Thursday, 31 July 2008

A new book

I've finished writing a new book. A novel.
I don't think I'll say what it is called or what
it is about just yet. It has taken 15 months
to write though and it features 93,000 words.

It needs editing yet but I'm feeling pleased
about it. Now begins the hard part.

Wish me luck.
Excessive amounts of it.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

A non-existent new poem vs. Lil Wayne

I feel like I should write a poem and post it here
but instead I thought a Lil Wayne video might
suffice instead. US censorship laws are odd aren't
they? You can rap about veneral diseases and how
ill your dick is, but you can't show branded soft
drinks on TV.

Anyway. Two years after the rest of the world
I've 'got into' Lil Wayne.

Monday, 28 July 2008

'Hey, what's up?' This is what is 'up'.

In between working on my tan (current state: 'cooked ham'),
I've been busy with lots of writing projects recently.
Some fiction, some music.

I wrote this piece on the long-lost 70 glam band Zolar X
for The Guardian. Apparently there's a documentary on
the band in the pipeline.

I also interviewed Scars On Broadway for Bizarre magazine.
Scars is Daron and John from System Of A Down's new band
- we have history (of sorts).

I also wrote a guest column about five bands readers should
lookout for. The bands I mentioned were Oneida,
Gob$au$age,Freelance Mourners, Pre
and Sad Season.
I'd link to themhere if I wasn't so lazy. You'll have tobuy the
magazine to read either of these pieces. Alas, not everything
in the world is free yet.

What else? Oh yes, I contrinbuted some fiction to
The Abstracta Project, which appears to be a collaborative
remixing of words by writers such as myself, Steven Hall,
Lee Rourke, Stewart Home, Andrew Gallix
and
Matthew De Abaitua.
I have no idea who is behind this
project, or what it all means, but I think I like it.

I interviewed Lemmy from Motorhead for Mojo.
That's out in August.

I intervewed British Sea Power for someone.
That's out September.

I reviewed some books for ShortList magazine.

Oh, and I continue to channel the spirit of Axl Rose.

Does anyone care? About any of this? I have no idea.
But I'm stubborn enough to keep typing, I think.


Wednesday, 23 July 2008

BSP at the NHM

The right honourable Luke Turner has made a rather splendid
short film about British Sea Power's recent show that he put on
at the Natural History Museum. You can watch it with your eyes

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Caught By The River

Jeff Barrett and Robin Turner (of Heavenly Records
fame) have relaunched their CaughtByTheRiver.net
website that I sometimes contribute to. It features
a great balance of music geekery, fishing and nature
writing and has been quite an inspiration to a project
I am currently working on.

Here is the official press release...

Caught By The River
Website launch
www.caughtbytheriver.net

In an age of blackberrys, mobiles, and time is money, fishing is an increasingly eccentric sport. We often sit for hours and nothing happens. There really is no point to it. Coarse fisherman don't even ever eat their catch. However, if you fish, you have the time to think again, to appreciate and savour the moment. Fishing enables you to take stock, gain perspective, remember great books, hum a tune you haven't thought of in years. It makes you human again. Sitting with your own thoughts is good for the soul, and you never know, a float might go under, an alarm sound and there'll be a flurry of activity. Then again, maybe not. It doesn't matter, you've taken time out of the rat race. That's the key.

Currently a celebrated blog,
Caught By The River launches, rather symbolically on the opening day of the coarse fishing season, as a fully-fledged website on June 16th 2008. The blog, initially established to document days out by the bank of its creators Jeff Barrett, Robin Turner & Andrew Walsh of Heavenly Records, has been running for just over 12 months, yet the restrictions of the blog format, and the many dusty un-explored corners of the Caught By The River idea, have necessitated its transformation into a website.

