twitter

Thursday, 31 July 2003

something, one supposes.

if it is Bolton's analysis of North Korean affairs that makes him a hawk, then anyone with half a brain is a hawk [ETA: oh]. of course, one's being naive and knows it's other matters, but even so...
On the Friday that (pay attention here eh; this is how columnists who’ve run out of decent ideas always start, you know – a ‘where I was…’ section at the beginning…) the news broke out that Dr Kelly had committed suicide, two companions and i were having a few scoops on the pavement outside the Sherlock Holmes, which is on Northumberland Avenue, between Trafalgar Square and the Embankment (we’d not actually bought the jars from the alehouse, we were just sipping Special Brew on the pavement like the pissheads we are). At about 4 in the afternoon, one of us shouted out something – in confused surprise – about the dead mole, or somesuch. He’d seen an Evening Standard van trundle past with something written on the side.
So one raced along to the news-stand that’s by the tube near that Italian caff that sells really nice hot chocolate, not too far from the Waterstone’s going away from Whitehall and i bought me Evening Standard and got back and we crowded round and perused it, in shock afterward.
The two of us that don’t work for the government, after we’d discussed how terrible this was, and how upsetting for the man’s family, etc., then – after about 20 further of quiet drinking as we tried (and clearly failed) to ‘take it all in’ – spent about an hour, in a now stereotypical Daily Mail/Mirror stylee, berating the one of us that does, and slagging him off, saying was Blair going to resign, was Hoon or Campbell going to resign, etc. of course Alastair Campbell is going to resign now, anyway, although we’ll see if it’s before or after the Hutton Inquiry finishes. As someone who’s been an enormously helpful doodah for Tony Blair, do you think it means the beginning of the end for Mr Blair’s personal career? i’m not sure, i mean campbell will be staying on, as ever; certainly not with the announcement that the PM intends to run for a third, full term, but these are all interesting questions.
Anyway, as was slagging off our colleague and trying to account for how this monstrous state of affairs, this seedy suicide had come about, of course, do realise that was the shock talking, there’s been some right nonsense written about this sad affair in the past week, all that ‘wages of spin is death’ and suchlike, shockers. What sadly happened is, it seems, a respectable (and brilliant, nominated for the nobel peace prize as well) family chap was put into a position he was not familiar with, and it was too much. A little was made, earlier last week, of Andrew McKinlay MP probing Dr Kelly at the FAC, but the truth is, this was not bullying, a lot of FAC depositions and questioning, etc., is done in a similar manner. A lot of the stuff written about this entire tawdry episode has been pretty juvenile (some rags even dragging up the name of poor old Vince Foster, trying to seek parallels: you might remember how arch-conspiracy theorist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard used to bang on about that for quite a spell in the pages of the Sunday telegraph). One’s not going to defend the opinions of the twice-disgraced Mr Mandelson of course, or anything like that, but just love any carping about the Sun attacking the Beeb, etc., about Mr Blair or Mr Campbell resigning blood on their hands etc., etc., just silly, the words of the FAC chairman about Mr Gilligan were quite interesting as well at the time, what was it, “unsatisfactory session” with an “unsatisfactory witness”.

Below is a column from Nigel Farndale about David Kelly, and it makes quite good reading.
++
The words "tragedy" and "tragic" are so overused in journalism they are almost invisible on the page. And usually they are misused, because all the journalist means is that there has been an unfortunate accident, disaster or unexpected death. But the words seem appropriate for Dr David Kelly. His assumed suicide has the characteristics of a Greek tragedy. Here, clearly, was a man too noble for the world; more sinned against than sinning.

But there is also something of the low-budget, Monday night television drama about his death. Indeed a leading article in The Telegraph compared it to an Inspector Morse mystery. "The cameras take us down the beguiling summer lanes of the Oxfordshire countryside, and there, against all expectations, lies the body of an educated and respectable man." You can almost hear Kevin Whatley's Geordie voice: "But why would he take his own life, sir?" And John Thaw's reply: "Think, Lewis. Think."

We know Dr Kelly was an honourable man because he came forward to his line manager at the Ministry of Defence and admitted that he was probably the primary source for Andrew Gilligan's story. I strongly suspect that in the weeks to come it will emerge that Dr Kelly knew that MI6 was on to him as the mole, but that should not detract from the fact that he did the decent thing and owned up.

We also know from the way he conducted himself in front of the Foreign Affairs Committee that Dr Kelly was a pedantic man. He couldn't be sure that he had used the exact words which Mr Gilligan attributed to him, and so he had second thoughts about him being the primary source. My guess is that he went home and had third thoughts. He realised he hadn't been entirely forthcoming about his briefing to Gilligan. For a man of honour, a guilty conscience must be a dreadful, perhaps unbearable burden.

Under cross-examination by the committee, Dr Kelly had said that he "could not recall" if he had named Alastair Campbell. You'd think that would be a hard thing to forget. But would it? Who can remember exactly what they said in a conversation two months ago? We can remember the general thrust of what was said, but the actual words may have blurred in the memory.

Now, Andrew Gilligan is a talented reporter with a number of impressive scoops to his name. He is also personable, clever, and easy company. Dr Kelly had known him for some time. The two had collaborated on stories before and they trusted one another. When they met at the Charing Cross Hotel on that fateful day in May they were picking up the threads of previous conversations. What Gilligan probably did was lead Dr Kelly into revealing more about the dossier than he intended. That is what journalists are supposed to do. You can imagine how their conversation might have gone.

Dr Kelly, shaking his head: "I tell you Andrew, Downing Street really spoiled its case by exaggerating the threat posed by Saddam's WMDs."

Gilligan: "By making the dossier sexier, you mean?"

Kelly, laughing grimly: "It's not a word I would use myself, but yes."

Gilligan: "And by Downing Street you mean Campbell?"

Kelly: "Of course."

Gilligan: "And the classic example of Campbell sexing up the dossier would be the line you mentioned earlier about Saddam's WMDs being deployed in 45 minutes?"

Kelly: "Yes. Exactly."

It is possible that, two months later, Dr Kelly did not recall referring to Campbell by name or giving the 45 minute story as the classic example, perhaps because he had only nodded or said "yes" when those suggestions were put to him. When Gilligan read the conversation back to him, though - perhaps paraphrasing at times so that when he asked how the transformation of the dossier happened in the week before publication, Kelly's answer became a single word "Campbell" - Kelly was happy that this reflected their dialogue. So happy that he repeated the gist of it to reporters from Newsnight and the BBC News At Ten O'Clock. So happy indeed, that he did not complain to Gilligan after the initial broadcast.

I know it might seem cold-blooded to speculate about all this so soon after Dr Kelly's death, but Gilligan has been vilified by Downing Street and by anti-BBC Murdoch papers, namely The Sun and The Times, and it doesn't seem fair. Dr Kelly, meanwhile, has become in death a national hero, something which he may well have been in life. If Dr Kelly did mislead the committee, Lord Hutton should not judge him harshly. He was wrong-footed. He was under enormous pressure. And what he did next was, truly, a tragedy.

~
sunday telegraph leader, 27th july '03.
: -
In politics, one must always ask: who, whom? Last weekend, it was already clear that Dr David Kelly, the MoD scientist whose death is now the subject of a judicial inquiry, had been inappropriately treated by both the Government and the BBC.

Government officials had offered wholly improper assistance to journalists trying to identify the source of Andrew Gilligan's infamous Today programme report on the September Iraq dossier. The BBC, meanwhile, had raised the stakes prodigiously by incorrectly describing Dr Kelly as "an intelligence source" - a misrepresentation which it is still struggling to defend.

Dr Kelly certainly had access to intelligence reports, but he was neither an MI6 officer, nor on its payroll. He could not reasonably be treated as the primary source for a story about the anger of the intelligence services at Alastair Campbell's alleged insertion in the dossier of the claim that Saddam could deploy weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes.

The BBC was entitled to repeat such a claim, but its normal journalistic procedure should have dictated that it broadcast the response of senior intelligence officials - who, we now know, would have denied the central allegation strongly (the 45 minute claim was indeed a late addition to the dossier, but had been put there by the Joint Intelligence Committee, not Mr Campbell).

In the past week, however, it has emerged that Dr Kelly was not the passive figure he initially appeared to be: in this story, he was "who" as well as "whom". Indeed, it is clear that, in different ways, he led the BBC, the House of Commons and the Government a merry dance. The corporation's chairman, Gavyn Davies, presents a robust defence of its position on this page, displaying the journalistic skills familiar to those readers who recall his articles about economics in the City pages of this newspaper.

Mr Davies has in his sights those Cabinet Ministers who are now privately swearing vengeance against the BBC, muttering darkly about charter renewal and the future of the licence fee. But this bloody feud between Labour and the corporation would not have reached such a pitch had Dr Kelly not told BBC journalists - as it now seems he did - that Mr Campbell had tampered with the dossier against the wishes of the JIC. This was an allegation of the greatest seriousness and one which, because of the BBC's stature, was repeated around the world.

Dr Kelly also made a fool of the Foreign Affairs Committee which grilled him on July 15. To read his answers in transcript is a very different experience to watching the clips of this soft-spoken scientist apparently being harangued by MPs. Dr Kelly chooses his words with an exquisite care of which Francis Urquhart would be proud: "It does not sound like the sort of thing I would say", "Not that I am aware of", "I cannot recall using the name Campbell in that context", and so on. The committee was persuaded that he was not the source for Mr Gilligan's story. But, as we report today, one of its members now admits that he and his colleagues were taken for a ride and that "Dr Kelly was pretty economical with the truth".

The Government, too, suffered grievously because of Dr Kelly's briefing. Although the specifics of his claim were inaccurate, they chimed with a growing sense that the Prime Minister and his aides had exaggerated the threat of weapons of mass destruction. This newspaper has never wavered from the belief that the liberation of Iraq was justified: Saddam had failed to account for a terrifying quantity of WMD; he had refused for 12 years to co-operate with the UN's inspectors or comply with its resolutions; it was clear that he hoped to develop his deadly arsenal if permitted to do so.

Yet the zeal with which the Prime Minister and his aides seized on every piece of intelligence, however insubstantial, ultimately did their cause - which was noble - a disservice. The campaign to persuade the public of the case for war became conflated with the long-running saga of "spin". As we have noted in this column before, the trouble with the allegation against Mr Campbell was not that it was true - it was not - but that it rang true.

Nobody, we can suspect, grasped all of this more fully than Dr Kelly himself before his death. What precisely drove him to a lonely end may or may not become clearer in the course of Lord Hutton's inquiry. But it is easy to imagine a man of great eminence in his field, annoyed at what he saw as a distortion of the subject he knew most about, taking matters into his own hands with the media (perhaps wishing he had done so more "honourably" at the time the dossier was published).

