Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Text message of the day

Received yesterday evening during 'Coronation Street' as distraught husband Ashley cradled his dead wife in his arms:
"Maxine's nipples are still erect" - Graham
Paper chase

As the concluding speculation in this Media Guardian profile from July 2002 suggests, perhaps Rebekah Wade's move from News Of The World to The Sun wasn't entirely unexpected. As David Yelland disappears off to America, she's stepping into his editorial shoes. Under her stewardship, lest we forget, the News Of The World was responsible for inciting and inflaming the anti-paedophile vigilante witch-hunt with their 'name and shame' campaign, and she was accused of "grossly irresponsible" journalism by senior police officers. And now Wade's taking charge of the largest-selling and most influential daily paper. Is it just me, or does this give you cause for concern?
Not my words, the words of buddyhead.com

Buddyhead's best and worst of 2002 list makes for entertaining reading. Thumbs up for the likes of The Mars Volta, Mudhoney, Sonic Youth, Clinic, Queens Of The Stone Age and The Black Heart Procession. Thumbs down for (amongst other things) Interpol - but, hey, I'll let them off due to their Icarus Line connections.

Monday, January 13, 2003

A Song For Whoever

4. Pete Townsend: 'It Wasn't Me' - Shaggy feat Raekwon
From the sublime to the ridiculous Part Two

Last night I watched with interest Peter Oborne's investigative report on Channel 4 into how Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe is starving his own people to death for political ends. Spectator journalist Oborne might not have been the most sensitive and diplomatic of reporters, most notably when berating and bullying Minister for Africa Baroness Amos, but the stark reality of life in Zimbabwe, as revealed by the secret camera footage, was undeniably powerful, and I was left feeling informed and indignant at our government's unsubstantiated rhetorical pledges.

The fat controllers at Channel 4 had then scheduled an hour-long preview of their new reality TV show 'The Salon'. It took me over 45 minutes to come to my senses, realise that it was utterly mindless shite and that it was actively making me more dumb, and switch off in disgust.

TV: it's a minefield all right.
JJ 'ammers the 'Ammers 'opes

Having waited a while for his first goal in a black and white shirt, Jermaine Jenas strikes twice in a week. This time it was a corking left-foot volley late on to secure us a barely-deserved point away to West Ham and leave them still searching for their first home league victory of the season. Given our poor away record, and West Ham's buoyancy following the signing of that hooligan Bowyer, it counts as a point gained rather than two dropped, and thanks to other results we stay in fourth.

And, in even better news, Marcelino has had the remaining five months of his contract bought out, and has left the club. Hallelujah.
Earplugs at the ready

Upcoming treats thanks to those splendid folk at Night With No Name:

Sat 15th February @ Rock City: CAVE IN + guests

Tues 18th February @ Rock City: BURNING BRIDES + guests
Tragedy

Saturday 11th January: The Sun headline reads "I'm Staying Alive"

Sunday 12th January: Bee Gee Maurice Gibb dies aged 53

Not that I've ever trusted The Sun about anything anyway...
From the sublime to the ridiculous

I paid a visit to Nottingham's quasi-legendary Irish Centre on Friday night. For the uninitiated, going to the Irish is like being an uninvited guest stumbling in upon the latter stages of a wedding reception: lots of "mature" and outstandingly intoxicated individuals swaying or dancing tremendously badly to 80s and 90s pop and indie records played by a DJ untroubled by much in the way of taste and by anything in the way of fashion, all in a venue which resembles a Scout hut fitted with a mobile disco. Sophistication is not the word. Disappointingly, on this occasion the DJ failed to take note of any of my requests, hastily scrawled on the scrap of notepaper provided: so, no 'Geno' by Dexys, no 'Inbetween Days' by The Cure, no 'Freak Like Me' by Sugababes, no 'Groove Is In The Heart' by Dee-Lite and nothing by The Clash. We did, however, get further confirmation (as if it was needed) that the DJ's sense of irony is either staggeringly underdeveloped or razor-sharp (I'm still not sure which) - 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' was followed immediately by Nickelback's 'How You Remind Me'. I smiled into my pint and waited for the next Kylie or Smiths track.
Quote of the day

"I had no taste for what is called popular art, no respect for popular morality, no belief in popular religion, no admiration for popular heroics" - George Bernard Shaw
Cheers

... to Steve for the link.

