Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The best part is that Dr Pepper pledged to supply every US citizen with a can of said drink if Chinese Democracy was released in 2008. Let’s see if they keep up their side of the bargain.
If you like the Tygers of Pan Tang, you’ll enjoy this.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Late weekdays, several novels, and an Eric Gregory submission have kept me away these past weeks. It’s all a matter of how you choose to fill your time. Except things aren’t always that simple, and sometimes it seems the way we spend time is chosen for us. Like the time spent sitting in a flood during a recent trip to Scotland:
Behind us the manure flood water
squeezed out through Lucozade bottles,
at the Gateway Inn car park.
Behind us no room at four inns,
and the A591s muddy middle bank,
separating separate rivers on
both sides of the dual carriage way.
Behind us wheel spin on slick grass,
horizontal rain, and mud splat on
bodywork dried like scratch marks.
Behind us the unlucky green car
twice at risk on the same road,
in the same town and
waterlogged, like the grass beneath
a Sunday paddling pool in June.
Behind us foot cramp on pedals
and trainers soaked to soaks.
The white lines lost in the dark,
and only cats eyes to save us.
The tide is high as Scotland welcomes.
The radio recalling last nights lost -
forty four still missing,
and the clouds move faster
than the car can outrun.
The weather turns like a playing card.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Yesterday, it was hard not to notice the hundreds of participants of the Urban Rat Race that came darting through the crowds, pausing to consult their maps and stare pensively in all directions. This UK initiative takes adventure sports to the streets of cities. Only learning the course hours before the event, teams face multi-disciplined challenges including, biking, climbing, running & kayaking.
As for my adventure, I went ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ at the Oxo Tower Bargehouse; a new production by ‘Let’s Paint the Town Red,’ whose mission statement is to explore spaces for performance in & around London and bring them to life. The Bargehouse was a fantastic location for just this. An old Victorian warehouse, all decrepit and rusty and often used as a gallery space for various art colleges. The concept for the show was loosely based on Alice & Wonderland, taking the audience down the rabbit hole and into the strange world Alice confronts in Caroll’s famous novel. Somehow, however the show didn’t quite live up to the copy on the back of the flyer which promised ‘alternative puppetry’ and ‘absurd encounters,’ and what we were faced with was a disjointed journey, part through darkness & tunnels, and part through underused white washed rooms with tiny and pointless art installations.
What I felt was needed was far more acting. Site specific theatre can sometime run amok by losing its audience through selling far too many tickets and one of the great benefits of Punchdrunk’s ‘Faust’ was its intimacy and the chance of more encounters with the actors. Something with they continued with ‘Masque of the Red Death’ that saw myself dragged off to a broom cupboard to hold a skull and listen to Latin whispers from a woman doing headstands in the corner. These are moments of a true twisted imagination – the ones that catch you off-guard and leave the back of your neck tingling as if you’ve had a good massage.
Although not trying to be exactly like Punchdrunk, and have more focus on art & installation pieces, ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ felt lazy; the actual art was underused, and hastily put together, and a partnership with cinematic illustration innovators, ‘Paper Cinema’ felt more a showcase for their work than anything to do with Lewis Caroll’s twisted world. The performance I saw also integrated a heavy rock band that had little relevance with anything Alice related, and left me disorientated at what seemed to be the shows most pivotal room, the Mad Hatters Tea Party.
Overall I do love these type of events, that blend together an array of artistic ventures, however with only three days of performance time, I wonder if this was a last minute, rushed affair in order to use such a fantastic space. When shows like this are so set dependant, any company attempting such would ideally need a few weeks of preparation to decorate & get inspired by the space. Perhaps this time ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ was a victim of its own hype, with Time Out & London bloggers claiming this would be the next ‘Punchdrunk,’ the next must see experience, to feed the London trend-setters hunger for more alternative Monday morning news at the coffee machine.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Then after a general wander through the city, the day rounded off at ‘The Troubadour’ in Earls Court to see Michael Horowitz perform from half a centuries worth of spoken word material. Punctuated by short sets of Irish folk songs, improvised Cello-jazz, and his infamous kazoo, age seems to have riled Horowitz as he works in segments of his most political work to date; a take on T.S. Eliot’s ‘Waste Land’ criticising the state of the world at the turn of the Millennium, from Bush’s ‘war on terror’ to the “suicidal commercial triumphalism promoted by the arms, nuclear, advertising and war industries.”
It’s interesting to see how Horowitz uses Eliot’s’ post war devastation of the 1920s, as a vehicle for the metaphorical cultural & political wasteland of a media-numbed population today. I feel there’s also a disappointment for Horowitz given his back-catalogue of beat poems, and literary jazz licks, where the world for a moment seemed it was going forwards for the best, whatever that may be.
