Thursday, 27 November 2003

the (national) Chinese Arts Centre is located in Mcr. it's recently moved premises and the refurbed new home opens its doors tomorrow~
'mysterious Ingram' - 1 can confirm that: - white male, floppy dark hair, a nice accent, and says "guv".
they certainly don't make 'em like that anymore.
NI assembly results coming in
superb review of Matt Elliott's new 'un
Tim F. reviews a Greensleeves comp.
only just seen this Geeta post.
thoughtful and hear-hear.
nice blog
i do like the bloke who played miles me, in 'this life', but i always liked welsh wonder warren in that show.

obviously i had a crush on amita dhiri.
here's about the nicest Kamen obit.
well, dunno about you, but my christmas wishlist is now sorted.
how about just learning (together) to be the best possible lover for your partner, instead?
tell you what, i could fucking eat nans for England me, i really could.
some more from noladotcom
another one bites the dust - R.I.P. Soulja Slim
oh god
is it just me, or is this just the best website in Britain today?


not forgetting it's all about the uk, of course.
Butcher 105 no, Flintoff hitting a few boundaries, lean like the tower of Pisa.
my mate Mo is from Zanzibar
we met when we worked at the same place together years back, he has a boom for a laugh, sort of the east African Brian Blessed if you will.
he maintains the weed they have back in Tanzania is really strong stuff, cheap as well.
i've only smoked the once with him, and that was a couple of years ago (never again!) we were well caned, so you gotta believe him.

some of the slang he comes out with tho', i should transcribe it, three-way collision between Zanzibar, what you might call black British i guess, and i suppose what you might call generic traditional Mancunian colloquialisms, quality, the Tanzanian words are well mad (to my mind).
you live n learn eh.

a reasonable point, but - to be fair (let's get to the point eh) - everyone knows that there's only two teams from the scottish top flight that would do anything other than get relegated if they played in the english Prem (indeed, the likes of the Dons - with apologies to my mate Stuey the Aberdonian - and Partick would probably get relegated from the English 1st).
The SPL is a joke.

elsewhere, pleased for Celtic, the Arsenal scoreline was a surprise i'll admit whilst the Leeds administration threat [link] is of course the main talking point.


elsewhere, i don't normally big up Rupe Murdoch as a rule but i remember linking to a story for y'all reading pleasure about this young man about a week ago, on SKYSPORTS.COM. sort it out, Beeb!


refreshing this should give you the England score current.


and there's obviously this.

P.S., White Feather! - don't be that guy, just dont...
and Jon Dale's middle name starts with a W!
what is it?

i think we should be told.

William, maybe.

Wednesday, 26 November 2003

philanthropy is almost the only virtue that is sufficiently appreciated by mankind - h. d. thoreau
bloody hell, you'd pay good money to read crumbling loaf wouldn't you, you really would.
email views

Ello :-
just a brief comment on the frankly appalling news that Michael Caine is "reportedly" being cast as Alfred the Butler in the new Batman film. I have problem with Christian Bale in the lead role, but Alfred is supposed to be distinguished, not some cockerney urchin like Caine.. "'ello there guvna', the joka' seems to 'ave broken into the bat-cayve!" no, no, NO! bring back Michael Gough!!!

Qasim : -

PS Stop talking about taking dumps I belong to a high
caste and we don't talk of such things. If you mention
them again may Brahman reborn you into a chamar!

you know what's quite weird?

i can smell gammon, but not see any gammon.
how did Bob Marley like his donuts?

wi' jam'in.
i know the lovely companion ain't going here tonight (she's driving to her mom's in the next state after work for the holiday celebrations) but what a nicely concise punk-rock writeup from Matos.
wonderfully eloquent attack from British Law Lord on American detention of suspected combatants here.

some people might not realise it but the standard of debate in the House of Lords [site] is excellent; it's certainly a lot better than the Commons (although you might say that's not saying much).
fatman scoop - 'be faithful'

i must say i love this tune; what's not to love?

i saw it on TOTP and the performance; well, it had it all - a fat black bloke getting his shirt off, hollering.


quite a few of my indie mates profess to "hate" this choon, but these people listen to stellastarr or the au pairs (sorry Simon!), so what do they know eh.
i hate films set in West London - superb! Pete Baran really has been very good indeed of late.
for sheer reading pleasure, i must say, there's little to touch the freayk trigger publog in my daily routine (well, weekday daily).
Rachel Playforth, Tim H, Dave B's wonderful dissection of a Stoke Newington alehouse, and of course Pete Baran all deserve massive props.
hear hear
in (partial) defence of eminem
having noted conciliatory views on the prosaical goodness of pfork on postrock, no one and no one can compete with Baal's 'metal for soft lads' and "adolescent" anaylses.
also, if you're gonna put any Slint or Mogwai up, surely the Bark Psychosis' first one is deserving?

still, shutting up now.
essential reading
sure we like the global stuff and jazz round here, but one can do the up-its-own-arse IDM with the best of the frail electronica boys, believe.
i think the revised pfork 90s list is fair enough.

before any dance/rap types (that's me then, i have to be honest with yew) get on their ass, you have to remember the indietronica/alt.rockers hold the key to the pfork home and they can frequently write with both winning warmth and disarming humour about their un/faves. also it's mean to moan that they're all over the face of, ooh, punk-funk cut-up bands because, what do you expect, if indie kids are shown how to dance (as Ryan Schreiber noted in his charmingly honest review of the Rapture) by outfits like !!! we should be applauding that.

having noted that, here's a few personal views on the rejigged list : -

more hip-hop is good, big up ya chest (even if all the albums in said field are better than the two highest ranked ones in said field, the PE, and 'endtroducing...')

not quite feeling the continued love for the Betas 3 EPs, still, live and for a time they were all okay

nice decision to swop SAW 85-92 for SAW II i must say, though i prefer the former

not entirely sure about Alex Linhardt's There was only one thing more dystopic and frightening this decade; I believe it was called the Zaire dictatorship mind.

i'll be frank, 'music is rotted' is my fave Jenkinson elpee (in fact it's the only i still have any time for, really), so fair dos,
basically Pfork is WYSIWYG innit, all nice rock, Elephant 6 types, Wilco, MBV and OK COMPUTER, Will Oldham, godspeed, it's all nice innit.
not too sure about Yet this pioneering collection of pastoral folktronica is one of the most engaging and emotionally captivating electronic records of the decade from Scott Plagenhoef tho' on BoC's you know what - clearly me and Jon Dale are the only people who actually regard this as unenviable infantilism instead (and not a pleasant womb-like state either), all this rusted Japanese machine-music and sndtrk from a C64's dream trope, preferring the plangent possibilities of a Talk Talk pick.
still, nevermind eh.

whilst one's certainly not a radiohead fan and very far from thinking ok computer the 90s best album, that superb final review certainly convinces.

chest y'!
here's the bad news.
elsewhere, don't you think Busta Rhymes increasingly resembles the Lion from the Wizard of Oz?
my mate says he would see him play in a Wizard of Oz show.

this would raise the prospect of Lil' Kim as Dorothy admittedly, which i for one am certainly all for...

...whether anyone would want to be the Scarecrow is another matter, maybe one of the Arsonists.
just overjoyed to read Maff's water collection.
The Sheila Chandra and Pecheurs de Perles et Musiciens Du Golfe Persique a special treat.
it's almost a shame sometimes as he sticks to vinyl only, as one of the only ways his anthology of h2o goodness could here have been improved would be with the flourish of THIS little BY--UUTY.
lovely to see him stick up for his Scratch fave too.

it beats the hell out of me why IPC or some other house doesn't give him his own magazine, i would if i were Rupert Murdoch, in fact i would include him as a glossy pull-out in the Saturday Times.
an angel of death
that sounds encouraging.

aged 19, taking a class taught by her, i was reminded that colonialists in India could be regarded - at least - as progressive because they may very well have been trying to do their bit within the structural injustice they found themselves surrounded with.

foraging around there, one came across a short essay from
this chap, written shortly after 9/11. Modood is a common name on sociology and social anthropology undergraduate reading lists and that stands up now.

speaking of political diversions, the yes/no interlude is here good, ranting about the ranters.

Tuesday, 25 November 2003

Cathedral - now that's a band i've always enjoyed.
This wednesday at The Grapes, Trippet Lane, Sheffield.
Viv Corringham & Peter Cusack - songs/electronics
Shimpfluch Gruppe - radical Swiss ensemble, between music and performance
NB This gig will probably start at 8.30 to fit everything in.
£5 / £3
Eid indeed, let us hope boy racers stay away from Rusholme or at least don't rag their cars up and down Wilmslow Road in a dangerous fashion.


my brother told me he moved one of his lectures telling the prof he had a "prior commitment". what he didn't tell his lecturer was that this prior commitment involved city on the telly
whereas that from Hitchens is agreeable, especially at the bottom.
it's just as unusual to be eyeing up George Monbiot, but that's a realistically agreeable assessment for once, even if it seems laid on a little too strong.
three somewhat encouraging (especially the first) items from Kashmir, Hong Kong, and Burma.
meanwhile, the remains of Howard Dean's brother have reportedly been identified in Laos.
it's also unusual to find yrself bigging up Greg Dyke.
judge having postponed ruling in the case of the Daily News (only non-state paper in Zimbabwe), paper's legal advisor notes grimly that If we had been successful, we would have been back on the streets by 1 December....Our efforts are being frustrated everywhere.
it's definitely a case of me too over preferring the breeders' debut elpee to pretty much anything else Deal was involved in (i also forgot 'planet of sound' too)
the guardian website is slow connecting where i am today and the refresh button is getting knackered. pah.
can't make up my mind about this whole pharrell business.
i was reading somewhere, can't remember where, it was recently though, was it oh i don't know Stelfox or Finney or Dale or Ronan anyway, and his polymorphous perversity and all that jazz (Reynolds had to tell me what this meant; suffice to say his Freud instructions fell on deaf ears as i thought it was something kinky) but really i've been losing patience with him for many months now, as i can't get with the programme with his appearances singing, all over videos, over the place. i think it'd be good for him to shut up, if he wants to branch out, he should take up Piedmontese cookery and appear on telly with Antonia Carlucci but i think his singing with the Hova is a little unfresh now, so i'd like him to stop, unless - of course - he can come up with something new, like a decent duet with Holly or Kylie or Xtina (but not Pink or Britney, as they've already produced that choon of hers 'Boys')
Tom Ewing has a beard! (for some reason, i always kinda just assumed he resembled Tiga)
I'm acting the way America acts best, unilaterally

_Homer Simpson.
two from the BBC

- French juror barred for headscarf - Mr Perben said the Muslim scarf, worn by the juror at a trial in Bobigny, north-east of Paris, was contrary to the principle of impartiality. He said he did not want open signs of religious commitment in French courts. The French Government has been split on whether to ban headscarves in public institutions because of its policy of strict secularism. - i'm not sure what i think about that bcause it's really knotty; i probably agree, it's the rule of law, after all.