Friday, January 10, 2003

Dirrrrrrrrrrrty!

No, nothing to do with Christina Aguilera and her make-up-artist's-nightmare of a face. Nothing at all. Sonic Youth are reissuing one of their very finest albums, with loads of extra cool stuff. This was the SY album I was weaned on, and seeing them play 'Drunken Butterfly' at the Shepherd's Bush Empire last June was a fucking awesome experience.
Alan's quote of the day

Alan: "You've got a great forecourt - you could have a lovely barbeque out there"
Michael: "Oh no, you're not allowed naked flames on the forecourt"
Alan [shaking his head]: "It's political correctness gone mad"

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Very ugly ex-footballer in hilarious hostage hoax

From teamtalk.com:

Coventry academy director Steve Ogrizovic has laughed off claims that he had been arrested and held captive in Kazakhstan over Christmas.
According to a website called petitionsonline, the Sky Blue legend had embarked on a global fundraising trek around the world, for a charity called 'Over the Bar' which allegedly helps disadvantaged goalkeepers.
But after straying on to private military land, 'Oggy' was apparently arrested and thrown into prison accused of spying, prompting a 'Free Steve Ogrizovic Campaign' and a petition to Downing Street in a bid to secure his release.
However, the former Coventry and Liverpool keeper said he could not believe such an elaborate hoax had become public knowledge.
"I am told that only 57 people signed the petition to get me back so I don't think that would carry much weight with Tony Blair," he joked. "But seriously, it is a complete hoax and I haven't a clue where it has come from.
"The first I heard about it was when a journalist from the Guardian rang me and asked what I was doing answering the phone when I should have been locked away in a prison cell in Kazakhstan.
"The first thing I did was go to an atlas and have a look where it is!" he added in the Coventry Evening Telegraph.
G2: blue?

Praise the lord! The word 'fuck' hasn't lost its power after all! Although I must confess to having missed yesterday's edition of the Guardian, I've now read all about it. So, Gillian Wearing's 'Fuck Cilla Black' G2 cover: shock tactics or serious comment? After reading features editor Ian Katz's justification, I think I'm just about inclined to favour the latter. Looking forward to the Chapmans' cover(s), though...
Alan's quote of the day

"You must be a guest on my show. We discuss issues - Europe, conspiracy theories, what happens if you just eat crisps..."

Monday, January 06, 2003

Lists, glorious lists

As promised / threatened, here are those Top 10s, and a whole load more besides...

Top 10 Albums Of 2002

Firstly, the pre-emptive plea for the defence. Compiling lists like this, especially of albums, is a process fraught with danger. How many times have you come across a record years later that would have been well up there amongst your favourites for that year if you'd only known about it then? And how often do tastes gradually mutate or even change altogether? This list is what I've come up with over the past few days, but it certainly ain't set in stone. There are a ridiculous number of albums released over the past year by which I have been intrigued but which I haven't managed to hear in their entirety (or even at all):
Low - Trust
Doves - The Last Broadcast
The Streets - Original Pirate Material
The Breeders - Title TK
Primal Scream - Evil Heat
Clinic - Walking With Thee
Liars - They Threw Us All In A Trench And Put A Monument On Top
J Mascis - Free So Free
The Black Heart Procession - Amore Del Tropico
Rival Schools - United By Fate
Sleater-Kinney - One Beat
Radio 4 - Gotham!
The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster - Horse Of The Dog
Beck - Sea Change
Q And Not U - Different Damage
Audioslave - Audioslave
The Libertines - Up The Bracket
Ikara Colt - Chat And Business
Pearl Jam - Riot Act
The Coral - The Coral
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Plastic Fang
Mudhoney - Since We've Been Translucent
Bright Eyes - Lifted...
Pretty Girls Make Graves - Good Health
Death In Vegas - Scorpio Rising
Of these, I'm sure at least a few may have impinged on the list below. Right, that's enough defensive preamble. Here's the necessarily contingent Top 10...