Like all great capers the idea, spirit and ethos for Caught By The River developed out of a pub conversation between it’s co-conspirators, and despite the lack of a discernable plan of any kind, the past twelve months have seen the blog feature an esoteric and enthusiastic collection of passionate musings, emotive recollections, gushing eulogies, heartfelt obituaries and informative articles from a disparate bunch of hugely talented and unique writers. From the legendary angling author Chris Yates, to Waterlog contributors John Andrews & Dexter Petley through to renowned ‘cultural commentators’ Jon Savage, Kevin Pearce & Don Letts, acclaimed music writers Ted Kessler & James Oldham, authors Ben Myers & John Niven and even the legendary Edwyn Collins, the constant thread has been passion and a love for sharing their own personal utopias and shangri-las.

Although ostensibly a site with a passion for angling, its open-minded raison d’etre - the search for the long-lost secret lake of our dreams and the documenting of the delights once found – extends far-beyond the bank. Equally at ease celebrating great pieces of music, fine bottles of ale, the beauty of the great British countryside, books that take you far-away from the hum-drum and everyday & even delightful slices of cake, the joy in sharing its varied loves is refreshingly all-inclusive; this is not a site afraid to reveal its sources or hide its labels, rather one dedicated to spreading its enthusiasm, its eye for detail, its obsession with the minutiae, its revelry for the finer things in life and its love of simply ‘being there’.

Once launched on June 16th the site will collate the current blog content into a far more user-friendly format. The regularity of postings will continue yet the website will afford Caught By The River the chance to offer longer, more in-depth pieces, a blessing considering the quality of writers the blog has already attracted.


Finally, Caught By The River recently signed a publishing deal with Cassell Illustrated, the current plan being to publish a book in Spring 2009.













(Picture: Adelle at Birkdale Tarn. By Me.)

Monday, 21 July 2008

'Lets Hang The Landlord'

I just wrote the biography for London punk collective
The King Blues' next album. They're very nice,
intelligent chaps and a million miles away from the
hordes of young scenesters with hair straighteners
who make me want to stick to my old folk records.

The first single off the album 'Lets Hang The
Landlord', which is not only a great punk rock
singalong single, but also pretty much sums up my
own experience as a squatter in Kennington,
South London circa 1997 - 2001. Here it is....

LETS HANG THE LANDLORD by THE KING BLUES

Sunday, 20 July 2008

'Hero Of The Underground'

My pal and fellow Brutalist poet Tony O'Neill has
a new co-written book out this week in the US.

Entitled Hero Of The Underground it is a biography
of NFL tooballer-turned-dope fiend Jason Peter.

It has just entered the New York Times best-seller list at #33

Here is some further info.

Hero Of The Underground - Early Press Reviews

"Peter, a star at the University of Nebraska's storied football program in the late 1990s and a first-round NFL draft pick, details his short, frenzied life as a drug user and veteran of the treatment center circuit. It started with painkillers in college, which turned into a full-blown addiction as he battled an array of injuries that ended his career by his late 20s. Avoiding self-help urgings and self-congratulations, Peter (who is now clean) and O'Neill have crafted an unflinching look at the dark side of a life devoted to pleasure. The book's power lies in his honesty in detailing the depths of his despair from seeking the next high.”

- From Publishers Weekly

Hero of the Underground gives us a portrait of red-blooded jock as monster dope fiend. It’s a savage, unsparing, eye-popping ride through the dark soul of big money, endless drugs, American manhood, and our national past time---self-destruction. We’re lucky he lived to tell the tale. Had Hunter Thompson been a football player instead of a fan, this is the book he’d have written. Flat-out, mash-your-face-in-the-dirt amazing.”

- Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight


"Bruising... more harrowing than usual. Peter’s narrative relentlessly focuses on the brutalizing facts, and it is free from the macho posturing and self-congratulatory navel-gazing common in recovery memoirs. Nightmarishly honest."

- Kirkus Reviews


"Wow, I am not sure how to express how unsettling this wound up being, for me. The book is a sledgehammer. When I think about the book, I feel this sort of hollow whistling in my chest. Jesus."

- Nancy Rommelmann, New York Times bestselling author of The Real Real World


Friday, 18 July 2008

Articles for The Guardian

Masks!

Knives!

