Two Tuesday Quotes: Watt and Iqbal

Life is definitely not a rehearsal, this is it.

Mike Watt

Nations are born in the hearts of poets, they prosper and die in the hands of politicians.

Allama Muhammad Iqbal

Biographical information after the jump.

Mike Watt

Mike Watt is an American musician and a founding member of the seminal punk group the Minutemen. The Minutemen got their start in the punk music scene in California around the same time as the Beastie Boys were becoming a New York hardcore group. When the Minutemen played New York’s CBGB in the early 1980s, New York fans embraced them with the same fervor that they traditionally reserved for local acts like the Beastie Boys. In 1985, the Minutemen’s legacy was cut short when guitar player and vocalist D. Boon was killed in an automobile accident.

In 1986, Watt formed fIREHOSE, a band that picked up musically where the Minutemen had left off. In 1991, fiREHOSE signed with Columbia Records, their first major label contract. In 1992, Beastie Boys invited fiREHOSE to open for them when they were touring in support of Check Your Head. (Source)


In the late 1970’s, few musicians in Pedro wrote their own songs and if they did, they tried to copy what was already popular. With the advent of punk, especially inspired by new British bands Wire and The Pop Group, Boon and Watt realized they could write their own songs and invent their own sound In 1978, with drummer George Hurley and vocalist Martin Tamburovich, they formed The Reactionaries and then in 1980, the trio of Boon, Hurley and Watt became the Minutemen (after a couple of gigs with drummer Frank Tonche). They were quickly embraced by the LA “punk” scene, which by then included Black Flag (who took them on their first European tour in 1983), The Germs and Circle Jerks, visual artist Raymond Pettibon, who created many of their flyers and album covers, and independent labels, like their own New Alliance Records, which released Husker Du’s first single, and SST, for whom the Minutemen later recorded.

From the start, even amongst their super freak punk peers, the Minutemen displayed a very original style. Their extremely brief and efficient songs were a kaleidoscope of musical genres, from the short bursts of what has now come to define punk to psychedelic, hardcore, folk and jazz, while referencing wildly dissimilar artists like John Coltrane, Captain Beefheart, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Blue Oyster Cult. Their lyrics were succinct, too, yet eloquent. Their name itself was a play on words: they were (mahy-noot) men, blue-collar working stiffs who loved great works of fiction, history and politics and who could toss astute barbs at Ronald Reagan, Michael Jackson and others. They had their own lexicon known as “Pedro-speak.” Words and phrases like “we jam econo” “mersh” and “this band could be your life” still endure three decades later.

From early on Watt’s lyrics were especially pre-occupied with the individual. Rather than writing anthems for an unknown public, he wrote about himself, initially as “I,” then later in the third person as “Watt,” often riffing in an abstract beat-poet style on fleeting thoughts, mundane personal experiences, books and authors he loved – particularly James Joyce – and his own optimistic ideals. (Source)

Allama Iqbal

Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal was a poet, philosopher and politician born in Sialkot, British India (now in Pakistan), whose poetry in Urdu, Arabic and Persian is considered to be among the greatest of the modern era and whose vision of an independent state for the Muslims of British India was to inspire the creation of Pakistan. He is commonly referred to as Allama Iqbal‎, Allama meaning “Scholar”. Iqbal was a strong proponent of the political and spiritual revival of Islamic civilization across the world, but specifically in India; a series of famous lectures he delivered to this effect were published as The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. One of the most prominent leaders of the All India Muslim League, Iqbal encouraged the creation of a “state in northwestern India for Indian Muslims” in his 1930 presidential address. Iqbal encouraged and worked closely with Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and he is known as Muffakir-e-Pakistan (“The Thinker of Pakistan”), Shair-e-Mashriq (“The Poet of the East”), and Hakeem-ul-Ummat (“The Sage of Ummah”). He is officially recognized as the “national poet” in Pakistan.
While dividing his time between law and poetry, Iqbal had remained active in the Muslim League. He supported Indian involvement in World War I, as well as the Khilafat movement and remained in close touch with Muslim political leaders such as Maulana Mohammad Aliand Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He was a critic of the mainstream Indian National Congress, which he regarded as dominated by Hindus and was disappointed with the League when during the 1920s, it was absorbed in factional divides between the pro-British group led by Sir Muhammad Shafi and the centrist group led by Jinnah.
In November 1926, with the encouragement of friends and supporters, Iqbal contested for a seat in the Punjab Legislative Assembly from the Muslim district of Lahore, and defeated his opponent by a margin of 3,177 votes. He supported the constitutional proposals presented by Jinnah with the aim of guaranteeing Muslim political rights and influence in a coalition with the Congress, and worked with the Aga Khan and other Muslim leaders to mend the factional divisions and achieve unity in the Muslim League.
Some historians postulate that Jinnah always remained hopeful for an agreement with the Congress and never fully desired the partition of India. Iqbal’s close correspondence with Jinnah is speculated by some historians as having been responsible for Jinnah’s embrace of the idea of Pakistan. Iqbal elucidated to Jinnah his vision of a separate Muslim state in a letter sent on June 21, 1937:“A separate federation of Muslim Provinces, reformed on the lines I have suggested above, is the only course by which we can secure a peaceful India and save Muslims from the domination of Non-Muslims. Why should not the Muslims of North-West India and Bengal be considered as nations entitled to self-determination just as other nations in India and outside India are.”Iqbal, serving as president of the Punjab Muslim League, criticized Jinnah’s political actions, including a political agreement with Punjabi leader Sir Sikandar Hyat Khan, whom Iqbal saw as a representative of feudal classes and not committed to Islam as the core political philosophy. Nevertheless, Iqbal worked constantly to encourage Muslim leaders and masses to support Jinnah and the League. (Source)

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