It’s happening at Housmans this November…

Logo This month we’ve got talks and live performances – hopefully something to appeal to everyone’s taste. Aside from great music events, we have Oscar-winning director Mike Figgis coming in to talk about the digital revolution taking place in the film world, a development that’s democratised the process of film-making, and challenged the dominance of the big studios.

HackneyElizabeth Carola – ‘Hot’ – stories from Hackney

Book launch: Sunday 9th November 5pm

Elizabeth Carola launches her latest short story collection ‘Hot’. Ten stories set in Hackney. Ten intertwined lives. A dole officer learns how to poach rabbits. A banker’s devotion to his allotment threatens his day job. An advice worker wrestles with parasites. A jilted lover speculates on the nature of torture. A group of climate activists fail to organise a piss up in the brewery of (very) late capitalism. How we live now.

In the words of Muriel Spark, for those of you who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you will like!

Sinclair John Sinclair – ‘Rock and Revolution with the MC5 and the White Panther Party’

Talk: Monday 10th November 1pm

Housmans welcomes Detroit poet, one-time manager of the band MC5, and leader of the White Panther Party, John Sinclair, who will be signing and talking about ‘It’s All Good; the John Sinclair Reader', not published until April next year, but exclusively available on the day.

John is well known for his role in activism and publishing throughout the 1960s, and then for his management of the seminal hard-edged proto-punk MC5 from 1966 to 1969. Under his guidance the band embraced the counter-culture revolutionary politics of the White Panther Party. But it was his arrest after a series of convictions for possession of marijuana, for which Sinclair was sentenced to 10 years in prison, that made him a national star of the counter-culture.

This sentence sparked the landmark "Free John Now Rally" which brought together a who's-who of left-wing luminaries, including pop musicians John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Stevie Wonder, Phil Ochs and Bob Seger, jazz artists Archie Shepp and Roswell Rudd, and speakers Allen Ginsberg, Rennie Davis, Dave Dellinger, Jerry Rubin, and Bobby Seale. Three days after the rally, Sinclair was released from prison when the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the state's marijuana statutes were unconstitutional.

Frankie ‘Singing the Struggle: Voices, Women, Peace’ with Frankie Armstrong

Music evening: Wednesday 12th November 7pm

Frankie has been voicing her values and political commitments through song for over forty years. She has sung in Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park against the Vietnam war, in favour of women’s choice and against nuclear arms.

While she doesn’t believe that song can change the world, she does believe that it can play a crucial role in keeping up hope and spirits. This, in turn, help[s give the energy and stamina to keep up the struggle. Songs can speak to our heads and our hearts in equal measure and help us to keep this balance in our lives.

As well as performing, she has been running Voice Workshops for the past 33 years, which are very much about helping participants ‘find their voice’. In order to make ourselves heard, we must feel we have the RIGHT to speak or sing.

This evening will be a mix of Frankie chatting and singing, having you, the ‘listeners’, involved in voicing – no need for anxiety; the whole point of her work is to help people not to feel judged – but for everyone to feel that they have a valid voice to contribute to the whole.

The evening will also contain fun – she is currently obsessed by Edward Said’s wonderful saying, “lightness is the aesthetic of resistance”.

Figgis ‘Digital Film Making’ with Mike Figgis

Talk: Wednesday 19th November 7pm

Mike Figgis has roots in experimental theatre and music, which are just two primary influences that contribute to the creative vision in all of his feature films and documentaries. Over the course of the past 20 years, Figgis has emerged as a visionary filmmaker who thrives on taking artistic risks.

He is possibly most famous for directing the Oscar-winning ‘Leaving Las Vegas’, but the British born filmmaker has exhibited his more eclectic personal style in such films as ‘Stormy Monday’ and ‘Liebestraum’, while more recently his innovative use of new digital technology led to the making of ‘Timecode’, one of the first films to be shot entirely on digital cameras.

His enthusiastic uptake of the digital format has led him to write a book on the subject, ‘Digital Film Making’. On the one hand the book is a handy guide, offering the reader a tutorial in how to get the very best from digital film-making technology. But above all it sets out to encourage people to pick up a camera and have a go.

Mike Figgis will be talking about the digital film making revolution, answering questions and will also be signing copies of his book.

Groove ‘Forward Groove: the radical history of jazz’

Music with Chris Searle

Saturday 22nd November 3pm

Chris Searle’s book ‘Forward Groove’ is a survey of recorded jazz from its beginnings to the present, seeking to show how its musicians always reflected in their music the is sues of their day, from mass migration and the struggles against racism, to a hatred of war, the assertion of internationalism and the aspirations towards a fair and just world.

Searle looks at attempts to resist racism through music, including the Civil Rights movement in the US and the continuing fight against racism in the US and Britain.

This book will appeal to jazz lovers everywhere and those interested in culture and music as an expression of real history – jazz reconciles scattered cultures with diasporan sounds and instruments.

Chris will be discussing the radical history of jazz, playing excerpts from key pieces of music, answering questions, and also signing copies of the book.

