Friday, August 08, 2008

No Tears For Alexander


Yes, I know that one should not speak ill of the dead. But, to be honest, that is bull. In the Marxist movement, at least at its revolutionary end, political obituary has always been measured by and has reflected personal and political reality. The recently departed Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn was a class enemy of the Russian and international working class. Solzhenitsyn did not start that way but he spent a significant portion of his life, especially after his years in the Stalinist labor camps, as a conscious agent of Western imperialism or, at the end, an advocate of the virtues of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Look, we of the anti-Stalinist, pro-socialist left had our people in the gulags and the labor camps too. Practically the whole Trotsky-led Russian Left Opposition along with other pro-socialist tendencies forced into internal exile by Stalin and his goons got liquidated. For what reason? In short, because they opposed Stalin, yet stood on the grounds of the October Revolution and for waging a political fight in order to save the soul of the Russian socialist experience.

This eulogizing of Solzhenitsyn by Western imperial polemicists of their former ‘poster boy’ makes my blood run cold. Interestingly, once the object of Western imperial design, the demise of the Soviet Union, was accomplished, at least in the West, Solzhenitsyn was thrown on the scrape heap (aided by his personal reclusiveness, as well). Personally, I had half an idea that he was still up in Vermont when I heard the news of his death. I do not know what his ultimate place will be in the world literary pantheon? (Probably less than one might have thought about forty years ago, after he wrote Cancer Ward and the other novels, which did have some literary merit.) However, as a nasty political opponent not just of socialism but of modernism the headline says it all- no tears here.

Monday, August 04, 2008

*The Last Man Standing, Indeed- A Jerry Lee Lewis Encore

Click on title to link to "YouTube's film clip of the trailer for "Last Man Standing".


Last Man Standing, Jerry Lee Lewis and other artists, Shangri-la Records, 2006

The last time we heard the name Jerry Lee Lewis in this space (see above) was in connection with a rave review of his star-studded concert in New York City in 2006 also entitled “The Last Man Standing”. I was not aware at the time I wrote that review that there was a CD connected with the DVD. This CD also gets a rave review from these quarters. The last paragraph details some of the highlights of this CD. However, I can tell you right now to save your old eyes- get this thing. It is not the fire-balling of Jerry Lee's youth but virtually from start to finish it is some very nice work. If you need to go back to the Fifties and hear his original work there are plenty of his greatest compilations elsewhere. Here are a couple of words on this one.

Apparently in putting together this album every musical artist who has ever been anything, every wanted to be anything or who will be in the various musical Halls of Fame signed on to play with “The Killer”. Let’s make this clear though- Jerry Lee is in charge here- the other artists are basking off his reflected glory. Ya, he is an old man and he has lost a step, and maybe he has not learned all of life’s lessons but he still rocks &rolls, does rockabilly and country rock’s with the best of them.

Highlights here concerning some of life’s lessons that old Jerry Lee has learned, as reflected in some of the lyrics, are his duo with Willie Nelson on “Couple More Years”, his duo with Keith Richards on “That Kind of Fool” (a take-off on his old classic- “Who Will The Next Fool Be”) and his duo with Eric Clapton on “Trouble In Mind”. To show that he can still rock- listen to the duo with Kid Rock (yes, that Kid Rock of rapper fame) on “Honky Tonk Woman”. If you need to hear rockabilly and boogie-woogie then the classic “Hadacol Boogie” with Buddy Guy will keep you moving. Enough said, except the production values on this CD are very good, as well.