Overall I can’t help but think that ‘The Troubadour,’ as beautiful as it is, is stuck as a patron saint of veteran musicians & poets alike making it hard to imagine anything truly groundbreaking will ever come out of it again. Surely younger generations shouldn’t leave it to the post WW2 baby boomers to spell out the problems in their society?
Oh well, there’s plenty of other venues to witness twenty something’s rile against Bush & Blair, but last night in this small romantic underground corner, it was groundbreaking to see someone as frail as Horowitz; a survivor from the Beat era, tell us how he feels with a smile, and lead a chorus of laugher from a diverse audience during the cello-led sing-along of ‘What shall we do with the drunken sailor.’
Monday, August 11, 2008
Yes, sometimes days are like clock-work and faces become familiar in a city of strangers. In fact one thing I always ponder at this point in my journey, is how strange it seems to be outside the walls of the court, when inside it’d seem one can slip so easily, with a plethora of offences to chose from. And everyday I think about the drama series ‘Criminal Justice’ that aired on BBC1 a few weeks ago. It stared Ben Whishaw as a young man who unwittingly ends up the wrong side of the law, after waking up to find his squeeze for the night murdered and the knife beside him. Obviously the poor chap had no idea what happened and to some extent doubted his own innocence due to his intoxication. What followed were five episodes of the usual tripe; corrupt cops, corrupt prisons, and an inmate who ruled the coup.
In the end our hero went the way of alleged murderer Barry George proving that in fiction and life, the good guys get it wrong sometimes.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
In most cases I imagine people don’t even think about being killed, the astonished look on their face as a taxi runs them down, as if to say, “but I’ll be late for work.” I managed to rattle off a few snaps this morning catching pedestrians close to the edge. Some chap even lost his rattle at a cyclist, whacking the back of the bike in anger as the misguided rider ringed a ringer and rode on through a pack of red-man jay walkers. I’ll be on watch tomorrow…
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Everyday I pass Chelsea Barracks, and ever since its purchase last year for over 900million quid I’ve been interested in its affairs as it looks set to become a hive of posh flats. Now I’m a fan of changing spaces within the city, but I do have some reservations about this arrangement. Gone, are the times when I’d pass the barracks in early morn to watch the drills, marches & general army revelry. I’ll even miss the random chats I’ve had with young soldiers at the Rose & Crown on Lower Sloane Street. But what seems to be the biggest travesty so far, is the surrounding of the entire site with giant black boards cutting the ex-barrack from view.
In fact at the moment the only place you can see into it (other than the gate) is down at the corner by Ebury Bridge Road where they used to keep the Armoured Personnel vehicles (terminology courtesy of ‘Command & Conquer’) and such. The place where you can hear someone play bagpipes in Chelsea Mansions. It won’t be long before the whole thing’s cut off from public view, colluding with the overhanging trees to block the sunlight from Chelsea Bridge Road all-together.
As they say there’s no pleasing some people, and I imagine this’ll go on for a good few years before we see the fall of the wall. Then we’ll have the towering obelisks of luxury to contend for sunlight with.
Nature faces yet another villain in the ongoing 'survival of the fittest'…
Thursday, May 15, 2008
The ICA last night was packed full of city dwelling folk types, each one likely a musician themselves watched in awe as dedicated all round talent Johnny Flynn told a few well crafted witty stories that have more in common with 'ye olde London' than the multicultural sprawling architectural web of tourism that it is today. Commanding rapturous applause, Flynn looked a little surprised at this fairly mature audience who had shown up in force to witness what the press are calling a 'dreamboat' perform with his band The Sussex Wit. With shouts of 'Johnny Johnny,' and lustful glances from dark fringed spindly girls, the night did at moments feel like it was to descend into a scene from 'Skins,' but with Johnny at the reigns it held well & true in the folksy realm, pulling on a variety of musical styles & instruments, that joyfully avoided the electronic squabbles of the florescent trend setters today.
It's fantastic to see new folk on such a populist scale that suggests, with groups like Fleet Foxes already being touted as your 'new favourite band,' 2008 really is going to be the year where traditional music re-enters the vernacular. Even Laura Marling was in attendance, you should have been there...
