Wednesday, 30 June 2004

Peter Singer was on telly last night, walking round Vienna.

on this morning's free paper he's calling Cheney possibly evil.

he gets around!

much like silverdollarcircle at Glasto

have you seen the guardian is to change to 'berliner' size? sort of the half-way point between tabloid and broadsheet, so it's not going full tabloid like the other broadsheets, it's going for the European press approach, size of le monde. could be a winner.

White Sox bossed the Cubs.
public figure hear hear pt.1

Europe is not the exclusive club of a single religion
_George W. Bush.

public figure hear hear pt.2

just trial, a fair trial
_ Iyad Allawi on his plans for Saddam Hussein (one story, charges).

worth a shout:
Oliver on universal fascism -

Colin Powell may get his arse in gear

Tuesday, 29 June 2004

OMites might be interested in the Phoenix Folk Club's
event this Thursday (1st July), which features classical
Indian violinist and sometime Martin Archer collaborator
Kamalbir Singh. Nice chance to hear music from a different
improvising tradition. See ...

The gig is at the Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind
in Mappin Street, near the Red Deer and just off the Glossop
Road end of West Street. Doors open 7:30.
I suppose it’s ‘father ted’ that’s the best of the 90s fare. In recent years, ‘the league of gentlemen’, arguably the office (the first season is mos def better; although gareth’s attempts to chat up tim’s shagpiece are joyous), and of course ‘phoenix nights’ have carried the torch.

Overheard this morning in the lavatory two blokes chatting about “African brothels”, and last night in the pub two chaps discussing someone they used to know, a young man, who had just committed suicide at Strangeways (there’s a piece of manc ephemera for you…); one of them had seen him at another pub the last time he was out one Christmas, where he’d been asked if he had any gear. Heart-rending, all told (the pub we were in had put up a lovely commemorative mirror – and a nice bench outside – to remember a lad, aged about nineteen who was a regular, who took his life early this year. One of the girls at work was close with him; pathetically they have to take the mirror down when they screen football games, as a precaution, because it’s done up in the colours of one particular club).

On to far lighter matters, and my young brother has purchased the anniversary edition of Viz. It’s a common theme to me that this Geordie rag is at least as actually sophisticated in its satiric intent as the likes of Private Eye, although a cursory glance – with its overt scatological tones – might dismiss that (although be that as it may).
There’s some undeniably witty material in there; I think my personal favourite thus far is The Adventures of Ian Paisley: ‘It’s the way I yell ‘em!’.
Trying to locate his usual “Stan Laurel hat” for a “march down the Guvakky Road” the good Reverend opens a threadbare cupboard only to find – shock horrors! – the hat has been decimated by “Papist moths”.
Klassic (there’s plenty more where that came from), and well worth five notes, any British newsagency denizens…

…right, I’m off to listen to the Klashnekoff album and contemplate having that banana.

Monday, 28 June 2004

got bad manners cause i’m from a bad manor

It’s been brought to me attention that the ninth and latest series of NYPD Blue slipped off British television screens the other day, and was still apparently doing the business in a ‘quietly wonderful’ way, so there we go.

For three pounds ninety of the realm you got a large plate of rice, piled high, a big nan the size of a dinner plate, and three curries nestling all over the rice: bucketloads of a saucy and tender chicken, masses of gorgeous chana, and a wealth of mulchy, lightly spiced spinach. Even though I was famished about one third or more was entirely untouched and then we didn’t eat again for about another twenty-four hours. That is why that place is one of my favourite eateries. All of it absolutely delicious, served up instantly in quirky if basic surroundings, and washed down with free tap water.

‘Ink and Incapability’, the dictionary episode of Blackadder the Third, contains that ten minute period or so where Blackadder is riffing on imaginary words to annoy Dr Johnson. A pal and I were watching that the other night and – acknowledging we’re all fans of ‘Porridge’, Fawlty, Rising Damp, prime-Fools & Horses, etc. – there can be few finer sustained periods in British sitcom history (well, Anglophone sitcom history, let’s be honest) than that ten minute flurry or so, between the Prince Regent announcing that that splendid brainbox Dr Johnson is coming to tea, and the gang (mistakenly, at the time) believing Baldrick to have burnt the dictionary, leading to Blackadder’s hilarious “pencil” declaration to Baldrick [also there’s that “Dictionary Two? The return of the Killer Dictionary?”].
It’s such a pleasure to see Vincent Hanna (“Country Gentleman’s Pig Fertiliser Gazette”), insistent in the politics episode when Baldrick is accidentally elevated to the House of Lords too, and the Macbeth joke in the actors episode never seems badly-timed or OTT. The first couple of seasons, and the fifth season, of Red Dwarf, were all class, but they can’t compete with, certainly, the last couple of Blackadder seasons (and the second one too, I’d argue). Granted, the first season of Blackadder is still pants-wettingly funny, but can be a bit more slapstick and clearly a lot less wordy at times (the fact Baldrick is the one with the brains in the first season, but only the first season, is probably supposed to be some sort of story arc like they have in expensive American drama shows, but it just seems bizarre in review), and clearly the operation was still feeling its way forward (the relative polish of the fourth season is quite a contrast to the wattle and daub efforts of the first season, if you come back to both of them after a prolonged absence).
Mind you, in the first couple or so of Red Dwarf seasons, because they were filming on a shoestring at BBC Northwest, they had those wonderful props like if Lister cracks open a can it’s just a grey tin with LAGER written on the side in white block. Marvellous!

Talking about a reissue (three compact discs on the Sanctuary label), below is a funny line about ‘Village Green Preservation Society’, from Stewart Lee (is that the comic?) in yesterday’s Times:

Like the Beach Boys’ Smile, the Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society has latterly benefited from the efforts of a coterie of enthusiastic critics bent on reclaiming it as the great 1960s album.

the huge elephant in the South African writing room

_Anthony Minghella on apartheid.

Tell you what, in that second set, Henman was really trying wasn’t he? Some lovely tennis. Nina from ‘Neighbours’ was there, Delta Goodrem, like the Aussie Vanessa Carlton, looking lovely as per. Perhaps Phillopoussis (I admit, I can’t spell his last name) is ‘poking’ her.
Now my local wetherspoons it’s quite a posh area, so maybe it’s cheaper in your area, but they still have bottles of Staropramen on a Monday for 1.39, so two bottles for under 2.80: not bad like. quite good really.

Sunday, 27 June 2004

The new Olympic stadium in Beijing looks just glorious.

Something that is a glorious prospect is Robert Hughes on the telly, interviewing the likes of Koons and Rego for a documentary this coming weekend. Could be good fun.

Yes, and that is that.

First weekend back in manchester and I got slapped in town, was nearly caught up in a mini-riot at the end of me street (well, about fifteen scallies causing shit and battering people, including a bloke with a pool cue), we got thrown out of a pub due to some Oldham fan acting up, and my mate had his record shopping nicked (just as well we didn’t plump for all those Starship compilations…).
On the plus side due to drinking so much lager and an impressive array of some very nice continental bottles yesterday (my mate had never had Erdinger!) today was time to subsist on a palatable Bombardier and a great-as-ever IPA (and draught Red Stripe in Brian Robson’s local, and Spandau and other assorted greats on the jukebox). Wetherspoons seem to be selling abbot and spitfire at the same price, which seems a bit odd to me, as although spitfire is a fine drink, it is no abbot. I for one would certainly not begrudge a few pence more on the price of an abbot (over the costing for a spitfire). In my absence from good ol’ Blighty I note ‘spoons are also selling Staropramen bottles for a reasonable fare. The Hogshead chain has been rebranded to The Place (though one gathers there are certain individual outlets that have been more sympathetically and individually named) though still seems to suffer in the shadow of ‘spoons and their gloriously eccentric (and Euro-sceptic innit) churmun.
I saw a lad wearing a Red Sox hat 48 hours before finding out ‘funnyman’ Phill Jupitus (is that how you spell it?) has a Red Sox tattoo, having fallen in love with Fenway Park on a Bostonian vacation.
I note that the Cubs beat the White Sox in the Chitown derby but lost earlier to the Cardinals. Paul Morley reviews Jamie Cullum for the telegraph and on the one hand it’s just not a very good review, it only seems well frankly it seems lame and pedestrian but maybe that is due to the subject matter or it could be because Morley for all one knows might not be bothered and this is clearly not his main gig so if he is getting paid for a little tossed-off thing then that’s probably fair enough for him, so that is something.

