Posts from 15th July 2004

15
Jul 04

Who wants it?

TMFDPost a comment • 201 views

Who wants it?

For some strange reason, a strand of political, social and cultural critique has always been fascinated with (working-class) violence. It’s real: these guys aren’t faking it.

Sadly, I suspect Acarine might be. If so, they’re cynical pricks. If they’re 4real, then they’re just pricks. I’ve seen a PR biography which was the most ludicrous piece of rubbish I’ve seen in a long long time. It deserves a wider audience.

“I’m gonna write British and speak about Britain. I grew up in England not L.A. I’m not Ice Cube so I can’t talk about gangs and pimps” So says Alex Lusty, multi-tattooed, Rangers supporting frontman for uncompromising Hoolie rappers Acarine.

Must. Not. Infer. Anything. From. Club. Supported.

Together with Forest supporting henchman Brett Gordon, Acarine have established a totally original and cutting edge British take on the gang ethos, codes and rituals that inform the best and darkest of US hip-hop.

Henchman?

“Britain can be a dark, dark place, he continues

Can’t it just. I was in the Scottish countryside last year and couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. Great night-sky panoramas though.

“but I grew up with Hoolie firms, casuals, plastic gangsters and dodgy geezers out to make a few quid, therefore I have to commentate on what I know and see.”

I also fear that he grew up with the cast of Face who have cruelly duped him. Anyway, consider yourself released from your burden of Telling It Like It Is.

Signing to a small Oxford-based label, Acarine’s debut single ‘Blinder’ with it’s sampling of the Minder theme ‘I Could Be So Good For You’ got a shit load of airplay from Chris Moyles at Radio One and Zane Lowe at Xfm, and would doubtless have been one of the year’s biggest homegrown chart successes if their label hadn’t mysteriously vanished just before release.

It’s a conspiracy to silence this authentic voice! You?ll be telling me next that Dubya’s military service record will mysteriously disappear.

Signing a deal with Moby and Royksopp’s management company and retreating to their bunker with vengeance on their minds, Acarine reloaded and, ‘The Long Good Friday’ sampling ‘God Shoots Jesus Saves’, was their first salvo back into the heart of the action. Coupled with ‘Pig In The Middle’ (about a copper who likes violence just that bit too much), you were flung, wide-eyed, straight into the middle of Acarine’s world.

Ha! Reloaded! God Shoots! DYS! And, with the use of ‘God shoots, Jesus Saves’ it seems that in addition to plastic gangster and dodgy geezers, they also grew up surrounded by derivative jokers. And if you’re doing that joke, you really should use the original ‘Jesus Saves, St John scores from the rebound’.

The limited edition pressing rapidly sold out and after a period of negotiation, Acarine signed a five album deal with Roadrunner Records who’s Hip Hop subsiduary CNR is home to Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Canibus and Grand Puba. Like Ian Dury, Madness and Morrissey before them, Acarine mine the seam of quintessential Englishness that once characterised the best of British music. The difference is that the Oxford-based Hoolie Rappers wreak their lyrical mayhem over tuff beats and brilliant samples.
There’s no half-arsed, cod-American, Uzi-toting, Ho-bashing bullshit here. Acarine’s world is running with your football crew, (“never hit a scarfer or a shirter”), coppers out for a ruck, low-rent gangsters, making a few quid by whatever means, coping with grief off your other half and all the general shit life flings in your face.

No comment can be added here. I merely cut and paste in all its glory. Though Mike Skinner has a lot to answer for.

And make no mistake about it, the band’s position on racism and racists is crystal clear. “We don’t stand for none of that shite. We say …..’Smash the NF and the BNP/Got no time for Combat 18′. We’ll take steps to combat racism at any level”

Sadly, there is still a lot of shite they do stand for. Better anti-racist dickheads than racist dickheads eh?

?Amongst Acarine’s biggest fans is legendary West Ham top boy Cass Pennantwho namecheck’s the band in his book ‘Rolling With The 657 Crew’, (about the infamous Portsmouth FC hooligans).The band reciprocated by writing ‘Cass’s Theme (Lowlife City)’
“The first time we met Cass in the downstairs of a Covent Garden wine bar it must have looked like a Guy Ritchie film! There was Cass, 6’4″, and QPR boy ‘Wraithy’ who’s like a pitbull in a trenchcoat, and me and Brett, all Stone Island-ed up sparring terrace stories off each other. Cass boomed he wanted us to all roll as a crew, kinda like the freemasons. He has been true to his word and turns up at our shows with a firm of boys”

I’m glad they mentioned a Guy Ritchie film. Maybe they’re much more ironic than I’m pegging them for. But ‘Kinda like the freemasons’? Without being so bold as to suggest that Acarine are coming up from not-very-mean streets, it does strike me that the most available metaphor for top boys isn’t the freemasons. Or maybe the truth of those secretive freemason meetings is out- they all roll together, visiting wine bars, using mobile phones to arrange offs with the Rotary Club. And worst of all – you wear burberry.

‘Lairy, un-PC, patriotic, vehemently anti-racist, and anti bloodsport, Acarine are the kinda geezers you don’t wanna fuck with.’

Oh good – they’re anti-PC. That’s always a good sign of quality commetary. And they like cute iccle foxes! You could take them home to meet your mum. I can tell Acarine now that I don?t wish to fuck with them. I certainly don’t want to listen to them either.