1. Sparta - Wiretap Scars
Quite simple, really - far and away the most revolutions on my CD player of any record released last year. Understatedly and consistently brilliant.
Key track: 'Glasshouse Tarot' if I really have to choose

2. Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights
The Smiths, The Strokes and Joy Division with their collars up, smoking cigarettes and shivering on a bench in Central Park at 2am in January.
Key track: 'NYC'

3. Sonic Youth - Murray Street
Even if listened to in a cultural vacuum where their twenty years of influence and innovation didn't exist, this would still be a categorically excellent record. Welcome aboard Jim O'Rourke.
Key track: 'The Empty Page'

4. ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Source Tags & Codes
The sweat, blood and chaos of the first two (perhaps even better) records scraped up and poured into the mould of the three-minute pop song. The author Angela Carter once said, "I am all for putting new wine in old bottles, especially if the pressure of the new wine makes the old bottles explode". What Carter did with fiction, ...Trail Of Dead have done with music.
Key track: 'Days Of Being Wild'

5. Godspeed You Black Emperor! - Yanqui UXO
More sumptuously majestic soundscapes for the listener to gorge themselves on.
Key track: 'Motherfucker = Redeemer'

6. Queens Of The Stone Age - Songs For The Deaf
Hard rock smacked around the face with invention, intelligence and weirdness.
Key track: 'A Song For The Dead' (although better live than on record)

7. Idlewild - The Remote Part
Maturity brings mammoth tunes and stellar choruses a-plenty, but there's still undoubtedly enough of a foot planted in the mid 80s US post-hardcore and indie which first inspired them.
Key track: 'Stay The Same'

8. Cave In - Tides Of Tomorrow
A startling mini-LP which makes a stew of metal, prog and hardcore somehow smell of roses.
Key track: 'Come Into Your Own'

9. The Hives - Your New Favourite Band
A Frankenstein's monster of an album it might be, but fucking hell it makes you want to jump up and down and hurl yourself about with the same abandon as a six-year-old on speed. Even if you're a sad old 25-year-old like me.
Key track: 'Die, All Right!'

10. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - BRMC
A couple of fillers aside, this is sheer black-hearted class. The Jesus & Mary Chain's shadow they might be, but they're still good enough to squeeze into the Top 10.
Key track: 'Awake'

Other albums that rocked my world last year:

The Datsuns - The Datsuns
The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
Foo Fighters - One By One
Sigur Ros - ( )
The Von Bondies - Lack Of Communication
Six By Seven - The Way I Feel Today
The Catheters - Static Delusions And Stone-Still Days
The Promise Ring - Wood / Water
Hundred Reasons - Ideas Above Our Station
Jetplane Landing - Zero For Conduct
The Pattern - Real Feelness
Top 10 Singles Of 2002

1. 'Freak Like Me' - Sugababes
2. 'No One Knows' - Queens Of The Stone Age
3. 'Tremulant' EP - The Mars Volta
4. 'Master' EP - The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
5. 'Fell In Love With A Girl' - The White Stripes
6. 'Dreaming Of You' - The Coral
7. 'Feed A Cat To Your Cobra' - The Icarus Line
8. 'In Love' - The Datsuns
9. 'PDA' - Interpol
10. 'It Came From Japan' - The Von Bondies

Other singles that rocked my world last year:

'Miss Lucifer' - Primal Scream
'Hate To Say I Told You So' / 'Main Offender' / 'Die, All Right!' - The Hives
'Used For Glue' - Rival Schools
'Hot In Herre' - Nelly
'Austere' EP - Sparta
'Goodbye' - The Coral
'Relative Ways' - ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
'You Held The World In Your Arms' / 'American English' - Idlewild
'Whatever Happened To My Rock 'N' Roll' / 'Spread Your Love' - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
'Dy-Na-Mi-Tee' - Ms Dynamite
'Dead Leaves And The Dusty Ground' - The White Stripes
'Jailhouse' - The Beatings
'The Middle' - Jimmy Eat World
'All My Life' - Foo Fighters
'Papa Don't Preach' - Kelly Osbourne
'Party' - The D4
'Stop Your Crying' - Spiritualised
'What's New For Fall' - Desaparecidos
'Get Free' - The Vines
'Draw Your Lines' - qhixldekx
'They Glued Your Head On Upside Down' - The Bellrays
'Cut Your Noose' EP - Vendetta Red
'Fins To Make Us More Fish-Like' EP - Liars
'What A Waster' - The Libertines
'Glass Slipper' EP - Burning Brides
'United States Of Whatever' - Liam Lynch
Top 10 Live Performances Of 2002