- If Saddam [Hussein] taught the Iraqis nothing else, it was how to endure the depredations of thugs Paul Bremer
reasons to be vigilant [all from the manchester guardian]

today's leader

European anti-semitism?

and lesser,
a slight caution on outside influences in Georgia

reasons to be cheerful

- Shevardnadze has left the building
- the wondrousness of Australian boys [incidentally, after the rugby, the massed Aussie crowd singing 'waltzing matilda' {lyrics, eric bogle's 'and the band played waltzing matilda' lyrics} definitely pricked a lump in the throat, for the wonder of an inclusive modern Australia and all the glorious baubles therein that Robert Hughes would not be familiar with, given his leaving permanent residence in 1964]
- the welcome return of Brotha (Dan) Jonze, singing it back
- two good things from the latest NYRB: Bernard-Henri Lévy's ridiculous new tome deservedly set upon by William Dalrymple, and Tony Judt rightly comes out fighting, taking to task Michael Walzer et al
- (like many) that prosaically invigorating IP blast back

Monday, 24 November 2003

i'm listening to some pixies tapes at the moment and you know that bit on blogger homepage where it tells you the ten most recently published blogs?

well, as 'where is my mind?' was starting, the number one recently published blog that just came up in the browser was called 'where is my mind'.

I PROMISE TO PAY THE BEARER SOME PISS, SOME SPUNK, AND SOME SHITE (if life is like a lovebank, i want an overdraft).

Jon raised interesting points re. the Pixies about three months ago (link), and they were put to a round table discussion in the Moss Trooper last night, the flow nicely aided by vegetable chilli, salmon in peppercorn and Aberdeen Angus plate, then IPA, Winter Lightning, and Corona, the jukebox spouting Cockney Rebel, Sugababes and the Man in Black. to digress, it astonishes how easily IPA goes down. loads of my mates – and, indeed, oneself – just have no trouble in sinking casks of it right down; indeed, if you cut Thaxo he would probably bleed a combination of Abbot, Isle of Jura and mostly IPA, but then he is from the Fens (Tommy D mainly sticks to shorts and lager, whilst Mathews will drink anything put in front of him, like a good Irish lad should; fuck cliché with ref. to politically correct sensibilities, if you’ve got a mouth wide as Portsmouth {who incidentally were unfortunate against the Cottagers tonight}, USE IT, oo-er missus…).

Jon’s main thrust, about such outfits as Band of Susans and everyone’s beloved MBV, getting relatively ignored in the popular(-ist) imagination in favour of Lovering and Co. was not disputed, although Throwing Muses have always seemed about the hippest of that set he mentioned, round this neck.
we’re pretty sure that Jon would probably not dispute just about the only decent reason (it’s an obvious one, but what the hey) that anyone could solidly come up with for the canonisation of the Pixies.
that is, basically, one word, and that word is (to quote P’fork ed Ryan Schreiber) “antic”.
they had this joyous zany quality (time to reclaim that word from RAG society students, etc.; also wacky) and went down easily, and Santiago isn’t about onanism, he’s about frantic but safe packaging (my choice of phrasing here does rather back up Jon’s arguments however if you infer i’m meaning banal, packaged, safe stuff but i’m not sure what i mean, so…) whilst Deal is about the little breaths you can hear her take on ‘Gigantic’ cause she’s not pacing herself “properly” and Francis cranky bilingualism. ‘Doolittle’ is supposedly the canonical album of choice, but me well i prefer the first mini album (Come on Pilgrim) and the first full-lengther (Surfer Rosa) whilst it would be the boldest choice to argue either of the last two (it’s only ever things like ‘motorway to roswell’ or ‘dig for fire’ one can fondly recall from those two combined if in a hurry, the latter admittedly one of their best things EVAH; wondrous as ice cream: in a town where I am going to live; always reminds me of the X Files pilot episode for some reason – probably that tracking opening shot of the small Oregonian town at the beginning of said episode). you can find stuff like ‘caribou’ and ‘break my body’ stretched across those two (handily available as a single CD for years now) and what is in all probability what are me absolute two fave Pixs’ choons – the completely immense ‘bone machine’ (still one of my favourite lyrical intros in rock) and ‘I’ve been tired’.

in fact, if we rank some of my fave Pixies tunes, yunno, down the years, then it ends up very-centric to the first two. in (probably) no particular order, we’d most likely have: -

 bone machine
 break my body
 broken face
 gigantic
 tony’s theme
 oh my golly!
 vamos
 caribou
 ed is dead
 levitate me
 the holiday song
 nimrod’s son
 i’ve been tired (correctly identified as the none-more-antic one by Schreiber, if memory serves)
 debaser
 tame
 here comes your man
 gouge away
 dig for fire

coda: having thought about it, the only tracks one’d really rescue in a fire off ‘trompe le monde’ or ‘bossanova’ are probably the likes of ‘letter to memphis’ and ‘velouria’ (of course) and maybe stuff like ‘stormy weather’ or ‘the navajo know’.

FWIW, the assembled party, including one big Pixies fan incidentally, agreed with Jon that ‘monkey gone to heaven’ is about as exciting as taking in a Liverpool match (boring BORING scousers BORING BORING SCOUSERS). ‘monkey gone to heaven’ basically just sounds like Feeder with the zest sucked out. also, innit nice to see Jon mention literature, however fleetingly.

having written all the above, i would take Raekwon’s ‘Knucklheadz’ over the Pixies’ entire catalogue, give or take the odd cut from Surfer Rosa (on balance; ‘Knowledge God’ or ‘Criminology’ or ‘Rainy Dayz’ is clearly over the Pixies full-stop) .

the above was all written by someone who still, on the whole (Philly cheese-steaks) prefers early Idlewild to the later Idlewild (bizarrely), so must be taken with a few rocks of salt.

DID YOU SEE, did you see, Yeovil’s draw at the KC? marvellous. went to the Huish once, nice place.
Jason Robinson COME ON, pumped, 5’8”, early doubters to make the transition from League, punched the ball (as opposed to an opponent, hello Woodman). Sri Lanka, heavy rain, lost the series one nil, slaughtered when there was, what will happen to Lee Hughes?


i have decided that this is the ordering of my favourite team sports (it’s only really the first three or four or so for me, let me be truthful with you) : -

- (field) hockey
-aussie rules (sorry Angus!)

individual ones in general remain various lots of running, boxing and Thai kick, cycling, swimming, F1, and snooker (sad to say but one will watch it; and play it badly).

i am now the proud owner of a magnificent Boston Celtics t-shirt (ta mate).

i think the best line i ever read in Kerrang! was about the Sabs, discussing how Ward’s only hand luggage was a load of cider on their first North American tour. discussing i think the album that gave the world “the startlingly effective ballad ‘Changes’” the writer notes he doesn’t really play his drumkit, more (and this is a rough paraphrase) kick fuck out of it (or it may have been batter, one forgets)
Sports journalism

Diplomacy in phraseology

Lesson I

nationwide, administration bound tyke inbreds

our kid's analysis of Leeds United F.C.

February passed like a Skate and I know March. Here is the "light" the Stranger said "was not on land or sea." Myself could arrest it, but we'll not chagrin Him.

_Emily Dickinson, from a letter, March 1866.

Saturday, 22 November 2003


Friday, 21 November 2003

my parents have recently returned from about four nights away in New York City (anniversary).
they ate Chinese and Indo-Pak. i dunno. you can get half-decent Cantonese everywhere in England (though, say, Hunanese might be harder to come by in sheep-shagger villages; i wouldn’t claim otherwise) that, certainly in the biggest cities, would be the equal of the most decent Chinese fare in the bigger American cities (excepting maybe the daddy that is the city by the Bay, and therefore Vancouver in Canada). and curries, etc., in North America are of course inferior to versions in urban England.
i suppose what i’m trying to say is they shouldn’t have ate local whilst o/s. they should have gone more in the direction of pho stands, kosher, sushi, bruncheries, pirozhki and cheap Mexican grub (i.e., stuff that all large American cities do better than virtually anywhere over here, save the Smoke).
my father did tell me he was bantering with a Hungarian waitress at some Italian restaurant about Ferenc Puskas (if you don't know who Ferenc Puskas is, get your coat and CHECK YO HEAD) though, so all was not lost (i was discussing relatively obscure 1970s Manchester City players with a couple of waiters in a Burmese restaurant in Paddington once, who turned out – like Osama – to be Arsenal fans; one would hesitate to classify that night as ‘fairly surreal’, but it was less run of the mill than the average Modern British or fusion dining experience, i’ll be honest with yous).
i think high points for them were Central Park, picaresque Cuban cabbies, the ‘scrapers of course (GOD! i LOVE the Flat-iron), riding the subway, the glory that is the Met, eggs over easy, and window-shopping in the posh bits.
can’t be bad.
they bought me a copy of Time Out New York (site) which i probably don’t like quite as much as the daddy. Luka would probably point out he ain’t a fan of that one anyway, and why not: it’s a fair enough thing to slag it a bit; after all, it’s a big enough organ and can stand up to it. TONY is very similar in form and content, it seems, to the original, so that’s kinda cool: - it’s half-decent listings for a big city, with punchy reviews (never something one’s had a big problem with).
but TONY is just a tad offensively (even more so than the Landahn one) ‘woo! look at us! KOOL! we’re great’ to this (very, and lazily so) casual reader. you might argue that that is what one should expect from a brash Noo Yoikers’ publication (indeed, perhaps nothing less), but it’s not like NYC has the monopoly on vital; many great world capitals boss it in all spheres.
anyway, as you can tell, my objections are – as per – so half-arsed and vaguely sketchy, i won’t even be bothering to properly codify and log ‘em; just wanted to record this…

