Normally I have to muster forth with something pithy and witty to write about a new magazine title that my palms are itching to hold and gently peel apart. But not so for Baron, for their copy is too good not to just speak for itself…
Enter Baron, The Erotic Paperback Magazine for gentlemen and ladies who enjoy a cocktail, chit chatting about modern art, fine dressing and when the lights faint and the gin runs out, become connoisseurs at taking their companion into bed. When the curtains are drawn, their companion close by, a delicious set of under garments are exposed, a camcorder pulled from beneath the four poster bed and a pair of bespoke leather handcuffs revealed. Meet Baron, at the core of human desire, to be read in one hand and never left to gather dust. Issue One stars the charming adult entertainers Paige Turner, Syren Sexton and Zex, Baron explores The Pubic Wars – Playboy versus Penthouse, bonds with the very delightful film director Bruce LaBruce, drinks tea with a Madam and discusses double penetration with gay porn star Colby Keller. Baron uncovers the Last Peep Show in Soho and chats film making with the UK biggest adult entertainers, Harmony. The issue is brimming with tantalizing art and fashion from the worlds finest perverts: Adrian Wilson, Aids 3-D, Anne de Vries, Antje Peters, Aaron McElroy, Bill Durgin, Blommers/Schumm, Bruce LaBruce, Michael Grieve, Pedro Ramos, Pinar Yolacan, Robi Rodriguez and our cover star, the gifted photographer Qui Yang.
… I’ve got mine, get yours
Their web home
Poke them if that’s the sort of thing you like doing www.facebook.com/baronpaperbackbook
The magazine’s continuing war against my wallet, just ordered…
Acne Paper Issue No13 The Body
I’ll admit it, it was actually hearing editor Thomas Persson’s sexy voice that made me want to buy. Perhaps all magazines should be made to have audio introduction by their creatives. Acne appear to actually be a fashion label, Swedish Acne Studios, unlike Vice and American Apparel which appear to be co-joined in some sort of way, Acne is a direct product of the clothing company but intriguingly isn’t about fashion specifically. There’s a lot of art and photography including a favourite of mine Malerie Marder, with essays interspersed.
There’s a large selection of pages online to browse through just small enough so you can’t read the copy. I only hope the hard copy has that yummy shiny-paper offset-litho-printed smell so Persson and his crew can stimulate all my senses (I’ve yet to lick the page).
Meant to include this is my last round-up of new titles I desire. I’ve followed Sex+Design’s blog for a while so was intrigued when they announced a physical version. To pluck three disparate contributors from the debut issue “Foreplay” (see what they did there?) you get: JT LeRoy, author of “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things”; Eine, the graffiti artist who has brightened up my neighbourhoods; Fox Harvard the prolific but always fresh nude photographer, I particularly like the way he sees no difference between film and Instagram. How could it not be a win? Still saving since postage to home is as much as the cover price.
Slightly tenuous reason to post I know: the portrait I took of Nicolas Royle as been used on the jacket of “Murmurations – Uncanny stories about bird”, an anthology of short stories about… well kind of self explanatory.
That said, it’s worth publicising, as an editor he has an excellent eye, or is it ear, for short stories. Along with Daphne du Maurier’s almost compulsory “The Birds” there’s “The Beautiful Room” by RB Russell, originally only available in a short run chapbook and a new story by Tom Fletcher. The last being reason enough for me, his “The Safe Children” being a modern horror classic.
Add to that all proceeds going to the RSPB. With the nights drawing in grab a copy to read a story on those dark train journeys home from work.
Brian Sergio is a photographer and artist working out of the Philippines. Remember how I said I loved people who make things? Well, Brian’s printed up a ‘zine of snaps and stuff done over the last year. This sort of behaviour has to be encouraged, yes?
Ordered my copy, more news when it arrives…
It’s been eighteen months since Steven Hall left teasers on his web site regarding his follow-up to The Raw Shark Texts. Until radio silence is broken a reminder of how imaginative his debut was.