I have a terrible track record in the music business (Part I)

I remember in 2002-2003 when everyone was going on about The Hives and The Vines and all that, I went to see this uknown band The Star Spangles in a little venue in London* and thinking that despite their shit name they were great, mainly because growing up I had always liked Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers and also because they were so ridiculously New York, so painfully Bowery-in-1977, that it was laughable, but at least they weren't even pretending that they were doing anything contemporary, and also the fact that the singer reminded me a little bit of a young Nick Cave, and also a cobra.

Afterwards I reviewed them, then I called them in New York and interviewed them and I tipped them in some magazines and - as usual - I was wrong, no-one cared and the band got dropped by their major label.

This was not uncommon. As a music journalist I was always tip the wrong bands because I have terrible music taste. Most journalists do. (I reviewed The Strokes first ever UK show and said they would remain in obscurity for twenty years.) I don't care though. A good song is a good song, and it's even better if the artist is wearing quality footwear.

I'll probably write more about my terrible predictions for greatness and music-related failures in the future. There are many.

Anyway, The Star Spangles had at least one good song, which reminded me a bit of The Replacements, Bruce Springsteen and maybe even Hanoi Rocks (actually, they sound a bit like The Hold Steady too, come to think of it) and which I haven't heard for a few years until about four minues ago. It was called 'Which One Of The Two Of Us Is Going To Burn This House Down?', which is a good title for a song, and a good title for a short story too. Maybe I'll write a story with that title. Maybe the song will be hailed as a classic in years to come. I doubt it. It's not that good. Maybe the short story will, though I suspect I will never write it.

Here's the song.

(* Afterthought: I 'signed' the support band that night to my then-fledgling record label. I also tipped them for greatness. They sold about 150 albums. They were still great though. Footwear.).


Thursday, 17 July 2008

5 Days Boiled Down To The Bare Bones

watermelon

coffee

writing

cycling

coffee

writing

eating

watching bad TV

(censored)

sleeping

watermelon

coffee

writing

listening to German prog rock

cycling

spliff

sleeping

writing

some guy kicking the shit out of some other guy

eating

sleeping

rain

reading

watermelon

coffee

writing

cycling

writing

e-mails

spliff

eating

shaving

reading

(censored)

Axl Rose

spliff

sleeping

sleeping

sleeping

checking Facebook

not checking Facebook

writing this

stiff legs.


Friday, 11 July 2008

Beat-Off / Watermelon

Chris Killen reviews the NY wing of the
Off-Beat Generation for 3:AM (though,
come to think of it, half of the cast is
from the north-west of England). Still:

nice.

In another news, I'm still eating watermelon
every single day. Sometimes twice a day.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

(0 . 0)


I'M SO HUNGRY

I COULD EAT
A TAPEWORM.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Things That Are Good, July 2008.


A Confederecy Of Dunces
by John Kennedy Toole
Andrew Stevens' interview with Cathi Unsworth on 3:AM
Tent Boxing by Wayne McLellan
Preteen Weaponry by Oneida
Carnivale Series 1
The Roundhouse, London
Gavin 'Bluesbeaten' Redshaw
'Let's Hang The Landlord' by The King Blues
Johnny Thunders: In Cold Blood by Nina Antonia
Zolar X (pictured)
watermelon for breakfast
not this shitty weather
my new bike
Axl Rose.









Sunday, 6 July 2008

Lucha Libre!

I went to see the Lucha Libre Mexican wrestlers
yesterday at The Roundhouse and they were amazing.

I'm thinking of running away and joining them as 'El Bongo'.

Cassandro, the famed 'exotico' (below), was my favourite.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Canongate

I'm mentioned in an article that Chris Killen has written about
literary blogs for Canongate's website. Canongate are partly
responsible for many of my favourite writers and Chris Killen
is a very good writer too so this all makes me mildly aroused.

I had to go for a swim to calm down. Then I dug out an old
copy of a rock magazine in which I reviewed that week's singles
with glove puppets Sooty & Sweep (US readers may wish to
reach for Google at this point). Definitely a career low, that.

Onwards.


'Dream No. 616 - 624'


I dream of

shaven-headed

skinhead girls.


They’re all

laughing

at me.


I’m just standing

there,

largely unphased.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Spam Lit: the silver lining of junk mail?



