Guardian Garbage

December 22, 2006 at 01:45 AM · Greetings,

yesterday the looney President Niyazov of Turkmenistan died. The Guardian hacks wrote a shoddy report re funeral type stuff which included the following:

"State television showed musicians sawing on violins and a week of mourning was announced"

I call on all violnists to deluge the GUardian with complaints about their inability to describe the most complex and artistic skill in existence as anytnig other than the butt of caricature and cliche.

(Unless of course professional violins were so overwhelmed by the death of their dear leader that they donned winter garb and actually put some work into preparing firewood.....)

Happy Christmas to everyone except pig-ignorant hacks,


Replies (34)

December 22, 2006 at 02:45 AM · Good riddance, Niyazov!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I HATED that guy.

As for "sawing on violins", it might not be too incorrect. Have you the faintest idea what Niyazov did to the classical-music education system in that poor country? Think "Cultural Revolution."

Edit: no-one needs firewood in Turkmenistan, it's blazing hot there practically year-round. :)

December 22, 2006 at 03:25 AM · The dictator died. No chin music over that!

December 22, 2006 at 07:22 AM · Agree with you totally. Have written to the paper.

The country had a nasty dictator: so we have to insult all its citizens, or its violinists?

New trend in journalism. Want to say something clever and supposedly witty and don't care if you insult half the world to do it.

December 22, 2006 at 09:10 AM · Buri,

This was meant more as a literary device as anything else. It was really to highlight the patheticism of it all.

December 22, 2006 at 09:36 AM · Normally I would also find this kind of description very offensive (especially if it was applied to my playing!!) but I feel here that it wasn't a professional group of virtuoso violinists, but probably a very amateur and ad hoc group of people who got together to play (possibly government officials or military men), who probably got a very basic music education (judging by the country's opposition to music and culture).

Therefore, they most probably were "sawing" as many a teacher will tell their pupils when they bow in a very primitive way.

I think the writer was just trying to show how pathetic the whole sequence of events were (like Pieter already said). It wouldn't have sounded the same if he said that the group of violinists were "spinning out heart-rending renditions in a virtuosic fashion". It would just be too optimistic for the article and the situation...

Just my 2 cents.

December 22, 2006 at 03:21 PM · I'm with Pieter and Larry, I'm sure that no insult was intended to the good Turkmen people. :)

December 22, 2006 at 04:28 PM · I find it underhanded and offensive. His rule may have been pathetic, but the paragraph where "sawing" appears is dead serious. The country could spiral into chaos. Given the abundant natural resources, external powers won't be sitting uninterested adding to the complexity of the situation. I take the phrase "sawing away" meaning all the regular broadcast programming is suspended. It doesn't look like a place to opine how it is played or be pathetic.


December 22, 2006 at 06:26 PM · I just don't see how this is so offensive. You know the quote "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce"? Well, Niyazov's rule was both tragedy AND farce. He destroyed the country and strangled the people, while making loony decrees like banning lip-synching and beards. And then there are the hundreds of ugly statues of himself....

So now picture the scene: the megalomaniacal dictator is being laid to rest, amid much grandiose and grotesque pomp and circumstance. There are monuments and posters everywhere--but they're so hideous, they're more funny (in a dark, sick way) than awe- or terror-inspiring. The hired musicians, intended to provide the sad sounds of a heartbroken people wailing for their dear departed leader, are instead giving rather poor and unskilled renditions of hackneyed tunes. The zillions of flowers being placed in tribute are probably stunted and wilted due to the country's lousy agriculture and water system. It's all like a big, satirical, tragicomic, postwar-Central-European novel. And I still fail to see what is so offensive.

December 22, 2006 at 07:13 PM · I'm with Maura on this. And if he had that bad an impact on the arts, it might be a good turning point as well. Creative nature, is not always elegantly pretty.

Broadcast some lettuce seeds, and watch the ones that don't make it beside the ones that do.

I tell myself this everytime I practice double stops. ;)...

Anyway, in the same spirit, freedom continues De Toqueville's march. Or let's hope so.

And concerning journalism, I find it interesting

that some of the earliest, at least American, was and is well known as having been somewhat sensational spoofs. Franklin as a teenager was an honary pup...

Though I understand what Theodore White meant in "In Search of History", one should remember that both "The National Enquirer" and apparently "The Guardian" still exist as journalism tries and continues to define itself 'towards' legitimacy.

December 22, 2006 at 08:04 PM · If a similar thing happens in the US, let's say when President Kennedy was assasinated. Let's assume a pompant occasion which may be a bit out of place. In a news report that describes the funral arrangements and gravity of the situation, if the article makes light comments about it, wouldn't you be offended? I would be.