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Hocking up words like a jive orator, all pivot hipped & handle barred moustache, Cave called upon confession after confession as Warren Ellis, bearded supremo to his right, did things with gorgeous violins that’d make a classicist weep. Ellis thrashed around the floor trying to dig his way back to hell whilst Cave yelled ‘Prolix, Prolix nothing a pair of scissors can’t fix!” during the intense literary screaming’s of ‘We call upon the author.’ The whole thing made we want to flap my limbs around like Brains in the new Drenched advert, Cave makes contemporary dance look easy.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Having enjoyed Billy Bragg’s short punchy set (photo from rashbre) comprising of lectures on record stores and a few classics at Rough Trade East yesterday, it’s interesting to draw parallels with his thoughts on how punk rock was discovered in the dusty corners of independent record shops, with live music venues. In music monthly today, it discusses the recent dominance of the o2 arena, but takes a brief look at the great live music venues that are either shut already or in process of doing do.
With venues like the Astoria marked for closure, & the Spitz already gone, Bragg’s dusty corner myth rings true, as we increasingly see great old decrepit live venues in decline much like the independent record store. It’s a similar state of affair in New York, with CBGB closing down in 06, and experimental jazz venue, the Tonic, favoured by Tzadik label eccentrics, levelled to make way for condos. It’s easy to see that the dusty corner is getting cleaner by the second.
But this is where the internet comes in. Perhaps Bragg missed the point when he criticised the lifelessness of instantly finding what you want, rather than leafing through hundreds of vinyl’s, as this is exactly what the internet allows you to. It has dusty corners springing up all over the place complete with spider webs and moth eaten handkerchiefs. Maybe lacking the romantic notion Bragg favours, the net does provide a forum for individuals to get their music out there, cutting out all the middle men in the process. You could argue that it also provides a greater medium for experimentation as musicians are creating for no particular audiences. Although he’s right in saying the majority is probably rubbish, he’s wrong in assuming the corporate nature of the beast. Myspace may have sold out to Microsoft, but there are hundreds of indie sites just like it waiting to be tapped into by A&R execs (if they still exist) and given the publicity they can’t provide themselves. As the artist takes increasing control of the production process (i.e. their bedroom), perhaps the future of the great labels exists in PR only.
Don’t get me wrong, I love record stores, and am concerned that following Google’s announcement to induce a bidding war for search terms, chances are the internet will become an even larger well-oiled corporate machine. However, this rapid growth will run out eventually, and when we’re all bored of staying indoors, and global warming has brought with it the ‘great British summer’ we’ll all have to return to the record shops, and the dusty corners will be swarming again.
Let’s not forget, the city is huge, and there’s still loads of dusty corners to find, and if you liken this to ever expanding genres of music, then there’s already more than enough to wade through. Post apocalyptic hardcore anyone?
Sunday, April 13, 2008
He had a daughter who he rarely saw, although when he did he liked to take her out for a pot of tea and a cake in a nearby café. He’d have to make sure he always kept a few pounds back for these hastily imminent visits. These were the only savings he could speak of.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
We tell stories, is an alternate reality website that’s using new media sensations like Google Maps & Twitter to tell stories across the internet. Penguin have commissioned six authors to use these mediums in order to create the first ‘digital novels.’ One story, by Charles Cumming, is your classic spy adventure but with a twist. The story unfolds over a Google map of London, featuring locations such as St Pancras station & the British Library. A great imaginative tool methinks & it’ll be interesting to see how many people start staking-out suited chaps as they disembark from anonymous trains with suspicious suitcases strapped to their hands.
Another story uses Twitter, and is told through badgering short text messages across the characters' profiles. It’s the kind of thing that you can imagine being completely real. Log into Twitter anytime & you’ll see a thousand conversations taking place, but if you begin to follow them you never know what you’ll find out…
Overall I think it’s a great way to get people, glued to their Iphones & laptops, to start reading again, and provides a wealth of creative ideas for the tech savvy young budding novelist.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Maybe it’s just because spring is finally beginning to show signs of life that I’m enjoying music from the fields & trees again, and come winter I’ll buckle down, collar up and tune into some depressed ‘on the dole’ banter from east London. But if you like a bit of CSNY, blended with the ‘bron-y-aur-stomp’ & wooden country chapels, then check it out. The cover art's a bit like Roger Dean’s fantastical landscapes on ‘Yes’ albums, which is always a good thing.
Monday, April 7, 2008
With illegal downloads pushing the music industry into panic stations, it’s hard to believe that they can afford to produce records for sale at all, given all the bad press kids on the net get these days.
So instead of creating advertising campaigns to convince kids that illegal downloading is the equivalent of stealing a car, perhaps its worth looking into how we can promote the joy of owning records. If we’re meant to be so obsessed with shopping & consumerism, then why don’t enough people actual want to buy records these days? My initial thoughts lead to the fact that records aren’t advertised the same way as most products, and the ones that are, are usually Pop Idol winners or mainstream rock. Take I Pods for example; with the irresistible colours & groovy beats, this is what’s killing record sales. We as a public buy into the trendy apple culture which eliminates the need to buy a physical record. Apparently “people aged 18-24 keep around £750-worth of unpaid-for music on their MP3 players,” thus suggesting the majority of music listened to via new media is illegal.
