Sunday, December 31, 2006

"Not So Jolly": Walthamstow Dog Races

On Boxing Day we went to the Walthamstow Dog Races and met up with the rest of Simons family, friends and relatives. We got there late but we must have been on the lucky bus as both me and Simons cousin David won good money. The place has a real East London vibe about it, especially on Boxing Day, it was packed, and the races had an enthusiastic reception on the terraces. It famously inspired the cover for Blurs Parklife, the cover of which is based on the programmes. And then there's the names of the dogs. I lurve them. Kinda like GBV or Smiths/Morrissey song titles. Can you find an even weirder name? How do they come up with them? They resonate... something. Anyway, Simon asked me which dog I wanted to bet on and I went purely for the name, "Not So Jolly" and it, uh, won against the odds and I won 26 quid! That was cool and I didn't even want to bet much more after that. David however went one further and bet on the right winning sequence in another race, winning about £ 160...

so here's some of my favourite dog names from the programme, sounds like a pretty good setlist, huh? Someone should write the songs...:-) :

Small Bites (could have bet on that one too, almost as good as Not So Jolly)
Noirs Heart
Special Trip
Evening Flight
Eye OnThe Jewel
Mystical Sloth
Four Minutes
Confident Foe
Ebony Ocean
Droopys Best Man
Never Can Tell
Rough Region
Risk Related
Legal Major
Vatican Skye
Star of Dromin
Snazzy Time
Hammer It Ahead
Muddys Friend
Astute Gift
Hee Haws Mandela
Essential Test

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Big D's notes for the x-mas meal at our house

Simons oldest brother cooked a big and very traditional x-mas roast with vegetables in our flat on x-mas day. The parsnips got burned unfortunately, but the rest was really good, maybe a bit too traditional for me, but nice and filling. He really made an effort, as you can see some planning went into it, cooking started late at about 11 o'clock and it wasn't finished til about five in the afternoon. We've still got lots of stuff in the fridge, people brought too much along, though I've managed to cook some interesting meals in the last few days, using vegetables i don't usually cook with. There's still some x-mas pudding which is nice too. The turkey was enough for 11 and we were only 6 (!) and none of us had huge portions of it. I've bagged the remains today, they were sitting in the oven for a few days. Kinda disgusting. I find the smell a bit disturbing and upsetting for some reason. Not again, at least not for another year. And i used to be vegetarian!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Stansted Airport yesterday

i feel there's been a tremendous buildup to...nothing much. christmas. calculating how many billion pounds peoople will spend in an hour. you must do this, you must do that. it's nice to go home. everyone comes together for this one off thing. and then the fog descended... sitting in the stansted express with too many other people and their luggage looking out of the window into this sinister thick fog grinning back at me, i thought, i don't actually want to fly, i don't want to be here. i'm only flying because, why? it's convenient. i wouldn't go home probably if i couldn't fly. it's what everyone else is doing. anyway, my flight got cancelled. lots of peoples flights got cancelled, lots of flights to Germany. Stansted was total chaos, people trying to book other flights into Germany. there were no more flights before x-mas, everything was full already. Denied. Fog. Security. Sitting on the bus back to Golders Green with about four other people, a lot of space around me, looking into the fog again, going back to London i felt relaxed for the first time all day. I actually like that fog, reminds me of certain corners of my head, haha. I took some little videos of the chaos though. Nothing major or dramatic, just the general sense of confusion. reminds me of that Tati film we love, Playtime, the absurdity of the modern world, of travelling, of that whole airport scene gone slightly out of control. Morrissey said something recently about not liking flying because you can't be yourself anymore, you give up any sense of personal freedom or space when you enter an airport, it's do this, do that, queue here, etc. and yeah, even though i would have loved to go home i was okay not flying yesterday. i'll go in january when all this has calmed down. my parents want to take me to the mountains instead, so that's all cool, hopefully. merry x-mas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Poem

Easy Evy!

mirror mirror on the wall
whos the baddest of them all?
E to the V to the Y
all the fellows looking fly
But "No, No" says she
"Cos I'm a real, a real Ladieee"
So all you chavs with all your bling
watch out cos Evy is the real Gold thing
Twinkle Twinkle little Star
Wonder Where my Evy R
Evy Had a Lamb Kebab
Even though it was really crap
but smile wins out and she don't mind
and she keeps shaking her Behind!
When she's chewing caramel
everything is going well
When she chews a peppercorn
all she thinks about is home
where the Santa of her world
comes on down - it doesn't hurt!

