Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Albert Hofmann (1906 - 2008)



Have you ever taken so much acid you thought you were a crow or maybe a fawn and all you wanted to do was romp through the wet woodlands for a minimum of six thousand years, covering yourself in mud and fecund and chasing - and catching - the moon in your sharpended teeth

What do you mean you stayed in and listened to The Floyd?

OK.

Here is an obituary piece i have written about the inventor of acid, Albert Hofman (1906 - 2008), who died yesterday.

Monday, 28 April 2008

I Deal...

Here's a piece I just wrote for The Guardian about the sit-com 'Ideal', the new series of which starts tonight in the UK on BBC3.

View the article complete with Youtube links here or read on....

Why high Ideal gives me the giggles

Why is Ideal, in which Johnny Vegas turns in a great performance as a small-time Manchester drug dealer, so underrated?

I'm going to make a bold claim - Ideal is the best British comedy show on TV. Well, not right now. But very shortly.

The creators of Ideal - primarily writer Graham Duff, who also co-stars as serial shagger Brian - must be doing something right as tonight the show is about to embark on its fourth series. Bearing in mind that few comedy shows of worth make it to a fourth series and fewer still are worth watching by that point (Peep Show is the only other one I can think of), this is a major victory for all involved.

So why is Ideal so underrated? Not just underrated as in it only gets mediocre reviews, but underrated in that it barely gets written about, and that you don't hear of Duff being showered with awards and praise.

In an era when dull catchphrase shows such as Little Britain and The Catherine Tate Show remain the biggest comedy draws and witless programme Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps has been stretched to seven series, it remains a mystery why Ideal is marginalised in this way.

Not that it matters - Ideal is already established as essential cult viewing and continues to sell well on DVD. Perhaps the premise is just too edgy for mainstream tastes. After all, all the action takes place in the flat of a small-time Manchester drug dealer Moz, played by Johnny Vegas. Or perhaps it's Vegas himself who is off-putting. When the show launched in 2005, I for one had tired of his boorish, shouting shtick that he seemed to rely upon in his stand-up and endless chatshow appearances.

But throughout Ideal, Vegas has turned in his most subtle performances yet, imbuing his character with pathos and wit. In fact, though constantly stoned, shirking responsibility and with a relaxed attitude to hygiene, Moz is the most grounded of all the characters. And this may be another reason why the show is marginalised - because it undermines the government's endless debate with itself about marijuana: weed-smoking can be fun. You might eschew the washing-up for a long bath and a packet of biscuits, but ... so what?

Ideal isn't pro-marijuana, it just recognises the minor role it plays in the lives of millions. It also acknowledges the role of the small-time dealer who finds himself socialising with people from more diverse backgrounds than a local priest or MP would.

And that is Ideal's other strength - its characterisation. Everyone who passes through Moz's flat is perfectly realised, whether the hilariously swaggering Gallagher-esque scally Psycho Paul who seems stuck in 1995, necrophiliac neighbour Judith (brilliantly played by comic Jo Neary ) or the likeable PC, who supplies Moz with his stash.

And that's without mentioning the gangster who has a cartoon mouse's mask permanently glued to his face, the rogue on permanent probation, a vacantly chirpy Geordie, an electro-punk band called Silicone Valets, the painfully boring horticulturalist and countless others. Only Moz's nagging girlfriend is the one character you can't quite warm to.

Furthermore, Ideal is dark but never nihilistic, is neatly edited and just about as close to nailing the minutiae of life for millions as British comedy currently gets.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Spammy big-ups...thrap, thrap, thrap! (that's the sound of gun fire)

Rah! This blog is written in the style of my friend Akira The Don who is the first person out of the starting blocks to mention my new book Spam: Email Inspired Poetry, which goes on sale today, on his blog.

Thanks Akira.

I only read a handful of blogs regularly. One is Chris Killen's. Chris is probably one of the best rising writers of fiction out there right now. The other blog is Akira's, which never fails to entertain me. Some of the may also know him in his writer guise of Adam Alphabet. Pax!

And Mega LOLZ.

News also in: the kings of punk rock at Crossifre tell me that they are also running a review of the book too. Here it is.

Double rah!

And maybe a couple of other cool sites, and a magazine or two.

Triple rah!

Thanks everyone for the coverage. This is a highly limited and quite non-mainstream publication so the support is appreciated.

I'm moving house this weekend.

From No. 7 to No. 6.

I'm literally doing it by hand.

Dope.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Some thoughts on The Gideon Bible

As a literary text, it’s hard to critique The Holy Bible (bizarrely currently described by Amazon as “Bigger than rock ‘n’ roll!”) without evoking the immediate wrath of some Christians, yet it remains the only book that I have started to read on a number of occasions and resolutely failed to finish each time.

