Prog Rock Britannia

An Observation in Three Movements

I’m a big fan of “progressive rock” from the 70s, so it was an absolute delight to stumble across this BBC4 documentary that was broadcast in January. Hope you enjoy it too if you’re into this kind of music (not everyone’s cup of tea, of course).

From the BBC4 website: Documentary about progressive music and the generation of bands that were invloved, from the international success stories of Yes, Genesis, ELP, King Crimson and Jethro Tull to the trials and tribulations of lesser-known bands such as Caravan and Egg.

The film is structured in three parts, charting the birth, rise and decline of a movement famed for complex musical structures, weird time signatures, technical virtuosity and strange, and quintessentially English, literary influences.

It looks at the psychedelic pop scene that gave birth to progressive rock in the late 1960s, the golden age of progressive music in the early 1970s, complete with drum solos and gatefold record sleeves, and the over-ambition, commercialisation and eventual fall from grace of this rarefied musical experiment at the hands of punk in 1977.

Contributors include Robert Wyatt, Mike Oldfield, Pete Sinfield, Rick Wakeman, Phil Collins, Arthur Brown, Carl Palmer and Ian Anderson.

Dumb

What else can you call pulling the plug on the Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund on the feeble grounds that, according to the spokesthingee for Heritage Minister James Moore, it’s been identified as “ineffective or underperforming”? Really… how so? With $40 billion sloshing around to “stimulate” the economy, they axed a program that cost a paltry $1.5 million and yet helps support thousands of educational and documentary projects.

In the past, it’s been argued by the government and its supporters that in fact it’s more generous to the arts than were the Liberals — a contention that very much depends on precisely what’s included in the term “arts and culture” — but for the sake of argument let’s say that they are indeed lavish patrons in this regard. Even so, petty, mean-spirited cuts like this serve only to destroy any goodwill that might otherwise be forthcoming on the part of voters who actually care about such things. One might have thought that Team Harper would have learned from the last election how damaging to their public image deliberately antagonizing the arts sector can be… but apparently not. Oh well. It’s their loss.

Nobody Cares About Earmarks

Duh! CNN contributor Roland Martin points out the completely obvious when it comes to so-called earmarks:

Look, I like Sen. McCain, and to be honest, I agree with him 100 percent that Congress shouldn’t be spending billions of dollars on pet projects, but I’m also realistic: no one truly cares.

Really, no one cares. Sure, there are a few folks in Congress who rail against earmarks. And there are outside pressure groups who are trying to rally the American people to voice their outrage about the process, but I firmly believe that the folks at home love to send their members of Congress to bring the bacon back home.

Yea, bacon. That comes from a pig. It’s pork — pork barrel spending. That spending comes from earmarks.

That, folks, is the real deal. Someone in Texas, right now, is crying and complaining about the earmarks put in place by a member of Congress from Pennsylvania, but they don’t care a lick about the money that they are getting. And that man or woman in Pennsylvania is ripping into a member of Congress from Georgia for requesting earmarks, but you better not touch theirs!

As long as earmarking is an open and transparent process, what’s the problem with it? Not much, it seems… at least to the Senate that resoundingly defeated McCain’s proposed amendment that would have stripped 9,000 earmarks worth almost $8 billion out of the Omnibus spending bill.

Priceless

Jon Stewart ripped CNBC a new one on Thursday’s show when CNBC’s Rick Santelli cancelled an appearance to explain his “aggressive and impassioned” opposition to the Obama administration’s mortgage rescue plan.

Stewart starts with Santelli’s rant. Then, he follows up with a greatest hits parade of clips of wrong predictions, bad conclusions and stupid interviews on CNBC.

There’s Jim Cramer’s now infamous assertion that “Bear Stearns is fine” on March 11, 2008. Bear Stearns failed six days later, followed by Cramer’s assertion that one has to accept that stocks are “just going to go higher.” That came on Oct. 31, 2007, the day the Nasdaq Composite peaked and the Dow finished at 13,930. Then there’s Larry Kudlow assertion on April 16, 2008 that the “worst of this subprime business” was over. The Dow finished at 12,743. This is followed by Cramer’s June 1, 2008 declaration that the market had bottomed and it was time to “buy, buy buy!” The Dow as at 12,307. The Dow closed yesterday at 6,626.

“If I’d only followed CNBC’s advice,” Stewart deadpanned, “I’d have a million dollars today… Provided I’d started with a hundred million dollars!”

The segment ended with Carl Quintanilla’s interview with Allen Stanford of the Stanford Group, which has been accused by the government of defrauding investors of at least $8 billion. The interview ended with Quintanilla asking if “it’s fun being a billionaire.” Stanford says “Yes.”

“Between the two of them,” Stewart said, “I can’t make up mind which one of those guys I’d rather see in jail.”