Devora Ran is “sex culture magazine” publish in Spanish and English. It is excellent. I am an avid fan.
So it is with considerable delight that I can announce the latest issue has a little feature on my work.
You can read it online but I urge you to buy a copy, in fact not just a copy but the back issues as well. I have them. They are beautifully produced and printed, containing interviews and articles as well nudie pics – a feast for the mind and eyes. Probably the sort of journal you’re meant to imagine when some one tells you they only buy Playboy for the writing.
They have a blog too.
Sun rays hit our face. Tastes simplify, no need for darkened dance rooms, own up…radio on…pop music.
Sister Wife (Star Slinger Remix) Alex Winston
California Sunrise Dirty Gold
Heart To Tell The Love Language
My Name Is Trouble Keren Ann
Oh Hark (Aeons Remix) Lisa Mitchell
Bones (Live) Misty Miller
Rebel Yell de montevert
An unholy trinity has made it’s presence known. Horror is a much maligned genre, our favourite monsters given an unwelcome birth, only with time are they granted literary pedigree. Tom Fletcher’s chapbook “The Safe Children” is one of the most unsettling stories I have read for quite a while, without recourse to the supernatural – true modern horror. So I read with some excitement, or should that be dread, that Nightjar Press are publishing his second title “Field”. His stories to date have been set up North, “Children” in Whitehaven and his debut novel “The Leaping” in Manchester.
Which by coincidence is home to Joy Division, whose “She’s Lost Control” Spoek Mathambo has covered in a “darkwave township” style. Apparently. Of particular interest it also marks the directorial debut of photographer Pieter Hugo, his series “Nollywood” exploring the themes found in Nigerian horror films. Here he turns eye and hand to produce a monochrome vision, translating the fear of epilepsy to a voodoo St Vitus dance.
All these gothic undoings are not only restricted to the North, just opened in East London’s Shoreditch is the Hoxton Street Monster Supplies selling everything a monster might need.
It’s open to non-monster humans, or the public as they call them, and sells a full range of canned fear. Which might also contain humbugs and a specially commissioned story from authors including founder Nick Hornby, graded by fear level culminating in Zadie Smith’s strictly for adults tale, enclosed in a tin of Mortal Terror.
Other delights include Thickest Human Snot, Old Fashioned Brain Jam and Organ Marmalade, all proceeds go to supporting the centre.
Horrible stuff indeed.
The world seems on fire right now.
No time for introspective looking back.
Nuflavour pop tunes to fuel the flames.
Gimme Star Slinger
Control – Original Mix Spoek Mathambo
Rolling in the Deep (Jamie XX Remix) ft. Childish Gambino Adele
Another World The Chemical Brothers
Dear Heartbeat Darkstar
Dusk Till Dawn Nedry
Obsessions (Acid Girls Remix) Acid Girls
My Cloud Gil Scott-Heron And Jamie XX
New decade, like some neo Darwinistic arms race music mutates on; it’s a post dubstep world I’m told. Star Slinger, Darkstar and James Blake intervene amongst others.
The Streets fifth and final album “Computers and Blues” – a fitting black swan song.
Farewell. The sound of my city.
There exists certain things that don’t neatly fit into pigeon holes, that move in different circles. Perhaps they can find shelter with each other.
Lipstick and Bullets
I mean happy is all well and good but as these December nights draw in we seek something a little darker side to warm our souls: songs for fires and nightshade.
Summer may be dying on its feet but we ain’t going out like that.
Cee-Lo Green is going to be all over the internet by, well, today, but that’s not stopping me posting. Get used to it because I reckon you’re going to hear the rest of the summer long. Pariah, Pinballsound and Disclosure add some dubstep, topped with Shangaan disco (the next big thing?) and oldskol Ghanian Hiplife.
Crossing boundaries and swimming in ponds.
Floating on breezes and staying in bed.