This suggests that I either have limited propensity towards theological studies, a low threshold for endless allegory or perhaps I am just not one of the author’s (God, apparently) intended readers. So, as with, say, Lord Of The Rings, I respectfully accept that while the great book has provided much to many, it leaves me ice cold.

Aside from the fact it is a key text to how modern society is shaped, the reason I’ve started the Bible so many times is because of its ubiquity in hotel and motel rooms in the Western world. Along with the mini-soaps and the sachets of freeze-dried coffee, it is always there, neatly lined up in the bed-side drawer thanks to the tireless work of the evangelical Gideons International who to date have stocked hotel rooms in 180 countries (as well as prisons, hospitals and nursing homes).

The books are placed, I assume, to provide the traveller with spiritual guidance during long, lonely nights. It provides an alternative to per-per-view television and making imaginative use of the room fittings. And it works: the sight of The Bible on my travels never fails fills me with comfort – it’s a constant in a changing landscape.

Yet, while I’m all for free books and think that the reading of anything should be encouraged, when I actually peruse its pages The Bible has the reverse effect on me. I read it and I feel oppressed, down. It’s full of great stories, but their delivery is so dry and sombre that I can’t find a shred of evidence that the author has a sense of humour.

Many the night I have laid on some lumpy mattress in a room next to an anonymous motorway slip-road resenting the fact this droll book has darkened my mood. So now, as with Joy Division or whisky, I avoid it if I’m of a particularly fragile state of mind. I’m pretty sure other travellers have experienced something similar so I propose it is time we offered an alternative to the alternative to playing with the Corby trouser press - something that won’t offend people of non-Christian faiths.

My girlfriend suggests the Norton Anthology Of Poetry would make the perfect alternative and I heartily agree for a number of reasons. It is a weighty read (2256 pages), but a non-dogmatic one. Its contents are largely accessible and offer a broad overview of humanity as a whole, running a gamut of emotions and subjects. 334 of some of the greatest literary minds of modern times can be dipped into and read in any order, the topics explored within largely grounded in reality rather than myth. Plus, reading it, you don’t feel guilty on behalf of the sins of mankind or despair at the cruelty of man. Bonus.

In other words, the Norton Anthology provides something for everyone of all ages, nationalities and faiths, which is more than can be said for The Holy Bible. I could think of no better book to provide comfort and inspiration throughout the night while gently enlightening its reader. Who knows, perhaps some day in the future all motel rooms will up a mini-library instead of just the one book on offer today.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Blackheath promo film for my Spam poetry collection



Geraint Hughes at Blackheath Books has made this great promo film for my new poetry collection Spam (Email Inspired Poems).

It is published May 2008 and you can pre-order copies now from Blackheath .

It is very limited and highly collectible.

In other words: you snooze, you lose, as they say...

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Reasons Not To Vote For Boris Johnson In The Forthcoming London Mayoral Elections


Boris Johnson is a terrible politician, with a terrible track record in both politics and numerous other positions he has held. He has little in the way of discernible policies, which is the major reason I won't be voting for him. Here are the other reasons:

* He's a Tory.

* Everyone calls him 'Boris'. I want an air of formality to surround my mayor, not this earnest over-friendliness.

* Boris Johnson would be required to represent London on the world's stage. Given that he has previously alienated entire cities with crass generalisations (eg. Liverpool) the mere though of this fills me horror. Diplomacy is not his strong point.

* He is too much of a throwback to the male-dominated Oxbridge debating societies of yesteryear. In fact, playing to the crowd during debates his only strength.

* Every time I think of him, I can't help but picture him wearing colonial khaki and cracking an imaginary whip.

* He's a former member of the Bullingdon Club, an elite network whose general agenda involves gorging themselves on pate de foie gras and suckling pigs, then wrecking restaurants while singing "Rah, rah, rah, we're going to rule the world". Then they rule the world.

* He famously assisted thief / arms dealer Darius Guppy in attempting to physically attack a journalist.

* How can he expect to manage one of the world's biggest cities when he lasted as a management consultant for one week.

* ....followed by a stint as a journalist for The Times, a position from which he was sacked for falsifying quotes.

* He was sacked as Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party for telling lies concerning an extra-marital affair.

* The right-wing Evening Standard has been effectively unofficially running his mayoral campaign. It is not a nice newspaper.

* He has admitting to using cocaine, yet sneezed while attempting to snort it. Ergo: he's even rubbish at taking drugs.

* According to reports, journalist Rod Liddle has reported that Johnson has used the word "piccaninnies" in private to refer to black Africans.

* David Cameron 'likes' him.

* His hair. It shouldn't matter, but yet somehow completely does.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Don't eat the oysters

Yesterday's blog piece about finding nature within London (below) has made it onto one of my new favourite reads, Caught By The River.

