from the box labelled “Assorted Swell Things To Hit Dog On Head”

Thinking this through in the light of day, there’s probably a deeper reason I’ve been hunting for and posting all these various recent pix of little rubber monsters and plastic spacemen the past few evenings. Clearing and selling my late parents’ house was a BIG TASK, of course: and not undertaken solo — my sister was there with me, with her little daughter in the evenings — but the kind of thing you have to face in a kind of solitude all the same. And afterwards to mark a boundary and detoxify, we all went on family holiday together (the first such not w/mum and dad).

Holiday over and back in London (w/sister et al gone to their home), I have many many excellent friends, and more on-line, but the specific sense of solitude definitely welled up again this last week, especially in the evenings: because it’s not really about company as a cure, it’s about how you process your past — what’s gone and what remains.

One element of that past, when mum and dad were themselves young still, not yet dauntingly ill, not yet seriously disabled, was, basically, my army of monsters and spacemen, tirelessly gathered from toyshop cheapie shelves and gumball machines and (now and then) rescued off the pavement. Silly and small perhaps, but this is often where the intensity is concentrated.

Family notwithstanding — my sister in particular (we were close as kids and remain so now) — I was a pretty solitary kid: when I wasn’t reading I made my own amusement; fashioned and peopled my own worlds. There was an element here of compensatory activity and self-absorption: my dad was diagnosed with Parkinsons when I was 7; by 12, I was certainly actively/subconsciously distancing myself from committing to certain kinds of emotional bond — because I (half)knew and (semi)anticipated the pain of future loss that is always embedded in such bonds. Safer to stick with my wee rubber guys: at least until punk rock began to glint and beckon (I’m simplifying and cartooning, but not enormously).

So yes, this is a trivial indulgence; and yes, it’s something I evidently needed to do for a brief season — which brief season is probably not ended; and nor (I’m guessing) is this going to be the only manifestation.

(Crossposted at tumblr)

“They’re your dad”

There’s a reason Alex Harrowell’s name is bigger than Adorno’s in my tag-cloud. Here he is on UKIP’s current electoral make-up, following on from here: and noting that there’s a fuck-off HUGE split in the party between its new intake and its upper organisational structure (which is made up of posh-boy cranks, basically: “the sound of flapping white coats,” as John Major once said of Sir Richard Body).

fairytale procedural: smiley unleashes the wrecking ball

Robin Carmody messaged me on FB to say he’d just been reading my le carré rereads on ilx, and enjoyed and agreed with them. Since one of my projects here is I guess to begin to centralise my boringly dispersed and rhizomatic self, I thought I’d link them here. This is the original, inset in a longer ilx thread: liveblogging Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. This is the same excerpted at FT (i.e. all the rest of the entertaining ilx chatter cut away). This was intended as a liveblog of a reread of Smiley’s People, except things ran away with themselves and I ended up just posting some thoughts (on an ilx thread no one else ever contributed to).

spotted recently on freaky trigger: sükråt of that ilk

Notes on Adam Ant (the “paper” I gave at EMP in Seattle this year) and the Spice Wars (feat.Russ Meyer and Buffy and the Powerpuff girls and early ilx); a long note on Lady Di and the old weird England in the Popular thread on Elton John and Candle in the Wind ’97 — and the beginnings of a response to the various questions Frank Kogan asked in comments on the Oasis post, a response which is VERY LONG (9000+ words) and RUMINATIVE and SEMI-THOUGHT-THROUGH, and covers Burke, Keats, Wallace Stevens, the internalised bureaucracies of the institutionalised intellect (and where music fits into them); and what we mean by the words “thinking” and “clarity”.

straight girls who identify as “rotten women” (腐女)

the meat of the story is a bit grim, but this fact^^^ isn’t: “”Irony is the glory of slaves” is the quotation Seth likes. See also Nüshu, the same story from a very different angle

via jamie kenny, yr go-to source for the chinese underbelly

kerze

Over at Popular, Tom’s reached 1997 and Elton and Lady Di — his essay is of course excellent, and so are many of the (currently) 120+responses, especially Phil Sandifer’s, which is all about Blake and a haunted political unconcious. I’ve been superbusy all week, so my (very late, very long) comment is way down the pack; so I’m reposting it here also. Continue reading

schoolroom vs hallway vs hallway

or, Maybe this is the best place for my mean little joke about why they called their fanzine “monitor” hoho

Little essay for FT on art, class and autodidacts: featuring Oasis, Joseph Beuys, Arthur Scargill and Richard Jobson, among others. Tom Ewing and Frank Kogan are already arrived in the comments on excellent form: my fantasy thread would eventually also include Mark E. Smith, Robin Carmody and Robert Christgau duking it out with Liam and Noel Gallagher and maybe even one of the Appleton sisters…

“shtick fur-balls revisited” (= proposed titles in my head so far)

virtual space issue zeroIt was called Virtual Space and there was just one issue, “issue zero: place-kicks”. We made less than 20 copies, mostly by hunting round town for a photocopier with an A2 bed. It was an experiment, a mockup for a magazine, and it had no date appearing anywhere on its pages. (But it was early 1989, I’d just quit NME and wasn’t on-staff yet at The Wire.) We were serious: we went looking for funding. The other of the two being designer Paul Elliman, who’d just left The Wire. (Note to self: I haven’t seen Paul in an age and must call him up.) Continue reading

ketchup 2013

Three things I wrote recently (a catalogue essay and two reviews). Silence is an Irish film, about sound and memory (and between the lines a reflection on the work of John Cage). Michael and Cornelius Cardew, father and son, were a potter and a composer respectively: this (PDF: scroll to p.5) was for the catalogue to the Crafts Council’s Sound Matters exhibition. And this is the teaser for the piece I wrote about post-war electronic music in Eastern Europe, though you’ll have to buy issue 86 of Eye magazine to read the whole thing. All three pieces somewhat hover round the tradition of the graphic score (pictured: Boguslaw Schaeffer’s PR I VIII), which has been all over the place recently: if I were a better journalist, I’d have got in early on this little flurry of trendiness, and then maybe some of the discussion would have been better also haha.

I was also Bob Stanley‘s editorial consultant for Yeah Yeah Yeah, which I loved working on and heartily recommend, even if I seem to have failed to convince him that Def Leppard are tremendous.