Monthly Archives: January 2015

Crime Narrative (HUM303)

The Coal-Train Robberies (demo version)

Yesterday’s coal train came to rest in the bitter cutting
And while the signals took an age to change, it was easy pickings
So you go to the movies where they smash it up
You want to feel your heart pumping, it makes me feel good
All through the karaoke, they were screaming the hits
While another Mercedes-Benz gets blown to bits

Outside a khaki-covered river oozes by
And still they say that there’s a big important world out there to try
“What’s yours is yours, what’s yours is mine,” so say those City of London swine
“So let’s steal something that’s really worth it”

Reports are coming in of a coal train robbery
It’s like another world, or it had better be

Come down the banks where you used to court, your heart pumping
You know where she kissed you as the sweating trains pulled in
A scrap of grime for a glimmer of heat beneath the rails between your feet
You used to pick rags from the workhouse floor
You don’t want much, you just want more
You waited fifteen years for the whistle to blow
When they say “work,” when they say “no”
If you don’t believe that I’m going for good
You can count the days I’m gone and chop up the chairs for firewood

Reports are coming in of a coal train robbery
It’s like another world, or it had better be

Reports are coming in of a coal train robbery
Reports are coming in of a coal train robbery

Inequality for All

From Oxfam:

In 2014, the richest 1% of people in the world owned 48% of global wealth,
leaving just 52% to be shared between the other 99% of adults on the planet.
Almost all of that 52% is owned by those included in the richest 20%, leaving just
5.5% for the remaining 80% of people in the world. If this trend continues of an
increasing wealth share to the richest, the top 1% will have more wealth than the
remaining 99% of people in just two years, as shown on Figure 2, with the wealth
share of the top 1% exceeding 50% by 2016.


Robert Stone, Writer (1937-2015)

Rbt.StoneThe first novel by Stone that I read was Dog Soldiers, which some readers nominate as his most accomplished work. Over the next year I read Hall of Mirrors, Outerbridge Reach, A Flag for Sunrise, and Children of Light. I’ve never taught his fiction but I used Prime Green, a truly immersive memoir of the 60s, for HUM470: American Autobiography. Finding himself in a crowd with Jack Kerouac, he noted that Jack tended to respond to requests for cigarettes with the irritated rhetorical question, “Why don’t you buy your own smokes?”.  My perception of Stone was of someone who was haunted, fragile, and willful. He was remanded to an orphanage when his mother was institutionalized. He went to sea. He worked as a reporter. His writing focused almost completely on the US and US Americans– yet you couldn’t with any justice deem him a nationalist.

He wrote:

“I have come to believe that language, a line of print, say, is capable of inhabiting the imagination far more intensely than any picture, however doctored. The same principle applies to the novel, if it works. No Hollywood flick, no movie of any provenance, can ever provide an experience of the battle of Borodino as intense as that provided in Tolstoy’s pages. Descriptive language supplies deeper penetration, attaches itself to the rods and cones of interior perception, to a greater degree than a recovered or remembered image. Language is the process that lashes experience to the intellect” (Prime Green 133).