Perhaps his intention was to set the record straight, and - to those who knew him in the curious demi-monde he inhabited - clear his own name of what he perceived to be a violation of the truth. Perhaps, too, the pride that led him to do that - the pride of a distinguished public servant - had as its flipside a sense of shame which led him to self-destruction. Perhaps, in the end, Dr Kelly was both the greatest culprit and the greatest victim of this terrible story.

one thing i find odd about mark steyn – and i do like his work i admit, if only because i generally disagree with a lot of the thrust whilst sort of agreeing with what he actually says, although not in those words (although that’s an untruth, but bugger it) – is his bullishness.
take his recent piece on idi amin in the sunday telegraph. here he was discussing a dictator but i found myself nearly as aggrieved with his phrasing as the subject. he basically used the piece, as far as one could tell, as an excuse to excoriate western mealy-mouthed leaders (especially post-colonial guilt appeasers, hawkish zionist steyn’s favourite target alongside the canadian government, islamofascists and peaceniks) trying to get out of criticising kleptocratic afro-marxist leaders.
what the hell is wrong with me that i would object to someone criticising a vicious bloodthirsty dictator with near feelings of distaste in my gut about his phrasing and slagging off possibly misguided left-wing internationalism (if you see it that way)? i do know at least one mate of mine, who in the immediate minutes on television (before he stopped being a reprehensible cunt and remembered himself) about watching 9/11 (this was after dinner time in the UK don’t forget) was thinking repulsive thoughts about ‘well, now the americans know what it’s like’. do you remember the guardian letters page in the days after 9/11?
you might disagree with the independent or the times or the telegraph (or a tabloid) but the only time i’ve seen – widescale – in this country, letters to a paper that made me ashamed to be english were the letters page in the guardian in the few days after 9/11. you can probably remember. i ain’t going to paraphrase such morally bankrupt trash anyway.
loads (by far the majority, TBH) of my mates are in the left-wing area, and purely off my personal experience (obviously!) left-social liberal guardianista readers, etc., have this strange compass going on where they’re more likely to slag off tabloid editors etc., over their hard-line solutions than the people ‘causing’ the actual problems. i realise the actual line is that however distasteful we find an individual’s acts, we must protect and safeguard their rights, etc., because we do not wish to disenfranchise anyone cause you never know when it might be you next, etc., but even so it’s still taken for granted that ‘well, of course, we don’t need to state that these offenders are horrible, because our moral compass is pointing in the right direction’ so much (it seems) that, frankly (surely?), rather –too- much energy is expended in shoving rude words in the direction of tabloid editors, etc.?
i don’t know, clearly i don’t.
there again, middle-class (and i mean PROPER middle class) folks that one knows will be all NIMBY about stuff.

i can’t abide indie kids slagging off scallies, that ~really~ pecks my head, it’s the height of (inverse-inverse whateva?) snobbishness and every Yeah Yeah Yeahs/IDM/acid jazz/intelligent dnb/Varese fan trustafarian 19 year old Guardian (hideously offensive generalisation or what?!) reading sort does it, snobbish types, it rilly pecks my head, exceedingly clueless NUMPTIES (especially bad round my way, let me tell you)

there now follows kevin myers : -


The next stage in "reality" television starts tomorrow on Channel Four. That'll Teach 'Em will put 30 16-year-old pupils and nine teachers into a "1950s" boarding school for a month. The programme's producer, Simon Rockell, said: "We are creating the whole school world - the religion, the games, the food."
Well, "the whole school world" is precisely what the programme won't be creating, because vital to that world, and without which all the rules and the regulations are quite meaningless, is the teenage culture of that time. To impose rules from over 40 years ago on young minds today is as useful as trying to feed hay to cars. I should know: I caught the last days of the old English public school.
The fons et origo of authority in that system - corporal punishment - will be absent from the series in spite of cane-flexing publicity photographs. This is Hamlet without Prince, Ophelia and Queen Gertrude. For corporal punishment was not only the ultimate sanction in the school: it was also the deciding arbiter of school culture. Boys expected to be beaten, and how one took one's beating was a measure of one's manhood. We certainly didn't think it unfair: quite the reverse. That was the system - arbitrary, incomprehensible, illogical - and fairness had nothing to do with it.
I was beaten only three times - once for reading Biggles in first year Latin class, once for cheekiness, and once for pillow-fighting, and frankly, I would have been ashamed to have left school without having been caned. It was, however, quite astoundingly painful. The only comparable agony in adulthood came when I fell on rocks and broke three ribs.
Corporal punishment not merely established a hierarchy of manhood; it also opened a window into the world of serial abuse, the existence of which all of us at least suspected; and some had experienced. At the prep school to my boarding school, boys were routinely beaten till they bled. One master used to hold boys by their jaws at a single arm's length from the top of the Victorian bell-tower, and boys in my dormitory would wake up screaming in terror at the memory.
With every lash of the cane, we were reminded of the possible existence of a world of totalitarian brutality which could spring into existence with little provocation. And privately, we were all resolved to endure whatever terror and violence came our way in uncomplaining silence. Our determination to keep our home lives and our school lives apart was total. We would have endured just about any privation or abuse rather then undergo parental intrusion or complaint into our school-world. So victims always protected the abuser: that was part of the perverse contract of our times.
That'll Teach 'Em cannot possibly comprehend such aspects of public school life. Instead, it is introducing the anachronistic concept of co-education. This is fatuous. The absence of girls was as much a defining a feature of the culture of English public school as the threat and the reality of institutional violence. Trying to capture that essence with girls and without flogging on "reality" television is like making a series of programmes about apartheid, except with universal suffrage and no townships.
Instead of dealing with the contemporary realities, the programme seems set to deal with current obsessions and prevalent myths, sex being the most obvious. Cassandra Jardine writing of the series in The Telegraph last Friday gave an inadvertent clue. She wondered how the boys (but not the girls) would take to the news that what she quaintly called self-abuse was damaging. This merely reflects the current media obsession with male masturbation, rather than female. If That'll Teach 'Em were to go back another 50 or so years, would a programme maker of 2003 dare to brave modern feminist wrath by relaying Mary Wood-Allen's solemn and public warnings (in What A Young Girl Should Know, 1905) of the dangers of "the solitary vice", which caused girls to eat mustard, vinegar, clay, salt, chalk and charcoal?
Other days, other ways: so when we hear the producer talking American, and referring to the "tough love" of his imagined public school of the past, we should worry. Public school was without "love": it was a power structure, in which violence, obedience and rote-learning became second nature, all of which could none the less result in blinding discoveries. Once one had grasped the beauty of grammar, language opened up like a vast bejewelled warehouse: few discoveries in my entire life equal the revelations which were liberated by that precious key.
That key was not cut in a month: nor can modern, free-ranging minds even begin to resemble minds shaped by remorseless daily routine of endless fact-acquisition and the parallel threat of serious pain. You can put today's hotel swipe-card into an old mortice lock, and pretend the door will open, but you know it won't. Only the most vapid televisual conceit of 2003 could propose otherwise. The past, you see, was inhabited by Martians; and today's young earthlings imitate us in vain.

If your house is on fire and somebody says: 'Here I am - I have my fire engine - Now when you put your fire out on your house, I will come in.'
I wonder what sort of help that is, with all due respect.


__Olusegun Obasanjo.

~
he's quite a cheeky bastard.
the NSPCC donation that never was, escaping to the sun in Marbella, a senior staff member *essentially* dismissing (for all functional intents and purposes) 9/11 as 'every cloud has a silver lining', the serious and troubling allegations of fraud, nah mate, not having ~that~
oh gosh
"iqbal was said to have threatened revenge on mohammed ateeq-ur-rehman, an a-level student he blamed for speaking out about a forbidden afair he was having" (metro, today's edition).
ten minutes ago (as i posted). ten minutes ago. it's the 31st of july today.

Wednesday, 30 July 2003

Nick Southall over at yon auspicious fish quotes some lad (his mate?) Pete on Dizzee Ras, saying it's rubbish.
there's an odd symmetry there, a late teenaged hip-hopper at work who saw the video for 'fix up, look sharp' on mtv last night said he didn't like it either (we do enjoy discussing biggie and tupac and ludacris, btw, who are all applauded by him).
it's odd that, cause i like uk hip-hop me, i like MSI&Asylum and lots of people from the Grand Central family and phi-life cypher (that reminds me, must get my hands on the new nextmen album) and lots of little ragamuffin mancunian emcees you wouldn't have heard of you can get tapes of (yeah, all the way from here to lytham st. annes, believe it or not) and whatnot, but east london pirate garage-rap collectives, piss all over the likes of these, quite frankly. the nasty crew are some whole next-level stuff in my view.
the '30-something middle-class white critic thing' is a tad disappointing, especially tossed off from such a good blog.
(i write as a 20-something fila wearing whiteboy clerical drone).
now that's a poignant quote from david crane.
tony wilson makes me laugh.
he was in the local rag last night, arguing about his views on a regional assembly for north-west england. he pointed out, of course, how his proposals were different from those being put forward by the wasteful central government (or whatever, i'm sure i'm misrepresenting his position, but he definitely espoused a cleavage between his conception of a north-west regional assembly, and ideas the movers and shakers in the capital might have had; both arguments were in favour of an assembly, in some form, crucially), and how - he admitted on a visceral, emotional level - some of his reasonings were based on regional 'nationalisms' etc. (he didn't phrase it like this, but this is my reading, and trust me, it was along these lines)., distaste for the SE making decisions that affected the NW.
now, i admit, on a basic level it all sounds a nice idea (but ultimately just another level of bureaucracy, no matter what you say), but why o why must Wilson couch his arguments in terms that basically end up reading like puerile anti-London sentiments.
if someone's got a chip on their shoulder, fair enough, but the urbane Tone?
i'm afraid it's looking increasingly likely, hear hear, and a big hear hear to Luka's views on, ooh, most things.
fingers crossed
it's interesting that the economist intelligence unit was one of the bodies slated to be involved in all that (which is probably a linked item on about half all homepages across the entire t'internet by now ["that how you get yer kicks is it?... ....aye bernard, and theres the rub" etc.])
you know you must be an immoral twat (speaking for myself) when you have more ambivalent views on a subject than paul wolfowitz finds repugnant (that's a joke Mr Wolfowitz).
still, the markets trade in commodities and speculate an' all that, don't they (economics sub-00000.101 i tink), so given that fortunes fluctuate when a war is on, i couldn't see what was so different this time round, DARPA was just suggesting with its trade in death basically, what a lot of markets do right; not surprised that it was DARPA having noted that.

right, i'm off to paddypower.com to have a punt on my chances of a violent mugging death soon, if i kick the bucket all monies to go somewhere like
here or here or here.

