Stupid poetic justice

July 21, 2006

Well, well, well. Look who’s come crawling back:

An Islamist preacher barred from Britain for his radical views has said that he had tried to join the British evacuation from Lebanon but had been turned away.

Omar Bakri Mohammed, speaking from Beirut, said he had been prevented from boarding a naval warship evacuating Britons from the chaos because he did not have a British passport.

Bakri, who lived in London until his exile last August, said he had asked British authorities to rescue him from the violence in Lebanon for the sake of his family, who are still living in Britain.

“I know controversy surrounds all the news about me, I am myself accepting my destiny. But I have the right like anybody else to look for safety,” Bakri told Sky News television after being turned away from the ship on Thursday.

[Full Story]

As an Islamist radical living in London, Bakri has praised the 19 9/11 hijackers, expressed his desire to see Israel eradicated, advocated the re-establishment of the worldwide caliphate and the domination of the globe by Islam, appraised the life of an unbeliever as worthless, and generally speaking denounced the West and everything it stands for. But when he finds himself in the middle of a “hot zone” in the Middle east, suddenly the West doesn’t seem all that evil, does it?

Tough darts, Omar. Either start swimming, or enjoy your jihad.


A lunchtime observation

July 18, 2006

I clipped this off my soup can this afternoon:

I don’t know about you, but I find this kind of advertising strangely reassuring.

Shine on, you crazy diamond (Syd Barrett, 1946-2006)

July 13, 2006

Syd Barrett, the legendary original guitarist/vocalist of the progressive rock band Pink Floyd, died on July 7 at the age of 60.

It was Barrett who originally came up with the name The Pink Floyd; the band was an R&B cover outfit, so it was fitting that he coined a name that was a combination of bluesmen Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. As songwriter, Barrett turned the band in a more psychedelic direction; songs from this era tend to be whimsical (“Lucifer Sam”), humourous (“Arnold Layne”), or sometimes outright weird (“The Gnome”).

However, Barrett’s mental health deteriorated in the late 1960s as Pink Floyd’s star began to rise. He was a heavy user of LSD and other psychededlic drugs, and it is also thought by some that he had a mental disorder such as schizophrenia or Asperger Syndrome, which might have been aggravated by his chemical abuse. His behaviour became erratic and unpredictable: for example, he would stand on stage with his guitar and stare into space, or strum a single chord for the entire concert, or fiddle with his guitar’s tuning. At one televised performance on a BBC pop-music program, he refused to lip-synch to the recorded tune. Guitarist David Gilmour was hired to replace him, and one day the band just decided not to pick Syd up on the way to a gig.

The lengthy song “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” from the 1975 album Wish You Were Here, was written as a tribute to Syd Barrett. Coincidentally, after several years of seclusion, he showed up at Abbey Road Studios to pay a visit during the recording of that record: having gained weight and shaved off all his hair, the band hardly recognized him and were moved to tears. Some years later, Barrett returned to live with his mother (also deceased), reverted to using his real name (Roger) instead of the nickname “Syd,” and took up painting.

Nonetheless, Barrett was an influential musician – artists as diverse as R.E.M., Dream Theater, The Who, and Smashing Pumpkins have either covered his songs or claimed inspiration from him. Syd Barrett is the poster boy for wasted talent as the consequence of a lifestyle of excess.