But on the other hand this provides new opportunities to sell music, & for musicians to make money via new ad-funded business models. But in the wild rush to embrace the new digital mediums we see before us, are we forgetting the feeling of what it is like to own a collection? The one that stands proud by the fireplace & tells a thousand more stories about ourselves than an I Tunes playlist ever will.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
With crowded high street shops & short tempered staff, and the growth of de-personalized online shopping, it’s hard to find a consumerist experience worth discussing. But you know when you come across it. You get that tingling feeling along your spine, the way telephone surveys make you feel – like someone random actually cares what you think. Living in a big city, it’s hard to find such intimacy. Usually the streets are too full to care about the squabbles of passers by, or to allow the space & time conversation needs to flow. There’s a lot of rush, and I imagine you’re always wishing the person in front would speed up. It’s a bit like driving really, accept we have no mirrors, so when change lane and pull out in front of another person, we end up being the slow person ourselves.
A logical step for this conversation would be to complain about the lack of independent shops & the proliferation of high street chains, especially as the shop in question was a record shop. However, sometimes the anonymity of the high street can be a blessing - some indies are hugely intimidating, with star tattooed hipsters grinning at your taste, bearded nose pieced hedgehogs wearing t shirts with flames on the back or simply unhelpful staff caught up in their own trials & tribulations to notice the drowning customer.
Today I had a good chat, had a good listen, and was given some pretty top recommendations. I’d like to see Amazon get it right first time...
Monday, March 24, 2008
I’ll give you your life back. Or if that doesn’t suit you, I’ll give you a different one. This is a fully customizable service.
This isn’t a cult. This is all about well being, it’s a going to the gym & eating organic food sort of thing. This is a healthy lifestyle choice & more. We’ll give you a little religion, not in a stuffy cramped church sort of way, but in an airy on-the-go, life affirming way. There’s no god unless you want one. I’ll help you leave whatever past behind you choose.
It’s an anti medication approach that’ll help shift yourself out of that deep depressive grip where perhaps, suicide seemed the only option out. Can you imagine how you’d feel if you’d jumped off that bridge? Then lonely as a soul you’d seen one of my ads and realised, ‘hey I could of sorted myself out?’
Listen, I’m a demonstrator, a protector, a luxury dweller. Life is fine & why not make it finer.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Downstairs it’s a similar affair, showing how objects in a room can fill up space and leave you feeling small & venerable. To point this out Gormleys’ created a huge technical drawing; a sprawling iron bar cast shape. Like a great blueprint it grows from the centre, struts along the entire width of the ceiling before bringing an array of limb-like branches crashing to the ground. A conceptual climbing frame for kids perhaps?
Overall an afternoon well spent, rounding it off at a few of Mayfair’s backwater pubs that I never knew existed.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Gone, it seems, has the do or die meetings at severe times on station platforms, underneath landmark clock towers & by the fountain on the lake. Instead arrangements are so last minute. ‘Txt me when ur in the area, an we’ll meet up,’ a constant threat to the old way. One could suggest this is more spontaneous, but I can’t shake the feeling that we’ve become more lazy & relaxed when it comes to love, and are no longer left to a week of thoughts about a single person until we meet them at the same time in the same place the following week. Now we’ll just drop a quick text message or email, and we pretty know all we need to know about each other without speaking face to face.
However, this is the new romance technology now offers us. Having been coined by wealth of telecoms advertising campaigns, we can inject the excitement of romance any time of the day without waiting for the fatalistic meeting on a Friday night bridge.
Gaston Bachelard in 'The Poetics of Space' discusses the impact of lived-in-architecture on our lives. Looking at how memories are conceived of space, this got me thinking in terms of romance, and how romance can be one of the best triggers for memory, be it a song, a perfume, or a restaurant. This makes me think of site specific theatre. (I had to get there somehow in the end)
Through placing theatrical performances in unconventional places, we can trigger an even more powerful wave of emotion in the audience. Take Kneehigh Theatre’s recent adaptation of ‘Brief Encounter.’ The show is performed live in the Haymarket cinema each night, combining live music, film & theatre to jump start the audience into an emotional remembrance of a romantic religion. Using specific sites such as a cinema is enough of make any think of first dates on the back rows, nervously glancing left between screen blackouts to pin pick yourself and remember ‘this is not a dream.’ Memories are concealed in all things, and a great performance in the right environment can do just what Bachelard preaches, make the ordinary, extraordinary.
