Posts from February 2004
Gerhard Richter at the Whitechapel Art Gallery
I’ve never seen so many images in one show – there are several thousand – so on that basis maybe this justifies the high ‘8.50 admission. It’s dominated by his long-term, continuing Atlas project. We get lots of framed sets of images, mostly photos, mostly taken by Richter I think (no credits), plus some clippings and drawings and diagrams. They come in sets: snowy mountains, mother & baby, cityscapes, flowers and so on. The most interesting are those he frames in drawings as if they are a design for an exhibition, or sometimes as if they are views (often ones that make no sense) through picture windows (unless that’s just my misinterpretation). He plays with framing in various ways, with scribbles and bits of tape, sometimes not properly fitting the photo. The photos themselves are mostly of limited interest, but the groupings somehow become compelling, and the transitions between groups have some force too: a friend with whom I went claimed it was tremendously exciting to suddenly see a picture of a person after several hundred landscapes, and I see his point. I also suspect that the serious eye problems I have at present made such a vast number of images unusually hard work simply to see, so I was not necessarily at my most receptive.
Still, my favourite parts of the show were the bonus extras, not part of the Atlas project: a gorgeous large abstract painting where he has scraped away areas of the paint, clearly at differing stages of dryness; and a blood red ‘mirror painting’, which is an eerie thing to see yourself in – another kind of framing, but of the viewer and their environment rather than a created picture.
The show closes on March 14th, so get in quickly if you want to see it.
the “wick effect” just debuted on midsomer murders, so underground culture is officially over (i wz flicking channels OK!!?)
Monopoly ‘ Lord of the Rings Edition
A few weeks ago Mark Sinker wondered “Are there any board games which are actually IMPROVED or AT ALL CHANGED – as opposed to momentarily coloured – by having their own classic scenarios recast to conform to some TV programme or other?” Monopoly’s LOTR edition has a couple of optional variations from S.O.P. The “1” pip on one, not both, of the dice is replaced by the Eye of Sauron, and there’s an extra marker ‘ the Ring, obviously. Every time the Eye turns up on a roll to move by any player, the Ring moves around the board, but only on the color-coded properties. If a player lands on the property that the Ring is on and it hasn’t been bought yet, the player gets it for free. If it’s owned by another player, rent is doubled. And as soon as the Ring reaches Mount Doom/Park Place, the game is over ‘ the person who rolled last doesn’t even get to finish his or her turn. Everybody add up and determine a winner. This last bit is especially welcome in my household, where we think Monopoly is grebt but four-hour games are rub. Since the Eye started popping up, we’ve had games that lasted from 35 minutes to 2 hours.
No need to spend money on another set ‘ just mark one of the dice on the appropriate face, and find an extra marker to act as the Ring ‘ an unwanted Super Pirato, maybe.
Probably the best thing to take away the taste of a Haribo Super Pirato salted licorice drop is a Swedish Pepper Ball (scroll down).
What is the key trait of being a loveably prolific screen actor. If you ask Michael Caine, it is probably something to do with the having the really prolifically (for which read bad) part of you career a good twenty years ago. These days Caine is rarely lambasted for making bad films, mainly because finally he has started to avoid them. If only he had chatted to his old mucker Al Pacino* on this front.
People I Know is a hard hitting satire/conspiracy thriller set in the closing days of Rudy Guliani’s reign in New York. Sorry, that is what it thinks it is. It is actually a rather dull journey into the slightly grey parts of the soul of a very messy PR with a ridicolous Gameboy Camera plot tagged on that would excite no-one. Pacino looks more like the Scarecrow in The Wizard Of Oz than anyone who could seriously hold down a job in public relations. The poorly written ego of the piece is set up so that we are suppose to feel sorry for him when in a drug, drink and stress addled state he stares on blankly uncomprehending when Tia Leone gets murdered. Sure its okay for him, he’s got a fax of Kim Basinger to go back to, its poor old Tia we worry about – whos eidea of superspydom is using a big chunky gameboy camera to record the filthy doings of New York politicos in a 25th floor opium den. Sound intriguing? Well luckily the interesting politics gets put on a back burner as we watch Pacino trying to do Nic Cage in leaving Las Vegas. Just without being in anyway likeable. The acting is a success when it gets to Pacino’s self loathing, I did not think anyone else could loath this character as much as I did at the point.
*Old Mucker on Stella Street obv. My brain cannot actually place them in a flick together. Feel free to contradict this.
