Best Eurovision Moment After Albania’s rather terrifying sub-Bjork performance, Graham Norton waited a beat, then said: “I’m pretty sure that, if they get her medication right, that need never happen again…” Pete Doherty Interview by Geoffrey Macnab, The Guardian Ah, … Continue reading
Monthly Archives: May 2012
I’m among the interviewees featured in Subculture, Don Letts’ Channel 4 documentary about post-War British street style, the first part of which aired for the first time last night. Others include Jeff Dexter, Robert Elms, Norman Jay, Lloyd Johnson and … Continue reading
Here’s Barack Obama getting it wrong about Bob Dylan’s place of birth, and being tacky enough to mention U2, but being a genuine enthusiast. And here’s Bob, wearing dark glasses indoors, and being minimalist:
ARTIST: TALKING HEADS ALBUM: STOP MAKING SENSE LABEL: SIRE YEAR: 1984 (SPECIAL NEW EDITION 1999) This Sunday (June 3rd) at 9pm, you’re invited to share a listening session with some likeminded souls, wherever you might be. This can be experienced … Continue reading
Jimi w Leonard Nimoy, a photo by Doctor Noe on Flickr.Noel Redding, left, Leonard Nimoy, center, and Jimi Hendrix,second from right, in Ohio not long before the guitar hero’s death in 1970. This is about the meeting between the great … Continue reading
I went to London’s Barbican last night, fully prepared to be underwhelmed and unsatisfied: so many of these album recreations are too ramshackle for their own good, their hearts in the right place but their standards too low. Big Star … Continue reading
Here are some images from The Past, The Present & The Possible, the exhibition I have curated with Sophie Demay and Étienne Hervy as part of their group show White Noise at the International Poster + Graphics Festival currently taking … Continue reading
CHUCK BROWN / OUT OF AIR GO-GO Revisitation Rights 15 The only time I saw Chuck Brown live made a deep, deep, indelible impression on me in an altogether unexpected way. It wasn’t surprising that I only had the one … Continue reading
God help anyone who tries to sing Bonnie Bramlett’s parts– unless it’s Bekka Bramlett! Continue reading
LLOYD BREVETT / SKATALITES RIP Revisitation Rights 13 The news that Lloyd Brevett, the bass half of the inimitable double Lloyd rhythm section of the Skatalites, had moved on to the next phase on May 3 immediately brought back a … Continue reading
Click to read the latest column from Jeffrey Morgan: MORGAN’S MEDIA BLACKOUT #317
Here’s my review in today’s Independent on Sunday of Laurent Binet’s HHhH. Binet frets self consciously about the dishonesty of historical fiction writers who make up details, but he does the same thing himself. Nevertheless, his book is a … Continue reading
This chart, devised by Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007), is his stripdown of the ideal story plot, shown by deconstructing Cinderella. And much more useful than the advice he offered in his 2005 memoir A Man Without A Country:
“Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.”
But he’s a very quotable writer, and this is one sample bite from among the hundreds you’ll find online to save you the trouble of reading his books. It comes from his 1990 novel Hocus Pocus :
“Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn’t mean we deserve to conquer the Universe.”
Mick Taylor-Iridium NYC_5-10-12, a photo by Doctor Noe on Flickr. Mick Taylor shows off that awesome jazzy-bluesy slide work on “You Shook Me” at the Iridium Jazz Club, NYC ~ May 12, 2012 … … with that sweet soul section … Continue reading
Here’s my review of Mark Haddon’s The Red House from the Times Literary Supplement dated 25 May 2012: LEYLA SANAI Mark Haddon THE RED HOUSE 272pp. Cape. £16.99. 978 0 224 09640 … Continue reading
Modern Family Rocks! Or Is That Soft Rocks? Haley has been ripped off—her dad gets ready to confront the perpetrator. Phil: “Yeah I got a plan. Either he gives us the money or he gets a private performance from (holds … Continue reading
While western leaders pretend to debate whether economies should cut back or spend to achieve growth, it’s worth remembering how much they spend on “defence” (ie. arms) regardless.
And when the complaint is that much of this phenomenal expenditure is wasted on projects that come to nothing (as if the rest is value for money) there are always a happy few who don’t complain. Naturally, these people tend to be close to the politicians responsible for the budgets.
“In the first Gulf War, US military technology was more successful, indeed it seemed to function flawlessly. TV images relayed from cameras mounted on bombs as they homed in on their targets turned the war into a spectator sport, and the swift victory did much to dispel memories of Vietnam. A coterie of airforce officers who’d helped plan the bombing campaign – notably an ambitious lieutenant colonel called David Deptula – saw the victory as proof of the virtues of what they called ‘Effects Based Operations’. Advances in technology, they reported, meant that the US could locate strategic targets and destroy them with absolute precision.