~

it's interesting that Matty Ingram didn't like what SR was saying about Sean Paul, did anyone catch that Goldfinger interview where he was saying it's a shame the prejudice the Dutty Warrio-ah has to put up with back in the Yard, etc., cause of his 'light-skinned good looks' etc.
apparently, Goldfinger is thusly apparelled cause back in JA at some do one night he was selekting his platelets of platinum and one partygoer was so impressed he pointed at him and started shrieking "'im 'ave goldfinger 'pon the mic" and suchlike.
he's a good lad Chris Goldfinger, and here is his BBC1 show homepage for you, genuinely fascinating bloke

Tuesday, 29 July 2003

you may be aware of him anyway (he knows SR) but Mike Barthel is on point here.

Monday, 28 July 2003

"The girls call me ‘pilgrim’ because every time I dance with one, I make a little progress."
___Bob Hope — The Ghost Breakers, (1940).

Sunday, 27 July 2003

my bro Dan, discussing a Knifehandchop track writes that "(*pow*, take that osymyso! *blam*, goodbye dewaeles brothers! on second thoughts, that's blasphemous. but you get the picture"....

i think he should be encouraged with this direction. i do like osymyso quite a bit, but the dewaeles brothers, no, you're right there mate. give it some welly!

anyway, Dan is here, drop by, drop him a line, tell him i sent you and sniff* how come he don't mail me enuff...;)

that tigerbeat6 compo he mentions is top-hole tho', innit. fucking marvellous.
listening to the DR album, finally bought it yesterday for a tenner, some girl was telling me her mate was responsible for a lot of the writing under the motorway bridge between dane road and stretford on the metrolink tram line. Of course, in an artistic travesty of (relatively) calamitous proportions, trafford council – in its infinite wisdom, bleh bleh – has painted over loads of this, there were some absolutely fantastic and very colourful pieces there, but of course military grey looks so much better, don’t you think. Hmm,
on the plus side, Chemz?, with their clear bold lines (reminds me of Ellsworth Kelly) and has even been spotted in the affluent far southern suburbs, saw some of their stuff at Timperley met station about a fortnight ago, and it is there to this very minute, far as ‘s know. under stretford subway is delightful at the mo though, lot of nice, hard-edged lines, greens and oranges and blacks and purples and muted blues.

DR is kinda Orwellian in his clear-eyed views, would you say, ‘brand new day’ definitely reminds one of Orwell’s dictum that the first duty of the intellectual is to speak the truth, say the obvious, etc., identify it, which chimes with DR’s opening words on this choon.

“I socialise in Hackney and Bow”

one knows a lad right round my way that in the face does honestly look exactly like dizzee ras, honestly, the very spit, but this lad has a manc accent and not a london one, and is about 6’7”, believe dizzee is a lot shorter. still. Perhaps it’s his older brother and they were separated, who can say. he was telling an anecdote this afternoon that involved running away from a dibble, something to do with a fence, dunno, he’s got a good style that lad (an actual physical fence, not the person that moves things around to avoid detection from those types of a revenue frame of mind, must add) tho’ could go far.

Under the heading Is this the worst Mercury list ever?, my old muckah Dan Martin in the Mcr Evening News’ ents supplement, the “planetpop” section, was waxing unlyrical on Friday 25th july 2003 you hear.
He mentions it’s a shame that the richard x album wasn’t rush released to qualify which is true, good point that, but then totally invalidates all else he says by bigging up elbow? What?!
The lack of research and plain knowledge about grime is illustrated in the dizzee review column (his capitals are his own, presumably, unless the editor did it) “as batty as it is, it looks like, in the year when UK Garage is deader than the plausibility of the Roy Cropper date rape storyline on Corrie Street, the UK Garage flavoured entry is probably the pick of the bunch, and as a result will not win”. Why the capitals? It’s like the wire always capitalising Jungle or Techno, wot’s all that about eh? Strange one. UKG –as- “UKG” is technically dead, yeah, we’ve got Spoony in DJ Magazine talking about 4/4 again, but given that DR is coming from this grime angle, ignoring that is poor.
Credibility is also damaged by calling ‘hail to the thief’ the ‘head’s worst (that’s clearly the debut) and pretending not to know who terri walker is. Being a bit rude by damning with faint praise about eliza carthy (admittedly the new stuff from that ol’ waterson-carthy dynasty ain’t as trendy as old archival folk-field recordings, but still) and calling the admittedly very good ‘lost horizons’ “one of the finest middle-of-the-night albums ever recorded” (it’s good, but come off) is just foolish, given his conclusion that a passing martian might have to say, apparently, “that good pop music is only made in America these days” (have been finding SR quite convincing in this avenue recently…so he’d disagree with Martin …how good was his brief post on Sean Paul…) and he’d agree with that, Martin would, implying that since Ms dynamite and the sugababes are quiet, that’s it for british pop. Ms dynamite is a good emcee and can sing nicely but apart from stuff like ‘dy-na-mitee’ it ain’t that good. he is right to slag off the thrills, tho’, to be fair.
Sorry to bang on, do despise posting it here, but wanted to get it off me chest and felt in a bit of a pathetically juvenile, petty mood, just have too much of this snide coverage of pop in the mancunian press. Think it might be to do with all the northern quarter boho chic types who turn up at Cord with their beer bellies but cool haircuts and excellent St Martin’s studes type clothing and all crowd round the throne of Misty Dixon (or, god help you, elbow) so that’s okay. dearie me, is slightly nasty sounding insular coverage motivated by provincial jealousy sometimes, frankly this is an opinion one is moving towards of late, i.e., indie/Twisted Nerve style indie-pop/indietronica is best, cos these are artists maaan, and then like good pop that even we can’t ignore a la Justin, you go to somewhere like night & day that seems to be the general vibe in all honesty. i remember Martin calling the retro bar the coolest venue in mcr a bit ago and then i also remembered i’d been there a few times for Voodoo, my mate Mr Carefree’s night (well he was the DJ and did the flyering too), kinda garage-punk-rock from the 60s and such, standells and sonics and a bit of dick dale and the monks too. it’s good, but *only_ of exact equal worth to a cheesy night of commercial dance or a night of deep, afroey soul somewhere else; as soon as a journo starts pronouncing one place definitively cooler than other venues, you gotta be suspicious.
Admittedly some journos that only pursue the one path are really good (e.g., Keenan with his out-folk-rock; that’s if they’re a really good writer, like Keenan is), but a personal prejudice here is towards at least some dilettantism. a writer on the one paper who is covering a geographic area under the remit of “pop” should, ideally speaking, surely strive for coverage of a lot of different stuff, the main thing for inclusion being, etc,. if the venue is in the right postcode area etc. and most writers, their stuff doesn’t reveal more about them than it should do, it reveals about the music &c, but some writers it seems their spleen-venting reveals more about them than the stuff they should be covering, which is a bit of a shame really.

Mind you, i was in Cord last night and everyone was talking about Danny Krivit’s set at electric chair later that night, so fair dos like.

right, sorry to be posting such pathetic and first person pronoun rubbish, just am genuinely interested in how provincial journos try and relate to London, and it’s kinda frustrating sometimes. the normally reliable Danny McFadden f’r instance, in the Mcr edition of that free Metro paper the other day, claimed that Club Suicide was the coolest club in the UK, some of his reasoning seemed to be based around that even though a lot of 80s electro-pop type stuff was an influence on the playlist, it wasn’t full of Nag Nag Nag types and no electroclash fashions, just students and “fat blokes” drinking beer. Have seen plenty of non-pretentious “fat blokes” having a jar in there, to be fair, but truss me, there’s shedloads of electroclash kids tottering about there too, you can’t slag off one place for one thing and then claim the same thing ain’t going on in your yard unless you want to lose it, and that was kinda poo. anyway, what kind of snobbery is it to slag off some fashion students just cause they happen to dress that way and make pronouncements that might perhaps, tend towards a little pretentious etc., sometimes. Probably the same kind of reverse class-ism snobbery that was responsible for all the innuendo towards the poor old strokes, ‘trustafarians’ all apparently, etc.etc.

yeah, i’m a cunt, but it’s all playful discursive stuff and more often than not with a tang of your old chum irony, so just let me carry on being a contradictory twat (do share a birthday with that great original “rough” Walt Whitman yunno), and all’s fair. Oh, and sorry for the self-absorbed postings today.
“Candyfloss escapism? Or an allegorical masterpiece?”
__Sally Cousins on Yann Martel’s ‘The Life of Pi’ ~

i didn’t know that Andrew Motion has put his manuscripts of verse into the British Library in preparation for any fame after his death. i hope he hasn’t put in those short lines he wrote on the eve of the scouring of Iraq, you know the stuff about “oil” and “Dad”, they were bloody rubbish my old cocker. “I’ve kept everything of significance since I was 16”, he says. That sounds a bit too much like lee ranaldo to me, you remember that review of a book of his correspondence or something that they carried in the wire, he’d made notes (or something like that, or retrieved them in actual case) of postcards he’d sent to mates, etc. alright, so you could say it’s a well-worn time-honoured device like keeping a one eye on posthumous celebration diary employed by skilled German playwrights, etc., but bit odd?

What do i know, this desire to be heard is fair enough eh. Should you judge it, well, not everything a budding prosemaker, etc., that they will write is going to have merit, one (reasonably?) supposes. People should use the waste-paper bin (or paper recycling bin, actually, would be best wouldn’t it, apologies) with more frequency, and sorry for banging on about that, have said it before.

Do like that james delingpole, he loves his radiohead and led zep and is a bit of a rockist (who’d a thunk) and this extends to his time for indietronica and some bentley rhythm ace and throwaway lines about trip-hop and such, yes, he likes top end big name indietronica such as BoC and ulrich snauss he was peaking over a few weeks ago, and one likes the way he wrestles with himself about, oooh, dunno, new zealand power pop, or whatever. His piece about ‘boy in da corner’ really rather perfectly exemplifies the dinner party approach to dizzee ras (trying to be mildly critical of delingpole here through warm, salty bath-water suggestion, but it’s probably too subtle eh, maybe not there again), though, and here it is for your reading interest below : -
‘If I were a betting man I think I’d quite fancy a punt on Dizzee Rascal – aka 18 year old MC from east London, Dylan Mills – at 6 to 1 to win this year’s Mercury Prize. Of all the contenders, he’s probably the most interesting and closest to the cutting edge with his choppy, bleak, angular take on UK garage.
What he has in spades is authenticity: his lyrics – delivered in an adrenalised yelp – depicts with unglamorous relentlessness the miseries of inner-city estate life; his music, rarely prettified by anything so much fun as a tune, is just a collage of dark, jarring basslines and breakbeats. But I have to say, it’s bloody hard to listen to and I can’t imagine myself playing it at dinner parties any time soon.’

