Friday, December 16, 2011

The Beatles changed my life (and perhaps the course of human evolution!)

Directed by Richard Lester, produced by Walter Shenson, scripted by Alun Owen

Released four days after the film opened in the U.K., A Hard Day's Night was The Beatles' third studio album and instantly became a chart-topper. I remember the film as a life-changing event. It opened at the Rex Cinema in Batu Pahat in early 1965 and completely knocked my socks off. From that moment I was hooked.

Prior to that, I fancied myself as a bit of a snob. Even though I did hear a few early Beatles hits on the radio ("I Want To Hold Your Hand," "She Loves You," "I Saw Her Standing There") I was inclined to shrug the moptops off as just another passing fad. You see, I was never really into radio music, even if I confess to briefly being a fan of Cliff Richard and The Shadows when I was 11. But Elvis didn't drive me wild and I was more into soundtrack music from epic films like Exodus, Spartacus, Cleopatra and The Magnificent Seven.

I got interested in Broadway musicals after hearing an EP with songs from West Side Story and subsequently acquired a taste for Igor Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, Bach and Beethoven, before moving on to progressive jazz - specifically the non-swing variety produced by maestros like Dave Brubeck, Charlie Mingus, Thelonious Monk and, later, Miles Davis and Sun Ra.

Watching John, Paul, George and Ringo on the big screen in A Hard Day's Night got me off my musical high horse and made me pay close attention to "pop music." I realized then that the new generation of popular bands in the 1960s were more than mere entertainers - they were harbingers of cultural evolution, prophets of a radical new consciousness, shamans and wizards shaping the dreams of post-war youth across the world.

From Tierra del Fuego to Vladivostok, adventurous pop groups like The Beatles, Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Pink Floyd were creating a world culture that demolished linguistic, racial, ideological and national barriers - and paving the way for the evolution of a true planetary consciousness.

Wilfrid Brambell as Paul's "very clean" grandfather

The eleventh Beatles studio album, Abbey Road, was released in late 1969 - but an earlier project, Let It Be, didn't appear till May 1970 because tensions between John Lennon and Paul McCartney got in the way. Soon after that The Beatles dissolved themselves as a coherent musical entity and went their separate ways. I will always respect them for knowing when to call it a day and quit while their music was still strong - instead of forcing themselves into churning out more albums just for the money.

The Beatles turned on a lot of teenaged girls (sexually) and teenaged boys (mentally)

Brian Epstein (1934-1967)
PhD dissertations have been written on the cultural and sociopolitical impact of The Beatles phenomenon on the later part of the 20th century, so I won't attempt to reinvent the wheel. Suffice to say, as can be evinced from watching A Hard Day's Night again - after 47 years - the dynamic, complementary chemistry of these four lads from Liverpool created a powerful synergy that's akin to what happens when you mix Fire (John Lennon), Water (Paul McCartney), Air (George Harrison) and Earth (Ringo Starr) into a cohesive, coherent whole. A lot of the credit goes to the genius of director Richard Lester, whose use of hand-held cameras and quirky editing influenced a future genre of music videos and the popularization of cinéma vérité in mainstream movie-making.

George Martin,
wizard producer
The creative input of two latter-day wizards must not be discounted. Initially, it was Brian Epstein the visionary entrepreneur, who saw the Beatles' commercial potential and undertook to manage the boys, shaping their trademark hairstyles and smart dress sense, without muting their natural exuberance and playful wit. In the studio, George Martin took over the wizard's role in helping refine and shape the Beatles' unique sound. Martin did all the orchestral arrangements and was savvy enough to not stand in the way of their innovative spirit.

What The Beatles did for me was to inspire me to be more myself - to become aware of the vast possibilities of creative synthesis. Their musical output - especially beginning with their seventh studio album, Revolver - began quantum jumping in terms of lyrical and musical eclecticism.

The Beatles were adventurous in that they experimented with altered states through cannabis, mescaline and LSD - and were able to incorporate their expanded consciousness into their artistic vision. In so doing they became cultural messiahs to subsequent generations, leading them beyond the rigid dogmatism of tradition and offering them a vivid glimpse of a hipper, funkier, more psychedelic version of the Promised Land.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In Loving Memory of Mr Vertical Eyebrows...