AA gill says the most depressing sentence you can hear in the English language is “red or white?” (quoting Kingsley Amis) which is quite amusing, in a way (Chilean reds or somewhat overpriced Rioja all the rage in my local it seems, if you’re asking Mr Gill).
We know this because one got a copy of the times today for the first time in ages (it was all wrapped up still and on the floor so I picked it up and it complemented the telegraph quite well, with an interesting portrait of Francis Fukuyama by Bryan Appleyard, a fairly persuasive account of Tuymans at the Tate Modern by an unimpressed Waldemar Januszczak, a good piece from Christopher Catherwood about Churchill’s calling Iraq into being in 1921, an entertaining interview with Simon Schama, a good piece on Leonara Carrington’s artwork, a quite good portrait of Michael Moore, a superb interview with 17-year-old Raad Awisat, the only Palestinian swimmer at this year’s Olympics, and a monumentally rubbish piece by Minette Marrin: thesis, diverse immigration is a chief reason why inner London children suffer from so much increasing violent crime, and if only Dear Tony would realise this and do something about it, ignoring racism catcalls, we could all sleep so much sounder at night).
Marrin’s column is indeed written in the wake of the utterly appalling murder of that 15 year old lad for his (it seems) mobile phone (a robbery gone wrong) in southwest London last week but I’d have thought the headline “murderous mix in our inner cities” was, taken as an amplified whole, a bad joke (well, at least a parody). Apparently not.
It seems the incomparable Loaf might be onto something with his conservative immobility line…
…in the wake of the simplistic claptrap Polly Toynbee spouted recently in the guardian, about inequality and obesity in developed economies, you don’t admittedly have to be way out on the left to at least acknowledge that in the USA and Britain (dunno about other western countries, but it’s well-known in these two places), the cheapest food and therefore most plausible place to get your groceries for people on low incomes is the shitty processed crap that is going to of course not do your waistline any favours (if memory serves, Toynbee recognised this, which no one sensible should quarrel with as an observation, but went a lot further…). Hence in some places you can’t get to a supermarket and there will only be an offy selling cigs and full-fat milk, whereas if you traipse off to the Selfridges food-hall you’ll be forking out 85 quid for a fancy cucumber that admittedly does your heart the world of good.
be that as it may, the below is a fine (and poignant, certainly if you read the whole article) quote about these sorts of issues):
actually bollocks can’t find it but it basically said something about economic deprivation yeah, granted, but also cultural impoverishment.


Just wanted to say there was a debate at k-punk once about the guardian and the times and stuff and IIRC Mark said he preferred the times to the guardian (I for one am not about to go overboard on defending the guardian, it must be said) because he found the guardian irritatingly bourgeois or something. well judging from all the times’ supplements today, including holidays in Paris and lots of home stuff, depressing kids supplements, and Cosmo Landesman’s arch reviews, it seems if you wanted to, the same sort of (admittedly vague the way I’ve levelled it, so both either easy to embrace or simple to refute) mix permeates the times, so if you wanted to, you could make a similar ‘charge’ there. so not too sure about that one right there.

Josh Homme has big white arms but did you notice that Coltrane had fair-sized arms, never really noticed that until the other day.

The College Dropout somehow does sound different and to me even stronger in the UK than it does in the USA, it’s made me cry at times listening to it over the last few days, it is starkly affecting on occasion as well as most enjoyable.
Anyway, one thing I wanted to clear up which was written in The Reader: a usually fine Chicago free weekly, some geezer going on about how the long skit at the end of the College Dropout is a huge mistake, because it’s only alluring the first time you hear it, then it palls.
While this listener disagrees, it seems charming and lovely time after time, as Ingram (gorgeous txt blog of Matt’s innit? and how wonderful is Luke on New Zealand?) observed IIRC about the stuff to do with having his mum help him move house, well the bit about his landlord being a jerk, that’s great that is.

Speaking of Luke, I’ve been listening to one of his pirate tapes in particular a lot recently the last day or so (will have to write about the pirate tapes he sent me last year when one finally gets round to posting one’s favourites list of 2003!! Gonna definitely do it as a joke now though cause it’s so late, cause when I had a homepage the year before last I was able to write up my 2002 favourites on time).
Anyway it’s all truly fine, the way a hoover sound and PlayStation tones are mixing with the most delicate melodies or urgent emceeing, if I was one of these bloggers that was actually a proper internet writer on one of those websites about music I would definitely say that Simon R.’s review of the So Solid album in UNCUT a couple of years ago was influential, that was a great review that, the line about the ambulance sirens and stuff, “talent squeezed through an aperture” (re. ’21 Seconds’) wasn’t it.

Bought Wiley’s album on CD FINALLY and keep replaying the (all too brief) ‘interludes’ of his three riddims that are there. they’re so tantalising for a neophyte like myself and something about Philip Sherburne’s recent reviews in the Wire (especially about Kompakt 100 and his review of Rephlex Grime, where it was nice to see him namecheck Jess H.) is chiming with me, especially his spring-loaded pistons etc. point for the Rephlex LP, the way the listener gets a bit of these instrumentals, a tantalising glimpse, it’s as exciting as reading your way through Pamuk or Machiavelli or choosing a good bunch of flowers for a lover.
Also GRATE in the wire was Matt’s review of some album. not so cool some tedious type trying to slate Geeta in the letterspage.

Incidentally because I’m back at me mam and dad’s gaff on our relatively speaking crap shared PC this is why these posts have capitals going on a lot more cause I’ve had to write this out on a Word file (!) because it’s too expensive to do it whilst online. Not that I’m a huge ee cummings fan (though there is another controversy about that anyway) but there we go.


Heard some of the new Beastie Boys album the other day, must say from what was heard it was – frankly – fairly crap sounding.

Bought really cheap Duran Duran, Brand Nubian, Souls of Mischief, and TLC albums on CD quality that! also red headed stranger for about raey cheap yes better make sure I’ve got the entire back catalogues of Gary Wilson & the Blind Dates and Can in a cheap reissued way soon eh what a boring canonical twat! hoho, I’ll be turning in me upturned chinos soon…

My man at the council house assures me it was Chicks on Speed’s arty visuals that inspired such ire among the Chili Peppers/James Brown crowd; there’s no accounting for taste eh (Ed DMX, gentle folk-tronica, or various Kompakt releases are undoubtedly nice but if one had to choose descriptive words for the music being enjoyed most round here at the moment it’s still grime, and so descriptive words would include exhilarating and inspirational).
One other exciting prospect is the new season of ‘The Shield’ I didn’t use to rate this show at all, having seen it a few times and been singularly unimpressed, thinking the violence unnecessary and wanting the sharpness of the script to more than compensate.
Well deffo I’m now converted and if I still don’t reckon it could touch the early days of NYPD Blue or the run of Homicide: Life on the Street or the force of nature that is ‘The Sopranos’, I would definitely look forward to catching it. the character of Mackey (doesn’t Chiklis look a bit like Gravesen of Denmark??) is so interesting and such a nutter with a good human side that you can’t take your eyes off him, it’s like watching Sipowicz and Simone working together in the early-mid seasons of NYPD Blue before that show went off the boil-big time, you remember the first season of that programme when Sipowicz was an alkie, and


Fantastic, all that “so help me Kelly or I’ll clean your clock”, lining that bourbon up in the bar, I’m convinced the scriptwriters just eavesdropped on genuine New York City detectives, there was some great stuff going on over there.
Anyway Mackey and his colleagues they’re all great characters and I love watching them with that same queasy feeling you have in your stomach as a car drives over a particularly steep hill or perhaps if you’re a small child being driven to an appointment you are dreading and you are aware all too obviously that the more tarmac eaten up underneath the smooth and inexorable progress of the wheels and vehicle is nearer the appointment when all you want to do is to be FURTHER away from that fucker.
I shall look forward to the Armenian mob going to war with a white slaphead who wears a Notre Dame tee-shirt in promotional photographs.

One thing in favour of Pete Doherty of Libertines (apart from being a smackhead which makes for entertaining rock’n’roll copy) is he’s a QPR fan, I didn’t know that, long-term readers may remember somedisco announcing Sarah Cracknell (from St Etienne) is a Brentford fan, well I think Brentford win that one, but chin up Pete at least you’re in ‘the Championship’ eh lad!

The lovely companion and her organisation was all on the Pride march in Chitown today, part of the parade (float and all!). I had a look around and this URL seems to be about Chicago Pride so that’s worth a shout.

just had a fairly satisfying dump actually, thought there was a bloody great spider by me foot but turned out not to be.

Friday, 25 June 2004

dirty city pigeon

i liked it, anyway.

obviously, i loved it a lot, and i love Somalian curries, and scoffing inerja and drinking San Miguel and semi-skimmed milk, and although i love Chelle more than anything, i certainly love her family, so therefore i love SLOVAK CUSS WORDS.

shout to all CUSSING MANCS.

big up LOGAN SQUARE and all CHEETHAM CREW and all BESWICK BOYS and all lads from MILES PLATTING and alla types from HANDSWORTH.

if anything, the college dropout sounds monumentally stronger in the UK than it does in the USA.


the other day i was chatting to a bloke about Kanye, Nottinghamshire rappers, Birmingham (NOT Alabama) rappers, UKG, the Streets, graf, and such, to some bloke.

his (admittedly not all there) URL is next.

Tuesday, 22 June 2004

Happy 27th Jon!