1. Guns 'N' Roses (Leeds festival)
2. Sonic Youth (London Shepherds Bush Empire)
3. Queens Of The Stone Age (Glastonbury)
4. Jane's Addiction (Leeds festival)
5. The Icarus Line (Leeds festival - also seen at Nottingham Rock City)
6. Queens Of The Stone Age (Nottingham Rock City)
7. The White Stripes (Glastonbury - also seen at Leeds festival)
8. Godspeed You Black Emperor! (Hackney Ocean)
9. J Mascis (Nottingham Social)
10. Fugazi (Nottingham Rock City)

Other bands seen / endured this year (deep breath...):

A (x2), Air, ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Ash, The Beatings, The Bellrays (x2), Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (x2), The Breeders, British Sea Power, Chris Brokaw, Cave In, Bobby Conn, The Cooper Temple Clause, The Coral, The Datsuns, The D4, Do Make Say Think, The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster (x2), Face To Face, Foo Fighters, Garbage, Green Day, Rolf Harris, Isaac Hayes, The Hellacopters, Hell Is For Heroes, The Hives (x2), Hoggboy, Hood, Hundred Reasons (x4), Idlewild (x2), Ikara Colt, Jetplane Landing, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Kinesis, The Levellers, The Libertines (x2), Muse, Music For One, NOFX, The Notwist, The Offspring, Orbital, The Parkinsons (x2), The Pattern, Iggy Pop, The Prodigy, qhixldekx, Raging Speedhorn, Randy, Red Letter Day, Reinhardt, Rival Schools (x3), Shat, Six By Seven (x2), Slipknot, Snuff, Sparta (x2), Spiritualised, [spunge], Rod Stewart, The Strokes, Twinkie, Vendetta Red (x2), Vex Red, The Vines (x2), The Von Bondies (x2), Roger Waters, Weezer, The Wildhearts, Andrew WK, Wolves (Of Greece!)

It's been a busy (and expensive) year!
Cup of woe

The romance of the Cup, eh? Well, at about 5.45pm yesterday, the romance died. Trust the FA Cup to come along and deliver, right on cue, a perfectly-timed knee to the testiculars. Not quite as painful as the two successive finals in 1998 and 1999 which I also witnessed in the flesh, but painful all the same. The truth is that we were humbled by lower division opposition who played their absolute best, although on another day we could have sneaked a draw and a St James' Park replay. For the most part, it was the familiar away day story: more than just the three moments of staggering defensive ineptitude, Shearer on the scoresheet, Bellamy incurring the wrath of the home fans, a quite incredibly lazy performance from Robert in comparison to the superb showings from the untrumpeted likes of Lescott and Ndah... All in all, a day to forget.

Looking forward, then: West Ham away this coming weekend. They've not won at home in the league this season. So, there's a script there just waiting for us to play the role of obliging fall guys. Oh joy.
This week's wearied NME gripe

The self-directed backslapping, arsekissing and cocksucking continues apace. Oh yes. It seems as though NME really has undergone the fabled operation to have those pesky couple of ribs removed. It's not enough to pat outgoing deputy editor James Oldham (he of the often nauseatingly gushing features - see that horrific Vines issue from a few months back) on the head. Oh no. They have to let us all know, in a news item, that he's landed an advisory A&R job at the Wall Street Journal, a paper which recently proclaimed that (trumpet fanfare please!) the NME seal of approval is increasingly being taken by US record companies as a measure of a band's talent and worth. Well, hooray for NME! It's just one big fucking corporate love-in. Even worse, though, in a separate piece of 'news' we find the revelation that Oldham has set up his own label, Loog Records, and that the first signings are a band called The Hiss (bet Oldham soiled himself in excitement when he found an unsigned band with a 'The' in their name). It really is coming to something when the corporate saturation is so complete that adverts are shamelessly allowed to masquerade as news items.
Fighting talk

Anyone else noticed the slew of Army, Navy and RAF recruitment ads on TV at the moment? Can't help thinking there's a discrepancy between what they say and what they mean.

What they say: "Be the best".

What they mean: "Do you like to travel? Fancy escaping all this horrid cold weather and jetting off to the warmer climes of the Gulf for sunbathing and sightseeing? Of course you do. What's more, we'll pay you handsomely for it! All you have to do is agree to have your holiday interrupted every now and again by gunfire, which may possibly be directed at you. So, if you're prepared to take a bullet in the name of Bush, Blair and a few multinational petroleum companies, the job's yours!"
(Love)Joy!