Well, yes.

Didn’t see the programme, but on BBC4 the other day they were doing a comparison – or it might have been a versus – of ‘the alchemist’ and ‘Ulysses’. Bizarre! Coehlo is lovely, his stuff really is, someone was telling me about that one where the girl attempts to commit suicide and that fails and she ends up in a mental institution, but it’s ‘ulysses’, it’s ‘ulysses’. What’s that about eh? You may as well have roger ebert do a versus on ‘day of the jackal’ and ‘legally blonde’.
somedisco revealed as elitist snob rockist-style values for books and flicks SHOCkah! tsk, tsk. burn the witch, etc.

Friday, 25 July 2003

not so comical?

basically, is the defence department full of hawkish neo-cons who want to export democracy in an interventionist, aggressive manner - if they feel the conditions are right - but are otherwise a bit tardy?
and the state department is more centrist-liberal pragmatic humanitarian interventionism, of course.

god, it's like newspaper articles foreign section 101 over here eh.
news item.

~

not happening is it.
today's headline in the sun newspaper (UK) is absolutely brilliant.
very clever.
great plops of rain, a burgeoning (nay mushrooming) mushroom cloud, and there were two flies buzzing around a decaying (small) apple core yesterday, on the dried out grass.
truly beautiful, in the red/raw manner. they appeared to be caught as if in orbit. what particular nutrients or materials are specific to a decaying (small) apple that might attract a pair of rovering reavers of the veritable bluebottle posse (or whatever they were)?

and, finally, this too. i don't understand it, but it sounds interesting.
guardian leader

Thursday, 24 July 2003

watched that world’s most expensive painting programme (Japanese insurers’ group bought a ‘Sunflowers’ for, ooh, millions of a big currency) and there was a shot of on the floor at the NYSE, back in 1987. One of the traders (hey, i don’t even know what a bear market is) looked pretty much the spit of dave grohl. would he have even been in wool or scream or whatever back then?

my old man’s been enjoying brian sewell on the road to compostela and i’ll doubtless look forward to that new one about louis gates’ presenting a four parter about the black middle classes in the USA, etc., i liked his african history show.

lawrence freedman, head of the war studies department at king’s college, university of london, maintains well done documentary/etc. tv can be good for you, and that’s an admirable perspective. hear hear.

interesting letter in the local rag tonight, as follows: -

“Professor Michael Harloe says Coronation Street presents the wrong picture of Salford to the rest of the world, and is doing untold damage. He says Salford is not like that any more.
I think he should take off his rose-coloured spectacles, as living in Salford is worse than Coronation Street portrays.
I would love to live in Coronation Street – clean streets, no litter, no graffiti, no filthy back alleyways. The image of Salford portrayed by Coronation Street is better than the houses that we live in.
If people really want to see what it is like to live in Salford’s slums, they should walk round the Barff Road area of Weaste in Salford, not visit The Lowry.
Our areas are worse than the streets back in the 1920s.
We live in houses that are worth next to nothing and look on to houses that are boarded up or vandalised, walls covered in graffiti, rubbish everywhere, and are plagued with rats and mice.
When I was a child, I lived in a house like the ones shown in Coronation Street. They were much better and the area was much cleaner than what we are living in now.”
Mrs Lesley Calvert, Weaste.

John o’ Groats, on the northernmost tip of mainland Britain, is supposedly named for a 15th century Dutchman, John de Groot, who is believed to have run the Orkney ferry with his brothers, charging four pence a trip. this precise denomination later became known as a groat.
an octagonal house built by de Groot for the eight descendents and joint owners of the estate is marked by a mound and flagpole. the ‘last house’ looks towards the awe-inspiring Stacks of Duncansby, shackled to the often wild North Sea.



shout to QPR JOHN.
our kid's manor is on the telly tonight, bbc1, 10:45pm.

his two locals the Jack and the Barge are both good alehouses.
"oh but we're only a small, crowded island without the space of canada or america or france, and besides the italians and germans are already opting out of EU agreements, etc."

~i like how some peeps you get chatting to down the boozer on the above subject seem to somehow be under the impression dirt-poor migrants are in control of government housing policy; is the Home Office secretly run by a cabal of Kosovar bootleggers?

and no, i don't mean the Dsico/Richard X type...
the Beeb performed a service in letting people hear about cheeky scroungers in Sandwell, sure, but frankly - as a young taxpayer who's very feckless, shiftless, etc. - if you're getting away with it, fair dos. if Sun readers can get excised and in a bit of a ranting and raving state about bogus asylum seekers then that's got to be all good, at least we can start having this debate that all the politicians talk about.

i like how certain Conservative MPs say things along the lines of 'i'm the only person debating this issue, the government is burying its head in the sand' and then just repeat some tired old canard (perhaps even not based in fact as it is anyhow) when they're pressed for their views, playing up to their pensioner constituents, etc., etc.

everyone can get scamming on the benny (without sounding like an oldskool Tory), why bother picking out certain areas to vent your spleen. if you're in the system, you're in it.
hmm.

as Luka said, London has far more in common with New York or Tokyo or Paris than it does with Cornwall or north Yorkshire or Lancashire.

capital and commodities can move about freely in pomo world, and such.
Bev Hughes claims that the Beeb were trivialising the asylum seeker issue with their day of programming on the subject, but that is being disingenous.

it's no good, if you share libertarian/etc. perspectives on this, burying your head in the sand about extremely valid 'Little Englander' (not to be rude) concerns about housing, benefits, etc. of course most of these perceptions are misperceptions.

talk sport had about three or so callers (out of a total of about five during the entire show) in a one hour show, some weeks ago now. this was about the same time the 'asylos cutting off the heads of our swans and dumping decapitated corpses' stories were appearing, so perhaps about three weeks to a month ago now (research? pah).
the screening process that morning must have been an odd vetting one, as the three to which one refers were all from the enfield area and all repeating the same thing, something to do with asylum seekers in the local area (knowing the enfield area vaguely, one would guess that most asylum seekers in that boro' are probably housed in the Ponders End neighbourhood) and housing or something.
apparently this rumour was sweeping like wildfire through the town (i can't even remember what it was, but i recall it was something derogatory to scrounging romanians, etc. and for the benefit of ire-creation on the part of the hard-working taxpayer) but - to cut a long story short - the council got the local mp's to check it out, and their teams all researched it, and there was absolutely no foundation in truth to these rumours.
but why let that get in the way eh.
of course, also in the sun today are some ~lovely~ pictures of girls aloud, the girls from liberty x, and = best of all, clearly = beyonce.

*roar*!
it's no good the sun's trevor kavanagh pontificating that (sir) andrew green (of the body migration watch uk) isn't a racist because he, among other things, supports palestinian charities.
where is this - mythical as far as i'm concerned, to be frank - naive islington lefty who thinks to oppose bogus asylum seekers is racist?
of course it's not.

i agree with andrew green's analyses of much of the pull factors that britain (well, let's be accurate, london) posseses; i just appear to disagree with some of his conclusions and policy suggestions.
but must admit it irks me slightly, rankles you could say, that the sun feels the need to trumpet, e.g., this chap is not a racist and yet still he opposes all these scroungers coming over here, as if to suggest somewhere there's a community of hopelessly misinformed left-social liberal types who *genuinely* do believe that.
is it just trying to do down the person you're arguing against by innuendo?

here they are,
http://www.migrationwatchuk.org/
a body that campaigns on the issue.
it's worth noting a cursory google or a bit of your own (more 'academic' text-based etc.) research can turn up a diametrically opposed set of arguments, reading (or perhaps misreading as sir green might say?) of statistics and figures, conclusions on where to head next.
http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=A119F9D6-11A2-452D-AF4E78F2B665C1E2

would a repeat of ECOMOG Sierra Leone-style abuses be a possibility?
http://www.economist.com/agenda/displayStory.cfm?story_id=1938769
is a sensible piece. the cleavage between the defence department and the state department is understandable.

Wednesday, 23 July 2003

one appears incapable of spelling ‘joseph’.

walked past a skinny white indie boy before with a yo la tengo tee shirt on. one wishes you saw more (well, at least round my way, ‘cause you don’t) skinny white indie boys wearing tees that said things like PEOPLE GET READY – IT’S MR ROCKSTEADY (with pictures of ken boothe in the middle) or The Mighty Sparrow Rocks Boxes (as opposed to Les Savy Fav). about last october it would have been a good idea for wallpaper readers to wear a hanes v-neck that simply said DIZZEE RAS ROLLIN’ DEEP but one supposes they’ve moved onto excavating from the less sung third and fourth volumes of the indestructible beat of soweto series (oh no, that’s just me, what a cock) now. a good one might be SHARKIE MAJOR HAS A nasty MOUT’. ahem.

on the topic of Dizzee Ras, now that what you’d have termed perhaps less than likely sources in the past – the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian (of course!), the Observer, the free Metro commuter paper, Pitchfork, even Linenoise and a Brummie mate who’s most definitely “rocker” – are all getting into his LP, somedisco presents, only about 15 weeks too late, a short interview typed up from the pages of sleazenation magazine with the chap himself (this was a sorta promise to Luka, but Dizzee is clearly all over the media like CD is all over yo boink these days, so the reader is literally spoilt for choice; still).

Before my skilled Smokin’ Navajo Windtalkers start transcribing though, we must profess a hearty big up to some of the music being reviewed in this particular issue one had (it’s may, bear in mind, a bit ago now), they were discussing the likes of ellen allien, the bug, the chap, tes, prey and both tele:funken and some ruff ethiopian funk. noiiice!

words: mike carhartt-harris.
You might not know dizzee rascal, but he is the future. Least, that’s what ‘they’ are saying. a member of east london’s roll deep entourage, dizzee (18) embodies the complete evolutionary transition of the MC from deluded compere to verbal assassin proper: street-smart, piss-funny and approachable as razorwire. Earning a rep on the garage rave/pirate radio circuit, (and a few haters too; notably, so solid’s asher d), last year dizzee found his name being dropped by everyone from the streets’ mike skinner to the major label chequebook men chasing his tail. Now signed by xl (also home to skinner), his debut single, I luv u – a hormonally rampant ricochet of denial and accusation between dizzee and the under-age girl he ‘hypothetically’ knocked up – has snagged the interest of the fashionable and even rock-oriented press, making this young man the ‘it’ name on the lips of trendies chasing the urban heat. And make no mistake; dizzee is hot. Perhaps too hot for the mainstream, with his hyper-minimal production smarts, whiplash tongue and articulately channelled angst. So before things spiral dizzyingly out of control, sleaze called up the man of the hour himself and found him in unsurprisingly philosophical mood.