Very excited as to what the mailbag will bring in the next few days.
As Nude Paper have just announced that the second issue is rolling off the press any day now, it seemed highly prudent to grab a copy of the premier issue while still in stock. It pertains to be a fashion magazine for the underdressed and oversexed. Mine’s in the post.
Boris Hoppek is a artist, painter and photographer I very much admire and feel a kinship with. He photographs nudes, and clothes them with the surreal and the bizarre. Where others might objectify he confounds and delights in his portrayal of the pin-up and porn. Imagine if David Lynch was a small Japanese cartoon character instead of a Hollywood director. He makes a very good hairy vinyl vagina too.
Not content with knitting bimbos he produces Lavagina – a magazine of ironic erotica. Naturally I had to have a copy.
A minor gripe, one the reasons I delayed in purchasing Nude Paper was trying to source a UK outlet for the magazine. As seems very common when purchasing internet magazines the postage can double the price. Nude paper is a very reasonable €8, plus €4.50 for it’s plain brown wrapper. Lavagina a bargain €6 but €10 to smuggle it into the UK.
Print publishing is a costly business and whilst willing to finance beauty that can be held between the palms, a tenner to receive it adds a sting to the tail (Apparently there is a postage standard called printed matter which is far cheaper). I for one would be willing to wait a little extra for my cheap parody of porn if I could save a bit on packing. Consider it foreplay.
Last January perusing Amazon I came across Michael Marshall Smith’s “What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night”. Published as a “chapbook” by Nightjar Press. It pertained to be a new work – of some significance as there hasn’t been anything by “MMS the speculative fiction author” for quite some time. Instead, only those by Michael Marshall the thriller writer, although recently some decidedly otherworldly elements have creepy into his work. That wasn’t a typo, just an awful pun. Sorry.
I should have jumped at the chance to purchase, but didn’t, and must admit it due to ignorance. Unsure as to what a chapbook is; I instead filed it away for further something or other. And forgot. Until a mention on 3AM jolted my memory. To find it sold out.
Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapbook) tells us that “a chapbook is a generic term covering a pocket-sized booklet, popular from the 16th through to the 19th century. No exact definition can be applied.” Very useful.
Before MP3 released us from the tyranny of the format there were two ways you could digest your music – the album (for adults) and the single. I am not referring to the media but the presentation. There is the EP but it’s really a bastard child, albeit a particularly cunning and clever changeling.
The heyday of the Seven inch was serendipitously in the Seventies. No nostalgia here. I am only keen on false remembrance – the mental construct of imagined times: things are better now. And the seven inch still exists.
But for a decade the single was sacrosanct. Peak sales were racked up in that decades first half, where a stateside hit could buy you a house. Or mansion. But its true cultural nascence hit with punk. Until then only the EP and album were donned with a printed sleeve. The throw-away pop disk wore a plain black or white wrapper. Punk gave rise to the printed jacket, adverts boastfully proclaimed “with picture sleeve” (let us ignore coloured vinyl). (Though in Africa singles were sleeved in the cast-off backing paper used to print table cloths, a far more colourful and apposite decoration.)
Better writers have eulogised on the singles anthropological impact. Bill Drummond in 45 and Nick Hornby repeatedly. What is agreed, is that palpable sense of excitement, of anticipation. Bringing the disk home. Slipping it out of the paper bag. Poring over the sleeves decoration, studying it to yield clues as to what lay beneath (bands were bought on recommendation, on hearsay). For punk made the adornment as intrinsic as the music. Elevated it from object to artifact.
And when it lived up to expectation: the rush, a whole world encompassed in three and half minutes. To be transported back there: placing the needle back at the spirals start and spinning again. And again. And again.
Where it differed from the EP or the album was this monosyllabic rush. This epitome. This zenith, that screamed I am it, I am all you need, your three and a half minute fantasy. I believe the average time for another act. The fact the flip was called a B side already relegated it to an apology, a mechanical necessity. For the curious and the fan boy.
