Singing for Obama

January 21, 2009

barack-bookLast night I went to the East Dulwich Tavern for a Barack Obama Party. I’d watched the Inauguration earlier. Heck, those vows! When, moments away from officially being the President, Barack stumbled and came to a halt on “I will execute-“… a whole world waited with baited breath.  Who? He kept us dangling, but then, phew, picked himself up and became  the 44th President of the United States. Hooray, one and all! *

The pub had their big screens on, showing us the journey from Capitol Hill to the White House. That’s a journey of 1.7 miles. It took him bloomin’ ages! You’re the President now, so you can be a bit cheeky. First thing you should do, before you do any of this “sorting out the country/world” type of stuff, is demand a faster car.

I’ve called this post Singing for Obama because they then had a pub quiz, an American Quiz, and our team was led and created by Vicky, the big cheese behind Note-Orious, East Dulwich’s best choir (I don’t know if East Dulwich has any more choirs; I bet it has, and they may be better. but I don’t care… we’re the best). And we were called Singing for Obama. There were four of us; Vicky, Mark, Emily and me. And we did ok. Here’s some randon answers:






The winning team got 31 out of 44… Ah, I’ve just got it! There were 40 questions, but one was in four parts. 44. Fancy not noticing at the time.

Anyways, they got 31. We got 26. Now that works out at 59%. May not sound too great. But, looked at another way, Barack Obama became President of the United States- that’s PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!!!… with 53% of all votes.  So now I say pretty pretty good!

* Aha! A bit of research reveals all. Lookee here. If Barack stumbled it was only because he was thrown by the daft old chief justice of the U.S.Supreme Court getting it wrong. Duh! Well done, Michelle K.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos.

December 24, 2008


Today I dragged my mum, sister, niece and nephew along to San Jose University to see Rigo 23’s statue of two former students. The statue portrays Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ human rights protest at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. What did these two men do? Oh, apart from win Gold and Bronze medals in the 200m? They removed their shoes and raised black-gloved fists, heads bowed, in a dignified and silent protest on behalf of the Olympic Project for Human Rights. That’s all. For this, they were expelled from the games.

The man behind their expulsion was Avery Brundage, the IOC president; a man who in 1936, as President of the United States Olympic Committee, saw nothing wrong in the Nazi salutes on display at the Berlin Olympics. Oh, he also thought the Olympics was no place for women. As far as every great and inspirational story has obstacles and, bluntly, baddies, they don’t come much badder than Avery.

Tigerlily Films made a documentary for BBC4 called Black Power Salute. The director, Geoff Small, talks about it here. Please read it. You’ll like it. It’ll take you a couple of minutes; roughly 6 times the time it took Tommie and John to change the world.

tommie-smith-john-carlosThe silver medal was won by Peter Norman; a white Australian. As an opponent of Australian policies specifically designed to restrict non-white immigration (and as a decent human being), Peter wanted to do his bit at the medal ceremony to show support for OPHR’s stand against racial segregation and racism in general. Maybe to the surprise of Tommie and John, he borrowed an OPHR badge from Paul Hoffman, a (white) member of the US rowing team. He wore a badge, that’s all. And for this he too was punished.

“While he didn’t raise a fist, he did lend a hand.” Tommie Smith.

Peter Norman is missing from the sculpture. Some, it seems, have been offended by this. They shouldn’t be. Peter attended the unveiling, and when he died in 2006 both Tommie and John were pallbearers at his funeral. John Carlos said, “Peter was a piece of my life… I was his brother. He was my brother. That’s all you have to know.”

And the sculpture acknowledges Peter’s contribution in the most moving of ways. In his place is the inscription; “Fellow athlete Australian Peter Norman stood here in solidarity. Take a stand.”

We can all be Peter Normans. Stand amongst giants. Lend a hand. Take a stand.


Al Franken sense and mirth.

December 20, 2008

Ok, ok, I know, stop throwing rotten fruit at me. I couldn’t help it. No! I stick by it. It makes me laugh.

Al Franken, liberal political commentator and former writer for Saturday Night Live, is on the verge of becoming the senator for Minnesota. All you people in England who’ve never heard of him, it’d be like A Matthew Kelly lookalike in Harry Hill glasses who writes for Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway becoming Labour MP for Stoke. Sort of.

According to the San Jose Mercury News (my new daily paper), Franken has pushed into the lead for the first time. This is a recount that’s been going on for over a month now. 2.9 million votes cast, and it’s all coming down to the last few hundred. And the mirth part? Well, when a comedian stands up for office, his supporters (fans) aren’t happy to just put a big X in the box. They start drawing smiley faces and all sorts of crazy things. They even used… coloured pens! Damn those pesky liberals and their anything goes agenda!

Republican Norm Coleman was 725 in front, now Franken’s 251 in front. And it’s all down to whether smiley faces are acceptable or not. Or whether the mark is contained within the box. Apparently, liberals can’t hold pens properly and sometimes their mark skids slightly out of the box. It could be cheekiness again, or even, just maybe, on the odd occasion, an elderly person with a shaky hand. Still, the Republicans have a point; if you can’t be neat, your guy doesn’t get the seat.