Hard News by Russell Brown

Four Strange Men

For all that we've been deluged lately with pronouncements about speech, free and otherwise, this clip might actually be the best thing I've seen all year. The late Frank Zappa deadpans his way through a 1986 episode of CNN's Crossfire dedicated to the scourge of obscene pop music. I hate Zappa's music, but gee he's good on this. It's a 50MB QuickTime file from some mouldering VHS tape, but it's really worth the download.

Meanwhile, the Guardian has an excellent interview with another kind of oddball: Nick Cave, who wrote the script for the new "brutal Australian western" The Proposition.

And the undeniably odd Prince Charles is in the gun - again - after court action to try and stop the Mail on Sunday publishing further extracts from a private journal he wrote at the time of the Hong Kong handover backfired horribly.

Charles presents as a hapless Eeyore figure, and he may well be the most luckless litigator of his age, but he'd make a lovely columnist for the Spectator. He writes as who he is: his thoughts on unexpectedly finding himself in Club Class en route to the handover of Hong Kong ("Such is the end of Empire, I sighed to myself") are really quite bleakly funny.

I'm in the minority, I'm sure, in believing that his former wife represented something I don't like - the manipulative attention-seeker - but rather liking Charles. I find his pronouncements on architecture and genetic engineering a bit tiresome, and the Guardian's ticking-off of him is doubtless well-warranted, but, still, I rather like him. Go figure, as those dreadful Americans say …

And finally, demonstrating that there is apparently no length to which modern Britain won't go to regulate personal behaviour, London mayor Ken Livingstone has been stood down for a month and made liable for £80,000 pounds in costs for being "unnecessarily insensitive and offensive" to a journalist in the course of what he presumably took to be a private conversation.

Livingstone was bailed up by Evening Standard reporter Oliver Finegold as he left a party a year ago. Presumably, he'd had a couple, because he compared Finegold (who happens to be Jewish) to a Nazi war criminal. This is the transcript, as recorded in Livingstone's Wikipedia entry:

Finegold: Mr Livingstone, Evening Standard. How did tonight go?

Livingstone: How awful for you. Have you thought of having treatment?

Finegold: How did tonight go?

Mr Livingstone: Have you thought of having treatment?

Finegold: Was it a good party? What does it mean for you?

Mr Livingstone: What did you do before? Were you a German war criminal?

Finegold: No, I'm Jewish, I wasn't a German war criminal and I'm actually quite offended by that. So, how did tonight go?

Mr Livingstone: Arr right, well you might be [Jewish], but actually you are just like a concentration camp guard, you are just doing it because you are paid to, aren't you?

Finegold: Great, I have you on record for that. So, how was tonight?

Mr Livingstone: It's nothing to do with you because your paper is a load of scumbags and reactionary bigots.

Finegold: I'm a journalist and I'm doing my job. I'm only asking for a comment.

Mr Livingstone: Well, work for a paper that doesn't have a record of supporting fascism.

So Ken was a bit of a cunt. But that much has been obvious to his nation for a year; presumably some voters will take it into account next time. But, as various people are pointing out, for a panel of three unelected officials to remove a democratically elected mayor is bizarre and unhealthy.

PS: And despite scoring 42 points this weekend, and climbing 27,504 places overall, I remain irritatingly just outside the Top 10 in the Public Address Virtual Super 14 Leader Board. Nic Jones continues to enjoy a healthy lead, and those two promising young broadcasters, John Campbell and Wammo, dwell yet in bottom-five ignominy. Oh woe! (BTW, I think I've missed adding a couple of people who wanted to join our board - if that's you, can you drop me another email to remind me?)