Monday, 21 June 2004

out on Planet Earth meantime, 10,000 DRC troops are reported to be heading east, whilst 86400 seconds deserves a large nice-up for his totally ace dissertation suggestion: the construction of authenticity in music via reissue sleeve notes.

more thanks to the ever-reliable Iain (unexpected that the Daily Express should be complaining about the European constitution) because we simply must put a link to something he links to, namely this brilliant article from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

if you can't be arsed to click, in a nutshell it's a somewhat pompous American academic who - especially so in a breathtakingly snobbish closing paragraph (dig the tired attempt at wit: or should that be humor?), though the whole article is largely absurd - is calling for British English expressions to be disdained in American public life/reportage/etc.

(unintentionally) hilarious guff from a winningly pretentious snark-meister.
apparently Chicks on Speed were bottled at the recent Chili Peppers show

other blogs have been discussing, w' pace & verve, the Observer's 100 greatest British albums special (to be fair, nos. 2, 8, 10, 15, 27, 77, and 95-6 all seem probably worthy of a place, among undoubtedly many of the i'm sure excellent others on that list, if somedisco had voted) so it's almost not worth any comment being expended upon all that here too, as everyone's objections or alternatives are always going to be at least as valid and interesting as the published canon.

but a few points stand out for me that i hope i can be forgiven for thinking about out loud.

(1) Paul Morley deserves some props for an interesting point about Astral Weeks {"the real thing people are looking for" from Norah Jones and the Corrs...unsure what to make of that [possibly unfair in a very fashionable sort of way; Sasha writes positively on Jones and he is often persuasive], but it's enough to make one catch one's breath anyhoo}, but he really shouldn't worry hisself too much about Four Tet.

(2) Alex James is fair and reasonable (perhaps a slight surprise for Met Bar/Ivy-ligger caricaturists), and Miranda Sawyer also deserves props: perhaps you think their too-broad brushstrokes are so shrill and obvious as to be plain offensive, but rather that than - in general - Morley's comfortable warm soup.

(3) no need to rag on the Stone Roses making the best British album ever (to be fair, that's surely a 'better' record than Definitely Maybe - Hello Q Magazine!), suffice to say as someone who went to the same school as Squire and Brown i would hope one is allowed a little leeway to slag 'em off...

(4) the only thing that's half-wrong and worth getting a little peeved about is something DeRogatis says: though he's joyously funny (and basically accurate) on the Roses, by the by, if a little unfair on old Kylie (and by extension, the odd Kylie moment; what would Morley say to that?) and terribly unfair on Mike Skinner (who i admit i'm not a big fan of), and we should give him as much in that he is kind and polite.
PJ Harvey's "improved [upon our sounds]" with that West Country "take on the blues".


i assume that is an ironic passage (after all, he is a writer for a Chicago {Chicago! Chicago!!} newspaper, and as well as the OBVIOUS to be found in Chitown, there is plenty of humour and comedy in that fine city).

that is what i assume.

otherwise, my one alloted sentence (via a lawyer if need be) runs, roughly, thus:=

Warmest congratulations to The Rambler.

meanwhile, a big huzzah for the return of a Woebot-place. the blog (and the txt actually looks really good) has started with two note-perfect entries, kudos.

Friday, 18 June 2004

this is too early to say and i might have to apologise or change my tune or whatever; well perhaps it's too early to say,


contrast for an interesting exercise with the BBC, which is usually impeccable on issues of self-criticism.
at time of writing, a search for "Ofcom" in Fox News homepage's own search engine still only results in that story about Lydon swearing on the TV from the other day.

some good letters in the guardian about asylum aid and the legal system (and Ted Heath defending himself), and i love how the matchless Finney dismisses the tedious and wrong mainstream narrative subtexts around the Neptunes/OutKast that's apparently been building in Oz before launching into the real business.
The Interfaith Alliance:

good people (celeb fan: Walter Cronkite) standing against the machinations of the Christian right in the USA.

Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called by God to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism.

-- Randall Terry.

Women are less physically equipped to 'stay on course' in the brawling areas of business, commerce, industry, and the professions.

_Pat Buchanan.

You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense.
I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist.

+ Pat Robertson

apparently North Carolina Republican Walter Jones ["Jones Warns Massachusetts Same-Sex Marriage Law May Soon Be Forced On North Carolina" - my emphasis] has re-introduced a previously defeated bill (H.R. 2357 'Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act') as H.R. 235 'Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act' [text, 235 homepage].

it's not all as fluffy as the 235 homepage makes out...
Annan is quite right.

didn't like their politics (allegedly), so they were slaughtered ~

Wednesday, 16 June 2004

thanks are due to Da Weaver for alerting us to the news that the UK's television regulator (Ofcom) has found Fox News in breach of British broadcasting rules for an on-air, er, moan, from one of its anchors concerning the BBC [story, Ofcom report].

interestingly there's an article at the BBC site about this, but i can't find anything at the Fox site yet {at time of writing a search for "Ofcom" in their own engine only produced this result}.
however, in the interests of being fair and balanced, it's worth remembering Fox News is based, where?, New York? i think, so it's at least six hours behind the London-based BBC. so let's give 'em the benefit of the doubt, i'm sure things will a'right themselves.
and a Confessions of a Pop Fan blog from one Jamie S. Rich (here) that the peerless Martian has started prepping for is just, well, gravy.

all hail!
The New Hip Hop, Political Correctness Trend has been absolutely killing it of late

/much like No Innocent Bystanders, which looks superb

(that boozer that Shrag are sat in looks really nice)
whilst the only team sports i've really paid attention to previously have been football, rugby (both codes, but especially union), hockey (field hockey as the Americans name it), lacrosse, kabaddi, cricket, and Formula One (loosely defined as a team sport, perhaps), it is exciting to be able to feel oneself acquiring an interest in the next thing, in my case some of the team sports popular in north America, principally basketball and baseball.

to the list of teams i 'support' in the (to me) five major English disciplines (Altrincham and Manchester City in football, Lancashire in cricket, Sale in union, Salford in rugby league, Brooklands in hockey on astroturf) may well have to be added the Chicago Cubs in baseballing terms.

on the subject of gridiron i am a shallow hoor who likes teams for the basest of reasons, usually to do with the iconography of their logos or something.
hence my appreciation of the New Orleans Saints is basically predicated upon their fleur-de-lis, or for the St Louis Rams because Nelly comes from there (and the lovely companion's mate, T., the one who's having Kanye's babbies). in basketball i quite like the Celtics because when 50 Cent was on Top of the Pops doing 'In Da Club' once he was wearing a Boston vest (oh, and Cheers).
the Chicago Bulls are good because of Michael Jordan and the Sonics because they're not the only outfit called the Sonics to have come from Seattle...

ice hockey i can feel less. in international terms i feel i'd end up rooting for northern European outfits over the Yanks or Canucks as it is, and although it was amusing a Floridian team recently beat a team from Canada to take the Stanley Cup and even though it's dead fast and exciting blah blah and even though in video-game terms it's probably the best game you can play with some mates, i can't quite get bitten. maybe a Canadian winter would see me right.
for those interested, what the Cubs did during the ninth inning in Houston last night, is akin to Zidane's smash'n'grab on Sunday evening.

well technically Simon's right, Kanye's eyes do have a certain static movie-set background quality to them (think the third Alien film that had quite a lot of footage shot in northeast England, but there were a lot of backdrop panels used for the bleak surface atmosphere scenes, and you can practically see the join sometimes, quite endearingly amateurish, or at least some sort of positive but shabby quality with a tangy word that escapes me, as arguably any film with Brian Glover in it must be; incidentally there's a superbly ire-filled synopsis of said flick from AMG's Robert Firsching here), but rather than being like nondescript panels, i've always preferred to think of them as lovely jade (or some other dark and precious gemstone, if you will) sheeting, or something along those lines.

so they look inert and lifeless but there is that octarine spark beneath and pretty soon before you know - booommm!! - he's running the whole show with his lovely take on gospel chops and things.

cheered by blissblog's resumption though i must say Kanye's eyes are wonderful, they dart, dazzle, and delight.

i used to be really into Antibalas (quite thinking Fela IS all that), but i've not been 'feeling them' for ages.

odd but it wouldn't do for everyone to be the same etc.
just in from the Dept. of No Shit?!:

Iraqi regime had nowt to do with the 9-11 terror attacks
tragedy afflicts even the tragedy makers
thanks to (the surely god-like and new daddy of the blogosphere? ;-)) k-punk, there is the very fine e-2004 space in which i would especially look forward to Philip posts... ...i've written something there w' proper spelling, capitalisation of the personal pronoun and whatnot, and everyfing!
MOTOWN IN THE HOUSE HOUSE {obligatory nod to American sports post}

nevermind that St Andrews is to give Bobby Dylan an honorary degree,

the Pistons beat the Lakers!!


all right-thinking ppl rejoice!!