Monday, December 18, 2006

merry christmas

me, obviously (not) dressed up to the nines at the christmas party i didn't want to attend. x-mas has been fun so far, but also a bit too much! will it ever end?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

For Mary, Simon & Gustavo: Photos from the Mawddach Trail in Snowdonia

so I hear Mary, who I know from my old Sussex uni days, has won, what was it, something in her local paper, a five day or so stay in a holiday flat in the little town near her house. Mac-hyn-lleth. I never know how to pronounce them. Everyone calls it "Mac" and it's supposed to be very alternative (though, to be fair, I didn't see much evidence of this). Mary lives in a little house in the next village, Pen-eee-goise (that's how it's pronounced) and we stayed there for a couple of nights at the end of our week in Wales in August (most of it spent in the Brecon Beacons). It's just south of Snowdonia, a famous national park, and we just had one day left for walking so we chose to do the first part of the Mawddach trail along the dramatic Mawddach estuary. Starting from Barmouth, a small seaside town with an old chruch, a huge carpark and a definitely ok sandy beach and already great views we walked over a very long railway bridge, and then walked inland along the estuary, overall very easy walking and cycling. Even Marys little dog Ghengis had no problems. The day started overcast but soon it cleared up and opened dramatic vistas into the surrounding scenery, the green of the fields after a bit of rain is so bright and electric in Wales. Very beautiful, and highly recommended. So I'd like to return to Wales, maybe sometimes in the spring and go out there again with my friend Simon (from the Sussex uni days too) and Gustavo, but we need to convince them first. Maybe these photos will persuade them there's more than "mind the sheepshit" around there (though there's a lot of that). cos if you look up you see some great mountains and all that too! :-)

For some reason the photos post in a weird order, I'm giving up now, well, ok, there are also some other photos, one of gavin and Simon at the Green Man Festival, one of sheep that I'm quite fond of, and one of Mary ready to hit the town ("Aber", or Aberysthwyth) for a show. Also Simon is wearing our latest Deerhoof T-shirt obviously.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Plus on myspace!

A relatively rare group photo from the "Robert Smith Party". Chris is wearing a wig, I don't really need one and John thinks he's in Hawaii.

Well, I wasn't going to do it, but we finally have a little myspace page for my long running band Plus. It's just such an easy way to put your music out there! Nothing else worked right now... I'm not going to spam strangers about it and I'm happy with 5 and a half or so friends (think about it, it's not so bad in the real world, so why should it be different on myspace? just for the numbers?), but pls check it out anyway and of course add as a friend if you want! Hopefully we'll play live again soon, though I'd prefer to play a non smoking venue. And that's difficult to find in London...but it will happen sooner or later, at least in eight months time!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Some Pere Ubu videos!

From the recent tour in Utrecht, the song is 'Caroleen' from their last album. Mad theremin playing. Even madder singing. It's short but sweet. Somehow the amazing energy in the room at the show I was at is hard to capture on video and there's shockingly little on da youtube. Nevermind...this one has decent sound at least...

The Modern Dance at the recent San Fran show. Apparently there was trouble at that show..i love the sudden graceful little hand movement midsong...though he looks a bit pissed off.

and a video from the 90s: "Sleepwalk" Hmmmm...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Pope Gregs annual Euro visit: Pere Ubu