Sweat No Sweat @ Housmans

-Triple Bill featuring King Blues’ frontman Itch Fox, Clayton Blizzard and PJ & Gaby

Music: Saturday 22nd November 6pm-9pm

No Sweat regularly host the best nights in politically charged music, with all proceeds going towards fighting sweatshop bosses around the world. This evening No Sweat bring a selection of their favourite artists to Housmans, all playing in an unplugged style. The fantastic line up includes:

 King Blues’ frontman Itch Fox – skacore street politics and protest with a smile and a wink

 Clayton Blizzard -  the Finest in Political Hip Hop

 PJ & Gaby – emotive and outsopken FolkPunk

 …plus anti-sweatshop speeches, free drinks and a raffle.

 This event is guaranteed to pack out, so arrive early to avoid disappointment.

War War Resisters’ International website launch party

Talk & party: Wednesday 26th November 7pm

War Resisters' International (WRI) is an international anti-war organisation with members and affiliates in over thirty countries, whose international headquarters are based in the offices above Housmans. This evening WRI will be launching their new website, On 26 November War Resisters' International will be launching its new website. The website – or better knowledgebase – provides information on everything of interest to WRI: issues of conscientious objection and recruitment all over the world, issues of nonviolence, and war profiteers.

The website also includes the new Conscientious Objection Information System (COBIS), which includes a global database of conscientious objectors and combines this with WRI's co-alert system.

Andreas Speck from War Resisters' International and Anselm Heaton from Netuxo Ltd will give brief presentations on the new website.

Drinks and snacks will be provided


Lee ‘Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry – burning down the Ark’ with Henk Targowski

Music: Saturday 29th November 5pm

Reggae producer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry is one of modern music’s undisputed legends; his groundbreaking production techniques proving hugely influential to this day. However, his visionary talents came at a price – by 1979 the pressure of the Jamaican music industry and the excesses of his lifestyle caught up with him, leading Perry to a mental breakdown that damaged both his personal and musical life. Perry’s studio, the Black Ark, fell into disrepair, and it looked as if Perry would never work again.

In April 1979, Perry received a visit from Henk Targowski, an impresario and owner of Black Star Liner distribution, a record company based in the Netherlands. Targowski wanted to distribute Perry's material, but was not prepared for the madness he would encounter at the Black Ark – reels of master tapes lay strewn on the floor, and the recording equipment was next to useless due to water damage from a leaky roof. The once proud studio was now little more than a junkyard.

Along with some associates, Targowski decided to attempt a salvage operation, trying to refurbish and restore the studio to working order. Financed by Black Star Liner, construction work progressed throughout 1980, and new equipment was ordered and installed. Along with a motley crew of European studio musicians, Scratch erratically recorded what would eventually become the ‘Return Of Pipecock Jacxson’ album – the last album to be recorded at theArk.

By the spring of 1980, however, the restoration project was abandoned, and Black Star Liner's crew left Jamaica for good. What had been painstakingly rebuilt in the past year was dismantled and destroyed by Perry. Worse was to come: one morning in 1983, the Black Ark burned down. Fire raged through the concrete structure, the temperature inside becoming so intense that it eventually blew the roof off. The studio, the source of some of the most powerful music ever recorded, lay in ruins.

"The Black Ark was too black and too dread," Perry explains. "Even though I am black, I have to burn it down, to save my brain. It was too black. It want to eat me up!"

We are delighted to welcome Henk Targowski to Housmans to recount his memories of Lee Perry, and discuss all aspects of this seminal producer’s work. Henk is also the publisher of the now ultra-rare fanzine ‘The Upsetter’, copies of which we hope will be available on the day.

Guitar John Sinclair – Guitar Army

We are delighted to have John Sinclair visiting us on  the 10th November to talk about this latest book ‘It’s All Good: the John Sinclair Reader', and wanted to flag up this other important work ‘Guitar Army: Rock and Revolution with the MC5 and the White Panther Party’. ‘Guitar Army’ is about a time when revolutionaries kicked out the jams against The Man’s war machine. The costs were high but the possibilities immense.

As the founder of the White Panther Party, John Sinclair was set up by the police, having rallied thousands against the establishment. Sinclair became one of the most legendary political prisoners of the time, and with the help of John and Yoko and other comrades he successfully fought for freedom.

This new edition of the 1972 classic includes many never-before-printed photographs of MC5 and the incendiary tribal scene. It also includes a bonus CD, with recordings of the MC5 and other revolutionary bands, Allen Ginsberg, Black Panther Bobby Seale, White Panther Meetings and more. Get a copy, come down on the 10th and John will sign it for you!


Peace Diary 2009

The 56th edition of the Housmans Peace Diary is being published in October. Not only is it a beautifully presented, pocket-sized diary, but thanks to its World Peace Directory it serves as a unique reference tool for peace, human rights and green activists everywhere. The Directory lists almost 2000 peace, environmental and human rights organisation in 150 countries, and is the only directory of its kind.

The Diary and its Directory (both a non-profit service to fellow activists) continue to depend on much voluntary labour. We welcome help in promoting the Diary – appropriate leaflets are available from Housmans Diary Group – either call the shop on 020 7837 4473 or email

The Diary is available from Housmans and can be sent direct to any destination worldwide for just £8.95, post-free. It makes a wonderful gift, whether for your loved ones, fellow activists, or even yourself! To get your copy either get in touch with the shop by phone or in person, or email

Click here for more information.

 5 Caledonian Road, King’s Cross, London N1 9DX

020 7837 4473

About Sophie Talbot

Sophie runs a small business designing websites for small businesses and community groups. She also manages King's Cross Community Projects
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