Andrew Gallix of 3:AM (and the Sorbonne) has written a great piece about the rise of spam poetry for The Guardian in which he very generously mentions me. Here it is.


Spam Lit: the silver lining of junk mail?


Spammers embed chunks of literary classics to dodge email filters. Weird/wonderful nuggets are found in inboxes. 'Spoetry' is born

Here's what happened. In order to bypass increasingly efficient filters, spammers began embedding blocks of text - often pilfered from great literary works via Project Gutenberg - in their junk mail. Techniques like the Dissociated Press algorithm were employed to randomly generate new, essentially meaningless texts or text collages ("word salads") so that each message would seem unique. Lee Ranaldo has compared the outcome to a "dictionary exploded". Another early aficionado, Ben Myers, observed that "it was as if the text had somehow been remixed and shat out down the wires of modernity". "Spam Lit", as Jesse Glass dubbed it in 2002, uncannily mirrored bona fide literary experiments that were taking place simultaneously: Jeff Noon's exploration - through textual sampling and remixing - of "metamorphiction" in Cobralingus; Jeff Harrison's aleatoric poems based on Markov chains; or even Kenji Siratori's baffling cyber-gibberish.

Equally intriguing was the trend Wired magazine identified in 2006 as "empty spam": Spam Lit messages that were, paradoxically, all lit and no spam. The consensus among geeks is that they were probably "misfires" due to faulty server connections. To their recipients, however, these instances of found poetry - often containing nuggets of unwitting but unalloyed beauty - seemed, in Myers' words, like "scriptures from the future" or "postcards from another planet". Discovering them in your inbox made you feel like Cocteau's Orpheus picking up cryptic poetic messages from the underworld on his car radio.

No wonder, then, that Spam Lit should have inspired the only new literary genre of the early 21st century (if we exclude crimping). The earliest examples of spoetry on record date back to 1999. A pioneering annual competition was even established by Satire Wire the following year. By 2003, when the BBC picked up on the phenomenon, it was already quite clear that writers were approaching spoetry in very different ways - an observation confirmed by Morton Hurley's Anthology of Spam Poetry (2007). Some, like Kristin Thomas only used the subject lines of spam messages; others were content to cut, paste and add their names à la Duchamp. Myers, who has just published a collection entitled Spam (Email Inspired Poetry) believes, for his part, that the secret lies in the editing: "A spam poet is as much an editor as a bard". Sonic Youth co-founder Lee Ranaldo, who has also just released an anthology (Hello From the American Desert), uses spam emails as a source of inspiration for his own work rather than as a raw material. Mark Amerika, meanwhile, describes the composition of his 29 Inches as a "spam collage" and a "narrative remix".

Although published last year, Amerika's work was written in 2004, which also happens to be the year when Myers and Ranaldo penned their first spoems. None of them were aware that others were doing similar things at the same time. There must have been something in the air. If my inbox is anything to go by, however, Spam Lit is now on the wane, so the time may have come to assess the merits of spoetry, its literary by-product. Beyond the genre's obvious affinities with automatic writing, cut-ups, constrained writing (of the Oulipian variety) and found poetry, is it any cop?


(Originally published here: www.blogs.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/07/spam_poetry.html)
















Killer Right Hook


I grabbed my camera and walked to the park to capture

the pink winter sunset but two school girls were kicking

holy fuck out of one another in the midst of a baying

throng of about fifteen boys and girls in loosened Friday

evening uniforms so in a sudden and misguided flash of

community-spirited, adult-minded duty I waded in and

tried to tear them apart but they were pulling each other’s

hair and swinging fists, eventually they came apart when

another girl bit one of their hands and as they broke away,

one of them, a chubby black girl with bloodied teeth and

wild eyes, let out a killer right jab to my mouth and I had

to hand it to her, it was a good precise punch, and the throng

took a collective intake of breath but the fight was over,

the girls were all out of puff and after a while they all kind

of drifted apart and went their separate ways until there

was just me left standing there in the mud, rubbing my

swollen jaw and wondering what had just happened.


The pink sun had set. It was dark. It was December. My thirtieth year.