I hope I'm not alone in taking pleasure at the long-overdue return of Ian 'Lovejoy' MacShane to our screens, in the new BBC1 drama 'Trust'? Good. Now, whatever happened to Paul MacShane?
"Like the drink, but not spelt the same"

At last saw 'The Green Mile' on Saturday. I'll resist the temptation to launch into a lengthy disquisition, but suffice to say I thought it was absolutely superb. No, actually, permit me to chuck in a few choice adjectival phrases: weighty, harrowing, incredibly moving, beautifully shot, unhurried in pace and not a minute too long. I had been sceptical that Frank Darabont could have produced anything to match up to 'The Shawshank Redemption', but fucking hell he managed it. One more thing: I really, really want to go to Mouseville.
Laugh: it's an order

What runs up curtains and falls down stairs?
Laura Ashley.
Blogfiends of the world unite!

Another day, another fine music-centred blog upon which I find I have stumbled, thanks to Dead Kenny. Allow me, gracious reader, to point you in the direction of No Matter What You Heard, where you will find, among other things, a fantastic Top Ten Albums Of 2002 list. Steve - you, sir, have exquisite taste. What's more, I couldn't agree more with your suggestion that Amy Phillips of Village Voice was embarrassingly wrong about Sonic Youth's Murray Street record, and I even sent her a somewhat indignant email to tell her so.

Cheers also to Wan for appreciating recent attempts to drag my blog away from the gutter and towards the stars with some more considered opinion and thought, whilst running the perpetual risk of self-indulgence and pretention. Whisper it, or he'll get even more fat-headed, but Olav's blog remains something of a benchmark - although there are imaginings therein which make me shudder.
Alan's quote of the day

"My book could very well end up being reconstituted as a trestle table in a home for battered women. I'm putting something back"

Friday, January 03, 2003

Emergency! Emergency!

Cheers to all who have helped me to 999 hits in not much more than three months! To celebrate, I am currently slavishly adhering to the cliche of the anally obsessive indie kid in agonising over my singles, albums and gigs of 2002 lists, which should be finalised (that sounds really fucking pretentious, sorry) for posting on the blog early next week. In the meantime, I heartily recommend the lists posted by Olav and Troubled Diva.
So many books, so little time

Over the last week or so I've raced through J G Ballard's 'Super-Cannes'. I keep reading that it's almost a sequel to 'Cocaine Nights', so perhaps I should have started with that, but never mind - I enjoyed it anyway. The novel is very Ballard, centering on the nightmare at the heart of the corporate dream. He conjures up lurid visions of the violent and sexual perversions in which the corporate uberclass indulge in order to keep themselves productive and efficient and mentally stable in the high-pressure working environment. Ballard creates an impressively believable world (although not 'real' in any conventional sense - the whole point is that this world is almost hyperreal, where appearance and actuality are blurred), a horrifying dystopia which is far more than a mere flight of fancy, or a novelist flexing his imaginative muscles - this dystopia of the Eden-Olympia business park is central to Ballard's self-appointed role as social and cultural commentator, and the darkly foreboding critique is razor-sharp. What's more, the fact that it's a heavyweight novel in terms of ideas means there's no need to feel guilty about getting drawn into the intricacies of the plot and getting swept along as you might with your standard fast-paced but ultimately utterly vacuous thriller. 'Super-Cannes' is a whole lot more intellectually satisfying than that.

I suddenly seem to have rediscovered my lust for books and reading in general. There's an explanation close at hand, I suppose - reading books incessantly for the PhD I am currently (if only occasionally...) labouring towards, as well as for teaching undergraduates, has the unfortunate consequence of dulling the appetite for reading for pleasure. I remember the way a desire to gorge myself on books suddenly hit me the summer after I'd finished my undergraduate degree. Well, it seems as though the Christmas break has had the same effect. Now I can't go into bookshops without salivating in exactly the same way as I do when I pass through the hallowed doorway of Selectadisc. The problem now is that I'm buying more books at a faster rate than I can possibly read them, even allowing for my vastly increased appetite. So, recent purchases piling up and awaiting perusal include:
'Stupid White Men' - Michael Moore
'The Trial' - Franz Kafka
'The Secret History' - Donna Tartt
'England's Dreaming' - Jon Savage
'Resurrection Men' - Ian Rankin
'Underworld' - Don DeLillo
'24 Hour Party People' - Tony Wilson
'The Bonfire Of The Vanities' - Tom Wolfe
That's not to mention quite a few books on my shelves that remain unread, and several that I want to return to.