that's me and Pope Greg in the upstairs bar of the Dog and Duck in Frith Street. He looks a bit subdued. Maybe it's because he's jetlagged. Or maybe because he can't smoke in there, haha. Apparently it was the smallest postal blowfish meeting he's been to in a while. And it was also a smoke free, thanks to me. He comes over from Milwaukee about once a year and spends his Euro vacation in London, Amsterdam and then there's annual variations, this year it was Edinburgh. Three years ago we did GBV in Amsterdam together, a bit of a weird gig actually, drunk and messy, and a bit unfocussed, not as good as the first time we saw GBV at the Paradiso, but still, some good memories... hanging in Gregs hotel room afterwards watching MTV with Martin from Switzerland and his glamorous Russian wife, Simon, Gavin, Vanessa, drinking the bottle of vodka given to me by Sammy Powers (of Superdrag, temporary Euro tour only replacement for Tim Tobias) just before our favourite band drove off in their shitty little rock van. Who would have known it was the last set of dates Bob would ever do over here (unless something happens, maaan, ughhhh)? Last year we had a picknick for Greg on Hampstead Heath with a GBV bootleg theme, only GBV bootlegs got played on my boombox, oh, and Human League and Kate Bush in the later stages because there were a couple of people who weren't fans and they had music wishes too. But mainly GBV bootlegs. It was relatively successful and ended with appropriate drunkenness and later in the evening a pretty good Lou Barlow solo show that was really quiet compared to the next time I saw Lou with the reformed Dino Jr. Greg is, in his own words, "the second biggest GBV fan in Wisconsin", which is still pretty good considering the honourable Rich T. (GBV webmaster and Bob's ascended current tour manager)is from Wisconsin too. Anyway, it's always nice to see him again and he always sugests seeing shows when he's here so this time he asked around whether anyone wanted to join him to see Pere Ubu. He didn't need to ask twice with me...

A couple of people separately compared my long running "weird rock" band Plus to Pere Ubu, i guess the slightly unhinged semi-improvised singing style, and the weird abrasive new wave sensibilities, or whatever, i think there might be some parallels but they stop somewhere too. I finally got around to check out some records and like it a lot. You can see David Thomas perform fairly regularly in the UK as he lives in Hove. Friends of mine say they see him sometimes in an old pub near Hove seafront, where these old beardy guys hang out with their dogs and where they occasionally host little jazz and country gigs. It's a nice pub actually, I've never seen Mr Thomas there though. The only other time I've seen him on stage was with the reformed MC5 at the Royal Festival Hall, doing a spacey full on song with them at the end, don't know which. He was impressively weird then. So at the frankly rubbish Mean Fiddler (apparently it's not going to close for another year, i wouldn't mind it if they'd refurbish it and ban smoking in there, but right now it's unbearable in there when it's sold out)there were a very "Mojo" crowd gathered, and thankfully it wasn't not too packed either. Stan Ridgeway, formerly of Wall of Voodoo, warmed up with a nice sitting- round - the - fire - in - the - desert kinda set, playing some of the favourites too, Mexican Radio, etc.... Me and Greg were sitting on these weird barstools that were too high and didn't have lower ledges to rest your feet so Greg especially seemed to keep sliding off. Apart from that we were sitting comfortable near the stage. As soon as Pere Ubu started though i couldn't stop but going closer and dancing almost from the first beat, and almost all through the set. it was a revelation! It was like ... entering a new sonic space. I was knocked off sideways by it. Hard to explain, but a revelation. Occasionally at gigs I can go fairly mental, lose myself in the experience, and rarely have i experienced a band that encouraged this excessive weirdness, to forget where you are and explore, breathe in and out with the music, in such a controlled, genuine way. They are / were true originators, though Mr Thomas is still in charge and still doing new things. He's fascinating to watch, a bit of a bear, a bit grumpy, but when he starts singing you've got abrasiveness, alienation, and occasionally this beautiful wistful longing feeling too. A theremin, and a very capable, full on rock band supported him. Wonderful material, most of it new I guess. That said the couple of old classics tacked on, spontaneously it seemed, at the end, Sonic Reducer and New Alignment Pact sounded fantastic and euphoric. The new album is very good too though. And I want to explore more.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Halloween: Robert Smith Party (first of two picture posts)

party like it's 1982:

Halloween: Robert Smith Party

It wasn't my idea and it wasn't really our party - it was Aves birthday and she came up with the idea. And it turned out to be a really great party and the visual theme played out very well. Even though not everyone was strictly in theme, it just looked Cure-ish, mixed with the more traditional Halloweeen shenanigans. Special thanks goes to Nataleigh, our resident American, for bringing along lots of Halloweeen-y things like pumpkin pie, fake spiderwebs (on top of the real ones, haha) and being a gorgeous Roberta Smith. As an old Curehead, and, you know, proud of it, I couldn't help really going for it, putting all my Cure stuff together and playing, among other things, the Cure's Greatest Hits, the fabulous "Pornography" deluxe reissue, which I purchased especially for the occasion after hearing about it for ages, "The Top", that incredible Paris 82 bootleg, the Trilogy DVD etc. Great to see everyone! Especially my old neighbour and B'ton soulmate Toni, back for a while from India, who on first re-contact hadn't changed at all, and that's a good thing! when she arrived ,and she was the first, the party started immediately on a good note. Cheers!

scary plus

i can't find the photos i wanted to upload but i've found a jpeg called scary plus. hmmm

Saturday, November 04, 2006

London Film Festival: "Our Daily Bread"

I've been to the London Film Festival. Well, the very last day of it, and because it was the last day i had no big hesitation to see two films in a row. I always seem to catch up with these film festivals at the very end and then get really into it, when it's almost too late, it was the same with the Lesbian and Gay Film Festival a little while ago. I guess it's better than nothing. When it comes to film in London i seriously seem to miss so much but it's near impossible to keep up. I always forget how much i like the NFT as well, once i'm there, especially during one of their many festivals, I want to see almost everything they show, as it's almost always worth seeing. It's a great place to see films and hang out, and it's completely smokefree now as well.

Anyway, on Thursday I finally got to see a film by my cousin, Nikolaus Geyrhalter, who has made several feature length documentaries and is quite well known these days. I've been meaning to see one of his films for ages, but they don't get shown here on TV or in the cinemas and I never got around to find out how to order them. I don't think amazon does them but i now saw that there is an Austrian website where you can order them. I definitely want to see more and will check it out.

"Our Daily Bread" is a series of scenes filmed in food production factories, slaughter houses, plantations, huge industrial complexes where animals are reared, etc, with no further narration, all you hear is industrial noises, animals, and occasionally factory workers chatting casaually. A lot of is very shocking and disturbing, especially the slaughterhouse scenes, and especially if you're a vegetarian (i'm not anymore though seeing stuff like that is making me think about it again, for some reason the way animals are kept and treated and killed is a big touch more shocking und upsetting than the way vegetables are). it doesn't show any, um, alternative ways of food production, smaller scale / organic / freerange / ethical, whatever, and it doesn't have a clear message, and i guess, that is part of its strength too, it's very disorientating and doesn't let you off the hook, so to speak. All you see is huge industrial complexes with some isolated workers who largely seem really detached from what they're doing, well, it is their job, trippy corridors, giant spaces, and occasionally you see these workers having a break, eating, um, in some ways the fruit of their labour... there's a hypnotic quality to some of it, and a morbid fascination to see exactly how things are being done, especially in the slaughterhouse. One scene that sticks in my head is of a blond lady casually cutting off the legs of cows carcasses gliding by...or a shot of pigs being transported to the slaughterhouse. I really, really, really love pigs, ya know, and there were some cute pigs in that van, showing off for the camera almost! So a lot of curious insights, no clear direction and an elegant and overall almost ambient feel. Time Out calls it "a 'Koyaanisquaatsi' for meat and metal fetishists" and that's not too far off in my opinion, haha

I wasn't sure whether i should really stay on but managed to score a ticket for another very good film in Cinema 1. "I Don't want To Sleep Alone" by Tsai Ming-Lian is a long atmospheric sort of love story with hardly any spoken words, set in a slummy city in Malaysia, with long, vaguely horrific, trippy scenes in run down apartments, bedrooms, cafes, corridors, construction sites and an all encompassing smoke/fog during the last bits. By that point I was sort of a vegetable already, I finally got this cold thats been going around and it was the first day of it, and for some reason the films slow-moving but nevertheless captivating and engrossing mood fitted it well. I really liked it. Need to go to the cinema a bit more...there's something about seeing films in such an environment too, however uncomfortable and expensive it can be, there's something about being sucked in together and not being able to switch off that makes it more powerful.