Q. How are you dealing with all this attention, dizzee?
A. I’m taking it in my stride. I’ve realised the best thing I can do is just carry on being myself, innit. It’s stressful at times, it gets to you. Especially when you’re still trying to stay yourself, in your same surroundings and all that.
Q. do you think what you do is ‘garage’?
A. y’kna, I never called it garage from the beginning. I consider it the new street sound. I perfected it, it was my own personal t’ing, but it just blew up. Garage is garage, y’hear me? This is a whole new scene.
Q. The uk’s answer to hip-hop?
A. it’s near enough the same thing. You could even talk about the crack epidemic, things starting to get more misty or whatever. It’s almost a revolution, get me? It’s coming right from the streets, it’s being forced through the industry without anybody being able to stop it. we could say we’re the pioneers, but it’s just the street. It’s coming up on its own.
Q. do you pay any attention to politicians?
A. the same way a politician can criticise me and I’ll get on with my job, he’ll do the same thing. If I really chat to a politician about his job, yeah, he might listen, he might not, but the same way he’s not gonna give a shit, he’s gonna carry on doing his job, y’get me? So politicians, yeah, good luck to them, but this is what I do. I’m not hurting no one, I do what I do from the street, you can’t chat shit to me.
Q. you’ve been bigged up by the streets and supported him on tour, but aren’t you both coming from different angles?
A. I’m like the raw part of the streets, hear me? His is more like narrative; he does it in such a wicked way. Big up that bwoy – I’ve got nuff respect for Frank… Mike Skinner, sorry. He’s coming like the main course and I’m the dessert. He’s giving people an insight into what we do before we tell them like, clearly, uncensored.
Q. the subject behind I luv u (teen pregnancy) is one a lot of people can relate to. Any truth to it?
A. I’ve had a couple of bits of madness with girls in my time, bwoy, but that weren’t personally about me. It’s just a thing that’s happened a lot around my area, london in general – girls tryna keep boys locked down, the methods they use. I just thought I’d write about it, cos a lot of people can relate to that. it’s serious, but at the same time it’s kinda humorous, y’get me?
Q. who’s the girl on the track?
A. oh, she’s just a girl from my area. She’s a singer, really. I had to lie to her to get her in the studio to do that. her name’s janine.
Q. can your music translate to america?
A. I think the same way we think we can relate to them, they should be able to relate to us. It’s near enough the same thing. It’s from the street, it’s art, it’s become a culture, it’s become a lifestyle as well. If they don’t relate it’s kinda ignorace, y’get me? To be honest, I don’t think they’ve got a lot more they can talk about. I think it’s about time they listened to us.


Surely many in the blogosphere would bear witness and agree/like the sound of, with his answers to the questions about the USA and the “UK’s answer to hip-hop”. and she’s called janine…

RIGHT, you lot,

below is my list (in no particular order), of the best speakers in the Lower House. See what you think and tell me yours if you want? What fun, etc. just like Richmal Crompton or Jennings and Derbyshire, or – at the very least – those Dwarven brothers that take Shasta in near the end of ‘a horse and his boy’ and give him vital sustenance (yunno, porrdige, eggs, doughty convo, &c). here we are.

CONSERVATIVE AND UNIONIST PARTY : -

- William Hague (the bloke is a legend; his banter with Blaire about Ms Short politically immolating her then Cabinet career, after the fact, were first-rate)
- Eric Forth
- Sir George Young (*bloody* ~marvellous~ accent, SIR GEORGE YANGH)
- The Right Honourable and Learned Michael Howard, QC, MP, Really Quite Tasty Wife If That Way Inclined In A Middle-Aged Ooh-Er Type Manner
- Sir Nicholas Winterton can usually be relied upon to entertain the crowd with a great deal of tricks, stunts, and magical delights

LABOUR PARTY : -

- Tam Daeyll (alright, he can get a bit pompous and one’s invariably misspelt his surname, but he’s been an MP since 1962 and is hence Father of the House, so can’t go wrong)
- Tony Banks
- Robin Cook
- Dennis Skinner
- (it’s always easy to get a laugh with a faux-posho accent when you’re the indefatigable) John Prescott!!

LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY : - (incidentally, the single cleverest line one’s ever seen in ‘private eye’ was discussing a russian story about five years ago or so, perhaps, and they were discussing the russian liberal democrats, you know the ones, and in brackets they’d simply put [Slogan: Neither liberal nor democratic] very clever).
- Menzies Campbell (should be the next leader, hope he’s okay)
- Paul Tyler (the ‘Dems shadow Leader of the house, and a bang on sense of humour, really)

HONOURABLE MENTIONS : -

- Ian Paisley. There can’t be too many people that were on the list the Provos kept that said “Never assassinate this person as they do more good to our cause than harm when they’re alive”, but Paisley – of course – manages it. in full flow, banging on about suspicious Popish plots and the like, he’s a joy to behold (for all the wrong reasons of course, natch).
- Alex Salmond : interesting to observe a HYOIGE chip on his shoulder whenever a posh Tory MP from the south of England speaks. Tho’ he is good on that telly show with andrew neil, etc.

Right, that concludes the draw, ties to be played during the weekend of 25th and 26th October.
of course maybe petridis ~does~ know all about everything, and figures as a curve he'll write _to_ his audience? i dunno.

(always on the fence, somedisco is; i see you with your wizened green head, and slightly furry lips, excellent broth in a bone bowl, i see).

select magazine, to be reasonable, was the first magazine (in the UK), AFAIK, to break inna mainstream manner the rehabilitation of _that_ Slint album.
of course all the hip sadcore, etc., kids got into 'spiderland' on its release, i've no doubt; these are kids for whom skronking had always been second nature and ownership of ultra-rare june of 44 b-sides was natural.

but the actual, general, jonesing for anything with a guitar NME kid in - i think it was - the summer of 1999 would have seen an article that, to my mind, in the mainstream, started the ball rolling. alright, so that's only 4 years ago or so, but yunno...
... (not that i'm a slint fan meself, but oh AND at WHAT exact point would you pinpoint the rehabilitation of 'grace' beginning? given that one 94' critic memorably {and pretty much rightly, imo, he writes oh-so-meanly, thus making sure none should ever pay attention to any of the musical opinions expressed round here ' "he can't even get THAT voice?! Scoundrel" spits...etc.} dismissed Buckley Jr.'s efforts here as being a tad too besmirched with the "obnoxious tendrils of Plant-isms"; i'd say around '97, everyone buying Spiritualized) ?!

...anyway, summer '99 was the summer i realised i preferred plastikman and aphex twin and squarepusher (this ~was~ '99!, y'getme) over the manics and belle and sebastian and the delgados.

happy daze.
of course, at least he knows his onions; one just disagrees with him.

the same, alas, cannot be said of alexis petridis.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/reviews/story/0,11712,999986,00.html

as Angus' excellent blog (http://angusgordon.blogspot.com) points out (flagged up by the almost peerless k-punk cheers) mr petridis just doesn't know what he's on about.
it's almost infuriating, especially given one recalls his throwaway summary of 'original pirate material' for a guardian-type mag last summer one scoped said something like "uk garage for middle aged people" (am paraphrasing).
even at select (he was the editor there for a bit wasn't he?) seem to recall (unless false memory stalks me) not being a fan at all of his rather tad rockist stewardship approach.
have been really rather disappointed with rod liddle of late, and one normally enjoys a chortle with him.

shame.
http://asia.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=3140054

analysy Sonny Lo seems OTM there.
mr blair's muted tones can only be a cause of disappointment and a source for frustration.
too often we see mr blair's much vaunted thrusting-multilateralism (unkindly given preening peacock-like metaphors, etc., from the likes of the daily mail or mirror; viz 'get back home and sort the trains/NHS/asylum out', shout the tabs, etc., etc.) not count for much.

not one of these fashionably cynical types that would seek to characterise his relationship with mr bush as poodle-like, but his relations with some _other_ world leaders are certainly open to accusations of toothlessness.

cynicism is easy, and hip.
suppose, for completeness' sake, should note that andrew fraser notes that not very much anymore is west didsbury in the "poor relations" stakes of its "swanky eastern neighbour". e. didsbury is somewhat poncy it must be said (there again, so am i).

god!
time travelling is good, you get out of your head.
there are problems afterward though.
of course mcr is cool and the northern quarter is cool as, galleries and little caffs and vegan bars and electronica stores and stuff continue to be opening all the time, the chinese arts centre is getting moved to a location in the NQ in the autumn, which will be great, and of course outside the hoxton/shoreditch/soho type areas (what is it time out says, check "Previous undesirable but energy intense areas like kingsland and borough"?) the NQ is britain's coolest place so say all of us.
but, i tell you, the eating in the didsbury areas (posh suburb to the south of town) is RILLY fucking good. in the paper today there's some new place that andrew fraser - i read him every wednesday and he's always *very* critical - gives 5 stars to, and it's again, on the burton road (a bit like as to what the edgware road is to good lebanese fare, burton road is for good general fare). so there's cachumba some quality latino grill place and the nepalese good eggs that is ghurka grill and other general good eggs that i like less, you know MoEuropean or veggie, but still, it's all good eggs.

one thing slightly odd about brum is it doesn't appear to have any very good listings paper. i was in good old Brum Town a bit ago, and in St Paul's bar (near the quarter of the jewels it is, and mos def one of my fave brummie bars, it's quite nice and relaxed and open and not overdone, you could be on shoreditch high street except less pretension or a manc bar which as i will arrogantly insist on telling you is the model for provincial bars in this country) and there was a decent listings sheet there, full of stuff like what's on at Symphony Hall, and which clubnights play when, and when you can see free talks on homeopathy or herbal remedies (or whatever), or when you can go on local history talks (plus an interview with morgan freeman, fresh from the godawful recent one he did with carrey - so says my bezzie who saw it and i take his word over most on films - if memory serves), and it was good, but the mancunian city life still appears to be by the best listings magazine i've seen outside of time out.
i @want~ overhyped leeds and the more good eggs that are bristol and liverpool stepping up to the plate.

my bezzie is a good lad, i love him really, he was listening to the city of god soundtrack about six weeks (seemingly) before its official release date.
Mercury Music Prize nominations : -

radiohead are at 4/1, say the bookies. new prog tradition, recast best bits of Warp back catalogue and a lifetime of listening to Penderecki with, you know, back pocket tunes as well, and all winsome, achingly gorgeous melody that hovers off the ground, but, really.
no.
coldplay are joint favourites, coldplay yes.
the thrills are at 7/1, they're alright, but they're not as good as the coral, who, if memory serves, were nominated last year?
the darkness are a good laugh of course, that single about his woman is good, restating theatrical assumptions rarely achieves such taut balance between kitsch and a force for good.
athlete are completely no good, and should be punished by not getting listened to, anywhere. bland no-goods.
terri walker's one makes the list too, hafta say, really like this, one of my favourite soul records of the 03K so far this year.
i've never heard anything from floetry and never even _heard~ of soweto kinch (well, it rings a bell, but not definitively), so what can one say?
martina topley-bird and eliza carthy are both good, carthy especially so in the instance of her new effort 'anglicana', but i dunno like.
and as for lemonjelly, i really liked the most recent album, but the most popular single from it, 'nice weather for ducks', was also *by_far* the worst moment on it. awful, giddily functional, throwaway, comedy schtuff.
the dizzee ras record is at 6/1, according to some bookies quoted.
of course, he should win, but one supposes it'll be the 'head or coldplay.

last year ms dynamite undeservedly won, apart from a few good singles and sparring tunes, etc, her record was - after all - often over-produced, and somewhat generic american type r'n'b. 'original pirate material' was one's favourite at the time, think.

anyway, come on dizzee ras' record, but clearly probably not.
Paul Wolfowitz has said "I'm not concerned about WMD's".
hmm.

no-one in the office is, of course, too cut up about the brazenly wicked freres Hussein buying it, but it's a tragedy that, reportedly, Qusay's 14-year-old son died too.
"astronomers believe there are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on Earth".
wow.
http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/africa/07/22/liberia.intl/index.html

oh, a ceasefire, a ceasefire.

