Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Of course, this being Irk The Purists, I couldn't leave you hanging with a Take That clip. Check out this recent performance of John Cage's 4'33" from the Barbican. I know that the piece was written to accommodate (and point up) ambient sounds such as rustling, breathing, coughing etc. (though I can't help thinking that some of the coughers during this performance were taking the piss--have they never heard of Halls Soothers?). However, a thought struck me as I watched it. What if the bane of contemporary theatre--the mobile phone--had made its presence felt during the performance? The piece was written some 50 years before the mobile became ubiquitous. Would a Nokia ringtone be accommodated in the aleatory scheme of things? Or would people have tuted and glared at the miscreant?

John Cage At UbuWeb

And people say Saturday night entertainment is dead!

My wife reckons this is the most exciting 4 minutes of telly ever broadcast. I wouldn't quite go that far, but it was certainly the most exciting four minutes of the weekend, in a Busby-Berkeley-meets-Colin-an-Justin sort of way. And yes, I do expect to get royally flamed for putting this up here.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Cooper (Re)Union

Hooray! After a short hiatus, my favourite YouTube poster is back. DigitronTV (see Fri Aug 25th 2006) has re-emerged with the username JahPunk, and, appropriately, his offerings are mostly punk and reggae, with the occasional foray into punky reggae. Among the many gems are this piece featuring a young John Cooper-Clarke, still working in the toolshop at Salford Tech, talking to an only-slightly-older Tony Wilson, presumably from the latter's So It Goes show on Granada TV. Enjoy! And see more of Digitron's wares here.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Rupert bared

While we're on the literary tip, I will just give a final mention to Rupert Everett's autobiog. There's a good chance it'll be hitting the remainder shops fairly soon, as I've heard it didn't sell nearly enough copies to justify Rupert's million quid advance. If you see it, do grab a copy. You won't regret it. He really is wasted on the screen. He should be permanently slaving over a hot word-processor, churning out more gems like Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins. Don't believe me? Here he is on 1976: "Punk in the heatwave was the trailer to a new England. They were the advancing rabble, wobbling in the shimmering desert smog towards the World's End, and the end of the world as we knew it. Their Boudicca, unbeknown to them, was another peach blonde with a lot of egg white in her beehive: Margaret Thatcher. She would be the Main Attraction; they were the razorblades on the wheels of her chariot. They both wanted to get their hands on the past and slash it to pieces. Punk wanted to fight on the high streets and shatter the windows of the greengrocers. Maggie the grocer's daughter was going to close those grocers down and put up Tesco's. They wanted anarchy and so did she."

Unlike most celeb autobiogs, this one doesn't pull any punches. Sexual indiscretions are related in minute detail. Names are named; Susan Sarandon and Sir Ian McKellen, for example. Here he is on meeting with Sharon Stone, with whom he reportedly shared more than screen time: "...(the) story took place in New York, London, Beirut and Moscow, and faking them was going to be difficult. All of this, however, paled into insignificance when, at dinner with Sharon early in the rehearsal period, I realised something that had hitherto escaped me. She was utterly unhinged." His stories about Orson welles are worth the cover price alone.

Just in case you're thinking this blog is morphing into some sort of fogeyish writers salon, relax. Rupert does have a musical connection. I was blissfully unaware of this before reading the book, but he was actually being groomed for pop success in the middle of the eighties, to the extent that Simon Napier-Bell was managing him, and he actually cut two singles to widespread public indifference. Despite a thorough search of the murkier corners of the internet, I haven't been able to find an MP3 of Rupert's assault on the charts. I anyone can point me in the direction of either of his singles, I'd be very grateful. In the meantime, read his book.

Buy Red Carpets And Other Banana Skins

Yet again, it's been brought to my attention that the MP3s on this site have been screwing up. They're hosted on a couple of free file servers, and I guess you get what you pay for: downtime, files being renamed, generalised snafus. So, I've deleted all the MP3s thus far (when I started this thing I intended to only leave them up for a few weeks each anyway), and am currently looking for a new file host, preferably free, and reliable would be a bonus. Any recommendations?

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I'm a bit of a Martin Amis fan. Or, at least, I was. Recent efforts, from Night Train onwards, have seen the law of diminishing returns set in; I'm afraid I've even skipped reading Koba The Dread and House Of Meetings. I've always been intrigued, though, by the "By The Same Author" lists in the frontispieces of his books. One book, listed along with his journalism compilations under non-fiction, was entitled Invasion Of The Space Invaders. There was a time, pre-internet, when I went searching for this book once every year or so; it was long out of print, and no library seemed to have a copy. Though Amis had hinted at an interest in pub games in his novels and his newspaper and magazine writing, I fondly imagined that the book was more journalism, the Space Invaders of the title being metaphoric rather than the real, Taito-manufactured ones. Over time, after countless fruitless searches, I rather gave up on ever seeing a copy.

This changed three days ago on a long weekend in London. While browsing the fantastically expensive but thoroughly intriguing Dover Street Market in Mayfair, a post-modern playground (or "exciting and innovative retail concept") where plaster models of the life-cycle of a chicken and Brown Betty teapots rub shoulders with Comme Des Garcons jackets and John Galliano skirts. A small concession in the shop sold art monographs, first edition photography collections and so forth, and it was there that I laid eyes on a second-hand copy of Invasion of The Space Invaders for the first time. With a foreword by Steven Spielberg, no less, this is, as the title suggests, a fanboy's guide to Gorf, Defender, Tempest, Asteroids, Space Invaders etc. In colour, with pics, printed in Quarto format! The quality and production values were rather closer to those cheapie pop cash-ins that Omnibus used to publish than they were to the standards of Jonathan Cape. But still... I'd have grabbed it there and then, except that it was priced at a breath-taking £150.00 (the original 1982 price was £5.99). Almost as much as a Raf Simons T-shirt.

Since Monday, I've found a few references to the book on the internet, including an amusing aside regarding Nicholas Lezard in this piece from the Village Voice. You can even look at a PDF of five pages of the original, should you be so inclined. In the meantime, I'll be diligently searching the racks at the local charity shops. Well, you never know...

In other Amis news, the man perenially referred to as the enfant terrible of British literature (even though he's pushing 60) will be taking up a post teaching creative writing at Manchester Uni. A campus novel may ensue. As another of my faves, Tom Wolfe, came a cropper recently with his campus novel, let's hope not, eh?

By the way, eagle-eyed readers may have spotted that this blog entry has no connection whatsoever with music. Hey, whaddaya want from me?

Martin Amis on the net

Simon says...

Just in case you're feeling truly jaded, you can click through to the wonderful Simon Napier-Bell's blog, where today (Thursday 15th Feb; you seemingly can't link directly to his posts) he reminisces about masturbating cats with cucumber slices. Rock and roll. It's all glamour, eh?

See Simon's blog here.