Stories such as ‘A Brief Encounter’ make romance dramatic. Not just because of the protagonists situation (they are both married) but because love can be a fight, especially when you have to prearrange meetings a week in advance and rely on faith that the lover will be there on that dark, cold & rainy night regardless of train delays.
Friday, February 22, 2008
The Lyrics’ current performance of Brecht’s ‘Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui’ does just this all too often. Apart from being dramatically transferred from 1940’s Chicago to somewhere in Africa, the performance often felt clumsy, squeezing 20+ characters into 8 actors. Perhaps Brecht’s fascination with Shakespeare was the determining factor in his generosity when writing roles. Another recent Lyric play was the complete opposite in this respect. An adaptation of Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ turned the stage into a two storey house filled with a wealth of props for the characters to use that didn’t make their presence on stage a pointless affair. The resultant, a far more tight & engrossing performance.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Many great things can be learnt from television. In 2004’s ‘Oldboy’ Oh Dae-Su gathers a wealth of knowledge from 15 years subjection to the box. His circumstances are rather passive themselves, being locked up in a room and left to sieve through their memories for fifteen years is enough to make anyone worship the mighty release-from-mundanity TV.
But the questions still remain. Oh Dae-Su is released bursting full of queries, without a passive inch in his body. So rather than looking at society’s inventions as subjugating the masses, they postpone action, or, to look at it from a different angle, perhaps create action. We learn how to build & burn bridges from forms of dictation. We learn what is right & wrong on a basic level, but we also learn with what we identify. These tools can help us shape the people we are.
In Oh Dae-Su’s case, he uses his imprisonment to train his body & mind into finding the reason for his incarceration. To look at this away from the stories main plotline of revenge, is to see that this great metaphor describes our own individual struggles, the struggle to actually release ourselves from passivity and do what we want to do. However this route can be lined with danger, as escape’s guise is not what we think or may like it to be, and in Oh Dae-Su’s case his path is the direct product of his captivity, a position he, arguably, had no control over.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Head over to Rashbre for more! (Click here to view)
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Well the latest study I’ve read about sheds some interesting light on the concentration of subcultures throughout the UK. Through compiling sales figures from HMV branches, ‘musos’ over at Uncut magazine have conducted a study into the musical tastes of different regions across the UK. They’ve learnt that Goth & heavy metal music is most popular in Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield & Nottingham, where as Hip-Hop & Grime are major flavours of London.
So does this reflect fashion tastes & identity? In other words does this mean that every other person in these northern cities is dressed in black to the max? Or perhaps the reason there’s so many rival gangs in London is because of the popularity of Hip-Hop & Grime, and its street life themes?
I’m not one who likes to base wild accusations of identity on music taste, but this does provide some interesting findings into how two exemplars of popular culture merge, as well as demonstrating a location’s social history.
One of the study’s most interesting findings is that people in the north listen to more beats per minute than in the south. So does this mean southerners are all downbeat & reflective?
We do like to create information, don’t we?
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
It was Sketch, a contemporary London restaurant & bar on Conduit Street and I was there for free booze, canapés and to hear what Miles Beckett, multi job title extraordinaire & co-creator of Lonleygirl15 & Kate Modern, had to say about secret societies & online movie making.
Interestingly Beckett started life as a plastic surgeon before recognising the first wave of bogging as an opportunity to do something different, and create a video dairy about the trials & tribulations of a young American teenager called Bree. Amid all the buzz around lonleygirl and the endless discussions between bloggers about its authenticity, the public started to catch on that the real questionable factor was that it actually had a coherent plotline. After a media storm leading to the show finally being revealed as fiction, the plot took a more dramatic turn and followed the explosive story of Bree’s family’s involvement in a secret religious society.
With this in mind it’s obvious to see where recent blockbusters such as Cloverfield have got their ideas from, what with all manner of web 2.0 trails & virals that string individuals through endless marketing storytelling all over the net today!
However the night reminded me of the secret society based documentary ‘Wolves Live Here’ I saw a while ago. It told the story of a Lancaster based activist group who avenged the slaughter of wolves in the 10th century by King Edgar who allowed men to pay taxes in wolf heads. I remember the film gave the impression those who had filmed it, had not edited it, as suggested in the final scene whereby the film-makers find out they’ve been victims of constant surveillance as they stumble upon the remains of a grotesque ritual. The film is then dramatically cut short.
After a little bit of desk research the only site I could find relating to this ‘secret society’ was this msn group (Click here to view).
