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By Pete Moore On May 11th, 2019 at 7:37 pm


By Pete Moore On May 11th, 2019 at 2:23 pm

When spring turns to summer the last week in May

You know you will find us down old Baku way

It’s a wonderful place at this time of the year

But everyone took out a loan to get here

So the final of Europe’s premier (cough) club competition will be contested by the mighty Arsenal and Chelsea – Up the Arse. Conveniently, for two London clubs, the final will held in Baku, Azerbaijan. Have a look at a map. It’s further east than Baghdad. So it’s die-hard fans only making the near two-day journey, one way. Not that there’ll be many of them. The clubs have been allocated a whopping 6000 tickets each. Since the Baku Olympic Stadium holds some 69,000 people, I assume that UEFA will press gang locals into going, because the corporates won’t bother. Football hates empty seats so they’ll have to do something. And whoever goes will have a rotten view because there’s a running track around the pitch. Everyone except, it seems, UEFA knows that running tracks have no place in a football stadium.

Jolly well done UEFA, another stellar example of thinking of the fans. I can hear some: “But Pete, UEFA didn’t know which clubs would make the final, and it wants to spread the love.” Fine, but in Europe and not effectively Asia. Besides, it’s nailed on that two Western European clubs will make it and not FC Two Bobski of Georgia. It’s a pig of a journey, and that’s from London, which is about as connected a city as there is.

That’s not all. Armenians appear to be persone non grata in Azerbaijan. Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan is Armenian, and he won’t go unless guarantees are made for his safety.

So bravo UEFA, slow hand claps all round. Maybe next year the final could be held in a similarly suitable country, like Yemen or Libya.


By Patrick Van Roy On May 11th, 2019 at 1:45 pm

guest post by Paul McMahon

The Eurovision Song Contest, that annual fest of over the top campiness and bad taste, has long been something of a tradition in the McMahon household. For more than two decades we have gathered each year as a family in a week in May in front of the TV armed with ice cream, chocolate, bags of sweets, (and maybe a can or two of beer for Daddy), and marvelled and laughed at the big hair, the shoulder pads, the glitz and grease paint, the exaggerated kitschiness and of course fascinated at the reflective micro politics of Eurovision voting.

But not this year .

This year, as it was in 1979 and 1999, the Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Israel. Wait! I hear you shout, how can Eurovision be held in Israel when Israel itself is in the Levant region of Western Asia? A good question I reply, my only explanation is that many of Israel’s inhabitants are actually European or are descended from European immigration to Israel in the wake of WWII.

There has been a fairly active but ultimately unsuccessful campaign  in Ireland, supported by many in the Irish arts sector including a former Eurovision winner,  to get Ireland to boycott the contest.

Which has led my children, two here with us, one in Budapest and one in Amman yet still regularly in contact with each other and with us, to collectively come to the decision that generally, but particularly in the wake of Netanyahu’s electoral promise of even more expansionism and annexation of land, that they can’t in all good conscience take part in the tradition this year either in reality or on Skype. And you know what? They are absolutely correct and I’m bloody well proud of them for it.

Now I know that there’s some debate around boycotts but for me they’re the ultimate in personal freedom and choice. Don’t like or agree with something? Withdraw your personal support for it.  Don’t agree with boycotts? Easy, don’t boycott. Simples. Incidentally, in a wonderfully poetic touch the Irish, with their instinctive opposition to injustice and their natural affinity with the underdog. The nation who invented the concept of the boycott, have organised an alternative to Eurovision in Dublin’s National Stadium on the same night. Some of Ireland’s famous musicians will take to the stage with all proceeds being donated to  the Middle East Children’s Alliance.

So there you have it, I feel the death knell is sounding for a casa McMahon family tradition as once the chain is broken I fear it ever will be repaired. I do however hope that when my children become parents themselves then the tradition can be reborn with three generations instead of two. The disrupting of this family tradition has brought some marvellous memories throughout the years flooding back full of love, smiles, laughter and warmth tinged with the sadness that as young men must become middle aged so must children in turn become adults along with the accompanying loss of childhood innocence,  insulation and wonder as life inevitably moves forward.