If the short story is the power-chord pop equivalent of the mature concept album novel, then unfortunately it can only be served in the collective form, the EPs suffocation of the anthology. What is needed is a format where it can sing its single praise.
I’m sure everyone has got the chapbook analogy long before I labored this metaphor home.
Suppose a story so scintillating, so self-contained it needs only a cover of it’s own. In Nicholas Royle’s words, who runs the press, “deserves a cover of it’s own”.
So we return to Nightjar, publishing single stories in the speculative arena. Each one wrapped within an especially designed full-colour jacket, published in limited edition, currently around the 250 mark. Beautiful objects holding up their belief in themselves high above the impending wave of print-on-demand and e-books. A little sliver of goodness you hold in your hand, and know slipping it to a friend will pass with it a shiver of delightful badness.
This tale may have had a gloomy ending so fondly sought in gothic fiction, but at the eleventh hour I managed to attain the remaining copy of MMS. Currently in the post.
Also sold out is Tom Fletcher’s “The safe children”, a modern reinvention of the horror story with no recourse to the supernatural. A fantastic tale that lingers (or is that loiters) long after conclusion. Highly recommended but unavailable, so, before the other titles sell out, do yourself a favour and purchase the chapbooks still in stock. Don’t let your fear of an unknown format spoil your chance to indulge in some fear of the unknown modern gothic undoings.
As an end note, a coda, Postcard Records (who brought us Orange Juice) started a singles club. Where for a subscription you were posted a monthly release. With only faith in the labels taste that each proffering would cling to your heart. Continued by Subpop in the 80s with Nirvana and currently Moshi Moshi with Slow Club.
Both Salt and Route offer/ed a book club where you receive/d a jamboree of next editions (Route no longer). So pretty please (or dark ugly dank please) Mr Nightjar can we have a chapbook club to save us forgetting to monitor the blog and thus miss an edition. In the meantime for the price of a pint purchase a perfectly-bound-it’s-own-sleeve-3-minute-burst-of-literary-single.
When Daniel Eacott, co-creator of indexhibit – the software that runs my site – say “make something” I’m sure he’s referring to the physical; been time poor recently but have managed to foster three playlists…
bbmm bbm bbrmm bmm bbmm bbmm bbrmm bmm ad infinitum
(Clue? Sébastien Tellier, Tegan & Sara, Grandadbob…)
Mung or meld of favourite themes: folktronica snogs chillwave tongues nudisco rubbed all over with dubstep light (dubskip?). Or stick a big shiny pink pop sticker on it.
Stone cold classics: nothing too obscure: a man, or a woman, the dark hour of the night, the human condition, dragged along with guitar or piano. Buckleys, Drakes and Parsons should tell you which heartland we’re heading into… (Tissues optional)
Malcolm Robert Andrew McLaren 1946 – 2010
Above all else he was an entertainer and I will miss him and so should you.
I have never cared about a ‘celebratory’ death before, for someone I have never met, but with the news of Malcolm McLaren’s death I unexpectedly feel a sense of loss, emotion at his passing. Without hyperbole I can say that this blog would not exist were it not for the phenomenon that he and Johnny Rotten hurled at Britain in the hot summer of ’76.
The minute my best friend played me ‘Anarchy in the UK’ my life changed forever. No exaggeration. And not just in spirit: my career has been peppered with people who one way or another were influenced, employed, nurtured or infuriated by him. No point in listing names or events for this post is for Malcolm alone.
Be childish. Be irresponsible. Be disrespectful. Be everything this society hates.
Malcolm McLaren, fuck forever.
One of the bonuses of being on holiday is assaulting the pile of unread books.
Just finished Chris Killen’s ‘The Bird Room’. Very quick to read, extremely good.
If you are wondering what it’s like I have produced a hopefully useful venn diagram:
Received a copy of The Black Holes debut release, adorned by my photography. But that’s not the point – the thing worth actually mentioning is that it’s great. In a rather downcast, darkcore, not exactly having the best of times, sort of way.