however, there is one piece of shit in there i ain’t tolerating, and that piece of shit is an argument. seems like a columnist Howard Halle wrote the UN has served as an elegant forum for all manner of outrageous anti-Semitic expression.
two readers write in, to (rightly) disabuse him of his clearly too bullish sounding none-more-American views about the state of Israel (like most people, i’d regard myself as a friend of a strong state of Israel, but i’m allowed to feel distaste towards certain policies, or aspects thereof, without some buffoonish American commentator labelling me a bigot) whilst a woman from Hoboken bigs him up, saying that not only is the UN anti-Semitic, but the Red Cross too (and Swiss banks). funny to think how Bush and Powell, etc. (especially the latter, you suppose) clearly have a decent, moderate view on Israel (check Bush on the fence) that must surely (one is presuming) be a little at odds with many of Bush’s more conservative supporters.
he’s discussing the world-wide resurgence of anti-Semitism in the issue one’s got; this is clearly also a good thing at the same time though; good to note these things down, be outraged, and chant against them (Whitman was from Brooklyn, right) – though i’d take Rabbi Jonathan Sacks analysis over some bloke who writes for Time Out New York, to be frank.
he notes recently, two out of the 300 summer school organisational-camps that UNICEF funds for Palestinian kids have been found to be, basically, bigging up terrorists (they’ve had nicknames assigned to them honouring dead suicide bombers, and the like!).
clearly disgraceful, but i’m distrustful of extrapolating from grossly unfortunate and vile individual incidences to drive home broader political points; if he’s going to stop his kid collecting for UNICEF, fair enough, that’s his opinion, but whilst UNICEF are trying to stop the programme with those two aberrations that they didn’t know about until someone pointed out the gen, they’re also trying to, e.g., help children stuck in a conflict zone in the DRC, or Sudan. remember that.
i apologise that all the above sounds half-arsed and lazy political banter, i know a little bit about things and normally phrase things carefully and with caution and with better chops but i’m off out tonight soon (REGGAE is my destiny!) and so out the door, etc. since leaving university i’ve just turned into one of these horrible caricaturists that talks about politics in a simplistic manner down the alehouse etc. but that’s enough hand-wringing from me…

apparently tickets for the Ibrahim Ferrer gig at the Carnegie Hall were getting scalped for the equivalent of 1,200 pounds. magical!

excerpt of a letter from a London reader : -
Every morning I read that the Australian press has denounced English rugby as boring because we don’t score enough tries. I have looked at the last two years’ data, and England have scored more tries per game on average than Australia, and a higher percentage of English points have been as a result of touchdowns.

quality on the sporting news just night. the Aussie airforce flying over as Wilkinson practices his kicks, Aussie supporters being encouraged to noisily gather and hold a 'noisy vigil' outside the England team hotel.
it's all good banter.

talk about from cream to soured (not in the good way, of course) : - other night on the BBC4 on Beeb 2 slot, we had Robert Hughes. the day after, it was Stuart Maconie…
Times to launch its own tabloid edition
also, the independent tabloid is available in the northwest too, thank you very much
he certainly was interested in sigils and symbols and old religions and literature, was old Rothko.
[make up yr own mind, one guesses]
It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints, as long as it is well painted. This is the essence of academicism. There is no such thing as a good painting about nothing. We assert that the subject is crucial and only that subject matter is valid which is tragic and timeless. That is why we profess a spiritual kinship with primitive and archaic art.

_part of a letter written by Newman, Rothko, and Adolph Gottlieb to the New York Times, 1943.

this whole NGA feature here is a useful Rothko primer to an exhibition held in Washington DC several years ago. by the time the visitor has got to the 'late' section you can be reading about Rothko's views on the sublime, whilst
this here is about ancient inspiration.
at one stage Rothko declares silence is so accurate which is a nice sort of companion to this story here (via The Rambler).
Comprising a quartet of fresh-faced rock outfits from three different nations, some of whom for which this will be their first even nationwide tour, there's even been controversy before a note is played. China's only all-girl punk group, Hang On The Box, were banned from tour by their home authorities as their music wasn't deemed fit to represent the country. Well, they do have a song called Ass Hole, I'm Not Your Baby. They've replaced by Wigan rockers, Moco.

__Richard Smirke discusses line-up changes to a punk festival hitting Mcr tonight.
Jon Snow walked in today with a fabulous, but well-sourced, rumour. Apparently when Tony Blair was rushed into hospital with his heart problem, one of the other patients sharing the ward was an Al-Qaeda suspect being held without trial. When the security services heard of the unfortunate coincidence, the suspect was moved back to Broadmoor secure hospital.

-Krishnan Guru-Murthy.
The self, terrible and constant, is for me the subject matter of painting.
_ Barnett Newman.

Alongside his contemporaries in art and literature, Turner was fascinated by the concept of the Sublime – terrible beauty, huge overwhelming clouds and landscapes, and the parallel concept of Beauty – things lovely to look at, gentle, smooth, serene, and the allied dimension of the Picturesque – which emphasized agreeable contrasts and variety.
- Anne Gardom.

nice wrap-up from the revitalising World of Stelfox about Sewell/Rothko, etc.
the Burkian quotes on the terrible sublime and Dave's love for dancehall being borne out/given nourishment by this great man's reasoning seem, clearly, the right way to approach invigorating, scarifying works of art, be they Elephant Man or the Abstract Expressionists.

indeed, the Gardom quote above gives ammunition - one might expect - to envelope pushers who would wish to rail - in visual art, and one supposes, other field - against what they might regard as, say, the safe, banal visions of timidity.
"some Villa twat I know" - is tufluv a Birmingham City fan?

Emerald Jim has some Joe Meek lines on his masthead...
anyway, it doesn't really matter anyway.
it's all interpretation of course, there's nothing new under the sun (so to speak).
i suppose if you're into bestiality, the answer to that last one would be a donkey; some mule's hoof is bound to have kicked it once.
i know what's best, i'm telling you that this Goya or Titian provides a genuine aesthetic light for all to see, you'll only flounder on that Ellsworth Kelly or Frank Stella's inhospitable fastnesses.
of course it's indisputable that Sewell knows what he's on about (more or less) in general, because of his reading, and advancement.
i'm almost inclined to agree with him in this instance, purely what he says about Rothko, because that fits my prejudices, to an extent.
but Luke's warm response reminds Sewell that Rothko and Raphael can both soar.
someone got me a stone from a Greek beach once and every day i handle it, or nearly every day.
it's like my low-rent version of Luka's ghosts, thinking of all the people who may once have handled it.
a German tourist whose grandfather might have been a cog in the machine, a Finnish tourist whose father might have been involved in the Winter War. i wonder if a little Greek boy who grew up to be C.P. Cavafy once imbued this stone with a bit of his essence when he spat it and shone it up, admiring the veiny orange mini-fissures in it as a more-human-than-human epidermis (it really is startling).
if they had, perhaps (i don't know), let's say a sculptors' eye (for the prize; for detail) they might have been able to trace - with far more sophistication than myself, looking under a low-watt bulb late at night - patterns that delight, conspire, and confound.
actually, these golden-thread traceries on the rock itself are a little like the veins that throb and hum just underneath the surface of Michelangelo, alive with life like the Costan Rican rainforest floor.
it's a geological version of the D&G web, rhizomes and all that jazz.
thinking of all the iambic pentameters that have been composed by all the wannabe verse-smiths that have once handled this chunk of rock is really a rather invigorating feeling, we could make like one of these post-modern internet-based writers who seeks volunteers to choose one word each and that attempts to weld some semblance of a narrative onto the collected pieces and bobs.

i wonder if frozen water ran into this piece of earth, and cracked it once, a long time ago.
and one of my most burning questions is who was the most generally sexually attractive person to have ever handled it?
whilst i do like what Luka and Sewell have been saying (Davis and Sewell in conversation, i can just imagine that going out late on Radio 4 or something, right after his mate Paul and Susan Sontag, just before Oliver and Sir Frank Kermode), i think it's of equal importance to not merely just acknowledge any strengths in Luke's tightly-sprung aesthetic arguments, but also to applaud the fact he's treating Sewell with decency and respect.

i can honestly think of very few acquaintances of mine who don't take the mickey out of Brian Sewell if given the opportunity or asked for their views; all mostly predicated on the - as you'd expect - predictable inverse snobbery angle, ridiculing his accent.
they should be nice about it.
dime bar, that's a good northern insult that.
Bert Jansch is one of the greats, he really is.
a very important fundament in the current folkie scene, a cornerstone if you will. and Joe Meek - such riches, truly!

Thursday, 20 November 2003

one for The Rambler
Alty's international win in Scotland (or however the fuck far up into Cumbria it is) 3-1 on pens
after extra time last nite in the Unibond league Challenge Cup 2nd round at Workington, so its been a good sporting week for more than one reason then.

-my brother, sporting correspondent.