In the misquoted lyrics of the 1974 Eurovision winner:

My my. I tried to hold it back but it was stronger


By David Vance On May 10th, 2019 at 7:26 pm


By David Vance On May 10th, 2019 at 7:21 pm

WPLJ Radio Signing Off

By Phantom On May 10th, 2019 at 6:40 pm

New York City FM radio station WPLJ is going off the air at the end of the month. The new owner will play Christian music.

The news stings, but it shouldn’t. I’ve not listened to it since forever. Neither have many others.

Back in the seventies and eighties, WPLJ was one of the ” album oriented, progressive ” stations here that would play better, longer ” rock ” songs, and which would sometimes play an entire album. This was a huge, welcome change from what was before them. Top 40 radio, played on the AM band, with the poor audio that AM gives you.

As rock declined, so did stations like WPLJ. I am told that their advertising revenue in 2017 was a bit more than 33% of what it was in 2010. No future in that.

The larger picture is a terrestrial radio medium in rapid decline. The biggest driver of new radio listeners is music, and very many young people and others get all their music from Spotify or other streaming services now. Teenagers barely know what a normal radio is now. I only listen to standard radio when in the car.

WPLJ is owned by a big company called Cumulus. Cumulus also owns WABC AM locally.

WABC AM I think used to be the most profitable radio station in the US. They have a massively powerful signal, which at night you can hear in much of the eastern US. I heard it in Illinois one winter night. They were a rock and roll station with massive ratings for years. When their audience started leaving in large numbers for FM radio and its better signal, they shifted to an all talk radio format in 1982. This was a smart strategy, and WABC made a fortune for years with the new conservative talk format.

But now talk radio is itself in major decline. WABC ad revenues and ratings are way down.

The primary reason for all these changes I believe is technology. If you can live without a DJ, Spotify is better than any radio station. You can listen to talk radio on podcasts/streaming.

High speed internet makes a lot of unforseen things possible. The radio we grew up follows paper newspapers into decline, much faster than anticipated.


By Patrick Van Roy On May 10th, 2019 at 2:49 pm

On this day 150 years ago, in 1869, the Golden Spike was hammered in at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory, creating the First Transcontinental Railroad. The new rail line linked the established railways of the eastern United States with the rapidly expanding railroads of the West, and made transcontinental travel via train a reality. Need some context? The alternative at the time would be to traverse the nearly 2,000-mile stretch between Omaha and San Francisco by horse, wagon, or your own two feet. With rail travel now an option, America’s westward expansion was suddenly in high gear.

I think that makes this song apropos

A Showboat to China

By Mahons On May 10th, 2019 at 12:14 pm

Do you think Trump’s Tariff move against China is less an economic policy and more a manifestation of wall envy?

China’s economic games have long been a sore spot but I’m not certain tariffs are a sound counterpunch. Certainly conservatives have long been opposed to such tactics as government interference. I am sure in the Trump Era (error?) they will stand on their heads and say otherwise.

The economy is going along ok so the usual warning bells arent sounding the usual alarm. A tempermental guy who apparently lost Carl Sagan money running casinos into the ground may not be the best judge of business steps, but few in his party are going to say the emperor has no clothes. And the other party isn’t suffering from an overabundance of deep thinkers at the moment.

Calvin Coolidge once said the business of America is business and I hope the President starts listening to some of the leaders there. We are borrowing enough from the future as it is.

Racist ” Joke ” Directed at Newborn Baby

By Phantom On May 9th, 2019 at 8:08 pm

All here probably have heard about the controversy by now.

Is this really supposed to be funny, or edgy in some way?


By David Vance On May 9th, 2019 at 2:03 pm

I am sure that you, like me, are deeply concerned about the rise of “right-wing terrorism”. Have a look at these stats…you can see WHY the politicians are so concerned about the “right wing”…