[i get the impression this would be as if Millwall beat Utd in the Cup Final or Bulgaria or Latvia win Euro 2004; as a side-note it rather pisses on Dan Gleister from the guardian's chips, eh]
as for today's Group A action i don't think anyone can see Greece doing another demolition job, this time over the host's neighbours.

the wires are suggesting Morientes and Baraja are out and that Saez may start Torres (hurrah!, say both i and Philip).

expect goals.
i'm not entirely sure what Liverpool think they're doing unveiling Madonna's producer as their new boss, but stranger things have happened i suppose... ...that horse becoming Pope for one, as Baldrick once said.
also on today's date in history (sadly not Joyce-related) - from the guardian archives - clashes in Soweto 16 years ago.
Happy Bloomsday!

Where was the chap I saw in that picture somewhere, Bloom wonders, Ah yes, in the dead sea floating on his back, reading a book with a parasol open (5.37-38).

Tuesday, 15 June 2004

Siobhan at Glueboot riffs on Houellebecq's Atomised, and then delightfully goes off on one.

this isn't going to be one of those typical posts where i apologise to (doubtless imaginary given the unrelieved tedium of my Euro 2004 'coverage') readers and backtrack, but it's a fine lesson in testing the ground before one opens one's gob.
let me say i didn't think Atomised is any great shakes, but part of my antipathy towards it is undoubtedly rooted in a slightly peeved opposition to so many of the gushing reviews for this great work of transgressive literature (i realise i'm parodying), etc., rather than the work itself.

which is of course juvenile but bugger it we're being punk rock all the month of June.

Siobhan can take off running and then soar with it as a capstone, so that's definitely worth saluting, but i just personally didn't feel it.
on the other hand, Lanzarote, which is supposed to have offended quaint liberal opinions all over the show (if one or two testy broadsheet pieces i skimread once are any guide, which invariably they're not), was a laugh-riot.
yesterday a police officer, and a Kurdish guerrilla, were killed in clashes in Turkey.

Kongra-Gel - once identified as the PKK - recently moved to renounce the five year old ceasefire that Abdullah Ocalan had reiterated in mid-1999, as the BBC reports.
my extreme ignorance of the young Germans has been exploded by sensational displays from Kuranyi and Lahm (Hamann was also, apparently, great). wonderful stuff.

a fantastic game, van Nistelrooy's equaliser was masturbatory material.
a miserable Netherlands first half and three penalties for Ronaldo against Argentina.

the radio is speaking to some pissed Dutch people. things are going swimmingly where the ale is.
speaking of unsatisfactory articles at the guardian, Neil Clark's effort on why he doesn't care one way or the other what happens to the England football team seems a supreme example, mixing some agreeable social observations and evenly-tempered dissections about the dark undertow of the nu-patriotism with ultimately unfortunate, indeed, risible, conclusions.

leaving aside his fogeyish objections to the pressures and realities of the modern game (replica shirts retailing in the shops! all progress destroyed, shouts the Dean! can the Church not intercede?), this really - on the footballing front (which is what matters in the final analysis, here) - basically amounts to the embittered ramblings of a 60's Shetland crofter who has seen the white heat of technology, and doesn't like it one bit.

the plain reality is that all his (arguably admirable) reasons for wanting to buy into the stand alone narrative don't amount to a hill of beans when he can claim with a straight face we have the dullest squad in English footballing history; he's showing himself more as a refusenik, preferring nostalgia (fair enough).

bright things should eventually happen to the England football team soon, given some of the youngsters waiting in the wings (the likes of Stead and Bentley are exciting, or if you've not been excited for some time about the capabilities of Rooney then get outta town...), and that feels like a more reasonable bottom line.
describing a player handling the ball in the Dutch-German clash (this is a European tournament, nevermind the best team in the tournament beating England, nevermind Italy, nevermind the Iberians have already played, it's when these two enter the fray that you know we've got a European championships on our hand...blimmin' marvellous!) Mick McCarthy (on BBC radio) references the Hand of God and wisely concludes God is an anagram of Dog.


minutes after we slag off Baros and Poborsky, they combine for the (bloody overdue) equaliser.
HRW shine a light on the four key areas in which Turkey can improve her rights record.

Poborsky's second half is not going so well.
how did Baros miss that?
Francis Bacon, Figure with Meat, 1954.

chunks of flesh have been torn away in the usual process, the humid darkness looks present and correct for what might be a less than unusual context were it not for the Baconian seated figure.

traumatic purples enclosed in this cube of meat show a very different edge to what could be a regular slaughterhouse, or similar.
encased meat is big in Chicago (none so menacing, except for the animal) and you can locate many of the important narratives of the city's history through the locus of tinned meat, stripped meat, different meat, meat and matter out of place.

grab'n'stuff yourself a superb Vienna beef dog, best there is, add the works (red sauce for out-of-towners and those wet behind the ears), an order of cheese fries and throwing caution to the wind lest you get hungry on the 3 a.m. trek to the next bar, pipe in hand/
alright so that was mean about Hunter Davies but i've read too many snobbish articles of his to appreciate his other gifts.
Poborsky apparently the only Czech playmaker really giving the ball away at the right time at the moment, and Baros at fault for the goal.


it is time to announce the greatest line of football journalism is not some crusty old historian (and certainly not the utterly tedious Hunter Davies' professional Cumbrianisms, uninspired and inert in the extreme) or respected analyst or even somewhat like Dickinson in the times or Barclay in the telegraph or someone like the old tabloid hacks, but actually it's
The Belgians are skinny and scruffy and look like they roll their own fags
from the USA '94 edition of still the best Anglophone footy mag
Andy Cairns of Irish noise-niks Therapy? is in portraiture mode here
fair dos to Latvia scoring 30 seconds into stoppage time at the end of the first half, as Jimmy Armfield predicts a fairytale perhaps.

alright so totally against the run of play but who's keeping score.
the lovely companion told me she was on the train the other day watching the most gorgeous bird keep pace with the train (i once saw a beautiful, massive bay horse do that in a Staffordshire field as the train carriage kept a steady pace, there was a big Roma camp nearby and this horse was so so simple and pure and wise and glorious), and she saw a guy with a small notepad and a golf pencil who would look out of the window now and then, smile to himself, and write little passages in Arabic on his pad.
one thing that is interesting is down the side of the beautiful Romanian church i just mentioned there is another lovely and big church, just regular Christian place of worship and the pastors (as advertised) are called something like Betty Rommelfager-Pfazz and Ernest Singh. Betty takes services in English but the thing i can't work out about Ernest is he's advertised as doing the "Indo-Pak" services. now i've seen lots of Asian parishioners going into this place but what - out of the veritable multitude of languages from the subcontinent - does he give it in?

i'd love to know the answer to that one.
eleven people or groups of ppl i've seen recently (if this looks like a cheap knock-off of better blogs, well it is to be frank but hey imitation is the sincerest form of flattery):

- a handsome middle-aged woman, snoozing in the heat on a brownstone step, a shopping bag at her feet, coffee coloured skin slowly acquiring more flecks of cinnamon

- an owlish, incredibly good-looking (in a slim rock way) young man with a fabulous Quezon City tee shirt, reading a library hardback copy of The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis

- a homeless man, sprawled out and hidden in thick bushes by the sidewalk at the American Indian Center, possessions around him which appeared to include a VERY OLDSKOOL wooden staff and napkin/neckerchief combo Middle Ages European pedlar stylee (i kid you not)

- a bulky and very attractive young man with close shaven hair speaking loudly (Serbo-Croat, i'm positive, in one conversation, but then definitely Italian a minute later on another conversation) into his mobile phone in a fetid Post Office queue

- a slim menacing middle-aged chap who kept leaving the coffeeshop to also take calls; being a pseudo-intellectual (in private) romantic youth (the latter mostly in public), i imagined he was a mobster and wanted the street-noises to deter Fed listening devices... ...he was certainly wearing enough gold and looked like he could have used Antonioni as a last name (uugh fucking at-first-glance-phenotypic hammering, ethnicity/nationality/heritage correlations stereotyping, not good i know but forgive me this one hook)

- two very interestingly dressed young men, walking to and fro, jabbering away in some African language, i presume (Wolof? in my extremely sheltered experience Chitown is not quite, say, London for a babel of African languages {there again this is a whitebread area whereas most of the places i'm familiar with in London are not}, though it certainly appears so for European and Asian tongues)

- a capped and wrapped man reading a beautiful gilt-edged gold-type Qu'ran on the El, one of the most wonderful faith books i've ever seen on public transport (and Bibles or Jewish literature show their best face on trams)

- a couple arguing furiously with each other about something or other in what i think was Russian, and the man had a face you would want to live in and carve wood for your backwoods Finnish porch from, and the woman had a face that suggested great times and oatcakes and rice beer and trips to Benin and a knowledge of Zen and other diverse essentials

- the pretty girl who gave me the vindaloo (and could perhaps pass for a description of Rahel near the beginning of The God of Small Things if you were in an arsey pompous pseuds literary mood like wot i am) in a Bangladeshi eatery