New Year's Resolution: Read more for pleasure. Better get cracking...
Festive cheer

Just thought it was worth applauding the fact that, amongst the more "traditional" anodyne and paltry fayre (dis)gracing our TV screens this Christmas, there were also several movies of the very highest calibre - 'Little Voice', 'LA Confidential', the 'American Beauty' and 'This Is Spinal Tap' double bill. And whoever decided screening David Fincher's 'Fight Club' three days before Christmas stuck their neck out quite a long way. It's possible I may have misinterpreted the film, but as I understood it the overriding sentiment is certainly NOT one of peace and goodwill to all men...

On the subject of 'Fight Club', I must read more of Chuck Palahniuk's books - 'Survivor', 'Choke' and 'Lullaby' all sound as if they evoke the same spirit of nihilistic disgust and black-hearted satire. Bret Easton Ellis too - 'American Psycho' alternately enthralled and appalled me, but as yet I haven't followed it up with the likes of 'Less Than Zero', 'Glamorama' and 'The Informers'.
Alan's quote of the day

"I just stayed in and watched a documentary about quicksand, and then Sonja and I took our tops off and had a cuddle, followed by mince and onions. It doesn't get much better than that"

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Marching quietly on

So, the Bolton Boxing Day Bollocksfest has been followed up with two very welcome victories over decent opposition. Most remarkably, in the case of Liverpool last night, for once we were not overly obliging in handing a heroically out-of-form side a desperately-needed win, instead showing no mercy and deservedly sending them packing with no points and an imminent suspension for Salif Diao. New Year's resolution: continue to defend Fortress St James' with the same dogged resolve, while starting to win games away from home. At the moment, a Champions' League place is ours for the taking.
Romance isn't dead

Chat-up line used by the friend of a friend: "You're so sexy, even if I scooped your eyes out with spoons I'd still want to shag you".

No, it didn't work.
Alan's quote of the day

"It was like a very moving sheep dip"

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Text message of the day

A new regular feature, which may hopefully give readers of this 'ere blog an insight into the weird and wonderful minds of my associates...

"'Fairytale Of New York' really is the only good Christmas song. Really" - Dan
Nightmare at Christmas

Last night I watched 'I Love 1989' in its entirety and at one point exclaimed "Oh yeah, 'Challenge Anneka', I remember that!". I hate myself and I deserve to die.
Alan's quote of the day

"FUCK OFF!!!"

Friday, December 27, 2002

Trampled on by the Trotters

Bolton's players must have been VERY FUCKING WELL-BEHAVED this year, given the generosity of our Santa Claus back four yesterday. I can just imagine Sam Allardyce's pre-match team talk... "OK, so it's one win in 15 games, lads, but hey - Newcastle are in town and they're in an even more charitable mood than normal! Make sure you say thank you!" So, what with gifts for the Bolton fans and players, any neutral onlookers (in the form of a thoroughly entertaining match) and the pundits (who hardly need any more invitations to criticise our defence), the only people who come away from yesterday afternoon's debacle empty-handed are the Toon fans like yours truly. Brute fact: Championship contenders do not lose at Bolton.
Alan's quote of the day

"Needless to say, I had the last laugh"

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Quote of the day

"It's hard to decipher the difference between a sincere entertainer and an honest swindler" - Kurt Cobain

There I was, wracked with feelings of guilt to perhaps a laughable extent, wanting to read Kurt's journals and yet resisting the temptation to buy the book according to some kind of principle - and my parents go and bring about a resolution by buying it for me. So far, I've only briefly skimmed through it. First impressions? The writings of a passionate, intelligent, sensitive and frequently quite disturbed young man which document how he was fucked over from all sides. And whatever anyone might say about whether or not we should have access to the journals (and I'm still dubious that we should), they're a fascinating read.
Alan's quote of the day

"[My pecs] are more or less the same, they're just fractionally more flaccid. Apart from that, I've just got a smooth chest, with a ring of hairs round each nipple and a thin line that sort of builds towards the usual place. ... Bye"
A Song For Whoever

3. Jesus Christ: 'Birthday Boy' - The Geraldine Fibbers

Happy Christmas y'all (yeah, I know it's technically 26th December, but then I'm a slack bastard...).

