Sunday, August 17, 2008

Something Somewhere

I always like to try and get the most out of the weekend. And this doesn’t mean sleeping till noon, waking with the obligatory hangover, and sauntering around in dirty clothes all afternoon. Instead living from breakfast till supper seems the best way to see what the city has to offer. So Saturday morning, armed with a 25mm wide angle lens, Borough Market was the destination. Seemingly permanently trapped in autumn, it’s a great place to spot fashionista’s, tuck into some cracking home ground produce, and sip on a guest ale or two at the Market Porter.

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


Everyday I pass the central criminal court and see the news reporters touching up their hair, the camera men setting up their gear and the legitimate paparazzi fiddling with all manner of lenses and the occasional tripod. In fact I see the very same bald guy everyday in brown workman’s boots, with a khaki bag that looks like it’s from Gap and a massive white lens that could be used as balancing stick in a circus act.

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

Death defiers on the morning commute

Every morning thousands of commuters actively stare death in the face and laugh. Either that or they don’t even realize how close they come to the inevitable. I myself am included in this bubbled mass of fools who happily dance through busy roads, pick fights with cyclists and leap onto packed trains with legs dangling through the gaps.

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…