I only recently came across the Speechification radio blog, via a post by illustrator Stephen Kroninger on the case of The Gorbals Vampire, a story of children, comics, and censorship, that began in a Glasgow graveyard in 1954, and led to the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act 1955, a law that is still in force. A BBC Radio 4 documentary on these bizarre events is preserved at Speechification.
UPDATE 19th October: Speechification has gone off the air, along with its archive. I’m leaving the dead links in place in case of some future change of heart. You might also find cached copies of the blog via Google useful.
Debunking the Islamisation Myth is a substantial attempt by Edmund Standing to distinguish between rational concern about radical Islamist movements, and irrational fears of Britain or other European countries being somehow conquered by political Islam, either via immigration or via conversion. Edmund Standing’s writings are mainly about the extremists of Britain’s racist far right, but he has also written on the extremism of political Islamism, and the interactions between political Islamism and the kitsch element on the left.
In the past I’ve disagreed with Standing’s views on immigration. I don’t know if his thoughts on that have now changed, but this current effort is a good attempt to tackle the problem of the racist right using concern over the extremist Islamist right to gain support for their divisive politics. Some reactions to it here.
Edmund Standing is a frequent contributor to Harry’s Place, a blog which has itself often been criticised for failing to adequately distance itself from racism and religious bigotry in its ongoing effort to cover extremist Islamism in the UK, this criticism being mainly in relation to the commenters it attracts. More on that topic by Flesh is Grass, Marko Attila Hoare, and Poumista.
Speechification has two BBC documentaries that complement the above particularly well: from Archive on 4, Hate against Hope, on the struggle against racist extremists in London’s East End in the 1970s and ’80s, and Turkey in Europe, on migration and Islam in Austria and in the Balkans.
After that, a break for some music. Speechification is not just talk, here’s a Radio 3 documentary on outsider composer Moondog. There’s hours more Moondog radio with Irwin Chusid on WFMU here and here, and Mr Chusid blogs Moondog here.
More recently on the WFMU blog, The Comedy Writer That Helped Elect Richard M Nixon, on the superficially counter-culture TV show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, its head writer Paul Keyes, and the media team of TV and ad men he worked with on Nixon’s campaign. (Spotted by Paul.)
The post details a substantial bit of American political and media history, and reading it is not easy in the WFMU blog format of white text on black. I printed the whole thing out, and it was worth the effort.
The post also goes into the Nixon White House campaign against another TV comedy show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. If, like me, you were unfamiliar with them, may I recommend the following clips in order of ascending madness: Boil That Cabbage Down, a folk song from Israel, and My Old Man.
And to wash that down, one last item from Speechification, The Life and Crimes of Lenny Bruce, a BBC Radio 3 documentary from 1996.
The illustration for this post is a detail from my cover art for The Chesterfield Arrangements, music by Raymond Scott performed by The Metropole Orchestra with The Beau Hunks.