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Joe Strummer RIP

The Clash: an impassioned yet sensitive critical voice balancing out the wrecking-ball onslaught of the lustily nihilistic Sex Pistols. I'll leave the eloquent obituaries to others - but I would like to say, in the face of an imminent and almost inevitable American-sponsored attack on Iraq, that the words of the Clash song are more relevant than ever. I, for one, am so bored with the USA.
Alan's quote of the day

"Let's start with some petting"

Thursday, December 19, 2002

The New World Order

I finally finished Noreena Hertz's book 'The Silent Takeover' last night. A fascinating companion-piece to 'No Logo' and Eric Schlosser's 'Fast Food Nation', it is another book which has managed to take some of my intuitive feelings and beliefs, substantiate them with meticulously researched factual evidence, offer a rigorous analysis of the issues on a global scale and forge a compelling and reasoned argument. Like Naomi Klein, her subject is global capitalism and multinational corporations, but her interest lies more specifically in exposing the increasing degree to which companies influence and impinge upon the sphere of politics. Her tone is not uniformly critical and despairing - she acknowledges, for instance, that some corporations and individual entrepreneurs do seem genuinely benevolent in their attempts to benefit the disadvantaged when the state is unable to meet their needs, and that ordinary people, in their role as consumers, can hold corporations to some kind of account and put pressure on them. However, the bottom line is that, as Hertz puts it, the business of business will always be business first and foremost, and in any economic downturn philanthropic projects will ultimately be jettisoned to protect profits. Despite efforts apparently indicative of the contrary, capitalism is an inherently exploitative economic system. The idea that in a deregulated capitalist economy financial gains "trickle down" to the lowest strata in society is not borne out by the facts, and a genuinely neutral state is needed to redistribute the generated wealth and counteract the inegalitarian excesses of unfettered capitalism.

Perhaps the one single argument with which I most strongly agree is her suggestion that ever lower voter turnouts, particularly amongst the young, should not simply be condemned as apathy. Political issues are just as important to us now as they ever were, if not even more so - what isn't as important to us is the evidently inadequate political system. Exploring new methods of registering your vote is to be commended, but this can be at best a preventative measure. What we need is for politicians to engage with a sympathetic and curative analysis of the problem, like that offered by Hertz. WHY is it that voters are increasingly disillusioned with what is traditionally conceived of as "politics"? WHY is it that people feel increasingly marginalised and ignored? Books like 'The Silent Takeover' and 'No Logo' have some of the answers.

I read with interest a recent New Statesman article which suggested that the anti-globalisation movement has been stagnating over the last year or so, its progress stalled by infighting among all the ideologically disparate factions which originally grouped under a common cause. This may well be true - but with 'Fast Food Nation' and Michael Moore's 'Stupid White Men' still lodged firmly in the bestseller lists, and Hertz's arguments fresh in my mind, I hold out some hope for change.

In the meantime, go to Make Trade Fair and tell Nestle what you think about them trying to reclaim $6 million from Ethiopia when the country has millions of people starving to death.
Shock value?

While browsing around Selectadisc yesterday for what felt like the first time in ages, I picked up a copy of Vice magazine, newly launched in the UK and with ex-NME scribe and Bizarre editor Andy Capper at the helm (they've also got NME's dance boffin Piers Martin onboard). On the surface (and there is a LOT of surface...) it's a blunt and brutal cross between style mags, Bizarre and 'Jackass'. Whereas Bizarre positions the reader as a "normal" person looking on voyeuristically from a distance at the freakish and perverse extremes of humanity, Vice presents all this as the norm - real people need to know how to fight those bigger than them, real people will relate to tales of wanking to homemade porn in aeroplane toilets etc etc.

