Posts from 27th September 2003

Sep 03

He was smart, bisexual, funny, cynical, daring, vivid

Do You SeePost a comment • 255 views

He was smart, bisexual, funny, cynical, daring, vivid, his poems sold tens of thousands on day of publication and went on to grip a generation all across Revolutionary Europe: so why does the BBC insist Byron be read in vague RADA mumbles by a wan queue of second-tier Hugh Grantoids? Because it’s poetry, and poetry’s posh? Because Byron was handsome, and Jack Davenport and Toby Stephens are the best they can scare up? Listen to a British movie from the 30s: that’s how bizarre upper-class accents were just 80 years ago. Byron died 180 years ago, a real actual aristo who took his seat in the House of Lords, Sixth Baron Byron of Rochdale. Admittedly he was brought up mainly by his difficult mama in Aberdeen: even less reason, one would think, to favour heritage listlessness over raging or comic or ANY KIND of energy…

Do You Remember Saturday Morning TV?

Do You SeePost a comment • 999 views

Do You Remember Saturday Morning TV? – Philip Schofield, Emma Forbes, Sarah Greene, Cheggers, Andi Peters, Gordon the Gopher…where are you now?

This morning I switched on the TV and witnessed the hideous debacle that is “Dick and Dom In Da Bungalow”, a show devoid of humour, where kids throw “GUNGE” at each other, and the “ZANY” presenters wander around stately homes in a game where they try to say “BOGEY” louder than the other. Where are the pop star guests? Where is anything associated with saturday morning shows? Whatever happened to FUN?

Oh, maybe I’m being too harsh, but I expect better. And yeah, I probably should be doing something more construtive on Saturday morning, but you know I’m worried about this for the kids. They should be laughing at Philip and Emma in the kitchen when the cookery segment goes wrong, not some kid getting a bucket of gunk thrown over him/her. *SIGH*

At least Top of the Pops Saturday is still on.

La Casa Azul – En Noches Como La De Hoy

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 1,178 views

I was really excited when I noticed that the La Casa Azul songs on the Elefant Records compilation I’d pick up were new. They released a triumphant EP a couple of years ago, featuring bombastic indie pop that only Spanish bands can produce.

This song is, to use the lazy description ‘sunshine sixties pop’, which I always take to mean a sort of speeded Beach Boys where the sadness doesn’t filter through (Help Me Rhonda performed by the Chipmunks). To this we add some twee robotic vocals, plenty of ‘shoobie-do’s’ and ‘oh-we-oh’s’. The music is entirely upbeat and played at 90mph. The song is like those perfect summer days at the beach, which don’t really exist.

It’s great to listen to music where you can’t understand the words, and maybe this is all part of the appeal. I think if I could follow the words I wouldn’t like it so much, as maybe the song is about something completely different to what it sound likes, or features horribly clich’d lyrics occasionally associated with indie pop.

Art in corporate HQs

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 271 views

Art in corporate HQs: bit of a curate’s egg, in general. Except replacing “good bits and bad bits” with “bad bits and really awful bits”. There’s very rarely any kind of curatorial thought apparent in decking out the company lobby – donations, commissions and what might as well be holiday souvenirs mix queasily under a visitor’s distracted eye. A meeting at City megabank Cazenove seemed unlikely to change my mind about this. Oil portraits of bank founders looking proud and a bit bemused. A small, tacky bronze bull sculpture that had inexplicably been put on a really huge table and looked silly. And then, on the second floor, a gem – a lovely, deep blue, abstract canvas; waves upon waves of deliciously thick, tactile, grooved paint, like a swimming pool full of cake icing. I really wanted to stroke it! (I didn’t though, business is business.)

I’m in two minds about privately owned art – on the one hand I like the idea of anyone who wants being able to see good art, on the other I love the idea of bits of art being taken out of galleries and thrust into the vulgarities of daily existence, like boring meetings in banks. What does annoy me a bit though is when you see something you enjoy and can’t find out anything else about it – the painting hung unlabelled and anonymous. Nobody knew anything about it – it was just decoration I suppose, not even ‘art’ at all for the people who saw it every day. The meeting went well enough – the bank serves very nice biscuits with its coffee. I took a look at the blue painting on the way out, and that was that.

Newscasters should be your friends

Do You SeePost a comment • 180 views

Newscasters should be your friends: well, actually, I’m not at all sure if this is true. They pop up in your life night after night, but it’s a bit mad to smile back at them or wave goodnight when they say “see you tomorrow”. So is it a problem being pleased when the WORST FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT IN UK TV HISTORY announces he’s hanging up his mic to devote more time with his “young family”? I disliked his breezy complacency – “Daily I mingle with these who make nations shudder,” his tone shrieked – when it was pretty clear his journalistic footwork consisted of no more than reading the US mainstream dailies and mulching up a bland digest. OK, but it’s not so hard to use bad reporting as a partial source: you just put your own careful quotemarks round the information likely to be weak, and extrapolate. The problem with Channel 4’s David Smith wasn’t his utterly credulous lack of gumption as a hack, it was his VOICE and (worse) his UNVARYING MENU of WOODEN HAND GESTURES!! When a fifth-rate comedian’s shtick begins to enrage everybody, they stop getting work (or get safely boxed off into their own sitcom, where you quickly know to avoid them): but the ghastly tics of newscasters we are forced to endure a lot longer, it seems (cf also their idiotic continuity devices: the CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE BLOODY NODDY SHOT STARTED 16 years ago ppl!).

Anyway what I’m saying is this, apparently: I don’t really mind being propagandised at by proxy, as long as the mouthpiece is a competently artful charmer. Go ahead and rook me brazenly, but don’t insult the canons of my taste!