- all the good looking people in their Sunday best - cussing and laffing and bickering and debating in Romanian, a language i truly wish i spoke - leaving the Philadelphian Church across the street, the cottonwood fairy dust and firefly bugs lighting up a waterlilyish and desert sun-blazing type-style symphony of natural light

- a tall girl with a very good body (this much she knew) in a skimpy Bulls dress (violent blood red accentuating her long jet hair), shouting to an older woman in a raspy voice, coming out of the grocery store walking down the road past the chop sueys tuckers and gyro stands and liquor stores and the Vienna beef shop and cafes and bars and puppet parlours and leather shops and diners, all the while chattering and mewling, constant alert-small desert animal watching for fennecs in the most seductive Spanish
Philip Sherburne: all life is here (drunken English people: shome mishtake, shurely?)
no disrespect to the Latvians, but i hope the Czechs cane them today.

after all, who doesn't adore Nedved and whilst i'm not the biggest fan of where Baros plies his trade in club colours, you gotta like him at international level.

best stop all this football commentary and keep it to myself, the blog doesn't need any help in completely going to seed the last month or so.

i will say here's to a Dutch victory this evening (if not perhaps some anti-German invective tomorrow for apart from Ballack their side is unloveable for me; is it just me or is Oliver Kahn the third most irritating German player of the modern age whose first name starts with O? only his namesake Bierhoff, and Olaf Fucking Thon pecked my head more as a kid; especially that shimmy Thon did after dispatching one past Shilts in the 90's SF shoot-out - of course i supported every side but England in Euro 96 cause i was a 16 yr old sociology student with his David Held et al - broke one's heart *sniff* - Kahn's HUGE hands in the last World Cup were interesting to be fair; but at Italia '90 i was only ten so hadn't yet heard about the evils of colonialism, or Marxism, or similarly minded Guardian articles from the likes of the [otherwise admirable] much-older Decca Aitkenhead)
'The Union Stockyards opened in 1865 and cattle poured in too, to be slaughtered and shipped out in new refrigerated boxcars.'

writers mentioned in the literature section of the Lonely Planet condensed guidebook to Chicago [commercial site]:

- Dreiser
- James Farrell
- Nelson Algren
- Studs Terkel
- Bellow
- Gwendolyn Brooks
- Scott Turow (trying to compare Turow to Bellow or Dreiser is surely like trying to compare Aylesbury with AC Milan)
- Sara Paretsky

yet no Upton Sinclair.

Theodore Roosevelt read The Jungle and ordered an investigation of the meat-packing industry. He also met Sinclair and told him that while he disapproved of the way the book preached socialism he agreed that "radical action must be taken to do away with the efforts of arrogant and selfish greed on the part of the capitalist."

With the passing of the Pure Food and Drugs Act (1906) and the Meat Inspection Act (1906), Sinclair was able to show that novelists could help change the law. This in itself inspired a tremendous growth in investigative journalism. Theodore Roosevelt became concerned at this development and described it as muckraking.

The Jungle online.
old seadogs (in the blogging sense) might remember a month ago or so the hoo-hah over Guardian arts columnist Jonathan Jones' piece ironically entitled The case for communism which generated massive and excellent volumes of heat&light: the Rambler originally spotting the piece, a piece at ne quid nimis taking him to task, a response at clap clap arguing for balance [the Rambler's ultimately persuasive addendum won the day, it must be said].

i just wanted to say that the right way of looking at that that the Rambler nailed is that, simply, Jones wasn't looking hard enough. Jones {and ya gotta love a guy whose tagline on his paper's masthead is Why is enjoyment of contemporary and old art so often seen as irreconcilable?} has a great flourish and writes some fine visual arts pieces (two recent cases in point: this arguing for the 20th c primacy of Cubism, and this on an exhibition of Islamic art at Somerset House), but when he stretches out to the arts in general it would be unfair to expect him to be that on-point all the time.
but that's where the Rambler was right to criticise him, although Jones acknowledges he is no expert, a saving grace in this situation.

yet an example that i still reckon damns him anyway, from that very 'communism' article, which i didn't want to note at the time - because it sounded a bit rude but hey fuck it [doubly because Luka's on hiatus and i'm missing his agreeable denunciations of most contemporary novelists but WG Sebald] - is when Jones writes I got quite bored in the middle of Michel Houellebcq's Atomised, but I knew it was important enough to reach the end. The same goes for Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood. Where are the books of this urgency from behind what used to be the Iron Curtain, which used to produce a classic a week?
OK, Murakami fair enough, but Houellebecq, effing Houellebecq?!?
remember that NME letter quoted here once about how some chap writes to the NME telling them their coverage is boring and old-hat and they need to step up a gear, you know, start covering more forward-thinking, edgy outfits like...

well the NME responded as you'd expect, saying they wanted their readers to be constantly showing them up as boring old farts with fingers decidedly not on the pulse but if Travis was the best a complainant was going to do then quite frankly that reader could fuck right off. well, this is a bit like that, Houellebecq is certainly no great shakes but for him to hold him up, well, it beats me.

that's a bit like me complaining to the editor of Straight No Chaser there's been no good jazz since Lester Young died. oh i don't know, i really don't.
incidentally Jones does deserve props for a nice little article once where he correctly called which western nations had been responsible for the 'best' art scenes of the 20th c.
{speaking of Eppy, there's an interestin Paul Krugman article here via him that called to mind a comments box hullaballoo k-punk had a month or two ago: a timely article in - quelle horreur! - The Times criticising the BBC the catalyst for that post incidentally; the Times criticising the BBC, i know, i know, i was as shocked as you were, which is why we demanded a recount...}~
i would just like to say shout to Mark Sinker, always an absolute geezer.

Monday, 14 June 2004

one oddity is how much better young Terry Henry always appears to do for the Gooners than France (in terms of a very general observation, performance-wise), or is that just us.
...whilst the USA is to hand Saddam Hussein over to the interim Iraqi govt. within a fortnight [Auntie].
as for other options for Thursday's England game, i am now converted to the cause of Hargreaves with the magisterial way he kept the ball for a spell and actually imposed confidence and control onto a flapping English midfield as French dominance was telling.

Vassell's pace with Rooney might be an intriguing prospect, clearly Owen is starting in the line-up on reputation at the moment (apparently he was shite in the Iceland friendly).

one mate reckons with the coverage of Heskey's last five minutes during the France match as a party political broadcast, the BNP could win votes...
sound thrashing for the Bulgarians at the hands of a rampant Sweden, enjoying their chances, buoyed by the talismanic Larsson (superb headed goal according to the wireless for goal #2).

and yet it could all have been so different perhaps if Riley had given a pen for when Hristov fell down early doors, who can say.

for a team that are probably the worst at the championships though, Bulgaria certainly worried Sweden at times and had enough of the ball. it might be honour-bound to note the scoreline flattered the Swedes, but, in truth, it did.

one thing's for sure, this makes Friday's game in Oporto between Sweden and the Italians double-plus good interesting in a 'fireworks must spark' kinda way...
...despite being a huge King fan, i'm glad Terry is replacing him for the Swiss game, there's probably going to be more cohesion there. whatever happens, Campbell must stay injury free, he is the brace.
great to see Mark, all guns blazing, backing up that righteous Aaronovitch article on faith schools.
googling Mexican beer can be an odd exercise: more often than not, pages containing delicate discussions about chemistry or informed comment regarding the lineage of the breweries tend to get submerged beneath diatribes about the marketing of Cinco de Mayo in the USA, jibes about one lime or two, and snarky observations about yuppies clutching their bottle of Corona.
but a brief article (several years old admittedly) here from renowned international gourmand-about-town-type Anthony Dias Blue serves as a fine basic introduction to some of the Mexican beers you can easily find around & about (go Tecate!).
as goal-less matches go, that was a lot better than the Group B game yesterday.

the Danes certainly in it to complement the 'sluggish Italian opening' trope, and more than equal.

oompah band fans near the end, roligans in full voice.