Beethoven thought it was the best orchestra in Europe, Wagner called it a ‘miraculous harp’. And in our own times, Sir Colin Davis still calls it ‘the most individual orchestra’….all the fantastic precision of attack of the great American ensembles, with the great sense of idiomatic flexibility of the central European ones.
_Warwick Thompson of the Manchester edition of Metro gets all excited about the Dresden Staatskapelle visiting the Bridgewater Hall (and well he might).

actually Abbas Ali and Richard Smirke (a mate of mine at school his old man ran a superb curry house in ‘fashionable Didsbury’ and he was called Abbas, that and Caleb and Jiri and Cengiz and Ricardo and Dave are possibly my favourite boy’s names fullstop that in my – DISCLAIMER: VERY limited and unworldly experience of male names - experience) are both alright.

the other night one of my mates and her bloke went to see the Kevin Ayers Band. another mate saw Emmylou Harris (the same mate saw Ralph Stanley the week before).
i can’t even remember the last rock gig i went to excepting a Sister Machine Gun side-project in Chitown (possibly either Lambchop or Flaming Lips of any size). i do know a lot of mates are going to be catching Radiohead at some point during their imminent UK tour.

our kid was telling me as he went to the chip shop for his supper the other night he bought a copy of the Hull fanzine, City Independent, i believe it’s called.
Hull haven’t played well for about three weeks now and Taylor’s defensive choices were getting criticised.

my mate Loz took her bloke for a surprise week to Edinburgh. chest y’.

the Bev Road in Hull is a good place for a pubcrawl. However Shitby did once caution Dominguez with the warning ‘You may as well throw a sausage up the Beverly Road’ so you should definitely be aware of that.

QPR destroyed Plymouth at the Loft; they’re going up don’t you know. did you see that? they took them apart. marvellous. QPR John told me via email his boys were “scintillating”.

The Long And Winding Road is still a terrible song
-Claire Allfree
ha-ha! my mate told me he prefers the schmaltz of the original, no less.
"I love the doughnuts at Blackpool, just with the hole, fried in donkey fat, dropped in sugar, tastes perfect man!"

my good mate Qasim.
tres bon

at work today i was watching the London protests on Sky News and two lads walked past and one of them drawled in broad Manc patois at his mate 'look at 'at, fuckin' bare people man, bare protests' nodding his approval
promising start?
certainly a decent title for the page_
i believe Jon Dale's first record was some SY when he was about 9 and was it Emerald Jim's first record some Talk Talk when he was about 6, and someone like Meme or Eden equally impressive (or somesuch).

but i think Reynolds' lad is the one to watch....
The Metropolitan is 68 miles long.
Jubilee is the only line to intersect with all the others, on the Tube.

I took care of that, though, but don't worry bout it
I got your back though
Fresh off the press courtesy Simon: -

There's no such thing as good and bad music.I'd really like to destroy people's idea of good and bad music so that eventually people will hear a record and won't even know if they like it or not.

Simon says it was Dammers (during More Specials) talking to the MM about his love for muzak.
Kieran Reynolds does dig DJ Marky's 'LK' and Steeleye Span's 'All Around My Hat'.

Zippy: "One skin, two skin, three skin, four"
George: "Zippy, where is Bungle?"
Zippy: "I think Geoffrey is trying to get him up"
We see a view of the door and hear Bungle moaning from behind it.
Bungle: "Geoffrey, I can't get it in"
Geoffrey: "You managed it last night"
Bungle: "I know, lets try it round the other way. Ooooooh, I've got it in"
Bungle and Geoffrey enter the studio with Bungle carrying a hammer and peg kit.
Bungle: "Would you stick this on the shelf, George"
George: "I can't reach, you'll have to stick it up yourself, Bungle"
Geoffrey (to camera) "Hello everyone, today we are talking about playing"
Bungle: "Playing with each other, Geoffrey?" Geoffrey: "Yes Bungle, do you have a special friend that you like to play with?"
George: "Yesterday we played with each other's balls. Are we going to play with our friend's balls today?
Bungle: "Yes, and we can play with our twangers as
Geoffrey (to camera): "Have you seen Bungles twanger?"
Zippy: "Oh I have, I showed him how to pluck with it"
Bungle: "It's my plucking instrument"
Geoffrey asks the audience if they can pluck like Bungle.
Zippy: "I can, I'm the best plucker here"
George: "And I'm good at banging. My peg's hard isn't it Zippy?"
Zippy: "Well of course it is, your peg wouldn't go in if it was soft"
Geoffrey: "Let's get back to Bungle's twanger" Bungle: (excited) "Oooooh Geoffrey, we could all play with our twangers couldn't we? Let's play the plucking song. Rod and Freddy can get their instruments out and Jane has got two lovely maracas"
Singers Rod, Freddy and Jane enter.
Freddy: "We could hear you all banging away"
Rod: "Banging can be fun"
Jane: "Ooooh yes, and I was banging away all last night with Rod and Freddy"
Freddy: ( looking sad ) "Yes, but it broke my plucking instrument"
Rod: (to Jane) "Do you want to blow on my pipe while I'm twanging away?"
Jane: "Oh no, I was banging away with Freddy last night. But would you like to play with my maracas? Zippy: "No, let's just pluck away with our twangers"
George: "Yes, it doesn't matter what size our twanger is"
Zippy: "I've got a big red one"
George: "I've only got a tiny twanger. But it works well and I like to play with it"
Geoffrey: (to viewers) "Well, have you got your twangers out? And remember, you can bang your balls at the same time. If you haven't got any, ask a
friend if you can play with his. Now, let's all play the plucking song"
Everyone in studio: "Pluck, pluck, pluck along, we're going to pluck all day"
now, one admits all that master bate etc. stuff in pugwash was an urban myth, but my man tells me it's a real transcript. it could, of course, be one of these dodgy emails that periodically does the rounds but - y'kna - i'm puerile enough to put it up...
Jane - woofwoof!
Willie Kemp
Canadians at the Belgian brewery~

i need to lie down, things are getting too 'ectic
go, now, GO
with ref. to what Luka wrote before about tastes and all that, i was thinking, some Dick Hebdige book if i remember rightly there's an interview with a Special, Terry Hall i think, and he's saying how he wants one day to realise a dream of his - music that is so bizarre and utterly alien itself to any notions of a critical consciousness, that it will confound absolutely all and any critical notions that others try to impose on it, in their gradings.
that was a sort of ambition, a pipe-dream if you will, of his.
and i find that idea fascinating really because these days i suppose i try to listen less often - i think i remember Rob Young in his editor's idea in the wire some months ago commenting approvingly on a David Toop comment that he listens to a lot less music per se and so when he sits down, or whatever, with his headphones and stereo, etc., to listen to tunes for pleasure, he knows it's going to be really special, because he's in that higher sort of intenser reception that Luke alluded to.
clearly David Toop has got a decent ear, those compilations he's done and all that, his book on hip-hop and suchlike, i find everything these days to be wonderful as i must have the denuded critical responses of - one supposes, say - a six-year-old (although Simon has mentioned in correspondence how his young son loves Omni Trio, etc., and Kieran his boy is under five), because if you concentrate decently enough on anything i find, i'm imposing - much like Luke and Sewell point out, i suppose - my own ecstasies onto it, in my own inner space, and so therefore i virtually can't help but be immensly moved by it because what with everything in that chaos theory type way (a small pebble's grooves, magnified, can represent the Canadian coastline over thousands of miles, twisting and snaking in vast patterns - or vice-versa; or whatever it all is, and whatever it all 'means') meaning you can find loveliness everywhere then you can't be disappointed (because finding shiny grooves in Xtina or whoever that you can find kinship with, say, towards Miles Davis' modal schtick: well, that's always a pleasure, never a chore), this holds true for anything really, pretty much literally.
of course that's also a load of poncy nonsense on my part i suppose, as if most people are going to say such and such is rubbish and we all disagree with you, you florid pseud filling your head with nonsense, that's fair enough like.
i suppose it's a bit rum that but it does demonstrate that i don't know what i'm on about and so therefore shouldn't be trusted as far as i could be thrown hah (which would be fairly far, as i'm rather skinny)!
i wonder if when you have children do you subject them to beatless pyschedelic ambient or runrig or elvis or gladys knight or rai or noh accompaniments or what?
it's all quite good fun, i guess.
just saw a very clever placard wielded by one of the protestors streaming across a London bridge on the TV before.
it read
nice one Tony
one good example of blogging's sociable links-forming power.

i told a bloke at work about tufluv talking to Jehst and now said bloke is really peakin' off Jehst and finding out about him, and going on about that Kalishnikov (sp?) that's he worked with, apparently he's playing the Jazz Cafe in Camden soon, etc.
it's all good.
Simon might be interested to know that i have actually had comments/email, etc. from people genuinely using the circle jerk etc. dis unironically.
now, i don't want to sound unnecessarily belligerent, but in my limited experience some of the most strident critics of blogging in this (specifically) music blog zone thing that Mr Young documents are angry webboard denizens that don't appear to have their own personal online spaces. if you're going to be nasty about someone, or whatever, at least get your own place no, for a right of reply?
i agree with Simon the most exciting thing 'here' is the quick replies, it is rather sociable, definitely the opposite of hermetic wankers, it's all about dialogue, flows and rhizomes blah blah, it's all good!
Luke's always worth waiting for, eh.

not too sure about all of it though.
i'm always slagging off Rothko me, and the way he's about the suggestion of spiritual presence, and colour, and his abstracts mean you can project onto him do make for self-induced ecstasies.
i must say though i find Raphael as drear (or can be).
regular readers (anyone, please?) may be aware i'm a fan of some of the 'lifestyle section' journos in the free commuter paper, the metro, specifically the Manchester edition (it comes out every weekday in Ldn, the big Scottish cities, the big Yorkshire cities, Newcastle, Mcr, and Birmingham).