Tuesday, 22 July 2003

how much is Sherburne the man (well, him and the boys from Clipse anyway; "i'm just grindin' man, y'all nevermind me")?

right, i'm off to timetravel (i figure UTC is a good destination, well, that, and the Tatras mountains), but i'll be back in BST in time for work in the morning (more's the pity).

Dogbert: I plan to open a gambling casino for people who have extraordinarily bad luck.
Dilbert: How can you tell who has extraordinarily bad luck?
Dogbert: They would be the ones that go to my casino.

aah...
George Walden – an occasional (guest) reviewer at the Sunday Telegraph arts supplement (it’s a good one, fine like the one at the Observer, or the culture magazine you get with the Saturday Times or the FT’s How to Spend It on a weekend) – is thinking straight, sober.
The last time one recalls him being there he was calling a book by then-Cabinet member Chris Smith something like “fatuous trash” (or it might have been maudlin rubbish), bursting with sentences to “make you weep” (in the bad way). Excellent sort, then.
Here he is on Bernard-Henri Levy’s Sartre biography (dig that powerhouse final sentence; incidentally, in the 1970s Sartre “dubbed” the leftist-baiting Levy a CIA agent):

Levy shows how successive infatuations – with Bergson, Gide, Celine and Heidegger – eventually led Sartre to existentialism….What led Sartre away from this quasi-anarchical individualism was his internment in occupied France….Levy is at his most subtle in describing how “the totalitarian temptation” was present in Sartre all along….he broke with his friend Camus, whom he had always considered his inferior….In 1956 he denounced Khrushchev for denouncing Stalin, and subsequently turned on Solzhenitsyn….”Who thinks greatly must err greatly,” Levy quotes Heidegger as saying, but an alternative formulation springs to mind: that the greater Sartre’s gifts – and it would be absurd to deny them – the greater his betrayal….Levy suggests there were two Sartres, but I don’t buy it. The truth is that the author of the line “hell is other people” remained an anti-humanist all his life, a self-indulgent intellectual dandy for whom the millions of Russians, Chinese, Cubans or Eastern Europeans whose murder or imprisonment he justified were little more than playthings of his theoretical imagination. This is a brilliant book, but also a dangerous one. Too anxious to explain away Sartre’s behaviour, it risks being seen by a generation who have little knowledge of communism or the Cold War as a rehabilitation of a discredited figure. Levy acknowledges that Sartre was himself frequently guilty of “bad faith”, but the truth is worse: by championing some of the bloodiest dictators of his age, and failing to take responsibility for his choices, by his own definition, Sartre was a bastard.


films in review of late: ‘animal factory’ was alright, if not as good as ‘trees lounge’. it’s not as good as the other tough-headed US law and order thing seen of late, ‘dark blue’. ‘buffalo soldiers’ is also okay, but not as good as either ‘three kings’ or ‘black hawk down’. its destruction by a snooty panel of three on the bbc’s newsnight review programme was, one admits, too readily enjoyed round our way. guess just have a problem with rather lazy reactionary thinking which is creaming its pants in anticipation of a film before you’ve seen any trailers just because it’s been deemed unpatriotic in the USA. woo yeah! and so on. but ed harris, as usual, is bloody good (he was the one bright spark, if yer honest, in ‘a beautiful mind’ – no one i know who’s seen that flick, incidentally, would describe it as anything other than overrated, i’m sure: recognition for dame judi in mrs brown, not shakespeare in love, etc., hisses the boor at the back with the bus-pass). ‘respiro’ which is coming soon, sounds nice, as does that ‘rain’. not caught ‘fausto 5.0’ yet. Or that other kiwi (or is it aussie?) one about some girl, one word title. bruce willis wooden performance in ‘unbreakable’ to convey the lack of passion, etc., as somedisco said once before (tedious repetition apologies).

for: ‘igby goes down’ is a nicely crafted holden caulfield update, as you’ll have read everywhere. Good turns from goldblum, phillipe (sp?) and a weary with dignified eyes bill pullman lift it.
against: with culkin, danes (always, always), and sarandon treading water, combined with it not being very good anyway, you’d be glad you avoided (same with ‘tadpole’ in the final analysis).

for: ‘whale rider’ is nice enough, sundance awards and all that, if you’re lucky you can throw in a really crass segue and say you might see it because you really enjoyed (not that that’s the right word) ‘once were warriors’, fighting for the girls too
against: bit schmaltzy and the like, but there again it is a feelgood movie, this year’s ‘amelie’?
the lowry centre is one of the bigger gallery spaces in manchester. it's on the salford quays development, across the city centre (well, across from hulme and the like who goes into town) on the banks of the river irwell. it's by a shopping development and lots of residential areas and offices and the like, and the football and cricket grounds in the old trafford neighbourhood.

nearby is the northern branch of the IWM, imperial war museum north to give it its formal title.

this is the building that was designed by daniel liebeskind.
it's got about three shells, to show three different sides of war or something (i dunno, i'm a duffer about symbolism) and it looks magnificent.

anyway, the lowry has a few galleries and interactive exhibition spaces and the like, alongside its shops and bars/caff/restaurant/conference spaces, etc.
at the moment, one of its exhibitions is a very tasty looking one curated by a gentleman called andras kalman who - many years ago, but not that many (latter half of the 20th century, i think) - opened the first commercial, private gallery in mcr (something like that). kalman was a mate of l.s. lowry, and this exhibition is another side to lowry, not just the stickmen, that kalman is choosing and curating; some "grotesque" portraits, for example.

another exhibition is just opening with plenty of impressive names, about landscape portraiture, essentially ("Van Heemskerck...Saftleven...Van Der Heyden...Lowry...Turner...Kossoff...Hockney...Severini...Auerbach") should be good.
worth a look if you are in the area anyway (free entry).

i didn't know the longest public art trail in the UK ran alongside the irwell river, from salford to north of mcr. kewl. ulrich ruckriem's outwood colliery sounds a particularly nice piece. transformative slabs of granite that change colour with the weather.

did you see anish kapoor putting his big, polished ball (oo-er) into a field, somewhere like avebury, last week?

awesome stuff, taken as a whole; awe inspiring history.
i know luka was perhaps a bit underwhelmed, in retrospect, with that beeb documentary he mentioned that ended up mainly 'croydon is the new detroit' or whatever (assuming they didn't just confuse mans plastic and plastik), but one look at the line up might have given him cause for wonder. the likes of dizzee ras to rock the youth vote for sure, but someone like SR or someone who knows these things, i can't remember where i read it, but i read it a bit ago somewhere, well, anyone like jay da flex in it, or whatever, i gather that's a bit passe/middle-aged these days, there's that popmusicuk website or whatever, you know the ones, a rockist approach to garage, that's why they were able to deride platinum 45 and MFC for 'oi', calling it pop garage, when they wanted to take the determinedly indier-than-thou approach (or perhaps i'm reading too much into it... ...ya thunk ;)) and give praise to 'underground' producers, which at the time meant lots of tempa like Ghost affiliated people, and a mention of zed bias' 'neighbourhood'.

i don't know, i really don't. i mean, i really don't know, as you can tell...

...reading about those mobs in manhattan in the paper, that storm shoes shops, etc., for a ten minute bemused standing around sesh, and mobs of "drunken scary santas" in san francisco, and critical mass bicyclists, and flash protests in seattle and washington DC.
it's all good fun.
the aesthetic light (or whatever it is) that shines from the fighting temeraire is quite incredible.
then, in a sort of ironic Hogarthian-pleasures-of-the-flesh juxtaposition way, it's really a rare pleasure if you happen to be enjoying it when a crowd of extremely hot Spanish VIth formers sweep in the room on a docent tour (or whatever it is the, that word you know, the americans use it, for art gallery visits, it might actually apply for seniors, but to paraphrase the great Qasim Latif of M33, i'm too rock n' roll to have much truck with dictionary/thesauri, etc.)

i hope Reynolds' new book is good.

my mate Kayvee took one look at an Ingram post on the subject a while back, and has been camping out near Foyles' front door, ever since. a bit like the bloke who's under 24-7 surveillance, and has been, for two years in Parliament Square.

the pigeons on charing cross road are right buggers, mind.
http://www.powells.com/fromtheauthor/martel.html

that's interesting.

i'd been feeling guilty because the delightful robert mccrum - one of my favourite broadsheet literary editors (observer) - in the edition just gone had had cause to say someone he knew was an author, but no (paraphrasing) 'yann martel or alice sebold'. of course i'd made a rude and askew and 'oooh i'm trendy me, i'll slag off a current popular author of not some little repute' comment in a post a bit back, and so i course i felt rude, although what i originally said still stands : - one would clearly take paulo coehlo or especially the divine josepth roth over here. but be that as it may.

incidentally, pretty much everything one needs to know about josepth roth can be found on the jacket bumf of any of his short novels and novellas - granta editions for most, with some lovely, illustrative cover work on the whole - with a short, but telling, quote from thomas mann.
although zero7 and royksopp and air and norah jones and goldfrapp are indeed MOR dinner-party fare - be that as it may - they all do pretty much make sense during barbecue weather.

if tracy emin is the new black and goya was the old one, then the latest goldfrapp single and any song off the norah album would suffice for that colour that terry pratchett basically comes up with - octarine it's called - in the first discworld book.