A smashing game~

--Gordan Strachan, bantering as ever about his co-commentators choice of in-car listening.

aww! pick yrself up Becks, we still love ya.

one thing that must be said about poor Gerrard is that the mistake he did yesterday you'd probably only see him do that, well, once in a blue moon. not much consolation i know but there we go.
meanwhile, what seems like a Maoist attack with a landmine has killed at least 21 police officers in Nepal, whilst Abdelwahed Belkeziz [Secretary General for the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC)] has blasted backwardness in the Islamic world, the BBC reports {more on the OIC meeting in Istanbul here}.

for all the tragic news to have come out of the Middle East and south Asia over the last several days, i think quite possibly the slaying of those Chinese workers in Afghanistan must be up there in any (pointless and offensive to rank tragedy, i know) pit of misery 'table'. far away from home to do a job - civilian no less - and slaughtered as you slept.

fivelive have got some bloke with a vaguely geordie accent alongside everyone's favourite Scottish banana eater and can i just say the whitewash in the cricket over the Kiwis more than makes up for Grosjean losing to Roddick.

big up Simon R for finishing his book {the Prince Regent to Dr. Johnson: well i'm a slow reader myself} (and that latest post at time of writing, in strangely reflective mode, a nice companion to Tom Ewing on the state of the 'blogosphere' here),

big up The Mile Long Shadow of a Cooling Tower, in hilarious/fantastic form here {excuse my tardiness}

and nice up Robin C., legend, fine one-two whammy on old chart blogging/fascist-hop.
Euro 2004: the first weekend {waffle from someone who doesn't know what he's on about}

well, the first match saw a Lusaphone house of cards fall down with the usual theatrics from an aggrieved Figo (according to mates who saw Saturday's games on telly: i spent three-and-a-half hours in front of a computer with Gordon Strachan [who sounds extraordinarily like Gordon McAvennie, fans of dour middle-aged Scots might like to note] and Jonathan Pearce, listening to the two matches on internet radio - BBC be praised, Allah bless you); apparently Deco is the spit of Maradona ("well, he's short and fat anyway, obviously a bit crap in comparison").
all my partisan joshing about Ronaldo aside (if any reader isn't aware - which is unlikely, as i tediously mention it every third post - i'm a man city fan and tend to have this unfortunate knee-jerk reaction to United players if i don't have my thinking cap on), the Portuguese have to start him next match (probably Utd's best player last season). he did really well apart from giving away the pen.
as Philip observes in a comments box at an It's all in your mind post, the hosts must start with two men up front against the Russians.

as for the Spanish, well i was wondering if the largely toothless performance of Raul (certainly, coupled with any more like that) will make Phil's take on him waver...;-) ...mind you, ditto Mark k-p's enthusiasm for Owen, who was - let's be honest - pretty bobbins.
Saez should deffo give Torres a start next time.

the Swiss match was only going to be exciting imo to see if:
(a) any Croat ultras managed to turn up
(b) Chapuisat broke his duck (to think in USA '94 this one-time darling of, well, everyone who cared, played alongside Subiat and Sforza, the latter actually younger than Chapuisat: what the Swiss would do for a 24 year old Sforza now or a 28 year old Subiat)
(c) Frei and Yakin would turn on the style.

in any event i can't see either of these two giving the Anglo-French axis any trouble.
apparently the Swiss keeper deserves props for his bizarre heading-off-the line bizness.
only caught this in the slightly odd situation of riding around Chicago public transport watching BBC teletext on the lovely companions mobile phone internet thingummy (swish ain't it)... ...middle America's working and middle class trundlers (on the El train) watching for middle European alien sport as the real action takes place west in Anaheim, where the Cubs eventually ground down the Angels...

as for the game of the tournament so far (TM), well, Beckham and (the gorgeous) Zidane certainly showed the line between bottling it and holding your nerve (for all Silvestre's - who of course should have been sent off; what do you mean, so should James?! - insistence that Barthez has been studying video footage of the skipper's pen technique).
i'd always [unfashionably?] defended Heskey (definitely when he was at Anfield; after all, the country went off him as soon as he left Leics innit), citing his work-rate and strength and how he held the ball up so well for Owen (granted this overlooks his record at Liverpool in what is the single most important area for a striker but, ahem, er...), but off the back of yesterday, he really must be consigned to oblivion.
anyway Zidane's free-kick was simply beautiful.

also Vieira proved himself perhaps as adept as his clubmate Pires of being a world-class diver. apparently he's accusing the English team of cheating??

England can take comfort in King's excellence (heck, the whole back line were great), and Rooney's efforts (alright, so not too much came of it, and he was definitely subbed at the right moment, but otherwise...) and that there's only two teams in the world (one of whom is France and the other of whom isn't geographically eligible for the European championships) who could have come back like that, and turned such an important game around.
world class.

in the interests of balance, here is one emailed take from another pal [ITMA! Brummie Dave] with a slightly odd - to say the least - suggestion for Sven:
You may and probably will disagree, but here's my starting XI for thursday against the Swiss:

GK David James
RB Gary Neville
LB Ashley Cole
CD Sol Campbell
CD Ledley King (regardless of whether Terry is fit or not)

RM David Beckham
LM Paul Scholes
CM Frank Lampard
CM Steven Gerrard

and now for the controversial bit.......

CF Emile Heskey
CF Darius Vassell

To be fair, the second city rude boyz linked up much better than the two Scousers. They seem to know each others game better, can sense where one another is and the way Heskey can hold the ball up for Vassell to use his pace and run at defenders, I can see goals. All four strikers have had mediocre seasons at club level so Owen has lost his god-given right to start in my opinion. He didn't see enough of the ball against France to have a bad game and although Rooney put himself about and ran his socks off, it was to little effect for the most part. So give them a go Mr Sven - Owen and Rooney are still good options to have on the bench - and Owen being dropped may give him the kick up the arse he needs, in my opinion, to try harder to find his touch again - we all know he's got the potential to be England's number one striker - but he needs to prove it by delivering the goods.

Another option I would like to see, maybe if we're desperate for a goal and need to go on the all out attack, is to see Cole pushed up into a Left Wing position (how many times does he get out of position anyway) in a 3-5-2 formation. Maybe Wayne Bridge could play as the left sided Central Defender in this scenario.

well it's true that Vassell and Heskey linked up well, and it's also true that Owen disappointed, and i admit my blind-side is for the boy Roonaldo regardless bcos i luv him, but this seems like a step too far... ...that is a worrying issue about how off the boil they all seem, but - jee-suz, welcoming Heskey into a starting XI? hmm.
the only consolation is it's the Swiss and - quite frankly - Roy Hodgson was clearly being too kind (well on the evidence of the Croatia match).

if Scholes is out, whadda they do?
Bridge in and Cole pushed up (or vice-versa)?
Butt at the bottom of a diamond and Gerrard out on the left and bring in someone like Cole, J. in front of Lampard?
Dyer out there?

who can say, clearly not me...;-)

anyway, enough of this shite, Vieri, Totti, and del Piero have all started for Italy, the Danish have made some good running in the first half hour, come on Roligans!

Saturday, 12 June 2004


Spain: well, they're better than Wales, eh?
memo to Big Phil

this is what happens when you bring on young Man Utd players to hack and defend...
"heroic bowling from Flintoff" apparently and didn't those All Blacks put on a show!

i hope Grosjean pans Roddick, i'm not a huge Hewitt fan but i'd rather Grosjean wins than him.

Greece one up, who'd a thunk.

Arthur Cox enjoy your retirement.

this is something of a hopeful CNN story about reduction of migratory bird deaths over north American cities due to tall buildings having their lights switched off overnight.

Friday, 11 June 2004

it's half a year old but i only found out today (thanks to references in BBC and Reuters pages) about this fine Christian Aid report, on corporate social responsibility.
one case study is Shell's activity in the Niger delta.

if - like me - you weren't familiar with the piece, it's a great read.
Srebrenica: the truth
among all the lovely blogging remembrances of, and reflections on, Ray Charles (and wider concerns, in that last Rambler link, by the by), there is a lot to marvel at in the life of the man.

i know this is a churlish and simplistic thing to take a tack on, but the professional accounts of the guy and his music seem rendered far less satisfactorily to me. granted, news websites have to take a generalist approach to this sort of thing, and attempt to please all of the people all of the time (and so, with these considerations, my somewhat juvenile attack on 'em is rightly judged unfair, because this context means my nit-picking is not taking that into account, and so is basically highly prejudiced), but jeez if the Beeb in particular isn't a little of a botched job. yeah, this is nice and all (certainly far better than i could do, so with that in mind some people would urge one to shut dafuckup), but the Norah Jones photo and notice are just all 'gah?! so...' to me...
...a piece at the Guardian is somewhat better, fleshing some more detail and colour in to proceedings, but the paragraph In 1962 he released an album titled Modern Sounds in Country and Western, which produced one of his biggest successes in the form of I Can't Stop Lovin' You, a Nashville ballad that sounded intolerably glutinous to some of his earlier fans but earned him a new following. should be contrasted with what Marcello wrote on exactly the same topic.

i know this is a stupid thing to post about in the wake of the great man's death, and i realise it sounds like i'm being unfair and hating on the pro-media (i wouldn't really want to ever do that, apart from when it was actually warranted), and it probably also sounds like i'm engaging in a little unseemly arse-licking of other bloggers, but just wanted to share my two penn'orth...
a little Villon
Frank Gehry designs a cancer care centre (for free, no less), on the banks of the noble Tay, and promptly wins British building of the year.
funds permitting, some readers might like to browse the odd photo of my new home for the next week or two here {note Toffees flag behind bar}///
West Brom Chris wades into the Brummie Dave debate (the controversy where Wolverhampton fans were moaning after being forced to fork out an exorbitant 38 quid to watch their heroes at Birmingham's St Andrews ground: bloody hell, i've seen Man City get tonked five-nil at Chelsea for nearly fifty quid and had my view obscured by a stanchion and had less than desirable interaction with the local boys in blue...) :=

I wouldn't pay that much to go to St.Andrews to be
honest, even if I thought it was a certain win for the
baggies (which is unlikely). It is a mediocre looking
stadium in a shite area of town and isn't even a day
out cause it's rite on me doorstep. £38 might be ok
if it was at the scousers, mancs, Chelsea or gooners
where I get a nice day out and a chance to be stabbed
by people with exotic accents and breeding habits.
But at blooz? Are you kidding?