Andrew Fraser the foodie, and on the music tip(s) Claire Allfree and 'urban' specialist Rahul Verma, luvverly jazzer and world and roots geezer Mike Butler, dance kids Tamsin Curry and Danny McFadden; also [western] classical geezer Warwick Thompson and some jazzer woman whose name 'scapes me = they all float my boat.

here's a review of tha Hova's latest elpee from its very pages:
Tenth and last solo album from Jay-Z and, as we suspected, nothing has changed. Despite being a distinctly average rapper, his self-aggrandisement still knows no bounds... concluding with a lukewarm 2 star (out of a possible 5 up for grabs) rating. The writer of this distinctly average slice of journalese is Siobhan Murphy. safe to say i ain't a fan of ol' Siobhan.

even if you're just a fan of underground and/or backpacker and/or left-of-the-field 'hoppers and nothing else in the slightest (e.g., Busdriver, Jedi Mind Tricks, Swollen Members and the nearest you've gotten to P. Diddy is Funcrusher Plus, and only that because they're from the same town) and the spiritual bankruptcy at the heart of materialist and/or gangsta tropes concerns you greatly, even then, if you know anything (anything at all) about hip-hop, you should know that Jay-Z is not a "distinctly average" rapper; rather, he is a great emcee.
has this woman not heard LL's 'Mama Said Knock You Out'?
never enjoyed Chuck D?
not even a fan of 'Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...'?
Jess, AMG's John Bush and enuff of my chums whose rap opinions i respec', all like it well enough, so that'll do for me.
a balanced review of what the papers have been saying about Dubya from the Beeb.
the first ever Vibe awards are nearly upon us, and one category is that of Most Influential Region.
the nominees are :=
- Atlanta
- St. Louis
- New York
- Los Angeles
- Detroit.

surely they could just have both coasts, South, and Midwest, and be done with it?
micro-managing to individual cities (i suppose they could have gone for Bay Area schtuff to placate Native Tongues/Backpacker/&such types about the roles of you can guess a few yourself off-the-top-of-ya-head crews and stables from round that end, and not just L.A., as another example of how you can be here all night if you get too much into it) seems unnecessarily fussy from here - wouldn't want to deny N'awlins, f'r instance, as part of a rush to canonise the role of A-Town (fine though that is) in any general 'we wuvs the Dutty Souf'' trope.
400 injured, particularly horrible ~
glad to see that the FT is sorting out its priorities
extraordinarily enjoyable tufluv return.
the Jehst interview is great, some real smashers in there, good points about mainstream tokenism and acceptance, clear-headed views on Skinner and Mills, it's all keen.
i remember Fighting Against Making the Pie Higher!... and Marcello are not the only people to have persuasively argued that MC Pitman is wittier and superior to Dizzee, but i'll have to agree to differ with that conclusion.
clearly Dizzee is far better than the Streets, that's readily apparent, but there again Skinner's underground train runs all the way from Mile End to Ealing.
indeed, Dizzee's underground train probably only runs between about - at a guess - Mile End and Bromley-by-Bow, so you have to say Skinner's won that one.

also, Skinner is well within his limits, and has a Calvin to back him up with bare believes.
Skinner actually has another underground train to run him between Brixton and Bounds Green.
Dizzee could possibly gazump Skinner with a move to run his train between Stockwell and Wood Green, but i fear this may be a classic case of too little, too late.
my mate Manchester Dan (not to be confused with lovely IDM/post-rock/ Stockport Dan who likes DMX Krew so big him up) has just bought in the first copy of HHC (hip-hop-connection, UK rag) i've seen for literally years.
it looks better than i recall, it's gone all glossy.
THE MASTER really is spoiling us.

i very much enjoyed those photos that accompanied that wire article a bit ago, you know the ones, largest independent pressing plant in the UK ones. lathes and such.
nice 'im up
Baal (fully waxing on archival mode round my way of late) joyfully OTM on the delights of Seamus Heaney, so good and resonant i must quote in full, I was lucky enough to sit in a tent in Dundee and watch Seamus Heaney tell the gathered throng why he loves poetry, what the point of it is, even why he writes it.
At points it was like staring into the heat of a supernova, a quasar in our midst, at others, it was a grizzled uncle making a groan-inducing joke at a wake.
"Poetry makes the chaos and disaster of reality into sense, and for that brief moment in time, when the ryhme works, so does reality. It clicks into place. The plane of reality is shifted and a new perspective is visible. But only for the duration of the poem, and then you are back to reality again, and all that entails."
He has a mind that contains such poignancies, profundities, it left me at time, literally, breathless. I had held my breath for minutes, listening to the roar, roil of his voice.
Thrilled that he mentioned that tortured early English poet Caedmon, from Whitby, a seer who didnt even write poetry until late in life.
At heart Heaney is still the pedantic medievalist, the careful translator of words into words into other words.
I think that's why he can translate the indefineable "ugh" as he called it, the prenatal feeling of "rightness" he finds, we all can find, in some poetry, into navigable language. Just to hear him read that beautiful Thomas Hardy poem, The Self Unseeing, moved me.
nails it
i've got a Kurdish mate who lives in Tottenham (i'm glad he's not here)
Osama Bin Laden is the only one who knows what I'm going through

_R Kelly keeps it real
that's a good point that emphasises, of course (as it's forever been), the real problem with "far-right" parties is they're bigoted shits.
i got Economic Left/Right: -2.00
Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.95
, so that's me

fairly predictable really, as some of the comments at the previous link said. i mean, how do they expect any one (bar utter fuckers, obv., for want of a better term) to answer such tidbits as 'Our race has many superior qualities, compared to other races', 'Significantly congenitally disabled people should not be allowed to reproduce', 'First-generation immigrants can never be fully integrated within their new country', 'A significant advantage of a one-party state is that it avoids all the arguments that delay progress in a democratic political system', 'Abstract art that doesn't represent anything shouldn't be considered art at all', 'Sex outside of marriage is usually immoral', 'A same sex couple in a stable, loving relationship, should not be excluded from the possibility of child adoption', 'What goes on in a private bedroom between consenting adults is no business of the state', and my fave - 'No one can feel naturally homosexual'?!
helpfully informative comments section down below there, on that ol' political compass test.
as Paul Reynolds notes, his comments on Israel (the fences especially) are at least something.
the acknowledgement of the fence's wrongness is very welcome.
grim reading
oh, la la
a mate of mine is enrolled on a postgrad Am Studs course, currently studying Freud, Lacan, Irving, Wharton, and Doctorow.
good for them.
have you seen my google ads up above?
BBC sitcoms and Romanian dictators together - that's fucked up...
it's perhaps the measured balance i love so much of an on-song Mike Clap

{you could call me a knock-kneed consensualising centrist fence-sitter, i suppose...}
k-punk excellent too
good points from The Rambler
obviously how dare that Bush whose oil money bought an illegitimate election (jokes about chads and the necessity for regime change here please) lecture us on democracy [clearly i agree with everyone else about tariffs, the ICC, Alaskan North Slope oil, Kyoto, the morality of capital punishment; but one'll not be rude about it]?!
a steel city paper gives the full text of that Dubya speech, if yer interested.
it sounds fair enough to me, TBH.
you're not expecting a Pres to get all detailed on yo azz, are you?
the bits about Morocco are admirable and if saying this makes me a blinkered naive Texan idjut, then i've clearly lost my marbles cause i'm pining for pancakes in Abilene and here's to a Cowboys Superbowl...
that seems more measured, from the cs monitor.
boston globe debates Bush.
1958, John Charles and all that. sigh
Latvia beating Turkey was a surprise wasn't it?
that's a good article for the neophyte previewing the forthcoming entertainments on Saturday morning.
don't even get me started on the cricket.
i see that Collingwood believes that England can roar back to take it 2-1; needless to say, i'm not feeling his confidence presently.
and whilst i'm on my soapbox that was never a sending off in the Huddersfield match at Accrington.
another thing that gets my goat (right) was the media affection for Accrington, as a small non-league team; poor and all that, plucky amateurs.

as any fule could have told the patronising national coverage, Accrington Stanley bought their way to the title of the Unibond Premier League (Northern League) last season through the assistance of what is known - in the trade - as a 'moneybags churmun' [think of a charmingly flat-vowelled northern prole-nouveau-riche flashy type who will have prospered in aluminium or timber or ceramics or bog roll and might resemble the bloke whose daughter goes out with the son in 'The Royle Family'; or actor Warren Clarke perhaps].
you might think i am being merely an embittered northerner myself here, but this is the truth.
Accrington Stanley deserve at least some credit for their team spirit however; north Nottinghamshire team Worksop (where BBC children's soap 'Maid Marian' was set) - who Chris Waddle was with for a spell recently - have had [relatively speaking] loadsamoney for years too, and yet they seem destined to not go up.
5-4-1 at home when you didn't score an away goal was one thing that must have contributed to Cambrian failure. when Nathan Blake came on, you knew the game was up (though one still hoped).
i've always admired Hartson's spark but last night there was, unfortunately, nothing.
perhaps Giggs will have one last hurrah and retire from the international game aged 33, seeing about the next World Cup?
after all, neither Davies or Bellamy were playing for the Welsh and two class Premiership players would have made, i'd have thought, a winning difference.
Wales can have a uselessly leaping Hartson up there on his tod all they like, or they can partner Bellamy and Earnshaw. the latter would be a genuinely exciting arrangement, the former merely pedestrian.
seriously though, Hughes' tactics were baffling.
missing three gilt-edged chances (Gary Speed's head!) didn't soften the blow, and neither did the fact that it was a silly goal to give away.
the less said about the Scottish humiliation the better, although perhaps neutral observers can at least be pleased van Nistelrooy scored a hat-trick to quieten the carping of (the inferior) Patrick Kluivert.
all in all, it's been a depressing few days of football (Thurrock didn't pull off a miracle as i'd been hoping for against Luton), but at least Barnet beat Stalybridge.