But don’t let that put you off.
Here’s the track ‘Little Piece’ which encapsulates their broodingly opulent sound.
A full underwater body massage whilst eating bitter chocolate
Redux. Double redux. Two previous posts combined. Nic Kelman’s ‘Girls’ is brutal, compassionate and unforgiving, unflinching, cruel, and understanding. Comprising short stories on the motives and fears which drive middle-aged men to sleep with teen girls, whose love for their wives is in direct proportion to their perceived notions of youth and beauty. And at times pretty saucy. I found the book compelling enough to kick-start me into writing. Can’t think of higher praise.
The publisher Serpent’s Tail have one of the stories online so you can have a read for yourself.
And if found interesting enough buy a copy, for The Erotic Book Club have chosen it as their book of the month and will be discussing it at the book club’s next meeting, to be held at 8pm on Thursday 25th February at Donlon Books.
The Erotic Book Club. Donlon Books. Unit 3, 210 Cambridge Heath Road. London, E2 9NQ.
They suggest bringing a bottle of wine along to share and help loosen tongues. Their future reading list also includes Ewan Morrison’s ‘Swingers’ whose short stories ‘The last book you read’ was another major contribution in inspiring me to start writing. Men behaving badly. But well read.
By the frequency of my posts eulogising the 8tracks site you will know my appreciation for the art of the mixtape. Would you let a computer algorithm pick what you are going to wear? So why let it choose what you listen to. Before going any further, lest we forget, let us pay respect to Muxtape who gave us the first mixtape site before legal botherers shut them down (a happy ending: they are back, but as an official artist showcase).
London has many delights, one of the more obscure being FilmFriendsForver, a movie club which shows up and coming shorts at the Queen of Hoxton for just a few quid per screening. That’s films with good music and drinking inbetween, hell, you can even drink at the bar during the films. A great evening evening out and they are lovely people to boot.
At their Best of 2009 screening I caught ‘Mixtape’ which is simple, sweet and fabulous. Like the closing line of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity it will put a great big gooey smile on your face. Made by Luke Snellin, I was delighted to find it online, and so am now able to share the joy, watch it and bring out your inner soppiness.
And if we are discussing stories with emotional heart This zine will change your life have a high calibre entry this month with Sally Weigel’s ‘Sometimes It’s Hard’, a story with a zing in it’s tale. Recommended reading.
To wrap it all up I could hardly bow out this post without ending with, well, a mixtape…
My offering left of field acoustic, mainly covers, post-coital good for the bedroom, which could be reason enough for a lint pun. You’re going to sing, you’re going to cry, you’re going out crazy as fuck. Featuring punk arse balladeers (particularly if you make it to the end).
I admit it, I’m getting that tingly feeling, etiquette must allow us to mention the c word by now. A Christmas playlist, a companion mix to last year’s Snow Fever. Slightly different mood this year, not because of lack of inner elf, more that new quality seasonal songs aren’t that copious for a 8track each year (you may spot a 70s classic in there).
Eight Christmas songs on the reflective side. Not obscure but not exactly that popular either. (p.s. in December the lovely Slow Club sing it as “it’s Rudolph, it’s Rudolph, why can’t you see…”)
Pirates, time travel and Captain Najork
Towards the end of March this year the trailer for Spike Jonze’s ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ hit our laptop screens. I immediately scrawled a post what with it being a favourite book from my childhood, and since read to my brood, brought my nephews, etc., along with being a fan of Jonze’s work. But I relinquished it to the draughts bin figuring it would be all over the internet already.
With it’s impending release the glossies are again filling with interviews and articles on Jonze, but with no mention of the reason I wanted to write it up. The screenplay is by co-authored with Dave Eggers. And it’s not even that he wrote it. It’s what he has done.
He is a hero, a superhero in fact. And pirate.