The board at that place are bloodsuckers, pure and
simple. That amount is more than either home or away
supporters should be expected to pay. For a dynasty
founded in porn they ironically have always seemed
very keen to screw their own supporters for every
penny, pricing out all the die-hards at Longbridge etc
who supported them through thick and thin. And blooz,
as the historically fourth most successful team in the
conurbation, have had a lot more thin than thick.
Unless you count Barry Fry.

Blooz v tattas isn't even a real derby anyway. About
as significant as baggies v cov...

back onto the footy theme (tomorrow's Saturday!) another bud tells us that browsing through what was either a Sky or Rothmans football yearbook (he can't quite recall which) he noticed that the old First Division title (i.e., what IS the Prem) is placed on the same level of the page as the soon-to-be-rebranded current First Division (i.e. "the old Division 2"). in his own eloquent words, he worryingly concludes that

In other words, the ignorant mewling brats that now infest our school system will regard the winning of the old league championship as akin to Norwich's efforts this year.
After all, Huddersfield could never have won the top division of english professional footy could they?

to personalise the kicking Labour got, where i'm from (manchester) is still hugely Labour (no whiff of Tory); where i am now w' the folks (trafford) has seen a huge swing to the Tories.

because i'm an ignorant cunt now beating himself up in the USA i forgot to sort out a proxy or whatever! all this after votematch told me my best preference for the Euros was PES (i.e. Labour and such: no thanks...)... ...gah.:-(

i wonder, out of any possible reader, whose local/home constituency has seen the biggest swing?

Iain predicted on the night itself: most interesting.

in Burnley, the BNP neither gained or lost.
well yesterday was quoted a football journo mate on the football league rebranding. another chum below ain't a journo, but he is a fan and his take is certainly more, er, bracing:

Fucking yanks mate.

Cocurh colurh (as they say in Hull) will be sponsoring the Football league next year. Being knobheads totally ignorant of English football history, they want there top league (i.e. Div1) to be known as the "Coca-Cola Championship", therefore Div2 becomes Div1 and Div3 becomes Div2-stupid.

Well, at this rate at least, Alty will be in the Champions league in 10years.

meanwhile, another pal's in optimistic mood =

Against France I would go for the following:

James - GK
G Neville RB
A Cole LB
Ledley King CD (J Terry if he were fit)
S Campbell CD

D Beckham RMid
P Scholes LMid
F Lampard CMid
S Gerrard CMid

M Owen CF
W Rooney CF

Pity about John Terry. Also, Heskey and Vassell are good options to have on the bench - particularly Vassell's pace.

For the Swiss game, who arguably more vunerable at the back, I'd maybe push Ashley Cole up to play wide on the left, Wayne Bridge to slot in at left back and then you've got the option of Scholes and Gerrard or Lampard and Gerrard in the centre. Maybe go for a 3-5-2 and play all three of them??

Predictions: England to beat France 1-0, England to beat Switzerland 3-1 and a 1-1 draw with Croatia - win the group and meet Spain or Portugal in the QF.

Roy Hodgson suggests we're underestimating the Swiss but part of me can't help but wonder if this is just playing to the gallery of his old mates. i don't know. nothing should be taken for granted (talk about sitting on the fence eh?!).
Shell may have to finish its onshore production in Nigeria by 2008, according to a report seen by Bloomberg.
well, there's the metaphorical bombshell of this survey - conducted by a conflict resolution agency for the group - that appears to conclude that Royal Dutch/Shell has perhaps been getting its hands dirty in Nigeria for some time (as any protestor - or reasonably well-informed peep on the street - might have told the company), due to factors such as its policies on community relations, access to land and how it awards contracts.

the 93-page report undertaken on behalf of the oil giant is quoted as saying that Shell feeds violence in the Niger delta (where about 1,000 people a year are killed, on a par with global conflicts, Bloomberg notes).

Shell spokesman Simon Buerk dismissed quitting the region and instead suggests they can help reduce conflict by changing our operating, security and community development practices.
He added We have signed a partnership with USAid to develop capacity in agriculture, health and business enterprise, and with Africare on reducing deaths from malaria.

Shell has declined to publish the report in full, and given notice of its intention to remain.
...and the Sri Lankan govt has asserted its willingness to meet Tamil rebels for peace talks soon, according to the Tamil National Alliance, proxies of the LTTE.
yesterday the Colombian govt offered what is, in effect, a ceasefire, to the ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional de Colombia), the country's second largest rebel group.

Bogota has said it is now considering a bilateral cease-fire (if the rebels were to lay down arms also), a reversal of previous policy.
Ian 86400 on RD Laing, Thoreau, a cynical/romantic dichotomy [i checked on technorati and hardly anyone links to him: shocking! pot and kettle obv but i've nearly worked out a links bar now...]

obligatory link to Marcello's superb concise piece on Ray Charles; i like his appraisal of Modern Sounds in Country and Western (i love Big Youth's version of 'Hit the Road Jack' incidentally).

gorgeous chanters
among the hosts of heavenly troubadours or sublime minstrels one could have heard to make right to listen to (in one's own fandom way), to send Ray off - as it were - last night, i just had the Stones on endless repeat with 'Shine a Light'. silly maybe, but that chorus has some words that go like this :

May the good Lord shine a light on you
Make every song you sing your favourite tune

Thursday, 10 June 2004

all the best mr Charles; it was a pleasure

if it were, perhaps, a particularly frosty week in otherwise cheerful (not _less) feb., here ARE - seven for 7 - se7en Charles personal long-players one might want to keep them company:

genius + soul = jazz: first elpee to ever really fall for here, so the glittering roar of 'i've got news for you' cut deep, and still would

my kind of jazz: as a cheap disc twofer [for the frugal kid listener] w' Monday's fair-faced child, it stuttered but convinced

the genius sings the blues: leonine, in a word

at newport: it's either this or Aretha's as (probly) a fav take on 'night time is the right time', ragged & wild/mammoth punching and reeling swings

doing his thing: well i want this cause all-told it's effervescent but it's out of print last wz checked? rite? dunno---

the spirit of christmas: sure it's a Christmas/cheesy 80's thing but lovely too {always a beloved cover artwork attempt}

the genius after hours: well it's just fucking grate ain't it. KLASSIC.
perhaps the brutal murder of Brian Williamson, Jamaica's foremost gay rights activist [Amnesty statement], will boil down to the case of a particularly violent randomly-executed robbery, or maybe there is more to it, and Williamson was deliberately targeted because of his sexual orientation.

whatever the truth amounts to here, we shouldn't forget that David Blunkett's blanket 'white list' policy on safe countries for asylum seekers should be regarded as highly unsatisfactory.
doubtless Jamaica may very well actually be a safe state for any number of people in the UK whose claims for asylum originate there, but there will always be exceptions to this (as the case would be in the other countries marked in the white list, among either the fourteen that have been added, at one stage or another, to 2002's original grouping of 10, or the original 10).

Mr Blunkett announced last year that - among other measures - the introduction in the 2002 Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act of a list of safe countries meant that "abusive" asylum claims from the 10 {then EU accession} states had fallen dramatically.
well, good for him.

yet it's a shame that - what with his thirst for quotas and seeming ease about playing to the tabloid gallery, the Home Secretary seems to frequently overlook the most important details - he sometimes doesn't pause and think about the dangers of a one-size fits all approach when he is dealing in lives.
RIP Ray Charles.
i am really enjoying Amblongus at the moment (to give just two examples: that unintentionally hilarious Ted Rall interview on FOX, the eye-opening FAIR sheet on Mr Reagan)
you have to laugh at the absurdly simplistic and reductive argument that the waving of England flags remains a symbol of hateful nationalism and the far right dontcha {not that i want to be one of those tedious middlebrow types going on about reclaiming the flag; nor would i ever be caught waving one, most likely, as i'm hardly the world's most patriotic person}.

Pakistani flags during Eid, Irish flags on St Patrick's Day, England flags during the frantic build-up to a feverishly anticipated major sports tournament: they all seem reasonable to me.
last-but-one-post said, my A Level sociology teachers brother (Edinburgh lads, from where one gains a love of Hearts) was one of the ones tearing down the goalpost at Wembley.
Phaedra online
a sarcastic mate via email asks how long will it be watching tv coverage in England before some smart-aleck commentator asks the audience 'aren't we missing the zany antics of those loveable Irish/Scottish fans?'