Wednesday, 19 November 2003

it's like what Luka said.

there's a keyboard in front of you, with letters on it.

with the letters you can make up words.
now, that is kewl.

it's Young's last two paragraphs that make the crucial point really, in this regard.
there are A LOT of fantastic blogs which i heart utterly but - with respect to Young's beliefs that now is something of a blogging golden age in the musical (mostly popist/Wireish schtuff/'underground' rock/dance/the hardcore continuum, especially) 'nerdosphere' - possibly the single greatest name for a blog is that which Jon chose.
cheesy of one to note, but valid methinks.
that 'blogosphere' thread on ILM recently had some interesting views aired.
ALSO, the whole music journalism vs. actual listening dichotomy is interesting - suggesting that there's more going on than meets the eye. If people are reading and writing about music online more than chasing down the records, what does that say about the issues driving this phenomenon?
Is it fandom, community or something else?
Taking into account that a lot of the topics cover a wide range of issues - from centre/periphery models of cultural production to literature, politics, film, comics, etc.
PLUS - I wonder about the impact of Blogosphere of Real Life. Add up the amount of writers here now professional or being paid for work, the range of music 'discovered' and shared with the self-reflexive analysis of the practice of journalism or politics of consumption...
Is there any historical precendent?
asked MchoMiko, to which Angus replied Technorati does indeed "rate" blogs by their number of "inbound links". (The easiest way to get people to link to you, I've found, is to say something about Dizzee Rascal, no matter how inane! Not that I would ever whore for links on purpose of course, ahem.)
MckoMiko, you're right that "our" music blogosphere is only one of many different informal networks, including I suspect many music networks. Mention "blogs" to most non-bloggers and the first thing that leaps to mind (if they've heard of them at all) is either LiveJournal what-I-did-today type stuff or political blogs, especially right-wing ones like Andrew Sullivan's. (Apparently the term "blogosphere" was itself coined by a right-wing nut in the wake of 9/11, or so Nigel Richardson tells me.)

Steve Kiviat had a couple of interesting and - indeed, especially in the case of his first point, seductive also - thought-provoking things to say : -
I'm looking for a musical blog sphere where people write about Afropop and various south of the equator South American sounds...I like, when I have time, reading about the whole Dizzee, rap, dancehall, indierock, Wire magazine,electronica and commercial pop world but other than in Christgau's comsumer guide at the Village Voice I don't see coverage of Malian, Congolese, Senegalese, Brazlian and other non-English language pop along with the English language stuff.
I found an ILX like forum message board at that consists of about 12 folks with encyclopeadia-like knowledge of certain Congolese artists but their tastes don't go beyond that. No mentions of blogs there yet. Maybe I'll post something there and ask.

"but in terms of metacritique, multigeneric dilettante journalism - this is where it's at. "
There's something just a little too self-congratulatory in the above statement for me. This may be the "centre" but there's alot of fascinating things happening elsewhere that aren't covered that fully in this blogosphere(although of course bloggers aren't obligated to write about anything they don't want to write about). And as for the reference to the "Dave Mathews forum/blogosphere" , I'm not talking about fanclubs, I'm talking about cultural stuff those guys aren't necessarily writing about(some of which I've read about in non-online publication the Beat and elsewhere--the new Sam Mangwana cd, the new cd from Brazilian Carlinhos Brown; Puerto Rican reggaeton music that I've read about on ILM and in the NY Times but not in the Blissblog led blogosphere; Malian outfit Neba Solo... There's also obscure Americana that doesn't get mentioned in the above-mentioned blogosphere--Otis Taylor; New Orleans and other chitlin circuit r'n'b; D.C. go-go; Arhoolie reissues...
While those blogs do indeed provide outstanding coverage, there's so much out there...

Tom E. said Steve is OTM - there's a kind of triangle of values in the blogosphere, it's all either populism (the pop blogs), progress (the dance/post-Reynolds/hardcore continuum blogs) or purity (the indie blogs) and this leaves out vast chunks of stuff: lots that used to be pop or used to be cutting-edge or used to be indie-approved but isnt currently fashionable, and it also leaves out everything that doesn't for whatever reason fit into the master narratives of Western pop music these values are pushing.
(There are exceptions obviously - TWANBOC's great indian music entry of last week for instance)

all food for thought.
it's quite a shame really, Moore's descent into a parody of himself.
i really quite enjoyed Roger & Me so it's unfortunate his first thing remains the best thing he's done.
i suppose in that respect he's a bit like Nas, but at least in Nas' case, you can point to several half-decent stabs at regaining credibility, e.g., 'Made You Look', The Lost Tapes, God's Son, since a glorious debut.
Moore just heckles Lou Dobbs on Moneyline (i actually saw one of those interviews when in the USA some weeks ago and, to be frank, it got pretty embarrassing).
that's really good.
that whole site is a superb resource, actually.
BUFFOON WATCH (North American branch) [cont.]

When Jonathan Swift said that what the Irish do is eat their young - in other words, that's what the British were proposing during the famine - I think that, you know, you have to understand satire
the guy's all class, you can't deny that...
BUFFOON WATCH (North American branch)

No one is left out of the political discourse in the United Kingdom. Except the Catholics of Northern Ireland. [They] are second-class citizens whose rights are continually violated, who are kept at the lowest tier economically and who live under the thumb of an occupational force of British soldiers
- Michael Moore.

i especially like the close of the final sentence.

i can't believe i forgot to see Robert Hughes on van der Rohe last night.

must remember to catch the Gaudi tonight.

- he just keeps on banging 'em in, eh
here's that Portillo letter story (i have been bigging up het graun today, huh?)

good eggs :-
-Michael Portillo (who one agrees with about the Met incidentally - the words 'midnight feast' and 'well-stocked larder' spring to mind)
-Lotfi Raissi
-Sebastian Faulks on the whole, bit rum language in stages however
-Salam Pax (if a bit unkind with I bet if someone had explained it to you like that you would have been less hasty going on our Rambo-in-Baghdad trip)
-Elaine Showalter rightly hailing the British press as Competition as well as tradition makes the British media the feistiest in the world; it's best to ignore shrewish American conservatives slagging off our press, i feel
-Charles Powell
-Geordie George Bush must be applauded
-Bel Littlejohn, obviously
-Peter Jay
-i don't suppose you can argue with 12-year-old Mickey
- Do not say we are "lucky" to live in a country that permits free speech and free assembly. Do not insult us like that. Those rights were hard won is a good point from Ronan Bennett
-Seb Coe

bad eggs :-
-the puerile humour demonstrated by John O'Farrell
-how can the difference be such a gaping chasm between the respect one has for Harold Pinter as a playwright and the uproarious laughter reading his political analyses always provokes? it's strange
-i don't think much of Andrew Motion's poetry anyway
parts two, three, and four all make fascinating reading (i suppose the first page is the headline-grabbing funnies, etc.)
hear hear - Michael Moore, you are a tool
Our anger is real. We've lost enough men in enough wars already. We shouldn't have to lose any more in a place that shouldn't concern us

_Ann Butler, a 63-year-old protestor from Kent [source: fox news {i know, i know, but still}]
i think hysteria is a little unkind.
that Q list
this just in - Slim tries to butter up Benzino
hip-hop links

huge resources

tour de force villagevoice article
the guardian on :=



the blues

short break
media guardian's section on the express is an invaluable resource.
that said, i can't really work out for sure if the below is being written from a bleeding-heart humanitarian perspective or a more pragmatic-cum-cynical perspective; probably the former.

either way, it's always worth remembering that conservative commentators often seem to be disingenuous when they attack social-democratic liberals for sometimes ignoring the predilection of many migrants to end up in '3D' positions.
one recalls Mark Steyn being guilty of this once.

on the other hand, and to change the subject, in the interests of fairness it'd be best to note - and i apologise for repeating myself, as this has been written here before - that the guardian doesn't always get it right on the subject of migration.
the right of reply afforded to Beeb man John Ware rather trumped Blunkett's broadside the day before. basically both articles are reasonable and Ware does not respond to all points Blunkett makes. but you have to give Ware some things, and the Powellite smear is certainly not a pleasant one (Enoch Powell, much like Winston Churchill, loved Indians when they were in India). Blunkett is completely accurate, to be fair, when he writes Ware claimed yesterday that since Enoch Powell there had been a 35-year taboo on discussing immigration. That's frankly risible, as anyone who reads a daily newspaper knows. it might also be significant that Ware apparently wrote for the Daily Mail, not the most open-minded paper on the subject of migration and asylum. Blunkett is again correct when he identifies that Consciously or not, Panorama has played into the hands of those who use the issue of asylum to attack immigration per se. it would, of course, be an unconscious decision on the part of Auntie (after all, both they and Channel 4 news - but especially Channel 4, seem less slightly less 'populist issues thrusting' than ITN {though ITN does make Channel 4 news too, but their flagship programme on the ITV channels, is what i am referring to} : i am not suggesting that ITN-ITV news are evil populists in general or anything, more noting that the Beeb is hardly, of course, the Sun).
here's a fairly realistic look at things from the Bay.

Tuesday, 18 November 2003

some years ago, the BBC made Blackadder the Third.
these days, they make Coupling.

how is that possible?

i mean, actually, like how?

here is Blackadder the Third : -
But I'm afraid there's been a change of plan; I'm now off to the kitchen, to hack my head off with a big knife

and here is Coupling : -
Jib Jib Jib Jib Jib Jib Jib Jib, er, Jib


it's a mystery, like why does Kevin Keegan persist in any patience with Bosvelt or Sibierski__
inexplicable really
with reference to young Domingo (see earlier entry) i should point out for the sake of fairness that the circumstances behind the disaster-in-waiting that was the Basque Incident are, at least, widely known.
with hindsight, the introduction of some Spanish into the arena clearly only inflamed matters, though we were able to soothe some appalled tempers with some general low-grade abuse of the French.
all in all, the whole episode cost Mikey dollar and he has been ridiculed enough so i for one am willing to let bygones be bygones.
i was just at some msn site and they had some splash about top ten romantic breaks but the tagline read Paris or New York?

no, don't piss your life away, YOU have the baton,
clearly Venice over either for a start,

one to watch
what a surprise (also)
bollocks [see also the informative and balanced site of the UN mission to Afghanistan]
A Kosovan woman mentally scarred by war in the Balkans won a High Court battle yesterday to stay in Britain.
_Metro, 18/11/03.