I have a pile of his books on my desk that I have brought but never read. So why is he a hero to me? Simple, in 2002 along with Ninive Calegari he founded 826 Valencia – a writing lab to help local students with free one-to-one literacy help. And sell pirate supplies.
The empty premises they rented in which to set up the writing centre and publishers office had only zoning for retail as SimCity has taught me to say: it could only be opened as a shop. So they decided to use the front as a front, selling pirate supplies. What takes this from being a good idea to brilliance is their attention to detail, aside from the fact that what their mission could genuinely be described as awesome, it is also a very splendid pirate suppliers, one of David Byrne’s top five in fact.
Which then inspired the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. or 826NYC, where a secret door between the invisibility potions and cloaks leads you into the writing lab. There’s 826michigan or Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair, 826LA or the Echo Park Time Travel Mart, 826CHI or The Boring Store (which doesn’t have anything to do with spies), 826 Seattle or Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co., and 826 Boston better known as The Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute.
I could rattle on about the inspiring work they do and the fantastic stores they front the labs with but Dave Eggers does a much better job of it, here’s his TED talk on the project:
Or watch it at your leisure over at TED –
The attention to detail and humour does not stop with the physical stores and the produce, each has a wonderful web site too.
And not to forget the fantastic work they do head over to www.826valencia.org and read up on forthcoming events, then onto onceuponaschool.org to find out how you can help your local school. In case that last part didn’t register: if you don’t live close enough to 826 to donate a couple of afternoons every six months, then Eggers has set up Once Upon A School, an organisation seeded with prize money from TED, offering support to people in volunteering at their local schools.
Don’t worry, I feel shallow and complacent after hearing him talk too.
But there is value in goofing off, fooling around and playing too, which is the moral behind “How Tom beat Captain Najork and his hired Sportsmen” by Russell Hoban, another favourite book of mine supposedly intended for children. Whilst Eggers re-imagined the picture book ‘Where the wild things are’ for adults, Hoban who is an award winning author best known for ‘Ridley Walker’ and ‘Angelica’s Grotto’ also writes childrens’ books, much like Roald Dahl, who also used Quentin Blake’s illustration skills.
His invented language skills seen in ‘Ridley Walker’ comes into wonderful play during ‘How Tom…’ where the protagonist has to eat his greasy bloaters and potato sog under the watchful eye of aunt Fidget Wonkham-Strong, who wears an iron hat. Highly highly recommended and like Antoine De Saint-Exupery’s ‘The Little Prince’ reminds us that play is as important as any business ethos.Track down a copy via www.abebooks.co.uk, or Amazon if you must.
Feed your inner child. Just not on cabbage and potato sog.
Reading ‘Red Men’ by Matthew De Abiatua – a near future farce on marketing and consumerism – the protagonist is analysed by software and his tastes served up exactly. Whilst user spending profiling is with us, and I don’t want to start getting all paranoid and muttering about living “off grid”, there are some things that algorithms can’t quite pass muster at.
Playlists being one: Genius Bar from Apple, Last.fm and thesixtyone all work quite well but they rely on genre tags, customer also likes and similar. What makes a great mixtape is the throwing in of something unexpected; out of character but which just makes perfect sense. A bridge between worlds. No point in getting too philosophical here, Nick Hornby’s ‘High Fidelity’ covers the ground well enough.
8tracks are made by humans (actually this post is a kind of repeat of one a few months a go so I will cut to the chase, to the drop), it’s a great source of discovering new tunes so I felt duty bound to return something to the pool and slung together a triptych of mixes – each a very different flavour. Hope something catches.
Wasn’t going to mention it, but I find myself becoming, well not excited, but warmed by thoughts of the return of Peachy tonight…
David Gale’s Peachy Coochy Nites
The projector projects 20 images for precisely 20 seconds each. The Coocheur (or Presenter) speaks for precisely twenty seconds per image. Randomness is discouraged but narrative linearity is not automatically esteemed.
