s Grammar School, which was situated on the Approach Road in Bethnal Green.  Sadly, we’re probably like many true Cockneys and both now live miles away from the East End.

I’d highly recommend the Memories of Hoxton, Shoreditch Facebook site to any Counter Culture reader (who comes from Hoxton or the general Shoreditch area) who like to reminisce about the ‘good old days’ before the area became gentrified.  I’d also like to encourage other Counter Culture contributors and readers to share theirmemories of bygone days, no matter where they come from.  In particular, I feel that it’s very important to chronical the lives of ordinary indigenous working folks – especially those from areas that have seen extensive racial, ethnic, cultural and social changes since the 60s – so that their vital memories are not lost to history.

Reviewed by John Field

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Counter Culture : Words Of Wisdom : George Orwell

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Morrissey – California Son

morrissey-california-sonCALIFORNIA SON, Morrissey’s twelfth studio album, is a collection of covers including a few familiar old classics and some maybe lesser known American protest and social justice songs from the 60s and 70s. Morrissey and his band never shy away from imaginative musical arrangements, often seeking out unusual instruments, and there are influences here from New Orleans, the old-time crooners and a touch of Broadway. No doubt this is a nod to his recent sell-out residency at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in New York City (NYC).

The album opens with Morning Starship, the 1973 song by Jobriath. Morrissey has talked about covering this song for many years, and his version does not disappoint. He strips back the glam rock just enough to emphasise his wide range of vocals. It is an uplifting track and was well received when he sang it live on Broadway.

Next up is his version of Joni Mitchell’s Don’t interrupt the Sorrow, a song about women standing up to male dominance from her 1975 The Hissing of Summer Lawns album. Originally a folky song with lots of hand drums it is given the full Morrissey crooner treatment. Now in his 60th year, Morrissey seems to be embracing the role of modern-day crooner and it is a sound that repeats on several tracks throughout this album, not least on the very good Wedding Bell Blues on which Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong adds backing vocals.

Morrissey is never one to shy away from a song with a powerful message and chose to include the 1964 Bob Dylan song Only A Pawn in their Game, written following the assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers. The message in this song is that the killer was as much a victim or “pawn” of the elites in power as was his victim. The song was sung at the rally where Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech. It’s an interesting choice, as is his excellent cover of Days of Decision. This is taken from the 1965 Phil Ochs album Ain’t Marching Anymore, with its lyrics: “you can do what’s right or you can do what you are told.” Maybe in these choices, Morrissey is encouraging the listener to look at the lessons of history and to question things a little more?

Buffy Sainte Marie’s Suffer the Little Children is given the full Broadway treatment with big instrumentals and hand clapping. Buffy, in an interview, said she loved it.

There are very good versions of Carly Simon’s When you close your eyes and Dione Warwick’s Loneliness Remembers What Happiness Forgets. Gary Puckett’s Lady Willpower is also very well done. Tim Hardin’s eulogy to his friend Lenny Bruce, Lenny’s Tune is perfect for the melancholic signature sound of Morrissey, and whilst this version is not as haunting as the Nico cover it does justice to the original.

Roy Orbison’s It’s Over stays true to the original and is one of the best tracks on the album. He closes with Melanie Safka’s 1971 Some Say (I got Devil). The vocals here are excellent and the addition of instrumentals on what was originally an acoustic guitar ballad gives the song new depth.

There really is not a bad track here but the real gift of this album is that it brings to a new generation a selection of protest songs about freedom, social justice and liberty that have a message relevant to today. It encourages you to seek out the original recordings and the stories behind them. Morrissey is not afraid to try new genres, or of working with material that others might now find too controversial. It is why his music endures despite the controversy, the bad press, the lack of radio coverage and the constant personal attacks. He has already recorded an album of new material for release later in the year. Retirement does not appear to be on the horizon just yet.

Reviewed by Jacqui Cosgree

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California Sun – Morrissey

CALIFORNIA SON, Morrissey’s twelfth studio album, is a collection of covers including a few familiar old classics and some maybe lesser known American protest and social

morrissey-california-son

justice songs from the 60s and 70s.  Morrissey and his band never shy away from imaginative musical arrangements, often seeking out unusual instruments, and there are influences here from New Orleans, the old time crooners and a touch of Broadway.  No doubt this is a nod 

 

to his recent sell out residency at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in New York City (NYC).  

The album opens with Morning Starship, the 1973 song by Jobriath.  Morrissey has talked about covering this song for many years, and his version does not disappoint.  He strips back the glam rock just enough to emphasise his wide range of vocals.  It is an uplifting track and was well received when he sang it live on Broadway.

Next up is his version of Joni Mitchell’s Don’t interrupt the Sorrow, a song about Women standing up to male dominance from her 1975 The Hissing of Summer Lawns album.  Originally a folky song with lots of hand drums it is given the full Morrissey crooner treatment. Now in his 60th yeapeats on several tracks throughout this album, not least on the very good Wedding Bell Blues on which Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong adds backing vocals.

Morrissey is never one to shy away from a song with a powerful message, and chose to include the 1964 Bob Dylan song Only A Pawn in their Game, written following the assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers.  The message in this song is that the killer was as much a victim or “pawn” of the elites in power as was his victim.  The song was sung at the rally where Martin Luther King gave his“I have a dream” speech.  It’s an interesting choice, as is his excellent cover of Days of Decision.  This is taken from the 1965 Phil Ochs album Ain’t Marching Anymore, with its lyrics: “you can do what’s right or you can do what you are told.”  Maybe in these choices Morrissey is encouraging the listener to look at the lessons of history and to question things a little more?

Buffy Sainte Marie’s Suffer the Little Children is given the full Broadway treatment with big instrumentals and hand clapping.  Buffy, in an interview, said she loved it.

There are very good versions of Carly Simon’s When you close your eyes and Dione Warwick’s Loneliness Remembers what Happiness Forgets.  Gary Puckett’s Lady Willpower is also very well done.  Tim Hardin’s eulogy to his friend Lenny Bruce, Lenny’sTune is perfect for the melancholic signature sound of Morrissey, and whilst this version is not as haunting as the Nico cover it does justice to the original.

Roy Orbison’s It’s Over stays true to the original and is one of the best tracks on the album.  He closes with Melanie Safka’s 1971 Some Say (I got Devil).  The vocals here are excellent and the addition of instrumentals on what was originally an acoustic guitar ballad gives the song new depth.

There really is not a bad track here but the real gift of this album is that it brings to a new generation a selection of protest songs about freedom, social justice and liberty that have a message relevant to today.  It encourages you to seek out the original recordings and the stories behind them.  Morrissey is not afraid to try new genres, or of working with material that others might now find too controversial.  It is why his music endures despite the controversy, the bad press, the lack of radio coverage and the constant personal attacks.  He has already recorded an album of new material for release later in the year.  Retirement does not appear to be on the horizon just yet.

Reviewed by Jacqui Cosgree

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