December 22, 2006 at 08:31 PM · I saw it more as just being half thought...

December 22, 2006 at 08:58 PM · Ihnsouk, yes, but the US isn't nearly as bizarre as Turkmenistan...

Albert, I agree. Why the uproar over an unimportant, offhand remark?

December 22, 2006 at 09:41 PM · Greetings,

dear Pieter, I have two master degrees in language teaching and am finishing up a phd in cognitive psychology focused on language. One of my main areas of specialization has been discourse analysis. So yes, I know what a literary device is.:)

As for the rest.I posted the thing with a humorous intent .. Howveer, sicne people are exercising their right to disucss the things eriously I will note the following:

1) Speculation about the nature of the group is essentially meaningless but uit is far more like ly to be profesisonals than a bunch of ad hoc amateurs.

2) Literaray devices display and conceal very real attitude sand prejudices which are often worth exploring and on ocassion aking a serious rebuttal of even the apparently most inncouous, which was not my original intention here. Like I sais, It wa sa joke.

But look at it this way, as Maura said, musicians have suffered terribly under dictators of that buggars ilk. As in the soviet union, there freedom to think, beceative, earn a decent living for the sacrifice of childhood pleasures that it often takes are take away. The musician keeps going becuas ethat is what he she is born to do . If you are a musician there is no escape except lunacy or death.

The comment in the paper therefore dissed those musicians by using the cliche applied to beginners of 'sawing' .This reflects in rather important ways on our lives and incomes. To begin with it reinforces the prejudice that beginners make bad noises. Thereby disouraging others and cutitng down on our supply of students. Beginners don"t make bad noises. Bad teachers do.

It associates the violinists with elitism and opression, thus potentially discouraging rebellious youngsters.

It implies that musicians struggling under a vile dictator are sommehow intellectually and morally to our own "democracies' because they are identified with the politicla system rather than the people.

It presents an image of musicians comforming and empathising with the detath of a dictator when many of the may have ha dno choice and may even have bene engaged in the struggle against him at risk to themeselve sor their families.

In essence, in attempting to present a ligthearted image of the end of an evil person, it used a class of people in a negative way.

Further, There are no references to prunes.

This is one kind of -heavy- interpretation of what was done and I am not actually going to lose sleep over it, but perhaps it does provide more food for thought than I orinally lihgheartedly posted,



December 22, 2006 at 10:44 PM · "the US isn't nearly as bizarre as Turkmenistan."

If one is as bizarre as Turkmenistan, should they be only glad to receive snickering? To me, that sounds even more bizarre than Turkmenistan. Besides, all the energy people spend in the US about banning Darwin's theory is only a little less bizarre in my opinion.

I may be reading too much into this. To me, behind sawing violinists is a suspended news coverage, and behind a suspended news coverage is a fierce power struggle as to who will be the next dictator. It's possible that some people's lives may be on line. Is it still funny to you?


December 22, 2006 at 10:47 PM · First of all, I am and have been for some time very well-informed about events in Turkmenistan. So don't accuse me of taking the situation there lightly. Second of all, there is actually a chance that the next leader will not be nearly as much of a dictator--exiled opposition leaders and dissidents are returning to the country as we type, and will do their utmost to seize this opportunity to create a decent government.

And third of all, now I'm confused as to exactly what I'm supposed to be offended about. Is it the horrible disrespect paid all violinists by the Guardian writer using the word "sawing"? Is it the equally horrible disrespect paid the Turkmen people by using the word "sawing" to describe their violinists? Or is it the fact that Turkmen TV was showing footage of violinists?

December 23, 2006 at 12:04 AM · Glad to hear things may turn out well.

My take is that Buri initially posted half jokingly to object to "sawing". I don't know what you should be offended about or if you should be offended at all. I am offended at "sawing violinists". The light manner the article describes the country's broadcasting at the moment. To me it doesn't feel respectful of the people. Let's say at President Kennedy's funeral, they were burning candles all night. If a newspaper article describes it as something like burning bee's crap all night, I'd be enraged.


December 23, 2006 at 12:46 AM · Your problem is you're comparing him to Kennedy. Do you feel the same way if you compare him to satan?

December 23, 2006 at 03:16 AM · OK, just different perceptions then, to me it's not disrespectful at all. Consider that probably 95% of the population is extremely happy he's gone, just too scared to say so (living in a dictatorship will do that to you.) But really, must we compare Kennedy to Niyazov? That's sort of ridiculous.

And I STILL don't think there was any disrespect to anyone intended by the use of the word "sawing"!

December 23, 2006 at 07:00 AM · Greetings,

hey I`ve got to make more of these humorous posts. It really seems to get people going!



December 23, 2006 at 07:12 AM · Good riddance, Niyazov!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I HATED that guy.