Demonstrators in their tens of thousands are expected to turn out to rail against his administration's foreign policy, its environmental record, and his presidency - numbers set to dwarf the dissent which greeted China's Jiang Zemin or the 1978 state visit by Romania's Nicolae Ceausescu.
derby have got, like, three 16 year olds, they've got a lad who plays in the centre of the park who's massive apparently.
how good must he be?

my mate went to see 'laurel canyon' last night. he said it was okay
Miguel and i have been involved in many fractious situations down the years, but what i will say is that the circumstances surrounding the Christchurch Road Incident are still not entirely clear
the strength of the two cookies i just ate was such that the world immediately outside was blinded by their special magnificence.
if i was a praying sort i would entreat the deity of your choice to stop the world because i cannot sit here after such a repast of fierce brilliance, and merely allow things to continue as per.
the gushing molten chocolate that melted down my eager throat, the springy lamb's springing turf spongy dough, the brittle Smarties accompaniment.

these were big cookies as well, i'm not talking about the little ones.
these were the big beggars, you understand.

if someone gives me a sign i'd be willing to interpret then i would stop myself and check my head.
otherwise i may have to buy a tuna sandwich too.
clearly the man needs to take himself outside and have a word with himself
fair points
oh, you ROCK
i was into SoCal punk-rock when i was 13 like everyone else, and these NoFX lyrics still scan pretty cool.
i saw the Black Crowes once when i was about 16, and enjoyed it enough.
a fairy nuff sounding first crack of the whip
how do i wuv Jon?


let me count the ways ~
in other news, we buttered up the script quite nicely this morning, and things are on track and proceeding with Plan B.
...How can life grant us boon of living, compensate
For dull grey ugliness and pregnant hate
Unless we dare

The soul's dominion? Each time we make a choice, we pay
With courage to behold the restless day,
And count it fair.

- Amelia Earhart
i'm sorry to get all morbid on you, but one must admit that this particular story is the most personally upsetting in the realms of kid murders since the Victoria Climbie case.

just 18 and any opportunity for greatness and all possibilities of love and life snuffed out.
i want to buy this bloke a pint because he sounds soooo lovely
well, that can only be a good thing.

this intel fresh in from the lovely companion :==

this afternoon i exited my building and proceeded west on wacker drive.
and then i walked right past art alexakis, the lead singer from everclear.
he had a bodyguard with him and everything, and i proceeded then to run right into some scaffolding that has been there for months.
this is because i am a klutz.
i so wanted to spin around and scream, YOU MAKE ME FEEL LIKE A WHORE, just to see if it was him.
instead however, i walked to the train. after all, i had a phone call to get home to.
art is currently on stage right this second at house of blues chicago.

i note amg reckon third album so much for the afterglow is their best.
well, sorry to rock the boat fellas, it's actually the debut in that cliched 'like the loud bits you do' way i have (this is also why i prefer early Idlewild to their Scots poets/Getrude Stein 'Murmur'-like efforts of more recently, even though this is the stuff of abhorrent punk-rock stereotype).
i heart this place_

Monday, 17 November 2003

i think it's near sidcup.

bexleyheath, on the other hand, that's definitely in Kent.
where is beccles?
it's near sidcup isn't it?

i'm not sure and i've never been.
that's it ted - YOU TELL HER
regular readers may well be aware that here is one of my three favourite websites anywhere.

if you are in a jam i suggest going to a search engine and looking for his rundown on 'Timon of Athens', because you can then see
Now, given how nice Timon is to everyone, you'd think they could be patient about the debts, or even spot a brother a small loan, right? We're all friends here, right? We're all tight? Well, here comes a ten-ton surprise, because it turns out that their gratitude was all talk. Each generates a lame excuse, even Sempronius, who claims to have known Timon from back in the day. From back in the day! This, truly, is cold. which will alleviate any symptoms.
i tried this several months ago.

disappointingly, it didn't work then either.

'scratch' is playing in mcr soon actually, at the bierkeller down piccadilly.

if you don't know manchester or the bierkeller it won't make any sense to you, but if you do then you'll surely agree that lee perry playing the piccadilly bierkeller is, frankly, a fucking odd state of affairs.
dunno what it is about the glorious music of Kompakt that seems to bring out the best in its reviewers, but what a superb rundown from Hackneyed Central
excellent Hockney portrait in the Telegraph, reproduced below :-

Forty years ago David Hockney left Bradford, peroxided his hair and headed for the Los Angeles hills. As a new book of the artist's life and works is published, Nigel Farndale meets a 'Yorkshire Californian'
The kidney-shaped swimming-pool is clue enough. It has been painted with squiggles so that if empty, it would look full, its surface rippling in the breeze, glinting in the sun. Overhanging it are giant palm fronds and cacti and, beyond them, a pink-walled house with a blue terrace. On this, looking out over the Hollywood Hills, surrounded by chairs and tables painted in egg-yolk yellows and dazzling reds, stands the owner. He has a boyish fringe, a gentle manner, and a soft, quaint, unhurried Yorkshire burr. It can only be... Alan Bennett.

David Hockney: a Yorkshire Californian

David Hockney is used to the jokes. The two men grew up within eight miles of each other in the West Riding of God's Own County. Alan Bennett once drew a self-portrait on a napkin for a waitress and signed it 'Hockney' and Hockney once signed one of his self-portraits 'Bennett'. But actually, even at 66, our most celebrated living artist can always be distinguished from his literary doppelgänger by his more flamboyant dress sense. Today Hockney is wearing red slippers with yellow spots, a turquoise watch, checked trousers, blue felt braces and a gingham shirt with a poppy in one of its buttonholes (I brought one over from England for him, to remind him of home).

Inside, in a room with a trompe-l'oeil painted fireplace, a grand piano and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, there is a three-sided box on a table: a true mirror. 'Sit down here,' Hockney says, pulling back a chair. 'Now look at yourself.' I do. Unnervingly my reflection is not reversed. Hockney just bought this mirror and it has given him a new impetus to do self-portraits. 'I usually only draw myself in down periods,' he says, slowly, ruminatively. 'I do, actually. I suppose that's why I often draw myself looking grim. I just think, "Let's have a look in the mirror." When you are alone and you look in a mirror you never put on a pleasing smile. Well, you don't, do you?'

One of the most noticeable things about Hockney is his pleasing smile. It is lopsided, wry, infectious; it makes him seem permanently amused at the world, at himself; and it gives him an air of naive amiability. But, as he says himself, his dreamy bearing has a lot to do with the partial deafness from which he has suffered for 20 years. He can only hear with the help of powerful - and of course, Hockney being Hockney, differently coloured - hearing aids.

There seems to be a lot of activity in the house: Richard, Hockney's studio assistant, is on the phone; Ann, one of his oldest friends and regular models, is talking to her husband David; there is a photographer and her assistant; a home help; and a dachshund. I ask whether I need to raise my voice. 'Well we should maybe go up to the studio where it's quieter,' Hockney says, leading the way up an iron staircase, past a mobile of day-glo cut-out fish hanging from a branch, and up a path to an airy studio. Here there are easels, pots of paintbrushes, large model hands for drawing practice, numerous paint-spattered armchairs, a treadmill unplugged and gathering dust (Hockney, a chainsmoker, had a mild heart attack in 1990, but now he just swims every day to try and keep fit) and, on the walls, new portraits in watercolour.

'I can hear fine in here,' Hockney says, tapping a cigarette out of a packet of Camel Lights. 'It's only when there is a lot of background noise that I struggle.' He lights up. 'You know, the loss of one sense often heightens another. In my case I felt I could appreciate space much better when I lost my hearing, I think it's because sound locates you in space. You have to compensate somehow. I am interested in space, me. That's why I like painting the Grand Canyon. And the Yorkshire moors.'

David Hockney was born in Bradford in 1937, the fourth of five children. He attended Bradford Grammar School, where one of his reports described him as being 'light relief'. Inspired by the work of Stanley Spencer and Picasso he went on to Bradford School of Art and then the Royal College of Art, from which he graduated with the gold medal. At first his work was quite abstract. Then, in 1963, he travelled to California and developed a Pop Art style all his own - blazing colours, delicacy of line, geometrical buildings painted in oil and acrylic. Bronzed and naked young men by the sides of pools were a recurring theme, but it was the play of light on the water, like strands of spaghetti, that interested Hockney as much as the bare bottoms. A Bigger Splash in 1967 marked the apotheosis of the Hockney technique and, after that, he changed direction and became more naturalistic.

His best-known portrait, Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, was painted in 1970-71. It was of the fashion designer Ossie Clark (who was later murdered), his wife Celia and their cat Percy. Although out of fear of repeating himself Hockney has experimented over the years with faxing, Xeroxing, snapshots assembled into cubist compositions, and opera stage design, he has always returned to portraiture, playing out his life on canvas by painting his famous friends (Andy Warhol, Christopher Isherwood and WH Auden among others), his lovers and, again and again, his parents, most notably with My Parents, painted in 1977. A collection of these, Hockney's Portraits and People, is about to be published and, as I flick through the book with him, I note that it amounts to a visual autobiography. 'The same people do appear over and over,' he says. 'I've found it easier because I really know them. Portraits are about the relationship of the painter to the subject.'

Do his subjects feel as if they are being immortalised on canvas, given that most of his portraits seem to end up in galleries? 'I don't know. But I did once say to Albert Clark, Celia's son, that he and I had a strange thing in common. We both have a portrait of our parents hanging in the Tate Gallery.' He draws thoughtfully on his cigarette. 'I generally don't ask the subject what they think of what I've done. It doesn't really matter what they think. I'm not out to flatter. That's not what it's about.'

Last year he and Lucian Freud sat for each other; what did he learn about portrait painting from that experience? 'It made me feel more sympathetic towards the people who sit for me. I sat for 120 hours for Lucian; he would only sit for three hours for me. He wouldn't co-operate, really. Too restless. The difference between us is, Lucian is shy and I'm a chatterbox, except when I am painting. I don't let people talk when I paint. Well, I don't mind people talking, but I don't answer back because I'm tuned out. Lips moving are very hard to get. Actually Lucian and I talked quite a lot when he was painting me. He let me smoke, too, but only if I didn't tell Kate Moss, who was also sitting for him and who also smokes.' There is a photograph of Freud's portrait of Hockney on the studio wall. I ask him if he thinks it flattering. 'Some people thought he made me look a lot older than I am and I thought, "So what? It's his account of looking at me, not my account." Jacob Rothschild, I remember, said, "He's made you look like a Yorkshireman, David." I said, "Well, I am a Yorkshireman." He said: "I mean, as opposed to a painter." And I said, "Can't Yorkshiremen be painters?"' He gives a throaty laugh. 'I suppose Lucian would always see me as a Yorkshireman because of my accent compared to his.'