Roger Reginald Putra (7 Nov 2008 ~ 14 Dec 2010)

Father & Son: Mr Wong & Roger Putra
Roger was more than just a dog, much more than a member of the family - he was like a second son to Anoora and me. His father, the illustrious Mr Wong Beng Oi, was a greatly beloved part of our lives for more than 10 years. Mr Wong enjoyed an enormously happy life with us and died of old age in August 2010.

Roger was his genetic legacy, the only pup in the second litter born of a beautiful young bitch with Doberman pedigree who mysteriously appeared at our doorstep one morning and decided to stay. The name "Lulu" just came to me, so that's what I decided to call her.

Roger's beautiful mum, Lulu
At that time it didn't occur to me that Mr Wong's mum had also been named Lulu - Lulu Yap, to be precise, and her mother was a minute but majestic full-blooded Spitz known at various times as Curly-Wurly, Mrs Curlington-Wurlington, and Madam Wu. In short, Roger Reginald Putra was the great-grandson of Madam Wu - one of the original Magick River canine corps, left behind by her previous owners, Mavis and Clifford, when they migrated to Australia in 1990.

Roger Putra was named in honor of my friend Raja Petra (better known as RPK the Blogger King) who was miraculously freed from ISA detention on 7 November 2008. Even as we rejoiced at the good news, we discovered that Lulu had given birth to a solitary roly-poly pup who looked pretty much like Mr Wong. Initially I couldn't choose between Reggie or Roger, so Reginald was included as a middle name, adding a touch of class. Occasionally, Roger was referred to as the Ten-Tit-Tot because he had no siblings with whom to compete for his mother's milk. As a result he quickly became also known as Fatty Boy.

Roger's handsome brother Rupert,
murdered in May 2009
The background to how Roger abruptly vanished from our lives on the morning of 14 December 2010 has already been recorded in a blogpost dated 25 December 2010. Even after a whole year has elapsed, my heart feels heavy when I think about the utter meaningless of this sub-humanly brutal act of violence, directed against me via our beloved canine son. 

When Roger was barely 6 months old, his mother Lulu and elder brother Rupert had both been murdered on the same night by a bunch of drunken Orang Asli. This was perhaps the canine equivalent of the Kennedy family...

In Roger Putra's case, the prime suspect happens to be a social misfit in his early 50s named Uha Anak Penengah. However, I have yet to obtain incontrovertible proof that it was Uha who slashed Roger with his parang - and not any of 3 or 4 other middle-aged Temuan males, each of whom is perfectly capable of such a reprehensible act, having allowed their minds to be taken over in service of Umno's land-grab agenda via the JHEOA (recently incorporated as JAKOA or Jabatan Kemajuan Orang Asli) who view me as a subversive thorn in their side, because I stand in the way of their money-making and control-freak schemes.

It was no use reporting this heinous crime to the police (to whom dogs are haram and therefore better off dead or non-existent; in any case, the police have shown so little interest in the gruesome murder of a Mongolian beauty 5 years ago, why would they bother investigating the death of a dog?) And even if I knew beyond any shadow of doubt that Uha was the murderer, what else could I do except kill him? That wouldn't bring Roger Putra back to life - and I'd end up spending the rest of my days in prison. 

Roger Putra & Ayita: unmitigated beauty

Uha, like his father, suffered from warty skin and a surly, truculent disposition. He had had very little luck with the opposite sex. Five years ago Uha had tricked a girl from Pahang into marrying him, but she died mysteriously within a week. The day Roger Putra was murdered, he was accompanying a very beautiful Moroccan lady on her morning walk. The sight of such unmitigated beauty must have infuriated Uha. If he couldn't possess it, he would viciously and vicariously destroy it...

A humble offering to Roger's sweet memory
No, the only recourse was to acknowledge the abject misery and absolute pathology of Uha's existence - to empathize with his emptiness and pain, to understand that his soul was in a terribly dark place, and to envision his eventual enlightenment and liberation from the hellish horror of his own hateful life. Uha seemed to me the embodiment of hopeless frustration, self-loathing and envy; unable to imagine a happier destiny for himself, his inner rage and feelings of inadequacy were externalized as aggression, hostility and violence. Indeed, this is the root cause of  fanatical bigotry and xenophobia manifesting as militant jingoism - the very stuff that spawns ultra-rightwing, fascist mobs like Pekida and Perkasa.