David Gale, having launched a nationwide performance must-have, continues to curate this series of Peachy Coochy events at ArtsAdmin’s stylish yet reassuring Bar. Each event features six Coocheurs, or Presenters, drawn from many walks of life. Each Coocheur will compose a verbal response to 20 images of their choice. Each presentation lasts 6 minutes and 40 seconds. There will be gaps between presentations for drinking and light conversation.
David, something of a Black Belt in these matters, will both compere and present the chippings that may not be reverse engineered towards an originating block.
Peachy Coochy Nites subscribes to the the National Belief System and is therefore committed to the provision of a wide range of contributors such as the wrangler, the wrestler, the trainer, the page, the maid, the surfer, the beachcomber, the collector, she who maintains a corral, he who mends fences, they who do windows.
The next Peachy Coochy Nite will be held, as usual, in the Bar at Toynbee Studios on Thursday November 26th at 7.30 pm. Tickets £5.00. Booking advised but walk up welcome.
The Guardian catches some cooch: www.guardian.co.uk/stage/theatreblog/2008/nov/17/theatre-peachy-coochy-performance-art
Blasted by your booby traps
I felt the blow in both knee-caps
Your eyes did shine
Your lips were fine
And the device in you pants was out of sight
All you give me is barbed wire love
All caught up in barbed wire love
Tangled up in barbed wire love
Throw my leg over barbed wire love
Barbed wire love snags my jeans
Thirty years a go Stiff Little Fingers released ‘Inflammable Material’, featuring their incendiary paean to teenage lust ‘Barbed Wire Love’: a raw marriage of punk and doo-wop.
Both musical movements share another legacy, that of prolific reproduction. Punk with it’s do-it-yourself aesthetic and a fan base centred around live gigs with direct contact to the groups, spawned for a short while a huge number of record releases. Anyone who saved enough money from their Saturday job could put out a record. And with Geoff Travis deciding to form Rough Trade to wrest control of distribution away from the majors anyone had a chance too.
But independent record production has an unsung birth, in the vocal harmony groups of the 40s and 50s, a genre which became popularised as Doo-Wop. Across America in black neighbourhoods groups of friends would gather and vocal harmonise together. With no musical instruments and need for overdubs or mixing levels these groups found it simple to to pitch up at a recording studio, complete their song in a single take, and purchase a pressing of perhaps a hundred records. It is estimate that over it’s 25 year span doo-wop gave birth to 30,000 songs. Shaaa-bop!
The 70s saw a revival in vocal harmonies (Manhattan Transfer anyone?) and Stiff Little Fingers ripped the pastiche apart from the inside and hurled it into present. Their blue print lay dormant for thirty years till Glasvegas picked up the mantle.
Punk was largely posturing and the main players sang of revolution but it was SLF coming up from the streets of Belfast who gave anger of revolt it’s true voice. Buy the album from www.slf.com and listen to the righteous paint-blistering anger of Suspect Device. And then there is their finest moment…
People occasionally cover a Bob Marley song, and usually with a ‘why bother’ result. To equal Saint Bob is something, but to better him…? SLF take Rita Marley’s ‘Johnny Was’ and transpose the senseless shooting of the protagonist from the electoral violence of Jamaica’s Kingston to the occupation and civil war in Northern Ireland. Shedding along the way any pretence of authenticity of reggae and playing it out it a white heat of guitar noise. Still, when Jake Burns rasps “a single shot shot rings out in the Belfast night” the hairs on my neck stand on end, thirty years on.
Is it that good? Buy the album and see for yourself.
My rangefinder is dead. It was made the same year as me.
In Turkey they still repair objects rather than replace them. But not my camera, it is beyond repair.
This is George. We met at Battersea Arts Centre where in the ballroom they still hold tea dances.
