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Archive for the month “August, 2014”

trick cycling for the coast

The recent demolition of some large cooling towers reminded me of the ending of Brazil. I hope some of these fantastic industrial archaeology structures remain standing once all these power stations end their working lives [not to be used as torture sites of course].

I must admit I frequently have used ‘looped’ music as some kind of creative, mind-flip spur. I guess that is what trance music is about? There certainly is a medical/psychological reason it has effect.


unicycle for the coast

What if you had to listen to only ONE track for all eternity!? I think you’d go mad. But then perhaps all eternity would make you mad anyway [just at a slower pace than listened to only one track day in day out].

Author J.G Ballard once said that he had a wind-up gramophone record of The Teddy Bear’s Picnic which he listened to hundreds of times as a child; and then couldn’t stand for decades after.

I believe the USA has used such torture in recent years; subjecting inmates to days, weeks or even months listening to the same ‘music’ [it surely must stop being such after several days; accept perhaps for the ‘sic’ part]. Amazingly there are recording artists, whose tracks have been used in this manner, who cant see how using music in that way could ever become tortuous!? What egos [or simple minds] they must have.

I’d think that different music might make you go la la in different ways? Heavy thrash industrial metal noise as against sickly sweet happy happy joy joy pop. I think I’d have to chose something at least ironic.

minibus for the coast

My short tracks list for the desert island would be [though some are hardly short!] the list below. This list was FAR more difficult to decide, there being many, many more times the number of songs to choose from. It is just off the top of my head. In fact I think that from the thousands and thousands of songs one must hear over a lifetime, crunching a list down to only eight must be next to impossible; hence perhaps the interest of the original programme conceit?

Desert Island Discs

I think the only way to proceed properly would be to choose songs that have real meaning in your life/memory or to compile a list for every year, cut that down to one track a year, then every five years,  etc till only eight remain?

I eventually had to simply choose tracks that I know I like/could listen to over and over again. Though I don’t believe you can really tell with newer tracks. [In no particular order; listed chronologically]:

  1. Misirlou, Dick Dale and the Deltones, 1962
  2. Contact !, Brigitte Bardot, 1968
  3. Nutbush City Limits, Ike and Tina Turner, 1973
  4. Poptones, Public Image Ltd. 1979
  5. Your the Voice, John Farnham, 1986
  6. Runnin’ Down a Dream, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, 1989
  7. Ready to Go (U.S. mix}, Republica, 1997
  8. Blindness, The Fall, 2005

last bus for the coast

I have been looking for this live version for decades [I heard it when released] as I hate the studio album version with piano, and don’t think other live versions have the same intonation.

This would be one of my Desert Island Discs tracks. I can’t believe you only get EIGHT songs! And no dictionary!? Apparently the most requested tracks by guests of the show [broadcast now for over 72 years] and in a recent public poll are largely classical music in nature [perhaps simply due to the radio station’s listener make up?]

My tracks would be [in no preference order; listed chronologically]:

  1. Close to the edge, Yes, 1972
  2. Tubular Bells, Part One, Mike Oldfield, 1973
  3. Super’s Ready, Genesis, 1974
  4. Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 6-9, Pink Floyd, 1975
  5. American Pie, Don McLean [Solo album live version 1976]
  6. Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen [A night at the Opera album version 1976]
  7. Hotel California, The Eagles, 1977
  8. Chase, Giorgio Moroder [maxi-version 1978]

Obviously within the rules but all long tracks. And all strangely come from the album oriented rock era of the 1970s [ I was surprised to realise that!] with the total running time at nearly 2 hours. I was also surprised to see that the tracks pretty much span the decade, at a song a year [American Pie is really a 1972 track], which was certainly not by design. I wouldn’t have heard anything before American Pie at the time it was released [I would have heard most of them in the early 1980s].

I will have to work on another list if only short tracks were allowed. I am sure it will be very different/more spread over the decades.


Strangely, one could argue that there is a paradox in action with regard to contemporary identity, as it pertains to society? On the one hand governments want us to be easily identifiable individuals but on the other hand they want us to act in unison. Or perhaps it is simply that they want us to act as a whole when and only when it suits them?

