Monday, June 20, 2005


I went to Madrid over the weekend, I've never been there before and I wouldn't have gone if it wouldn't be for my boyfriend's project, he is there for a week and a half and requested my presence to get his mind off work and to see Madrid which he hadn't really either, even though he's been there quite a few times for work. This project he's been working on has been frustratingly slow and drawn out and one of the main problems seems to be a crucial difference in mentality, the manana attitude, saying one thing and not following it. Spending 48 hours in the city definitely puts you in a different frame of mind so some of this almost became understandable. It was extemely hot and at first it was really quite difficult to get our head around the city. The hotel was just outside the city centre next to a really wide avenue leading all the way to the train station, and there was at least 4 lane traffic in all the surrounding streets, really bad air, too much traffic, and really confusing somehow. I started to hate it there when we decided to get a cab to Chueco, the gay village, a mad, heaving weekend nightlife area with lots of bars and little clubs over a series of parallel streets circling the tiny heart of it all, Plaza de Chueco. We got hammered and watched half of Madrid walk by, very mixed and raw, it seemed to hit its peaktime around 3 am, we were sitting on some trashcans drinking enormous portions of spirits out of plastic glasses. After that everything changed, as our outlook adjusted to the rhythm of the city: sleeping til very late, tapas, half-hearted walk into the city centre only to be overcome by the collective fatigue of the siesta hours, extreme heat preventing to walk any further, retiring in the Retiro (really! collapsing into solid shade), later in the afternoon checking out the cruisy part in some lush overgrown shady lanes further into the park, not managing to see the Prado, in the evening pretty much the same programme as the evening before, tapas etc... We finally managed to see the Prado on Sunday and it was amazing, especially seeing the Bosch pictures, Velazquez, Goya, etc. I felt better about being there in the end too, i actually eventually liked the tension and the heat of the city.

There was a huge demonstration on Saturday which turned out to be against gay marriage and 'for the family', it didn't really look homophobic so I didn't even understand what brought about a million people together, but apparently that's what it was, I found out later at the airport that it was a million people and it was against gay marriage and it was on the front of all the papers. People were walking around in colourful t-shirts with placards saying that 'the family is important'. Now, while I'm not a huge fan of the idea of gay marriage (even though i'm practically married as it is), I've got to say that gay people are integral parts of families too, if the family is important then all members of the family should be equally important, and gay people can form families or family-like structures in their lives too. Spain, particularly in the large cities, has a pretty big gay scene and high visibility, especially compared to other mediterranean countries (I've recently been to Palermo, a fairly big city which has just one totally gay bar, for instance), but seeing a large demonstration like that makes me wonder how conservative and traditional parts of the country still are. What was also weird was that not far from where the demonstration passed it was business as usual in the gay bars and on the streets as if nothing had happened, we spent some time in one bar where the DJ played Spanish music nonstop and everyone apart from us was singing along to every word, and there was never any trouble, as if it existed in some parallel universe. This part of town is in no way a ghetto either, it's where all the young people seem to go too, so it makes for a heady hedonistic mix.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

the green wall

there's a green partition wall placed directly opposite my desk, a relic from a time when a manager was still roosting and doing what managers do in the space beyond it. The manager and the person who used to sit here have all left so i've inherited it. there were a couple of postcards pinned to it already, only one remains: it's 'Nighthawks' by Edward Hopper. Apart from that there's also:
a postcard advertising the Ramones 'End of the Century' doc ('A Seismic Snaphot of the Early Days of Punk!') with a great shot of the Ramones looking pretty pissed off,
a photocopy of the inside lyric sheet for GBV's Bee Thousand with the trainhead looming prominently,
a postcard of Eton College that my friend Charlie sent in to my work address for some reason,
a printout of the Easy Rider poster (in homage to our former IT support boy and ex-rugby player Ryder)
a cutout of a female model's head from an advert for cosmetics, i should think, judging by the bluish lipstick and eye shadow, it looks really silly,
a printout of a photo of the mother of the Italian bear sitting next to me, he insisted i put it there since he doesn't have a wall and has to look at it too :-),
a printout of a photo of a friend and colleague, Branka, who died of cancer earlier this year :-(
a printout from the Weezer and the muppets video, Kermit's eyes are coloured with pink marker, Rivers' glasses are marked with bright light green,
and a photocopy of a homemade cover for the GBV rarities collection 'I've Got Tickets To The Circus Of Delirium' (but I'm not supposed to tell you about it!)

I don't always feel like putting up pictures and stuff, at home or anywhere, but when i start somewhere i can't stop and a lot of the stuff gets put up very quickly without thinking about it too much. Now that the office is being rearranged there has been talk of removing the green wall, which so far i've protested. Nothing on there needs to be there to greet me in the morning, but it's certainly helped to make it my little corner. Saaad but true.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

joy zipper

the new album is really nice. what is 'the heartlight set'? is there a story behind this?

i saw them a couple of years ago in the tiny Rough Trade shop in Covent Garden, they played our favourite song (well, of theirs), and handed out beers, and were very sweet. Seem to have gone through some weird shit with record label folding etc...but came through anyway, and still sound like they're just churning out these gorgeous songs in their sleep without too much effort. last time i saw them it was some sponsored BBC new 'community' thing at 93 Ft East, for which you had sign up and then get in free, badly organised, so they were really late and could only play for 20 minutes. First it was 'Let's trash this joint!', then it was 'ok let's just play one more song'.

Friday, June 03, 2005


so I've decided to start writing a blog, see what happens, or not.

The name 'From A Voice Plantation' is the title of a Guided by Voices song from the album 'Universal Truths and Cycles', and it's one of my favourite tracks on the album, though it seems a lot of GBV fans don't particularly like it. I've always liked the almost gothic drama in it, something that's hinted at quite frequently throughout GBVs work but rarely expressed quite like this, the heavy, haunted feel and the fact that it starts, builds up and then ends very quickly. It seems like a good enough name for a blog too :-)

I'm at work so can't post too much, but I want to see what this looks like.