OK so Tanya had !!!triply!!! treacherous sex w.Conrad on a Lear Jet, carving her initial on his butt w.her fingernail extensions, for Amber to spot and know and weep. Isn’t this the entire plot of The Pillowbook, except hyper-compressed obv? (I mean, I forget the entire plot of The Pillowbook, but I doubt I’ll forget this…)
Books you’re too old to read at 34
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas ‘ Hunter S Thompson
Despite four years as a student, an insatiable appetite for reading and an impressionable and gullible mind, I’ve never read Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas. I did read Thompson’s book on Hells Angels when I was 21. At the time I was planning to spend the summer with an American girl I’d fallen for. The book didn’t excite me and, in the end, I didn’t excite the American, so Gonzo journalism and young Cathy fizzled out together.
Thirteen years later I read an article on the 100 greatest travel books ever written. Fear & Loathing was number 7. I dug it out from the counter-culture scrapheap that is Waterstones in Romford. And what humourless nonsense it is. Maybe at 21 I would have been carried along in the slipstream. The mix of drugs, cars, drugs and drugs might have seemed intoxicating. But, Jesus, not now. I kept worrying about the guy’s liver and how much debt he was running up. The subtitle is a Journey into the heart of the American Dream. But it isn’t really. It’s just a road trip to Las Vegas on drugs.
The thing that pained me most was this; if the guy is so off his bollocks on ether, speed, acid and LSD and his eyes are telling his brain there are iguanas sitting in the bar, how is he making notes about all this? If he can’t speak without insisting ‘Captain Zeng told him to do it’, how exactly is he coherently recording it for posterity? From my limited experience narcotics are not memory enhancing.
There is nothing duller than other people’s drug stories. And that dullness is multiplied when they are passed off as travel experiences. Travel book, my bum. I like to think my 21-year-old self would have seen through the bullshit and dismissed it out of hand, but I know deep down he would have liked it and if anyone asked, he probably would have even said he ‘dug’ it
Three Two Warzawa: Mark Pytlik is an author and an ILM contributor and now he is a blogger too (it’s like critical food-chain Happy Families!). Hopefully his work will clear a bit and he can update more.
The Tofu Hut: Formally at least this is the best MP3 blog I’ve seen – conversational tone, good readable design, lots of info and links on each track. Currently up are some very tasty-looking African tunes, soul rarities and a bit of bluegrass. Like all MP3 blogs they get removed after a limited period.
There’s quite the little network of these things springing up now, and I seem to have caught the wave just as it’s swelling – PopNose is linked by a fair few of them and has become (in 3 weeks or so) the second most popular page on the site, even without a front-page link. Not surprising really, I’m giving away free stuff after all. (Not that it’s mine to give away, you might say, but I don’t feel too bad about that – at 64 kbps mono the MP3s are unburnable on some programs and are of a low enough quality to really actually be for the fabled ‘evaluation purposes’.)
Plus it’s very refreshing and entertaining doing it – like making a mix CD but without the pressure to make it flow, you can just shove any old thing up and as long as you give fair warning nobody’s worse off. And it takes the (self-imposed) pressure to theorise/think/write off too, which is just what I need at the moment.
My only concern is the potential audience numbers – Fluxblog (the daddy!) is getting some ridiculous level of traffic, which might be bandwidth-crushing if replicated on the Nose. And as more new MP3 blogs start up, more people discover them, use their links lists and the virtuous circle continues to expand. Like any ‘web phenomenon’ it’s likely to be written about, too, but this time the thinkpiece in the Guardian / Voice / Whatever is to be feared, since what will happen is that Matt Perpetua will get a slap on the wrist and a nice A & R job offer and the rest of us will vanish overnight! Enjoy it while it lasts, is I suppose what I’m saying.
(Oh and one more thing – PopNose has VOTING now on tracks, an idea we flagrantly stole from the GABBA boyz, who were (what did I tell you?) mentioned in an aside in this month’s Observer Music Monthly!)
Hunting on the web for information about St Trinians – in particular when exactly Ronald Searle originally began drawing his cartoons (because some of them appear behind the credits in a proto-Trinians movie, 1950’s The Happiest Days of Your Lives, w.Alistair Sim, Margaret Rutherford, Joyce Grenfell, Richard Wattis, which I’m just now watching) – I found this excellently named website. It has more on Searle, more on the films, and just more…
Best line from the film (or in fact any film): “The Infant Animal needs space, to breathe and blow!”