Monday, 21 July 2003

http://books.guardian.co.uk/digestedread/story/0,6550,993208,00.html

ace.
my bro dan alerted me to some dread news, muzik is closing down.
http://erase.net/archive/31
(i don't listen to the disco granny's undoubtedly fine show at all really these days, alas, but indeed chest ya to her)
"increasingly diverse" as dan writes is the crucial point he makes. the last couple of years, what with an expanded section for outer limits, as well as all the other stuff it did - kevin martin was a columnist in the dancehall/dub bit wann't he - it was definitely getting more left of the field inna forcedexposure.com/glitchyidm dance coverage way.
*and* it was one of the single two finest dance mags we had over here - let's keep 'em crossed for jockey slut eh.

having noted that, the ministry relaunch is all looking a lot more filesharing/dazed glamour/dark pop/diverse choons and styles, and perhaps almost worth a look.

there's so many good music mags we have access to, like froots or gramophone or computer music or no depression or hhc or urb - even despite its arsey qualities - the wire (which is still, rather, dash-it-all necessary), that it's to my pompous chagrin that kerrang! is about our biggest seller.
mind you, bugger my pretentious snobbery, it's more important that the yout' massive, etc., have their zeitgeist prickled by those over at Jase Arnopp & Co. towers.

all hail Ray Zell's cartoons too.

Wednesday, 16 July 2003

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/05/27/nhock27.xml

“I would want to know how they collated this…Is it just some more little conspiracies in the newspapers…Photography was never a distraction…I have spent 20 years exploring it and I am only now beginning to discover what it is. The thing I am concerned with are things like the artificiality of photography, that it is built into it, that’s what I was exploring.”
David Hockney considers his options (now maybe he’s moving back over here a lot more, not liking the not very smokers’ friendly bit that is LA).

extreme noise terror or stampin ground collaborating with john zorn or panjabi hit squad on prime time ITV, now that *would* be good...
just wanted to add my tub to be thumped chez Penman, his none more spiky-hatted investigative reporter Palast tip is to be applauded, the Sunday Telegraph's hawkish commentators (like Con Coughlin, but *not* Con Coughlin) have spent about the past year of days of rest saying what Palast has said,

stopped much investigating into Al-Qaeda prior to 9/11. various hawkish types have been putting forward various reasons for it, and frankly i can't remember any of the reasoning, but it was fascinating and chilling and one bloke reckons he was frozen out of stuff at the intelligence community over there for his going on about the Islamofascist threat, Saudi links, oo-er Mrs.

still,
attach printout of report and agreements together,

is less poetic than you think.
yes, less.
or yeah, perhaps graham swift can't top 'waterland', yunno.;)

anyway, where was i.
i like it when Ingram posts on rawwwck, it's always good.

he draws up his chair and gets out his 'my mate from Terrorizer' tales, and they discuss the Slayer debut or the Young Gods or orchestral Swiss power metal.

i was wondering if Matt is into his N'awlins sludgecore, of course the biggest name here might well be Eyehategod and i do so like their muddy/harsh/inviting bouillabaise of a racket (why, it's very much like SR with his cooking/crucible metaphors for discussing successful fusion; i.e., not the lumpy mess of Laswell's adventures) sound. they sound a bit like - well, picture the scene, it's the sixth Narnian chronicle book 'The Silver Chair' one believes - and those tall fellows that subsist on a lot of swampy food, living in a sort of northern bogland (why, we're all very Fenny at somedisco today what with our chest ya to G. Swift eh?!), you know the fellows, excellent sorts, well

~Basically,

it sounds like one of their block parties ygetme'?

and Sherburne rockin' it too, in the week SFJ appeared to announce the Black album was his favourite LP. quelle horruer, quelle horreur...

one supposes.

in honour of my misogynist line manager, the day has been spent invoking the spirit of naomi maclean-daley (is it?), especially that bit on 'booo!' when (how many 'O's' again?)
she's giving it about how it's not about the bad attitude and not about dem bad vibes.
after leffe and robinson's old hat and flowers ipa and strong sam smith lager and mctucky's burgers, my mate announced last week's nme was celebrating as the new Collins was putting "alt.country" and "nu-metal" into the lexicon. they were celebrating because - presumably having not heard of no depression or even uncut (which was a proper tahiti 80 *and* handsome family *and* coldcut read last time) or kerrang! and phil alexander's legendary ligging back in the day {well, about 1998, when the broadsheets were interviewing him cause their style mags were full of puff pieces about nu-metal} - they thought - wrongly, obviously, they'd somehow come up with these. a bit like how the beeb have been castigated for an 'enron-style' report in its review of its year last year, and obviously, greg dyke is all toys out of pram, but quite frankly i'd believe the relevant commons committee concerned over Auntie's strange myopia.
clive myrie is wonderful, he has an amazing presence and tone, his research is good, and he's just so nice and a big, good, hard figure.
but dyke said he was looking at his people also writing "contentious" articles for newspapers and seeing if he could draw a line under the sand about it.
i must admit i always enjoy John Simpson in the Lord Conrad Black of Crossharbour's Pamphlet of a Sunday; he used to frankly hector you with his half moons, peering out from behind an eagle-ish lectern (that could also be used as a wanking board for adult literature if you put the right magazines up there; an idea someone bright once came up with...) but since the tragic incident where a young colleague of his died in front of his eyes (friendly fire, collateral damage, etc.) his writing has acquired something entirely different, doubtless our old muckah H. Bloom might say it was the tang of mortality or something, but he's got something else now.
well, spose one would, wouldn't one.

anyway, briefly, on the subject of nu-metal and the like, and the nme's Johnsonian overreach;
it got my mate riffing that he thought nu-metal died its death that time he and i and some others went to about the second Ozzfest - which would have been about 1999, if memory serves - and the perfectly serviceable human waste project ('one night in spain', 'dog') were booted off for someone like taproot. because the classic feel nu-metal he'd always been into were the two mack daddies, prong and helmet, and then the nascent scene's standard bearers (i.e., korn, deftones etc., debuts [korn's debut was good, let's be fair], early efforts from the likes of those nutcap armenian-americans whose name, shamefully, escapes me). but i think SR was into something over the past 18 moths or so when he's still enthused about the mainstream gone OUTERNATIONAL dons of power and light and weird 80s obsessions and a bit of kitchen sink, Linkin Park feel more important to me than the White Strokes, certainly. crudity/youth movement/oo-er Tony Wilson-alike turn of phrase, but anyway.

i got in, and via the services of yon Dan, found out that Company Segundo passed away on Sunday, believe it was.
i know he was elderly, good innings (like Errol), etc, blah bleh, but even still, ~how~ shattering!
so i put on lots of ali farka toure and eno and the wu-tang debut to pay homage, cause i didn't want to listen to him himself, for some strange reason, but i wanted toure guitars.
i'm not all eloquent about old guitarists a la church of me, say, but i do know that segundo had a profound effect on myself and quite a lot of people i know in a way that, certainly, very few other instrumentalists that also got out into the mass appeal stakes, did. he was exciting and mournful and sexy and a bit of a roustabout.
if he was in the Uncle story books, he'd have probably been that boatman on the oily lake, singing airs and elegies for his lost Segovia, or whatever.

i read somewhere that John Mayer is starting to colonise the British charts. gods help us, as clearly this is no good. is there a god - perhaps Canadian i dunno? - that is the god of bland american fare? obviously not _promoting_ bland american fare, but stopping its malign outreach before things get too bad. they could be charged with a brief of pumping our shops' systems full of 'court and spark' and 'harvest' and, er, nelly furtado's debut in a bid for their canuck goodness to reach its flavoursome acme on a saturday afternoon as tweenies shop for louis vuitton and miss sixty.

incidentally, my bro Dan #still# (apparently ;p) reads pitchfork. he wanted to show people the news that MBV are getting back into a studio apparently. so i went and i saw me some pfork news, wading through the arch and well constructed reviews of purple vinyl limited pressing, sadcore meets Mego electronics (artwork from Kozick with a cold clear-burn, rigorous logic, cold steel new American Minimalism trope) from Chapel Hill troupes with freeform brigades 45s in their back pockets, and MBV might be getting back together.

should form a doubting thomases club about whether it could eclipse 'loveless' (which it surely can't). graham swift, after all, hasn't been able to top 'waterworld', and if you're _that_ snobby about it, you might even have some unkind words about the authorial voice in suskind's 'perfume'.

i dunno, i really don't.

Monday, 14 July 2003

Carlos Acosta, his body is beautiful, he’s amazing, he’s so sexy, his legs are great.

never understand reducing all pop/etc. music/etc. criticism to you think it’s a load of pretentious baloney that, more often than not, is just prejudiced assortments venting their spleens.
sure, there’s got to be some of that about, but sometimes it rather seems to say more about the person pronouncing on the subject, their hardwired collection of fractured nerves, snobbism, foibles and weaknesses; general ego.
that perhaps they can’t stand to be told, by someone who may well be more eloquent and also perhaps better researched, etc., about what’s what. anyway, it’s all subjective, so what’s nearly as funny is rants about what one critic or other has said; they shouldn’t have to waste their or the readers time in stating at the front that. of course it’s mean and not on if it feels like the critic is into personal attacks, or is actually assaulting your emotional/intellectual sense of self, etc., but if your riposte strays into that same sort of territory as well, then surely best to just zip it.
if you can’t stand to be told, then perhaps less is more.
the best criticism is truly wonderful, reading a decent Robert Hughes anthology is a fantastic privilege (actually never read ‘the fatal shore’, although Pilger’s secret history type book on Aboriginal relations is good).
alright, apologies for that Blogging/Pseudo 101 thought, just wanted to introduce a delightful couplet of sentences or so that was scoped recently, and it’s from that school of incontestably lovely criticism that you don’t need to boil down to anything cause it already says it all, and so that’s it really.
‘As Jack Nicholson faces unwelcome retirement, his wife’s death and his daughter’s marriage to a loser (with in-laws from hell), director Alexander Payne gets full comic mileage from his misanthropy, but fudges it with an unconvincing last-minute change of heart.’
~Alan Stanbrook.
really liked the film myself and even if one can’t agree with it, it’s such a good couple of throwaway lines that one doesn’t want/or cannot, come back on it. a lot of pronouncements can sometimes be a bit facetious, certainly easy to demolish. but something like that, well, that’s certainly worth its weight in spooled silver plate.