After I wrote it I had a major attack of food poisoning and have spent the past 24 hours completely battered. I shall never eat oysters again. Ever. I'm finally just about vertical again.

In other news, Beat The Dust TV is a new online TV channel launched yesterday by my writer friend Melissa Mann, and is very much worth checking out.

And finally, why not purchase a copy of the 3:AM London, New York, Paris anthology. It's well good.

Monday, 14 April 2008

'Behind, Beyond and Beneath the concrete city.'


I find myself increasingly drawn to nature.

Maybe it is something to do with the aging process, maybe it's something to do with living in the city for over a decade but I find myself seeking out the natural world in the most unlikely places.

I've taken to getting on my bike to seek out bodies of water in the city. City ponds. Paddling pools. The odd stream or canal. When I get there I just sit there for a while, staring at water.

And here where I sit at my desk upstairs in a two-bedroom house that I have to move out of in two weeks I get to observe nature at close quarters too as it slowly steals a piece of the city back for itself.

In the summer and autumn a fox often walks across the roof of the kitchen. Sometimes it passes right by my window - so close I could touch it. But it can't see me, and in this state it is perfectly relaxed, perfectly at ease. Sometimes there are two foxes out there, just mooching about. I love city foxes. I love their tenacity and the fact they adapt their lives around humans. I like the fact they share the same scavenger mentality as I do, where one man's refuse is another's treasure trove.

On Friday I saw two pigeons fucking out there. Pigeons stay partners for life, so it was actually quite touching to see. In fact, I felt like something of an intruder, even though it is me who pays the rent. Also, they were nice clean, well-maintained pigeons, not like the dirty little skanks with one rotten foot you see uptown. Did you know that pigeon shit and piss is so acidic that it rots their feet away? Well, you do now. That's why you see so many one-footed piegons: because they've haven't learnt to increase the trajectory of the urination arc.

The overall bird-life is pretty impressive in SE15. I saw one bird one day that made me jump out my seat: "Christ! What is that?" On closer inspection it turned to be a jay, a common sight in English gardens. Shows how little I know about birds. Now I see the much-malligned jay all the time.

There are a lot of neighbourhood cats out there too. One of them visits me regularly. I let her in the window and she sits on my keyboard, typing with her paws. When she starts drooling I have to eject her. I call her Suzy. She comes and goes and asks for nothing but a bit of attention, far less demanding than most humans.

The most exciting wild-life are the wilds parakeets that live in Peckham. I'll write more about them another time, but there are dozens of them that live in the trees in the cemetery and in the park. They're a brilliant yellow-green colour and they're noisy as all hell. You hear them screeching playfully as they swoop overheard. Legend has it they are descendants of parakeets that once belonged to Jimi Hendrix when he live din London in the late 60s. I really hope that story is true. I intend to investigate it further.

I still one day hope to see a grizzly bear in the bushes or maybe a manatee in the pond in the park. Don't rule it out. There are things happening out there, behind, beyond and beneath the concrete city, things that most of us don't even notice. Nature is very slowly reclaiming the land.

I intend to help it out in any way I can.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

(Pretend) fishing in (very real) Brixton.


Because I have an insatiable appetite for books and because I'm moving house imminently I packed up a pile of books I'd been sent over the past few months to review and I went down to Brixton.

I like Brixton; it is very much maligned. I've been going there regularly for about 12 years and never had any grief off anyone. I've seen crackheads bottling each other in the face, but they tend to leave me alone, unless I'm buying crack which, invariably, I am not. I can't even drink a beer these days without feeling a bit wahey.

Anyway, I went to Bookmongers (pictured) on Coldharbour Lane and I traded all these flashy contemporary fiction novels with pretty lurid covers and - sadly - shelf lives no longer than a cream cake, for a bunch of books on fishing and a book by that fella off the telly, Johnny Kingdom.

Did I mention I was writing a book about fishing? Well, it's kind of about fishing. Sort of not really about fishing. It's more about friendship actually. And getting arrested. And cutting my feet open. And drugs. And love. And especially about water.
But not really about fishing.

I love to fish, but I live in the most densely populated and most concreted part of the country, so I tend to daydream about it instead.

After I'd got my fishing books I bought a salt-fish patty, a pair of jeans for £6, talked to a girl about Mumia Abu-Jamal and then I came and wrote this.

I'd say more on the matter but my arms are stiff and hurting today.

It's all that imaginary fishing, I suppose.

Boring PS - There are some clips of me reading poetry and prose on Youtube. You can view them here.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Quote Of The Day


"If you can't annoy somebody,
there's little point in writing."


Kingsley Amis said that.
And he should know.

He also said:

"Any proper writer ought to be
able to write about anything."


Both of which I agree with.

I've never read Kinglsey Amis.