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2008
I wonder how well this actually works? Or if it’d work in individuals personal lives? After all, people always seem to say that after surviving life threatening situations they feel renewed with a new lease of life. Either that or they suffer some form of post traumatic stress. It makes me wonder if all sorts of companies will eventually spring up offering all manner of near death experiences as the new ‘carpe diem.’
Oh, I forgot, that’s what they invented bungee jumping for.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
But seriously, i was taking a look at a couple of college's entry level requirements, and it gives the impression all you need is a checklist of work. One film, tick, one 3D animation, tick, one life drawing, tick... etc. I know its good to have an all round grounding & interest in different artistic disciplines, but surely there has to be some merit, and surely not everyone is good at and has attempted every discipline there is! Apart from me of course.
Anyway this is all besides the point, I think it'd be interesting to see how I'd fare through self motivation, and by completing the prospectus briefs as a sort of exploration into the governing factors of artistic classification. After all it is the 21st (and 20th) century cool thing to do.
I may have stumbled onto something there…
Sunday, January 20, 2008
(young man who later we find out is called Harvey enters bus)
Harvey: Does this go to Charing Cross?
Harvey: I need to get to Charing Cross.
Driver: This bus goes to Charing Cross.
(Harvey stumbles on first deck of bus, dropping his phone in the process)
Harvey: (to plaid shirted, Carlsberg swelling bloke) Can I borrow your phone?
Bloke: Why d’ya wanna borrow my phone?
Harvey: Mines run out of credit, I need to call my friend.
(Bloke mumbles something indecipherable, hands Harvey the phone. Harvey drops the phone)
Harvey: Shit, sorry. (Dials number) Gary it’s Harvey, where are you?... Who are you with Gary?... Can you ring my mobile?
(hands Bloke back his phone)
Harvey: (to bus driver) Does this go to Charing Cross?
Harvey: Gary, where are you? Where? I can’t hear you… Who are you with? I don’t like your friends Gary… Oh, just some Guy… I’m on a bus…. (louder) I’m on a bus! I don’t know where…
Bloke: Baker Street.
Bloke: Tell him you’re at Baker Street tube.
Harvey: I’m at Barker Street.
Bloke: Baker Street.
Harvey: I’m at Beaker Street… Beaker Street! (to Bloke) Where am I?
Bloke: Baker Street!
Harvey: (to Bloke) Can you tell him.. (hands phone to Bloke)
Bloke: He’s at Baker Street tube station mate. Baker Street! (hands phone back).
Harvey: Where should I get off Gary? Where? Who are you with? What did he say?... I don’t like your friends, I’m lost Gary…
(the bus approaches Oxford Street)
Harvey: (to driver) Excuse me, where am I?
Driver: Oxford Street.
Harvey: Gary, I’m on Oxford Street. Where should I get off? I’m lost Gary, I’m on a bus and I’m lost…
(Harvey walks over to the driver)
Harvey: I need to get off the bus, let me off the bus.
Driver: Only at the bus stop.
Harvey: But I need to get off now!
(Driver slams shut the window and the bus speeds up, causing Harvey to nearly fall over)
Harvey: They’re shouting at me Gary, shouting at me, they won’t let me off the bus! They’re not letting me off the bus! What should I do, They’re not letting me off. I’m lost Gary…
(Bloke starts to laugh to himself)
Saturday, January 19, 2008
The last time I was at St Paul’s, I must have been around 8. It was a school trip where we got to do the obligatory crayon tracings on copper plaques, as well as a treasure hunt of dead royals through the crypts. But one great adventure was to go to the top of the dome and see up-close all the fantastic paintings and golden markings. It reminds me of an old urban myth my Dad tells whenever we discuss St Paul’s, about how Sir Christopher Wren designed the building with less pillars. Subsequently, no one believed Wren when he said the building would stand without these extra pillars, so he was made to put them in. However, years later it's said that when some maintenance work was carried out they found that the pillars where in fact too short, and weren’t holding up the structure at all! No idea if this is true, but it makes a great story to tell tourists.
Anyhow, back to my journey, which then took me past Ludgate Circus, up Fleet Street, along the Strand, through Trafalgar Square, up the Mall, past the seemingly deserted Buckingham Place, down to Westminster, past Parliament, up Whitehall and past Downing Street. A bit of a trek then, stopping for a few real London ales along the way, I was giving a German friend of mine a little taste of the city's sites whilst avoiding the tube. I like to think I was giving myself a bit of a tour also. It's not often we really stop and take a look at our surroundings. Usually I'm marching through the streets at breakneck speed, dodging free papers & what not whilst trying not to get hit by a bus. But taking the time out to whisper through the roads we walk is always worth it. It can clear the head.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
His use of graphics in the book is commendable. Taking newspaper layouts and spitting satirical smirks at the property market. Notebook formats and medical reports tell stories of which we never learn the outcome, yet remind us of the mundane, the tragic & and thoughts that make us feel sorry for another.