David Hockney does say 'twenny' for twenty and 'liddle' for little, but otherwise living in California for most of his adult life doesn't seem to have made much of an impact on his flat northern vowels. 'It's because I did all the talking,' he says. 'It wasn't a matter of me trying to retain my identity over here. I've never bothered about my accent. When I first went to London, to the RCA, I was mocked for it. People would shout, "Trouble at mill, Mr Hockney?" I used to smile and think, "They have no idea what Yorkshire is like, these people." Probably my deafness is connected with my retaining an accent.'

Hockney inherited his deafness from his father, Kenneth, who died in 1978. He also inherited a pacifist sensibility, which was why he refused to do National Service and worked instead as a hospital orderly for two years. His father wore two wristwatches 'in case one was wrong' and once took his armchair out into the street to wait by a phonebox in case it rang - he had placed an ad in the local paper selling a billiard table and had given out the phonebox number. His father, I say, seems to have been an eccentric; does he take after him? 'Some of my friends who knew my father say, "You are getting more and more like Kenneth." He never went out of the house without a hat, a tie and a cane. I suppose he was a dandy of sorts but, later on, he would put string in his boots. He was a conscientious objector, like me, but the big difference between us was, he was ferociously anti-smoking whereas I have always been fanatically pro it. He wasn't a sophisticated man. He hardly ever left Bradford. He was a member of CND and a socialist with a rather romantic and naive idea of what Soviet Russia was like, all cornfields and ballet. He would have gone mad for email because he was always sending letters to world leaders - Eisenhower, Mao, Stalin - telling them what was what. I think he imagined the Politburo would hold up his letter and say, "Hold everything, Kenneth Hockney has written again!" He was a humble Bradford clerk who was horrified by big bombs. Quite right, too. Mother was in charge. She thought my father rather comic, I think.'

Laura Hockney was a devout Methodist who kept scrupulous ledger books during the whole of her married life. In them she noted every penny spent from the family budget on food and clothing. Has he, I ask, inherited his mother's caution with money? 'I don't know anything about money. It's always been a by-product of what I do. The moment I could earn a living as a painter I was rich because I was doing what I wanted to do. There was a time when I thought my money was becoming a burden because I just wanted to spend my time in the studio and I couldn't. I got rid of the beach house in Malibu and now I just have Pembroke Studios in Kensington, and this place. I don't want any more because I don't want to look after them. I don't want paperwork. I'd rather stay in hotels.'

You would need a spare couple of million to buy a Hockney painting - even a roll of his old holiday snaps that were found in Bradford and sold at auction went for £11,000. Does David Hockney know what he is worth? 'Not really.

No, I don't actually. I don't know how I'd add it up. I'm too busy in here to bother, really.' He shrugs.

'I never seem to run out.'

Bradford in the 1950s wasn't a hotbed of liberalism, one imagines. What did his parents think when he came out as gay? 'They never said anything. They wouldn't. On the other hand they knew I wasn't going to take too much notice of what they said about how I lived my life. I don't know whether I would have been so open if I'd stayed in Bradford. Remember, I lived in bohemia here in LA. It's a tolerant place. They know about human failings.' He takes a sip of carrot juice. 'When I first arrived here it seemed such a sexy, sunny, naked place. California having a climate like it does, people wear fewer clothes. That is why they look after their bodies more. The gay bar scene was big here then. I was amazed. I thought: what organisation! I bleached my hair and felt very free.'

He was promiscuous? 'When I first came here, yes. It was so easy.'

How promiscuous? 'I didn't keep count. It was the only time I was. I remember one very attractive young man who was Mr California Dream. I brought him back with me on a trip to England but I had to send him back to California after a week when I realised he had no curiosity about anything. It was just lust on my part.' He flicks through the book. 'I was attracted to California for another reason, though, one which I didn't realise at the time and that was the sense of space. I'm claustrophobic, you see. Also the climate attracts you. It's 20 times brighter here than in London. I don't think the people here really appreciate what they have. It sometimes takes a foreigner to come and see a place and paint it. I remember someone saying they had never really noticed the palm trees here until I painted them.'

At one stage he seemed to become almost as well-known for his flamboyant dress sense - the wide-brimmed hats, the peroxide hair, the big owlish glasses - as for his paintings. Was this just vanity? 'All young artists know that somehow you have to attract attention to get people to look at your pictures. My vanity as an artist is that I want the pictures seen.'

That sounds quite cynical. 'I didn't wish to be a celebrity. I just wanted to be an artist. It was always about the pictures.'

When, in 1966, he met Peter Schlesinger, a good-looking young student, his years of promiscuity came to an end. 'That was my first long-term relationship,' he says. 'Isn't that what we are all looking for? My relationship with Peter lasted for five years.'

Schlesinger was the subject of some of Hockney's best-known paintings. Was he the love of his life? 'Not quite. Peter wasn't as keen on music as I was. Think I took him to too many Wagner operas. I suppose if you are not that keen on music, Wagner must be a big bore... I have a relationship now...' He turns and points to a portrait on the wall of a young lantern-jawed man. 'But John is stuck in England. They wouldn't let him back in because he stayed two days too long last time. I'll get him back.'

Is Hockney difficult to live with? 'Well, you do have to be selfish as an artist. Painting is a solitary activity. I like people, I'm just unsocial because of my hearing, not antisocial. My sister pointed out that a lot of my paintings have a lot of loneliness in them. Empty chairs. She did. She pointed that out. I thought, "That's a good interpretation, actually."'

There have been many interpretations of Hockney's work, I say. One thinks of Sur la Terrasse, which shows Schlesinger turning his back on the painter as their relationship came to an end in 1971. Does knowing the narrative behind a painting help appreciate it? 'I don't think so. Everything after a while becomes decorative, which is why you are not moved by looking at a crucifixion picture in the National Gallery. You are looking at it as art, at its formal qualities.' He licks the corner of his mouth, a tic of his. 'With Sur la Terrasse I could just have been thinking, "Doesn't he look cute from the back?"'

He closes the book and, looking over his glasses with clear blue eyes, says, 'Do you want to know what moves me?' He fetches a photocopy of a Rembrandt sketch showing a group of people helping a child take its first steps. 'I think this is the greatest drawing ever made by anyone. It's a very ordinary subject which any viewer has experienced and observed. Think how fast his hand must have been moving when he did this. Look at the way this woman's head is tilted so you can see her expression. Look at the weightlessness here. I think this is far superior to the Mona Lisa.'

Rembrandt's skill clearly affects him but what about the subject matter? Does he wish he had had a child he could teach to walk? He flicks his cigarette butt on to the studio floor and stubs it out with his slipper. 'I did see a child learn to walk. Albert Clark. Perhaps that is why I find this so moving.'

Is it true he had an affair with Clark's mother, Celia? He purses his lips. 'It was never that serious. I would have liked to have had children. I think about that a lot. As a present to my assistant, Richard, I paid for him to have his vasectomy reversed so that he could have children. And he did, too. And is very happy. I used to look at my brother [who is Hockney's accountant, and a former mayor of Bradford] and his children and think he had it all wrong.

I thought, "How conventional of him. What is all the fuss about?" Now I don't.'

Because he's older? 'I was with my mother on her deathbed four years ago. It made me think.'

Did he paint his mother then, as Monet painted his dying wife? 'I did, as it happens.'

Wasn't that cold of him? 'It's what an artist does. It's how an artist responds to the world. I suppose it was a way of dealing with it, or not dealing with it.'

He has had to deal with a lot of grief in his life. 'At one point I was flying weekly to New York where I had four different friends dying from Aids in four different hospitals. I lost a hell of a lot of friends. That is why New York is so different now. Two generations were wiped out, really. Very talented people.'

How many friends did he lose? 'A lot. Friends and acquaintances. I couldn't write it down, I must tell you. I once tried but I couldn't do it, it drove me mad, actually. I got to the point where I didn't even want to answer the phone in case it brought more news of premature death.'

Does he feel lucky to have survived?

'Well, I was.'

On one level a studio high up in the Hollywood Hills seems exactly the sort of place to encounter one of Quentin Crisp's 'stately homos of England'. Hockney seems at home here, comfortable in his skin, at ease with the Californian banality. His language, like his paintings, like the primary colours his house is painted in, seems simplified. And he has a childlike candour and curiosity. He loves gadgets and mirrors and cameras (as he demonstrated in his bestselling book Secret Knowledge, in which he showed how the old masters had used a camera lucida for their portraits).

'I never had any self-doubt,' he tells me at one point in the studio on the hill. 'But there were times when the art world would say, "What are you doing wasting your time on photography?" Of course I didn't see it that way because I was finding things out.'

Hockney is unassuming about his work. And his wit is as dry as a Yorkshire stone wall. When I ask him about his enduring popularity - the critic Robert Hughes once called him 'the Cole Porter of contemporary art' - he smiles and says, 'Sometimes there is a prettiness to my work. I can't help it. I can't help putting the charm in.' And later, when I ask him which place he regards as home, Yorkshire or California, he says without missing a beat, 'I'm a Yorkshire Californian.'

'Let me show you something,' he says, leading the way back down to the house. When we reach the door, he stops and adds, 'Wait here.' He disappears inside and, when he re-emerges, I follow his tall and stooping figure along a corridor. 'Now, look at that,' he says. Through another doorway I can see a mirror which is reflecting a predominately red painting of a village on the opposite wall, out of sight. It looks three-dimensional. 'Amazing what mirrors do, isn't it?' he says. 'That's Sledmere in Yorkshire. I painted it in 1997 when a friend of mine, Jonathan, was dying of cancer in Wetherby. I would visit him every day from Bridlington, where my mother was, and I kept driving through this village. I want to go again to paint Yorkshire next year. Yorkshire is like the American West because you can see a long way. I like that, seeing a long way.'