Beyond any modern day notion of ‘security’ [whether that be in terms of terrorist/criminal/protestor] there is something unnerving about the seeming unnaturalness of identical identity? Which is why we double take at twins, look in the mirror, have so many frightening stories about doppelgängers, fear an invasion of the body snatchers?

With a growing world population [mostly confined within cities] the 21st century battleground will be increasingly not between races/creeds/genders but between the two interconnected interests of individual and society.

Man as an individual is a genius. But men in the mass form the headless monster, a great, brutish idiot that goes where prodded.

Charlie Chaplin


So it soon might be [if not already in many places] illegal to go out in public with your face/head covered. Perhaps the wearing of sunglasses may become restricted to secret service personnel and celebrities who are prepared to pay a ‘cover up’ tax?

I find it fascinating that at one time, the appearance of a face, shape of head even, were considered to be reliable indicators of an individual’s character/personality. Of course although physiognomy and phrenology have become discredited, a deep-rooted belief remains that looks do matter. Certainly it does seem that there is a relationship between perceived ‘attractiveness’ [symmetry and proportion of facial features] and health.

I think, just as with clothes fashion, everyone should be able to represent themselves as they see fit. Else there is a slippery slope of ultimately non-enforceable dictates ; what do you ban: wigs? hats? false eyes? make up? plastic surgery? As all alter to some extent a person’s original/usual appearance.

The idea [though coming from a good place – security for all] that an individual’s face belongs to the society they are part of, is ridiculous. Crime/breaking laws is the offence. Trying to head off any wrong doing by making everyone hyper-visible is wrong-headed thinking. It is as silly as stipulating [notwithstanding ‘nude’ x-ray type technology] that everyone has to walk around naked in public so that no concealed weapons can be carried.

That this measure has never been enforced one assumes is down to notions of public decency? But these are the very same arguments given by certain cultures when it comes to baring/covering of the face.

Personally I would love there to be a global face cover day every year [not Halloween] when the whole population of a given area [it would be different in different locales] all donned exactly the same face/head mask. A whole town filled with Margaret Thatchers or Abraham Lincolns or Gandhis or Ming the Mercilesses , now that would be amazing! I see no reason why Venice or carnival should have the monopoly on mask wearing.

catch fire


The Day the Earth Caught Fire, 1961.

At the end of the week a newly restored print of the film will be shown at the British Museum to a select 1,200 people [billed as an outdoor screening but in fact in the covered forecourt ]. Heather Stewart, creative director at the BFI claims that “The film has been rather forgotten.” Do these administrators ever get out? Forgotten by whom? That is no more meaningful a statement than saying that practically every 1950s and 1960s British film has been rather forgotten by most people.

The Day the Earth Caught Fire is one of those what if-eco-cold war bomb-disaster movies that were quite popular around the middle of the last century; particularly the 50s through 70s. The most striking aspects of the movie are the orange-tinted opening/closing sequences and the ambiguous ending. And of course, always good to see a deserted doomsday London.

weird cinema

A great attempt to catalogue non-mainstream movies with a certain interesting je ne sais quoi. I guess the problem with such an endeavour is selecting films which are ‘weird’ but still watchable? After all it would seem pretty easy to put together any old rubbish that was merely peculiar, but with no other merit.


The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Most difficult to allow for is that as our reference points change so to likely our definitions of ‘weird’? Something that was perfectly understandable to an audience in 1920 say, might now be completely incomprehensible simply because our knowledge and frames of reference have changed. Likewise, efforts that may have seemed very unusual [indeed even suppressed/banned] when made, through the passage of time, may become less so.


emphatically opposed

A very interesting article about book cover design in relation to Nabokov’s Lolita. And another re Ballard’s book covers. If only competent authors had more say in the complete package of their words. At the very least the final veto on any inappropriate/terrible images. Both of these authors shared more than a few real turkeys. One wonders sometimes what the cover designer actually knows about the narrative? Or is the cover content dictated by the publisher?

It is all too easy to get iconic imagery. Not necessarily timeless [tastes change with fashion] but certainly not future groaners. Perhaps this is where the ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ expression really hits home.


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Running the entire tube network to raise money for Alzheimer's Research UK and War Child


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