It’s a great exploration of city street dwellers, taking on the accent of a drunk & the swelling scents of a diseased limb. The kind of writings that make me want to list a thousand words I’ve never used before in a context completely indescribable. That perhaps, is what makes good poetry…
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Most who know me will know one of my common phrases is, 'I read in the Guardian that...'. This is probably because the Guardian is pretty much the only paper/news site I read. Anyway, this morning I read an interesting article to do with miniature novels in cigarette packets.
Designed by design firm TANK, the concept was simple. To coincide with last years smoking ban they would release a series of popular short & cult novels by classic authors such as Hemmingway, Kafka, & Tolstoy in miniature form in the standard 20 cigarette packet. However what started as an interesting novelty idea to promote reading on-the-go has turned into a law suit with British American Tobacco.
Yes, BAT are bidding to have the books pulped because they 'conflict & damage' the image of their brand. In particular the one causing this 'offence' is Hemmingway's Lucky Strike-esque Snows of Kilimanjaro. Apparently it is BAT policy to protest against anything that resembles their brands due to the laws surrounding advertising tobacco in the UK.
My point on this matter is, wouldn't the novelty cigarette packet novel surely do more to romanticise and perhaps promote use of the brand rather than attempt to demonise it. Perhaps this is all part of BAT's plan, to create a storm of PR around their brands in a favourable light in order to combat the lack of advertising.
I'd like to see if sales of Lucky Strikes are up...
Monday, January 14, 2008
I find these types of characters interesting. Lonely fools whose lives seem extraordinary because they are so ordinary. Obviously, it's usually the story which makes them interesting, but that is true of real life, we are only as interesting as the stories we tell ourselves and each other. Take someone you know for example who's a great pub story teller, or someone who's great at pulling jokes out their sleeves, and they're usually the ones who have the ears of others. The ones who command the conversation, and to whom we all want to speak. In short the ones sat in the middle of the table, the leaders of the pack. Obviously we only see the story they let us see, thus hiding their depth. Where as the lonely souls are the ones who traditionally let us see this depth.
The lonely wanderer is key throughout literature. It's as old as Romeo, Jesus and Holden Caulfield. The romantic disposition of a man searching for themself, finding it in politics, booze, vice and the arms of women. But here is where the line breaks off into another. Here a second type emerges from the sterotype. The sound of a sigh by the sea, and the cross legged lunchtime reader whittling the hours on a bench with a book. The one content to be alone for sake of not knowing another way. But if one is to truly look into the trend & phenomenon of the blank canvas or tabla rusa character, then it has to be said that this theme lacks a leading female model. Literature is awash with the typical broody male traveler written by broody male travelers, and it has become an expression men have toyed with all to much.
I didn't wish to break into this subject so suddenly, I need to think a little harder on the matter. I simply wanted a good introduction to the film I watched last night called 'Tony Takitani'. Based on a Haruki Murakami short story, the film tells the tragic tale of a true lonely son of a jazz musician and his fashion obsessed wife. The strange thing here however, was this character never did 'find themself' in any of the typical inspirations, and ultimately remained removed from the world around them. The plot told us this was because of Tony's upbringing, and firmly stood by this view. It didn’t glamorize or portray his life as a detached swirl of debauched living, but rather of domestic living. The 21st century male, a clean home proud passive individual, head swimming with nonsense with contact lens eyes blurred by the city.
Every time I stumble across one of these lost souls, I find myself connecting a little more with their character, gradually splashing a little colour into mine. I like the way the theme has evolved from the romanticism of Byron and the thrill seeking 20th century beats, but to an altogether more reserved individual; who does the dishes, takes out the rubbish, drinks at the weekends, and takes paracetamols for their migraines. In this, like the novels of Murakami, we see the inklings of a domestic romantic, who perhaps is a little too wise for the mistakes of his ancestors, yet too afraid to become anything more than an ink stain on a forefinger.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Jumping on a District line train to Sloane Square the second part of my day began, and I started to get into character for a culture clash performance of Les Miserables. Part of me was still with the football crowd, cheering and jeering at Tottenham fans, so the fear was setting in, what if I were to start chanting in a lout-esque way as Enjolas and the Students led the revolution against the brutal French police? Ruling this out I headed home, and after a quick meal, wrapped an arty scarf around my neck and jumped in a cab to Shaftsbury Avenue. What followed was three hours of revolt, romance, revenge & tragedy, accompanied by Schonbergs' recurring compositions and themes typical of a Cameron Mackintosh production. I’ve grown up with the songs of Les Mis, from car journeys, dinner tables & home visits, the songs have provided a soundtrack to me, and it came to great surprise to see it all finally fit together, and discover the songs that don’t feature on the soundtrack I own.