Too annoying.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

'In Hollywood'

I heard that
some of them
bleach their
arseholes.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Debut poetry collection by Ben Myers

Morning / Afternoon / Evening / Middle Of The Night,

Good news. I have a new book of poetry out imminently.

It is short, it is beautiful, it is highly limited
and it is published by the wonderful Blackheath Books.

In fact, it is my first 'solo' collection of poetry.

You can hear me reading some of the poems on Blackheath's MySpage page.

Blackheath is run by Geraint Hughes, who is very much The Man.

It is a collection of poems inspired by spam e-mails.
Regular readers will know this is something I have been
working on and off for a for a few years now and this is
a greatest hits of sorts.

Fittingly it is called, quite simply, Spam: Email Inspired Poems.

I'm proud of it and it feels nice in my hands.

An Amazon link for the book and cover image are to follow. Watch this space.

Also, my second, The Missing Kidney will be on sale in the next month. Again, details to follow shortly...

Thursday, 3 April 2008

The Malaise I Read About

I am ill.
Illness gets me down.
Two coffees in and I still don't know where to put myself.
Three hours since I got out of bed and I still haven't woken up.
I have things to do.
My 'To Do' list is longer than my arm.
My throat and my chest hurt.
Somewhere in the future there are deadlines.
Somewhere in the future there are bread lines.
Maybe I should go back to bed?
Maybe I should cook and eat an egg.
But by what method?
Fried probably.
I can't decide.
I need a holiday.
But I have to move house.
I hate estate agents.
I have a book to write.
I have many books to write.
'Rock 'n' Roll' by Led Zeppelin just came on my ipod.
I couldn't feel less 'rock 'n' roll'.
Now it's N.W.A.
I couldn't feel less gangsta.
I don't feel like fucking the po-lice today.
Now it's Hanoi Rocks.
This isn't helping.
Now it's Can.
A little better.
This isn't 'literature'.
This is whinging.
No-one likes a whinger.
The world doesn't need another blogger, does it?
Who cares about your half-baked thoughts?
Everyone thinks they're a writer these days.
If I was a Yummy Mummy I'd have a major book deal by now.
I'd write a book about carrot cake, impetigo and buggies.
I'd write a book about leg waxing facilities in South London.
But my tits don't leak milk.
Thank God, I hate milk.
I can't even have it in my tea.
Maybe I should do the washing up
(let's not get crazy here).
I'm interviewing Eugene from Gogol Bordello later on.
I haven't had a cigarette for nearly three months.
I haven't been properly drunk for a year.
I don't eat meat.
I bought a bike.
Yet still I feel ill.
Thinking about it, I suspect it is world politics that is making me ill.
World politics, MySpace and Facebook.
They're just no good for the soul.
If the 'soul' exists....
Personally I think it is one of those wishy-washy concepts.
But people don't like it when you say that.
They say "How can you say the soul doesn't exist?"
And I just shrug because I have no comeback.
Perhaps I am stricken by ennui.
Perhaps I am in a torpor.
Perhaps this is the malaise I read about.
Perhaps I just need to stop typing.
Perhaps I need to smell the roses.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Captains Of Industry record label, money drain, narcotic taker and alcohol recepticle RIP


-- For immediate release --

Captains Of Industry (2003 – 2008) RIP

Captains Of Industry record label announces dissolution.



To celebrate our 5th anniversary record label Captains Of Industry is ceasing trading as of 1st April 2008.

Captains Of Industry began life as a collective in 2003. Outlined in a series of communiqu├ęs we detailed a ‘5 Year Plan’ (“to release some cool records”). Those five years have now passed and the circle is complete.

Captains Of Industry exit just as they entered – with dignity and health intact. No bitterness, no bankruptcies, no falling’s out.

The recently launched Captains Of Industry Books imprint will continue.

Entirely self-funded and existing for its duration in a time of major transition for music, without so much as an office, phone-line or ‘fruit and flowers’ budget, from 2003 to 2008 Captains Of Industry have released over 40 singles, EPs and albums by bands from the UK, USA, Australia, Iceland and Switzerland.

The artists are: 21 Gun Salute, An Emergency, Blood Valley, Coyote Men, Future Ex Wife, Favez, Gay for Johnny Depp, The Grates, Hell Is For Heroes, Illegal Movers, Kinesis, Letrix, Louie, Marmadule Duke, Minus, Peace Burial At Sea, Silicon Vultures, The Sound Explosion, Sucioperro, TEAM and We Will Be Pilots.

Captains Of Industry could not have existed without help from Cargo Records, James Sherry at Division Promotions, Justin Schlosberg, Chay Woodman and many great bands and supporters.

Captains Of Industry were Lee Milmore, Ben Myers, Richard Myers and Gary Robson.


~ The End ~