It is the only photo of interest from the test roll I shot. Originally I surmised I had not mastered focusing on a rangefinder, but since the moment when the focal ring fell out on the beach, unattached to the lens, I think differently. I have also missed the morning rays learning much about vintage cameras and bidding for a replacement under eBay’s midnight luminescence. Time for me to say hello to the sun again, and for you to say hello to George, the dancing man.
Book clubs — not the reading sort, rather the publishing sort…
As the industrialised world turns digital one of the few media realms so far unaffected from the assault of file sharing programs is book publishing. But it is not immune to the vagaries of the recession.
In May Salt Publishing launched it’s JustOneBook campaign with the news that with the curtailment of the Arts Council funding it would close it’s doors unless it could sell enough books in the coming month to pay its debts back. Banks when they fail to make good business decisions get bailed with out tax money, publishers do not. And why should they you may ask? They shouldn’t, however they should be supported with all our heart when they put out consistently great titles, beautifully packaged and most importantly: harbour an adventurous oeuvre.
Book sales may be slowly climbing unlike it’s counterparts in the film and music trades, but with major book shop chains using their weight to batter down profit margins it is leading publishers to a homogeneous critique; best sellers only please. Salt take a gamble, putting out books they think are great, you know this is true when you see the volume of poetry titles they publish (www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2009/may/27/poetry-salt-publishing) – hardly a genre to bring you riches. Did I buy just one book? No.
And the answer’s not I brought two or similar punch line. (I once ran a record label which in the space of a few releases lost all our profit in producing gorgeous sleeves, distributing CDs for the cost of postage only and giving away tracks by our most famous artist as free mp3s, so I know something of producing things you love against commercial constraints). The reason I didn’t respond to the campaign is that I was already signed up to their book club.
For a flat fee of £40 you can join The Story Bank and receive over the course of the year four short story titles, 30% discount of any other books and a free copy of David Gaffney’s “Sawn-off Tales”. Do it now: www.saltpublishing.com/books/smf/subscribe.php.
I have mentioned before I owe a debt to Gaffney in giving me the faith to send my one paragraph tiny fictions to literary magazines. It isn’t just this reason that I bring up the Just One Book campaign now: Salt have announced that all there titles are now available through The Book Depository.
Most people seem to have forgiven Amazon over their quiet censuring of gay and adult tiles (www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/apr/14/amazon-gay-sex-rankings-apology), I personally still find it a source of some concern, especially in light of the recent spate of other stories relating to Amazon’s heavy handed business negotiations:
The Disappearing Buy It Now Button
Amazon shrinking publisher profits with The Kindle
Amazon deleting content from your Kindle
The last story is perhaps testament to why a physical book may remain impervious to the digital realm a little longer, apart from being a thing of beauty to hold forever. I still buy from Amazon of course, at the end of the day the recession gets to us all and a cheap price is not to be sneered at, but allowing a single corporation to monopolise distribution is not a good idea. So now for the good news…
The Book Depository is as cheap as Amazon if not cheaper and postage is free worldwide. To celebrate I’m buying myself a copy of Nuala Ni Chonchúir’s “Nude”. May I also recommend Richard Bardsley’s “Body Parts”. I want Salt to be around to publish me or the poet Anne Baker so go on, buy one book.
To finish off with some symmetry… waiting for the plane on last year’s holiday I picked up a copy of Route Publishing’s “Ideas above our station” as it featured a short story by Sophie Hannah, who writes poetry alongside chilling tales of psychopaths, and found in the back details of Route’s book club. I joined, and today on the beach a year later I read the copy of “Born in the 1980s” I received via the club, thoroughly enjoyable (vote for it at the People’s Book Prize once you’ve brought your copy), and as a bit of icing featured a story by Chris Kellen whose blog of sardonic ennui I read. No sign of the book club on Route’s site which is a shame, so best join Salt’s before it too disappears. (Did I mention I got a handwritten note with my first arrival, is that not worth joining for alone?)
Reading on the beach means I should be entitled to make some awful pun about salt, sea and sand, but I wont.