oh, and this was, er, rather good, too : -

“In the past 18 months more than 20,000 people have bought a computer program to help them write a novel. Such news makes the blood run cold. There are too many novels published as it is. However, according to research sponsored by W.H.Smith, it seems that 50 per cent of adults in the UK want to be a novelist.
The program, ‘newnovelist’ – available, as it happens, from W.H.Smith, Waterstone’s and other high-street retailers – assures budding Brontes that it will ‘harness your creativity’ and ‘will guide you – in logical stages and with the assistance of many powerful tools – through the entire process of writing a novel.’ Such technological gimmickry panders to the belief that we all have a novel inside us [yes, even Mr E. Blackadder – the “only voter… …`a slight anomaly?’” – succumbs to this in the classic Johnson/Shelley/Coleridge/Byron dictionary episode]. The trouble is most of them ought to stay there.”
___Mark Sanderson.

alright, call me a cunt because i’m a talentless, idiotic poohead (fair calls, and i’m honestly not being public schoolboy false modesty self-deprecation here, but of course that’s up to you to believe), but the above is surely fair dos.
i’m not a completely pretentious snobby twat elitist dick (even i know A.S. Byatt was wrong and out of line and just plain not very nice attacking the Harry Potter books) but i’d rather not faff about with Joyce Carol Oates or Dave Eggers when there’s Jose Saramago or Orhan Pamuk on the table. Or, if you like, J.K. Rowling and Alice Sebold when there’s Joseph Roth or W.G. Sebald to crack open (OK, perhaps harsh, the new Oates is supposed to be very nice but getting halfway through both ‘the lovely bones’ and ‘…mulvaneys’ and realising ‘the year of the death of ricardo reis’ was keeping them out of my head made it a bit pointless to continue). anyway, this is all good, difference etc., great intellects i’m sure could convincingly persuade me otherwise, you disagree, everyone should be allowed a chance to speak, no quietness here, no one should be denied their original voice, but – really – Mr Mark Sanderson is on point here, one should coco.
this blog is shite spewed out, one doesn’t have to read it (as no one makes you read a novel you don’t want, unless you’re in school perhaps…;)), and it’s for free and fun on my/its readers? behalf.
i certainly know i’ve not got a novel inside me. frankly, i know i haven’t the talent. i am glad i’ve come to that conclusion. Ten short story collections a la ‘the interpreter of maladies’ or ten longer affairs every year with the genuine strength and strangeness of a ‘darkness at noon’ would be cool, over reams and reams of mediocrity. ooh, you pompous snob, what of light beach reading? tsk, tsk. still, at least one’s not bigging up ridiculous self-loving wadges of hyperdense jargonified nonsense where the writer is so up their own arse they’re swallowing their food twice.

a.a. milne over baudrillard anyway.
i presume whoever Mark Sanderson is, he’s a voracious reader with extremely strong critical faculties (which does not make one a snob, stuffy, formalist, etc.) and i like what he’s saying. it makes sense to this reader.

Some ILMer was djing at the Retro bar in manchester last friday, they mentioned it on ILM and me old muckah Dan Martin at the manchester evening news mentioned it in the ents. supplement that evening, undeniably the coolest venue in town nowadays, he said. i like 20 minute cut-up spiky electronica sets with added Girls Aloud tunes for subversive danger as much as the next chap, and the retro bar is fine, and hail to their labours, but the coolest venue in town? if SR knew manchester, he might have something interesting to say, what makes a specifically Osymyso/Manitoba/Freelance Hellraiser kinda venue intrinsically cooler than a Heartless Crew type Bar Med place, or a Stu Allan classic ardkore retrospectives type place like the Music Box. Are provincial music journos all dilettantes too nowadays (long after TWANBOC had buried this horse in yo mama’s bed, huh), fi’ real dancehall or bashment nights (or the Rambling Folk Train to Edale, for that matter) not allowed. of course i’m a dilettante, but there again i’m a tit, so it’s allowed although the two aren’t linked, that’s just my case.
of course don’t know what i’m on about (what a handily overused get-out clause that is here eh…) and not wanting to get at the fine sounding retro bar night, just the throwaway ‘cool’ journalese comment. am perhaps reminded, in a stoopid roundabout way, of some of the fuss at ILM caused when SR posted his beef wit’ Rough Trade a while back re. their confusion on the garage tip, you remember, the labelling, you know. some bloke even called him a “twat” in thread reply. bloody hell, i thought, you’ve had the time to compose that reply, and you could at_least_ (well, best would be not at all, truthfully) have made sure the person you called a twat was a dictator or a completely unscrupulous business leader who sells bad things they know are shoddy or an avowed terrorist or a chauvinistic leader or a drooling hooligan or someone who’s mugged your grandmother, perhaps, but no, apparently a family man who presumably didn’t mean to cause offence is a twat (a family man who’s wife’s stuff is always nicer to parse, etc., btw).
odd that.

John Miller, found out today via the simple device of looking at another one of his cards (the Art Group ones, they’re usually identifiable in any card shop, a big company) on the back, died in 2002. he was born in 1931. like his stuff more when it’s the large scale images, the sea. stuff like umbrellas seems less impressive, the large scale stuff possesses a genuine, almost awesome, beauty, that, in the case of one sea view, makes me think of Klee and Lowry and Rothko all at once.
certainly shines an aesthetic light on this soul, as is his wont, his duty.

‘November Sandspur’ (1999) is largely sky and sea, a spit of land also (sand). the few clouds, huddled close, hang like puffs of smoke. in an image like this, that is, one celebrated as so tranquil, it’s sort of fun to imagine a malevolent alternative.
but really, it’s so perfectly baking hot and shimmering, it’s such a pleasant surprise to find him, and he somehow managed to collapse a field of vision into a lovely little (big) view. there seems actual luminescence emanating from this.

P.S.
the new Liz Phair album IS good.
thank you and end of.

the amount of careless fetishising, ableism, enthroning the socially normative, objectification, etc, in this particular blog is woeful.
the bumf on the back says “John (Miller) was born in London. He moved to Cornwall in 1958 and first became known for his paintings of the magical landscape of the West Penwith peninsula where he lives.”

this particular one is ‘Awaiting the Tide’ (2000), a literal meaning.

the top three-fifths are sky. the bottom is the land, a promontory, bluffs of tan and a throbbing, dull bluish ache.
wisps of dirty white are suspended in the brilliant blue sky, as a small boat yearns for the waves’ kiss. there’s a slash of bright red across the bow of the vessel, and a few figures scampering around it. the beach is almost creamy or something; don’t know, looks like it could be practically clay. it’s sand that has enabled the inlet water to possess a magical green lustre at its edges. a yacht sail is on the horizon. one wonders if it could be the same horizon – from another direction, if it were the case – that the very adult captain fastens his eyes onto at the end of ‘The Lord of the Flies’, the blubbering child murderers and wrecks around him.

it’s a little picture, perhaps slight, painted only three years ago as this is typed.

it’s definitely a little gem from this pew; i want to proclaim it a minor masterpiece.
sista Jess (no relation to Harvell) blasts into the blogosphere over at ifthewindwerecolours.blogspot.com/ and makes a good one, takes a good pop at Tracey Emin among other things. like the light of the sky she describes, it makes one think of Bridget Riley and her Cornish childhood. Riley saw blacks and whites and silvers in the grass and the rocks of her penisular beaches. this was one of the things that made her what she is, in the words of Martin Gayford “one of the most coherent, individual and powerful bodies of work in contemporary art”, and amen to that.

i just wanted to raise a few things with the stuff Jess says about Emin, pretty much like the thrust of it, one or two points wanted her to clarify or sumpin’.
spontaneity and institutionalism aren’t necessarily polar opposites, that’s true one sposes, but for practical purposes the Emin quote did hit upon something. it’s like how SR says about the avant-garde functionaries being bankrolled by the Establishment, right, Emin was Goldsmiths 88 or so methinks, they did give a much needed kick up the arse to things like the Turner, stale etc. oh, and incidentally, this isn't Jess, (she's just saying something judicious and mild mannered), but you can take a quick googled look at t'internet, and it does seem rather fashionable to slag Ms Emin off in a perhaps rather mean spirited manner even, alright perhaps she sets herself up for a fall, but you never know.

of course one’s not suggesting that Emin (never actually seen Bed in the flesh, just pictures, but think it looks quite nice) didn’t take her time arranging it, she probably might have. however, a stance can be art. well, i mean, i'm not to say otherwise.
i do like the shitted out bit, i like the scatalogical narratives trope, that's always good, perhaps it's with being something of a freres Chapman fan, but it's always good fun, and shitting things out as your art can be a triumph anyway,i guess, that bernard frize is it?, that's currently on show at IKON, he slavers it on apparently. edmund white essays works of fine art as they are, always seem a bit crapped out, whereas ian jack articles, he seems to have regurgitated them, careful, for the chicks etc., another peep to love, whereas finally - f'rinstance, say - ooh, erm, doris lessing, dont' suppose she shits stuff out.

warhol’s studio assistants actually did a lot of his work.

i sympathise with Jess being flippant because she feels Emin is taking the piss out of the gallery goers, but her thinking only of the minutes of her life wasted or whatever looking at the bed is harsh. Like i said, i haven’t seen Bed in the flesh, but i was delighted with it when i first heard about it, and repeated TV/books/etc. viewings haven’t – at the very least – diminished my wondrous and enthused grin. so not wasted minutes etc. this end. fi' real.
ok, it’s only found stuff – which, {don't even have to write a 'technically' qualifier here!}, in itself does not possess that aesthetic light – but Emin’s mission statement is achieved, i genuinely think. The passage of time, cig butts are pretty good for transience, the impermanence of the candle (like 17th c. Netherlandish mortality pictures? Who can say). Even if Emin’s ideas did go up with her bifters (and one might not argue differently y'see) there’s always vogues, lots of wonderful things are –out- ideas at the moment, so one shouldn’t praps be _too* bothered about that. even if you think it's all rather VIthform.
true, artists strive for statements that outstrip the private (this is at least something over the professional solipsism of some of our writers) and whilst you might say here Emin was waxing on the personalised tip, she could at least be said to be showing how many, e.g., UK women pass some of their time. which is fair enough.

as they say over at arcade/project, ones that "It is hard to be critical of work that is so autobiographical,...".

Jess should not necessarily be expecting Emin to tell her any differences between different cultures or whatnot (even if that’s just because D. Cherry tries to situate and contextualise Emin’s oeuvre as to do with her flight from systems, her diasporic Turkish background), don’t think Emin’s mission statements are normally quite that grand even if we take it for granted she should be, but she does illuminate a little about our commanality, and that is a small victory in itself, i think.

perhaps i am being too na├»ve, or Jess too harsh, or we’re both right (i’d ~love~ to see Jess post some views on Rachel Whiteread, a contemporary artist who perhaps is a tad over-esteemed?).

indeed, art can change you, and more than once; it can lighten you.

and that is a very fine thing.