It began raining as soon as I set off with Anoora and Ahau on a pilgrimage to the approximate spot where Roger Putra met his untimely death a year ago. Getting drenched despite our umbrellas, I found a small rock nestled between two rubber trees and placed some flowers and a candle upon it. A few sticks of incense and a couple of soggy crackers completed our humble offering. As I completed the simple ceremony, the rain abruptly stopped and a brilliant ray of sunlight flashed from the treetops. The three of us washed ourselves by a small waterfall on our way home. 

Beloved friend and canine son, Roger the irreplaceable

Losing Roger Putra has been the single most painful and tragic experience of my life - even more intense than returning home 40 years ago to discover my pet cockatoo had been stolen. At least I could hope that she would be kindly treated wherever she was. 

Roger Reginald Putra was the perfect embodiment of beauty, robust health, innocence, joie de vivre, and an irrepressible sense of adventure. The sight of him was enough to bring cheer and contentment to my heart. To think that anyone could possibly kill my beloved canine companion just to get at me encapsulated all the cruelty, violence, hate, and repressed sexuality that have kept humanity in the bondage of sadomasochism and armed conflict for countless generations - delaying, if not thwarting, the possibility of heaven on earth, instead of in the hereafter.


These sketches are so hilariously inspired they deserve to be immortalized...

[I don't know who drew these brilliant cartoons or I'd have included a link to his site (it's almost 100% certain the artist is male). My darling daughter forwarded these to me many, many years ago. Guess I'm an archivist at heart!]

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How about some lowbrow art? Much sexier than lowbrow politics, that's for sure!

Some folks swear by their Volvos. 

I confess I much prefer Vulvas. 
Especially ornamental ones that belong in an art gallery 
for born-again philistines like myself...

Pipe-smoking bow-tie pussy (bring your own pipe)

Anatomical is much funkier than political correctness

Greybeard hippie's squaw?

Diabolically obscene but I'm a horny old devil

The pedophile's choice - revealing one's inner child

It will flap its wings till they're dry and then fly away

No hair is a good hair day for Homer Simpson

                                                                              Pussyface? You mean ME???

Shaved Fish was the title of John Lennon's 7th solo album.
This would have been the perfect cover shot.

[These tattooed vulvas were found on a friend's Facebook wall]


Posted Monday, December 12th, 2011

In a dramatic move, a group of NGOs have today called on the Malaysian Attorney General and the Inspector General of Police to arrest Abdul Taib Mahmud.

A letter drawn up by the Bruno Manser Fund and signed by a number of Malaysian and international NGOs, including Greenpeace, requests “the immediate arrest and criminal prosecution” of Taib, along with 13 family members, whom it names as “co-conspirators in the illegal appropriation of public funds.”

The demand represents the culmination of evidence against the Chief Minister, who is now internationally recognised as one of the world’s most corrupted leaders and as being personally responsible for much of the destruction of the Borneo jungle. [For full text visit]

Plain evidence

The letter makes clear that so much evidence about the corruption of Taib and his family members is now publicly available that it is no longer acceptable to leave the matter with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which announced an investigation into the Chief Minister last year.

The letter says:

“We firmly believe that it is not enough for the MACC to announce a public investigation and immediate police action should be taken. Ample evidence of Mr Taib’s and his co-conspirators’ offenses is available, and the above-mentioned suspects might use their remaining time in freedom to destroy evidence, to intimidate possible witnesses and to transfer their substantial illicit assets out of the country.”

[Read the full story at Sarawak Report]

We all know, of course, that Taib Mahmud is by no means the only BN robber baron that must be arrested immediately. If we had more fearless and independent investigative reporters like Clare Rewcastle Brown on the job, I'm sure Najib Razak and his entire corrupt cabinet would also be on the list. Thanks to the incurable Dr M, however, every state institution has been subsumed into obsequious service of the corrupt BN regime - especially the Attorney General and the Polis Di Raja Malaysia. Which leaves it to us, the people, to make citizens' arrest a new form of national service. The next time you see BN ministers on the street, don't shake their hand - just handcuff them. If you don't have handcuffs handy, just point your bone at them (they will fade quietly away).