Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse, 1983 — 2011

I was trying to find a photo of Amy Winehouse, who appears to have died of an overdose in London, aged 27, and could not get rid of that annoying shoe ad which half-obscures her on the New York Times web site: I could not make it go away.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nipples and Bingo and Sex Crimes

It was way back in 1994 that Roger Taylor of the glam-rock group Queen, wrote "Dear Mr Murdoch." He has updated the song for the present day. The original lyrics speak loudly:

Dear Mr. Murdoch, what have you done
With your news of the screws and your soar-away sun?
You sharpen our hatred
You've blunted our minds
We're drowning in nipples and bingo and sex crimes
How many time must they poke and they pry
Must they twist and lie?
Just to add to the grime they even screwed up the times
Love to kick their arse goodbye oh wouldn't I!

Dear Mr. Murdoch you play hard to see
But with your bare-arsed cheek you should be on page three
And dear Mr. Murdoch you're really the pits
Bad news is good business, you're the king of the tits

They stain all they touch, they're real woman haters
But we're on their trail
They go straight for the lowest common denominators
How could they fail? go straight to jail - (no bail)!

Dear Mr. Murdoch you're a powerful man
You control half our media whose values don't scan
And dear Mr. Murdoch we're not so amused
Just line up the people whose lives they've abused

Dear Mr. Murdoch what do you know
With your minions like vultures and carrion crow
They've sunk just as low as humans can sink
For profit they tell us how mass murderers think

And dear Mr. Murdoch you come down from on high
You even bought up the air waves, you control all our sky

David Carr's column in the Times says that Murdoch "used blunt force spending to skate past judgment."

UPDATE: left-wing singer/songwriter Billy Bragg has a new anti-Murdoch song called "Never Buy The Sun," downloadable for free.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

An Unfortunate Experience

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp empire of influential newspapers and TV stations/channels, a media monopoly bar none,  has been shaken by the British phone hacking scandal (journalists hacking into the cell phones of the rich, famous, or just plain unfortunate). The police in the U.K. just arrested Rebekah Brooks (see above), the former chief executive of News International, the British newspaper unit of News Corp. By 'former,' I mean 'resigned five minutes before the cops showed up.'

As you can see above, she probably has Murdoch's direct number. So how far does the scandal go? As far up as Himself (that's Murdoch on the left)?

More interesting is how the police and the journalists in the U.K. operated in tandem, like two parts of a well-oiled machine (in Ireland, 'well-oiled' can also mean 'loosened by drinking'), to each other's benefit — cops would feed scandalous news of crime and criminals to the newspapers, in return sometimes for, yes, cash payments. When the cops fucked up, that sort of news would be buried, so of course Scotland Yard went easy on the British tabloids when the phone hacking thing started to gather momentum.

How easy? Well, it wasn't just at the level of Police Constable Plod and Reporter Zoe Inkyfingers: the New York Times today says that from November 2005 to November 2010, Scotland Yard officials met more than 30 times with newspapers owned by News International, a British subsidiary of News Corporation.

Here is famous English playwright and critic Alan Bennett, describing vividly how the relationship worked. You can imagine a million stories and situations in which this scenario would play out, to the dishonor of everyone. Bennett had just been mugged in a supermarket, in 2010:

I give my details, and my address and phone number, to a constable who, when I get back home, duly rings with the incident number. Ten minutes later, less than an hour after it has occurred, the doorbell rings and on the doorstep is a rather demure girl: ‘My name is Amy. I’m from the Daily Mail. We’ve just heard about your unfortunate experience.’