The Tartan Army: one of the great sports media myths of our times (oh but the Celtic fans in Seville yadda yadda).
The Rambler predicts.

i notice quite a few pundits have been tipping the Czechs as the dark horses (after all, memories of their performance in '96 are still fresh and their squad is useful today). i don't know anything about predictions (er, "it won't be Palace": a confident somedisco passim), but never like betting against the Dutch (for all their frailty in qualifying) or the 'traditionally slow-starting' Italians blah blah blah.

i love Portugal but they're knocking on and this tournament is clearly going to see some of their biggest names finally put out to pasture (i mean, bloody hell, Couto's knocking on a bit now isn't he and Rui Costa - one of my five single favourite European players of the last decade - is easily the wrong side of 30).

Spain national side/domestic league contradiction insert your own line here &c.

all one can say is France, on paper, have the best squad, i hope England win, i want (yunno, ideally and all that) the last eight to be Portugal, Spain, England, France, Bulgaria (no chance), Italy, Latvia and the Czech Republic, and for the next three weeks or so, things may get rather quiet round here due to the action from Iberia.

it's great to be in the USA as the Stanley Cup and NBA championships are played out, and the baseball season is just getting into the swing of things (*ouch*) but this is the beautiful game...
He's back
to date, if someone whose sole acquaintances with Republican Representative Dennis Hastert had been to hear him foolishly upbraid a decent politician like John McCain, or - far, far worse even - spout wrong-headed and offensive nonsense about the Spanish electorate in the wake of the Madrid bombings, that person might have concluded here was a bit of a (frankly) politically illiterate buffoon.

i must admit, broadly put, my views occasionally don't stray too far from this perspective.

but, last night, watching the live coverage of the extremely moving memorial service for Ronald Reagan in Washington, Hastert did make a simple and very eloquent speech about a man he clearly loved and respected; it surprised me, just merely due to my extreme ignorance of American politics, i had assumed the only politician that would speak would be Cheney (Bush was still at a G8 shindig out of state; Cheney opened with some surprisingly powerful words, referring to Reagan's illness, about how everyone knew this day would come but it did not make it any easier to cope with). so i hope, at least, his words gave some comfort to Nancy (gracefully stroked a flag-draped coffin for some time; dignity in grief), and to Nancy and Ronald's son, who paused before the coffin and looked as if he were about to stumble, visibly upset.

the media commentators on CBS or whichever channel i was watching (all i know is that i prefer BBC World to all the others, CNN has Paula Zahn, FOX is, well, FOX, and Dan Rather i like) were very clever; they managed to skirt around certain issues about Reagan's presidency that co-anchors kept bringing up (various Central American entanglements for one). people would ask questions clearly alluding to the monstrously wicked events in Nicaragua or Guatemala that occured with American support (though it is sometimes easy to forget that, at the time, the majority of residents on Grenada welcomed the 1983 invasion: ridding yourself of hardline Marxist-Leninists is usually a good idea, funnily enough), and their peers would reply with a nimble overview of the man's ideological goodness, that whole 'making America feel great about itself' routine.
it was a neat (and necessary) side-step when covering the funeral of someone who had, if nothing else, so endeared himself to his admirers with the way he conveyed the news of what would be his final long struggle, the illness that would finish him off.

now maybe some people (gauging the politics of people that i know who read this blog) think the above is a little mawkish or something, and i would apologise, but i will say that - even though in terms of my views on international affairs, i'm far removed from a cheerleader for Rollback (today's equivalent? perhaps disgust for western succour for Niyazov or Karimov - 'lighten up, this is the War On Terror, guys!'...) - this was the funeral of a husband and father.

an individual's eulogy should surely not be compromised by political bile (some of it certainly despicable) unless [surely?] that individual is totally beyond the pale...

i think Eppy in a comments box at Harm's place is with it: Some of your policies are going to negatively affect people's lives, because politics is about comprimises, and some of these people might grow to hate you. That's just the price you pay.
in honour of the bowls of lentils i ate for my tea last night, here is a link to a fine sounding recipes page involving the humble but brilliant lentil (also faba beans and suchlike)
speaking of Rephlex grime, the lovely Simon silverdollarcircle and i had an email chat about where to get grime easily in manchester (bcos he's familiar with mcr tho living in the capital; like how he can just pick up anything he wants, no matter how obscure, in various places where he lives, south of the river, or at least that's what i like to imagine).
i had said of course how those well known garage shops in the south suburbs (like the celebrated Floss Mode) are all actually UKG, i ain't sure about grime as such.


well he tells me the always lovely pelicanneck/boomkat (check out the Warp singles campaign and Robotnick CD, and also Last Exit for under a tenner, which ain't bad surely, also Louden Up Now for about a tenner ain't bad if you like !!! can't say i'm a huge fan but they're always impressive show, anyway i digress) have started stocking the sublow/Plasticman/MarkOne sound but apparently not too hot on the sort of thing that Luka waxes lyrical about (if i say actual grime do i sound like a cock hating on Croydon??), and i must admit that's hardly surprising is it, Boomkat's an IDM-kinda store.
anyway, apologies for my spitefully mean observations, and also the parochial shabbiness of this post, but there we go, just thought i should observe.
i do like Ledley King.
i heard this was happening but it takes a sports journo to confirm it:

check this craziness out: The Football League have changed the name of Division One to The Championship, which Divs 2 and 3 will become League One and League Two. So the old Div 4 is now basically the second division? eh? what? who? where?///
Glorious Noise's Johnny Loftus positions nu-Freaky Friday / Mean Girls starlet Lindsay Lohan as this year's Ann-Margret, replete with a delightful comments box.
it was only through reading Marcello that one learnt about the sad passing of the great Steve Lacy (who, i guess i missed this through revels, died on the 3rd of June).

Marcello noted how Lacy's death comes soon after that of Elvin Jones (which i was especially upset about) and Robert Quine.
gotta echo The Naked Maja and admit that the death of, personally speaking&for instance, Jones, depressed far more than the passing of Ronald Reagan.
anyway, enough of some offensive navel-gazing, i've no wish to wake departed spirits whatever their beliefs.

over in k-punk land, when not content with new and interesting longer posts, there's his second Stylus review (the Grime comp.).
might have to start checking this place out more often, prev. i'll admit it's not quite been a (say) Neumu/XLR8R-style must-surf but this is good...

on the Ronald Reagan theme, Harm refines his take on Reagan-hatin' here (complete with sensible comments from Hillary; check this on lazy pop cult. refs.)

Wednesday, 9 June 2004

Pounding System on St Agnes Place
NYLPM keeps calling it of late with all these ace new pop singles.

meanwhile a British-based correspondent tells me that Definitely Maybe is, in the estimable opinion of Q magazine, the greatest British album there has yet been.

those latest photos at Jim's EVERGREEN DAZE are smashing.
i recently had a dream (non-erotic, i hasten to add) that Rory McGrath from tv's 'they think it's all over' and Mark Steyn, hawkish columnist/Zionist (a tough Belgian-Canadian i believe his heritage is, though he lives in New England these days), and i were up on a Broadway stage singing Sinatra (a word-faithful and therefore quite long cover/rendition of the September of My Years album, i think it was: which is odd, because whilst i adore Sinatra as much as the next music lover, i'm only really familiar with his long-playing output from up to and inc. the early 60's TBH, not including his live At the Sands set of course, which i'm convinced everyone in the UK has bought at some time cheapo cause IT'S ALWAYS ALWAYS on sale in HMV for 3.99; to digress, i swear Sinatra 'at the sands' has to the most widely discounted CD album you will ever see in a British chain store, HMV has ol' blue eyes, Music Zone stores the Trojan boxes, and Virgin always seem to be trying to get you to rifle through, i don't know, repressings of the Jam or something - of course my observations may be totally incorrect here but it seems that Jacko and Madge and the Beatles are always cheap in CD stores these days, that sort of caper).

anyway, we did pretty good.

we agreed to differ on some viewpoints but agreed about the basics and it was all cheery human dignity and brotherly love until there was a punch-up cause Steyn wanted Vietnamese but McGrath wanted to go for a pizza.
i kept out of it cause i wasn't that hungry, and besides i'd just had some donuts or something.
radio free narnia: a lovely Heaney piece
Hilary Benn is concerned about the adequacy and speed of what the UN is doing re. the Darfur crisis, whilst - in the region - Hilary Andersson has witnessed the burial of a toddler and reports of 400 children in a displaced persons camp unable to keep their food down.
yesterday the UN Security Council voted 15-0 to adopt a new resolution on Iraq providing for the dissolution of the American-led governing authority.

it was reported earlier that Kurdish members of the Iraqi govt might resign from their posts if asked to do so by their leaders, due to fears that the new resolution would fail to recognise Kurdish autonomy.
well, the Anglo-American backed-resolution does fail in that respect, not endorsing the wording of the interim Iraqi constitution of March, which had approved a special status of autonomy for three northern provinces.

now it's been confirmed by many sources and the FT has a fascinating story here about a letter sent from Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani to George Bush, last week, re. their concerns with western policy in the region.

meanwhile, John Negroponte is hailing the resolution as a milestone for Iraq.