I guess what I love about this musical is its revolutionary themes and the feeling of great change in the air. Melanie and I spotted a few elements that felt a little dated so it’ll be great to see if anyone will update it in years to come. Who knows maybe it’ll be me. And as my day ends with the chants of masses ringing in my ears, I can reflect on two very different events and draw similarities with a football match and the story of Les Miserables. How the characters wanted change and freedom, and the football patrons wanting victory, an expression of freedom. And this leads me back to this very blog, and how in writing this, I am in fact flexing my own muscles of freedom. It all fits together…
Friday, January 11, 2008
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
But what I want to discuss today is lunchtimes. I work in a particularly busy part of London, and I can’t find for love nor life a decent place in the winter to sit, eat my sandwiches, and embark on any musings I see fit. Obviously summer is a joy since its warm and the rain is no problem since I love the stuff (more on that late), the problem is the flaming cold! How can one sit and read when one's hand is shaking violently in the icy British wind? Suggestions are welcome. But the other major problem you see, is coffee shops. I happen to take lunch at the same time as everyone else does, say between 1 and 2. Sometimes I'll try to hold on longer so I know a seat will become available and I can read & write in peace, but hunger always gets in the way. The clock chimes in desperation for the arrival of the 'lunchtime', like beasts we'll roam the streets blinded by hunger, arms stretched out feeling through the busy cab laden roads for the stench of a sandwich, a hot potato pie, or a basil chicken pasta salad. And I’ll find myself fighting for my life, dragged through the barrage of tourists & directions, and sucked into a traffic jam peopled soup fit for the jolly green giant.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
One element of this self created entertainment is the growth in trend of online subculture. Now it seems Myspace and its contemporaries are dominated by individuals & groups setting up their own busineses, whether it's selling T shirts, band cd's, or selling tickets to specialist club nights. There's a whole load of youngsters out there making money from the internet. For example there's a whole world of underground poetry events and publishers, as well as online zines, and all this sudden activity begs the question, where did all these people come from? Have we always as a nation set up and promoted our own niche groups on a mass level? I suppose the old way was through word of mouth, distribution of flyers, meeting dates stapled to laundrette notice boards and now evolution has dictated that these events are to be promoted digitally.
This, on one level is fantastic as it breathes & breeds creative expression and a self motivated desire to make something happen. On the other hand though, it becomes hard to really work out if a 'scene' of some description actually exists. As with most art forms today, there is pratically every form ever created available to view or experience, and this in turn begs the question where and when will the next big innovation come from? The abundance of prolific creative events and partakings on offer make it hard to decide what the follow and actually 'believe'. Overall this could lead to such a great diversity of subcultural trends that the classification of such a concept even existing becomes impossible.
I'm sure this is a good thing, but on the flipside the diary takes a bit of a bashing when theres upteen events going on in a single night and you, like me, want to go to them all.
Here's a link to an acticle on Guardian Unlimited that dicusses the trend on Myspace subgroups.
Monday, January 7, 2008
When I was younger in my final years of school I used to love going to the supermarket. I'd love buying all sorts of random crap, cookie dough, roast chicken flavor crisps, supernoodles. Maybe it was my first foray into the adult world, a feeling of independance, that I could buy anything I wanted. I'd then go home with these little treats and spread them on my desk whilst I worked. Obviously as I got older things didn't stay the same, as a student it was cheap tuna and pasta, hardly exciting purchases. And now, thanks to the inevitable move to the city, its internet shopping, which isn't fun at all. Who wants to spend two hours glued to the screen searching for basic orange juice with juicy bits and anchor spreadable butter? It can be infuriating. And then it'll never be there on time, all hell will break loose and you'll end up expecting the whole load for free, like pizza's that never arrive on time in films. I'd much rather go to the shop myself, actually interact with the food I want, and then enjoy the immediate hunger that comes with it. But the point is treats. This evening I found that pleasure of dropping into the supermarket and buying a couple of choice items again, and for that I am grateful, like alot of things really that I'm sure I'll mention in due course.
And so it seems the internet is a great harbour of self expression, and I ask myself, why am I not a part of this? I read somewhere that less than 10% of the internet population (actually I'm thinking it must be even less) actually contribute to the information we read and access each day. So that means, all the youtube videos, flickr photos, blogs, & even comments on websites and forums are provided by a vast minority. However, this does make sense, if we all added content everyday then the whole sh'bang probably wouldn't be able to cope.
So here goes my attempt...