Anyway, its status as a self-appointed provocatively controversial cat amongst the corporate pigeons is compromised somewhat by the glossy ads - OK so they help to keep the magazine free, but do we really need Ben Sherman and Sony filling up space? I for one would be prepared to pay if this meant no corporate bullshit - and if the content was worth reading. Aside from the entertaining and educational guide to "getting reamed up the cake" (that's Vicespeak which translates as "getting fucked up the arse" for you and me), there's precious little in the issue I've seen to merit any attention - too many sketchily trivial articles presumably included because they are about (hee hee) violence and female masturbation. What Vice lacks in wit, inspiration and intelligence it thinks it can make up for with pornography. 'Fraid not.

When all's said and done, the lack of any real substance means Vice buckles under the weight of its own amorality and is ultimately as vacuous as any of the publications against which it sets itself. Being "shocking" is fine, but it's got to lead somewhere, as in the work of Chris Morris. If it's an end in itself (as it seems to be in Vice), it quickly becomes tedious. OK, so Magazine World is currently a bland and safe place, but on this evidence Vice ain't the answer.
Not particularly festive feel good hits of the festive period

From both Christmas Present and Christmasses Past...

1. 'Non-Zero Possibility' - At The Drive-In
2. 'Cave-In' - Codeine
3. 'Fairytale Of New York' - The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl
4. 'Karma Police' - Radiohead
5. 'PDA' - Interpol
6. 'The Jean Genie' - David Bowie
7. 'Classic Girl' - Jane's Addiction
8. 'Crystal Gypsy' - Sebadoh
9. 'Overhead Metal Erection' - Burning Brides
10. 'Big Exit' - PJ Harvey
11. 'Geno' - Dexys Midnight Runners
12. 'Black Snow' - Ten Benson
13. 'Here Comes My Man' - The Pixies
14. 'In Love' - The Datsuns
15. 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' - The Stooges
16. 'Somethin Stupid' - Frank and Nancy Sinatra
17. 'The End Of You' - Sleater-Kinney
18. 'Cherry Pie' - Warrant
19. 'New Disco' - Radio 4
20. 'Fight For Your Right To Party' - Beastie Boys

(NB In the case of the Burning Brides track, never was a song so aptly named - listening to it, you feel as though you're being wanked on by a priapic Black Sabbath...)
Alan's quote of the day

"How can you set fire to your hands?"
Cheers

... to Alex for linking to my blog.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

If it wasn't for those pesky kids at Central Trains...

... I'd have seen the last episode of 'I'm Alan Partridge'. As it was, I was deprived of the inordinate pleasure this would have afforded me. I'll persist with the 'Alan's quote of the day' slot, though, even if they are a bit stale, just to prove that Alan is cone but not forgotten...

"You can drown in a cup of coffee"
Quote of the day

"For me to say I've never been arrested is an admission that I've not been as responsible a citizen as I should have been by now" - Michael Moore

Monday, December 16, 2002

Dumb and dumber

Frank Sinatra once said that rock 'n' roll is music "sung, played and written for the most part by cretinous goons; and by means of its almost imbecilic reiterations and sly, lewd - in plain fact, dirty lyrics - it manages to be the martial music of every sideburned delinquent on the face of the earth". Man, he would have just LOVED The Datsuns and The Hellacopters at the Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall on Friday.

Like a worryingly large proportion of bands around at the moment, The Hellacopters seem to have appointed ZZ Top as their style gurus. In musical terms, they resemble Guns 'N' Roses - if getting rubbed down in diesel oil had been their next move after Appetite For Destruction, instead of all the pomposity and pretension of the Use Your Illusions double album. That they're very hairy goes without saying.

The Datsuns followed - an exceedingly tight-trousered Kiss if they'd had a brief hot 'n' sticky dalliance with punk. The fiddly solos, the complete lack of irony, Dolf de Datsun's remarkable duck-bill lips - it's all so WRONG. But then 'In Love' or the chorus to 'Super Gyration' smacks you repeatedly round the head and you start to feel the dumbness spreading downwards to your extremities until you, like everyone else in the room, are a dead-eyed zombie chanting such nonsensical mantras as "Harmonic generator, intermodulator!" like some kind of braindead Hare Krishna.

Anyway, I quite like being a sideburned delinquent.
Oh we don't like to be beside the seaside

By all accounts a solid performance at Southampton on Saturday - but we STILL can't win there. Our last three point haul away to the Saints was back in 1972, I think.
Alan's quote of the day

"Dangerous dogs should simply have their teeth replaced with strips of rubber"