Gosh, that's a bit dictatorial.

December 23, 2006 at 07:53 AM · Greetings,

wouldn`t it be greta if the guys and gals on the fiddle were deliberatedly sawing to express their contempt?



December 23, 2006 at 01:33 PM · That would be great, but the Guardian still doesn't get to describe a state funeral using that term in my opinion.

What is interesting to me is why some people are sensitive about issues of this nature while others are totally oblivious. Communication usually breaks down, and shouting starts; you were belittling me No, I am not you are just being an oversensitive trouble maker, etc. Used to have it all the time with Kevin Huang here. My daughter's school, a Quaker school, has a weekly session showing video clips of people of different races interacting with each other. Kids then discuss if each scene is racial or not, probing subtle racism. The school has all my respect, and I think it is a sign of progress that more obvious racism is largely gone. And Americans get all my respect, too to bring divided society this far. On that note, Merry Christmas everyone.


December 23, 2006 at 04:01 PM · Ihnsouk, I just don't see it as racist, and in Niyazov's case respect is simply not necessary. If you knew anything about Niyazov and what he has done to the Turkmen people, you wouldn't argue with a "disrespectful" portrayal of his funeral. Would you want a worshipful, reverent portrayal of the funeral of Stalin? Or Idi Amin? Or Hitler?

And the same thing goes for whoever called me "dictatorial" for saying "good riddance, I hated that guy". Read something about him (and not just the typical "ho-ho-ho, look at what the funny uncivilized tyrant is doing now!" reports on the BBC...) and then see if you don't want to say "good riddance" as well.

I know all the opposition websites, the only one in English is Give it a read and then tell me we need to have a "respectful" portrayal of his pompous state funeral and can't say "good riddance".

December 23, 2006 at 06:55 PM · Maura - I didn't say that guy deserves respect. It is the people and the state funeral that deserves respect. If his people decides to trash him, I'd help them as well as I can. But I wouldn't trash a soverign country's state funeral on their behalf for them. Right or wrong, I do certainly feel that would be patronizing. For the same reason, if I happen to have a neighborhood kid with an abusive father, and something happens to the father I wouldn't turn up at his funeral with a congratulatory note however deeply I believe that it was the best thing that could happen. If the kid seeks me out to trash his dad, I would agree as discreetly as possible. However, I wouldn't think of trashing his father on his behalf.


December 23, 2006 at 08:19 PM · Ihnsouk, he was doing whatever he was doing on the world stage as a national leader. The Guardian wouldn't have harassed him over being a bad parent. I guess they're making light of his final undeserved tribute as a head of state.

I agree with you in one sense though. They might have used different language if talking about a larger more powerful country; the same way they use terms like "strongman" instead of "president" for corrupt heads of little countries. But I don't think that's too little respect for bad leaders of small countries though. More like too much respect for the larger :)

December 23, 2006 at 08:46 PM · But why is it that you have to deride others - in this case the musicians, who presumably are making or trying to make a living with music as anywhere else, no one knows their story - in order to get at this completely unacceptable guy.

December 23, 2006 at 09:24 PM · Parmeeta, you choose to see it as deriding them. You could as easily see it as a compliment to them; "sawing" implies they didn't have their heart in the tribute.

December 24, 2006 at 02:18 AM · Shouldn't ya'll be wrapping gifts or hanging mistletoe or having your saws honed for holiday gigs ?

This seemed an inordinate display of political chest thumping, with an overzealous paucity of cogency.

Were they using chain saws do you suppose, or normal cross cuts, rippers and miters ?

December 24, 2006 at 02:48 AM · ahh, c'mon, a little political chest thumping is good stress relief. :)

December 24, 2006 at 03:26 AM · Women's chests can provide excellent stress relief.

December 24, 2006 at 12:14 PM · especially for babies...

January 1, 2007 at 10:47 PM · Speaking of babies, just got back from a trip to a family gathering with a newly born. The baby cried nonstop except when suckling. No chest thumping, political or female, can relieve the stress for me listening to a crying baby for a week and getting baggages lost twice in one trip. And we weren't traveling to Turkmenistan, just to the West coast of the US from the East coast of the same.

I agree this is a small issue, a minor slight if it is one as I claim. I couldn't help this though;"Gerald Ford, who pardoned...., resting in state in...., while the MARINE BAND is TOOTING...". I have a bad taste.

Happy New Year, everyone.


January 1, 2007 at 08:24 PM · "tooting" or "touting"? they're 2 different words....

January 1, 2007 at 11:33 PM · tooting, Maura, as in "My husband is tooting his bass clarinet upstairs, my daughter sawing on her violin while I croak on the phone to the airline baggage handler about our lost bags." We are one dignified family.


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