“… Deptula made no secret of his desire to turn the entire business over to remote control as soon as possible. The technicians operating drones from US soil, he told an interviewer, were ‘very comfortable with the responsibilities of finishing the kill chain when called upon to do so’. He retired from the air force as a three-star general in 2010 and became chief executive of MAV 6, a company describing itself as a provider of ‘enhanced situational understanding’ of battlefields. MAV 6 now has a $211 million contract to develop Blue Devil Block 2, an unmanned airship 350 feet long that will carry automated intelligence collection systems capable of intercepting and tracing a high-value target’s mobile phone, recording video of his location, and relaying that information to drone operators. Hovering four miles above Afghanistan for days at a time, Blue Devils will cover huge areas and transmit enormous quantities of digitised images back to the US – the daily equivalent, according to Deptula’s airforce successor, of ‘53,000 full-length feature movies’.
“The Gorgon Stare surveillance system, which is destined to be carried by the Blue Devils, was developed at a cost of $500 million and can supposedly keep cars and people across an entire city under constant video surveillance. Civil libertarians, apprehensive about the expansion of the ‘surveillance state’, have objected to its being deployed inside the US. But a December 2010 report by a specialised airforce testing unit in Florida suggests they have little cause for worry. Gorgon Stare’s camera images could not distinguish humans from bushes, or one vehicle from another. It had severe problems working out where it was. It broke down, on average, 3.7 times per sortie. The testing unit recommended that it shouldn’t be deployed, advice rejected by higher authorities, who quickly dispatched it to Afghanistan.”
POP STARS AND BUZZ BOMBS Engrossed in a bestselling history of London, I was fascinated by the tide of events, artfully narrated in scholarly yet readable fashion by a man who clearly knew his subject. I was grateful to a … Continue reading
I was a consultant to design company Johnson Banks for the Royal Mail’s Great British Fashion first day cover stamps. I was particularly pleased to influence their decision to include Granny Takes A Trip, and made sure that John Stephen … Continue reading
Installation of the 280 exhibits for The Past, The Present & The Possible – my new Barney Bubbles exhibition – is underway at Les Subsistances gallery in Chaumont, France. The Past, The Present & The Possible is part of the … Continue reading
This Saturday (May 26) sees the opening at Les Subsistances gallery in Chaumont, France, of the exhibition Barney Bubbles: The Past, The Present & The Possible. This is part of the group show White Noise: Quand le graphisme fait du … Continue reading
A tyrant can shoot down a tiger but shakes in fear when someone whispers a poem.A poem whispers down a tyrant but shakes when a tyrant shoots a woman.A woman is a tiger shooting poems through a tyrant’s dreams.Twice in … Continue reading
My sources suggest that the forthcoming Bob Dylan album may well include a song about the Titanic: a song that is about 14 minutes long. I know no more – and I can’t really “know” even that much. But if it turns out to be true, it’s surely a very rare example of his releasing something to tie in so handily with the centenary of a famous event.
Not that it would be Dylan’s first allusion to this maritime disaster. As I wrote in Song & Dance Man III: The Art of Bob Dylan, he first mentions the Titanic in ‘Desolation Row’:
“The most striking evocation of impending catastrophe [in the song is] achieved very simply – in the one arresting line ‘The Titanic sails at dawn’. That summarises concisely the tone and colouring of the whole song.”
Then there is Dylan’s evocation of this same sense of foreboding in a rather later song. Quoting again from Song & Dance Man III:
“In 1981’s ‘Caribbean Wind’ (issued on Biograph, 1985)…the ‘Street band playing ‘Nearer My God To Thee’’ is not only an allusion to the meaning-loaded event of the sinking of the Titanic… but to the group of blues songs that arose to express it decades before Dylan first uses its symbolic clout himself in 1965’s ‘Desolation Row’: a group of songs which includes Hi Henry Brown’s ‘Titanic Blues’: ‘Titanic sinking in the deep blue sea / And the band all playing ‘Nearer My God To Thee’.’ “
The footnote attached to that paragraph includes this: “The clutch of such songs reflected African-American delight at the sinking of the Titanic, because it signified whitey’s come-uppance, pride coming before a fall and so on. This feeling, however, was not restricted to black Americans. The Russian symbolist poet Alexander Blok wrote: ‘The sinking of the Titanic has made me indescribably happy; there is, after all, an ocean.’ ”
Hi Henry recorded his song 20 years after the sinking of the ship. I’m interested to know, 80 years further on, whether Bob’s forthcoming Titanic track (if it exists, and if it is forthcoming) will draw upon any of these old blues songs, perhaps interweaving some of their lines of blues lyric poetry into his own 2012 text.
One of the world’s most celebrated clubs, The Haçienda in Manchester, opened 30 years ago today, on Friday May 21st 1982. In June 2007, a little after the 25th anniversary, the inimitable Manchester-based writer / musician, John Robb, author of books including ‘The North Will Rise Again: Manchester Music City 1976-1996’ (2009), ‘The Stone Roses And The Resurrection Of British Pop’ (1996) and ‘Punk Rock: An Oral History’ (2006), did a short interview with me about the club’s legacy: WHAT WAS SO SPECIAL ABOUT THE HAÇIENDA? The fact that this was never a club in the conventional sense, somewhere underpinned by sound business logic, but more about the passion of the individuals behind it, people like Tony Wilson, Rob Gretton and Mike Pickering, who had a vision that they could cultivate a club in Manchester that compared with their favourite New York venues, most notably Danceteria and the Paradise Garage Continue reading