It appears that there’s some link up with the Elijah Wood film which Pete has already dubbed ‘the littlest thuggo’ How much more real is that? Play up your hoolie links in order to get advance publicity for the film you’re involved with. And the ire expressed to the Streets? Rival hoolie film soundtrack bands in cat fight shocker.

What really annoys me though is that a sport I love is contaminated by these scumbags. A lingering impression of fans as scum is reinforced, policing costs remain ridiculously high, occasionally trouble breaks out and the innocent get caught up in it. Glorfying it earns my contempt as much as doing it. The Football League boss Alan Hardaker once said to Margaret Thatcher ‘get your thugs out of my game’. And whilst we’re at it, take Acarine with you.

What I have learned from roasting three chickens this week:

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 503 views

What I have learned from roasting three chickens this week:

1: Spreading a little bit of mayonnaise — enough to make it glossy, wiping away any excess that shows up as white — on the skin of the chicken, instead of butter, crisps the skin up until it’s almost paper-thin. The skin also seems to end up with less chicken flavor, but it’s hard to tell after doing it only once.

2: I really like roasting it breast-side-down, one of the ways Steingarten mentioned, instead of breast-side up. The thighs and breasts are done at the same time with no hassle or intervention on my part. I’m not sure how well this would work with a stuffed bird.

3: Marinating a chicken for three days in something with salt (mojo criollo in this case) amounts to brining it: enough so that the chicken tastes kind of like a cross between smoked chicken and ham. It isn’t a bad thing, but it doesn’t serve a chicken craving.

4: Coq au vin really does not work when I compromise and try to make it more traditional: my method layers potatoes, onions, and chicken thighs seasoned with green peppercorns and herbs, and an amount of wine such that when it’s first added, it doesn’t come up to the level of the chicken — but it might once the chicken and onion juices start to come. Anything else, and everything gets either too much or too little wine flavor.

5: Leftover chicken might be the most flexible and accomodating leftover meat, and not because it lacks taste. It’s the texture, at least in part — you can cook it wet or dry, long or short, and everything pretty much works out. When was the last time beef did that for you? Yeah, half past never is when.

Ancient Grannies…

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 1,409 views

Ancient Grannies…

There was an interesting article in New Scientist last week (print version only). Researchers have analysed the age at which ancient humans died, and plotted a graph of life expectancy over the last few million years. It shows a correlation between a dramatic rise in the number of people living to twice the age of sexual maturity (ie when they could become grandparents) and the rise of “artistic, inventive modern humans” between 17,000 and 30,000 years ago. This is taken to support the “grandmother hypothesis” – which suggests that grannies lead to civilised communities by helping to raise more children and passing on their knowledge.

Whenever I see scientists jumping from correlation to cause and effect without any evidence, I can’t help wondering whether cause and effect can be reversed. Could it be that the presence of more children to pass knowledge to inspired the older generation to stick it out for a few extra years. Or perhaps it was the arrival of art that gave them reason to live (maybe something some of the Brown Wedge contributors could empathise with).

Also makes me wonder if an absence of surviving grandparents is what makes me so uncivilised…

Well, that’s my first posting on FT out of the way. More to follow soon (pending inspiration).

I think the bad guy in the ECFC tale is the player

TMFDPost a comment • 251 views

I think the bad guy in the ECFC tale is the player. According the to newspaper story, if Duane would have said to the club ‘I want more money’ and the club would have said ‘there isn’t any’ that would be fine, as Duane just wanted to talk. But because the club said ‘there’s no point talking about a pay rise because there’s no cash’ it’s not fine. I can sort of see his point: a feeling that your bosses aren’t responsive to your needs is a good way to become disillusioned.

But this isn’t any other business. Surely the player must realise that the club are not rolling in cash. He probably thinks that as an international, he deserves more pay. He doesn’t seem to have twigged that football is no longer the land of milk and honey. He’s probably dreamt of big pay days, and heard tell of riches to be had. Understandable, but you get higher wages at higher levels. You get to higher levels by being really good. It’s quite simple when conducting negotiations – let your football do the talking.

Frogspawn for the new millennium

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 456 views

Frogspawn for the new millennium

So anyway, there I was yesterday afternoon, having got home from work and aimlessed around for a bit. I then recalled the intriguing pack of semolina pearls that I’d picked up from my favourite supermarket in Chinatown a few weeks ago.

Now, I didn’t experience that much of this famous British school cuisine because I spent a lot of my childhood abroad and thus never got put off semolina as a kid. Furthermore, I loved the can of milky sweet bubble tea (I know every hipster went through this phase years ago, but I don’t care as it’s new to me) that I tried recently, so was interested in having a go at making my own.

First off, I emptied a paltry amount of the tiny unpromising beads into a heavy-based saucepan and added a good whack of boiling water. Standing over the merrily chortling and increasingly gluey pan for 20 minutes and stirring every so often wasn’t really a chore, as I was talking to my flatmate, who was constructing avocado salad and refused to even look at the substance I had produced.

I rinsed the pearls in a bit of cold water and bunged them in a bowl with some sugar syrup to keep them nicely separated while they cooled, as advised by my cooking instructions (from the interweb not the packet: my ideographic interpretation skills start and end with musical annotation). So far so good, and it really does look like frogspawn!

A while later, I mixed up a concoction from coconut milk powder and a packet of instant ginger tea and cooled it down with a lot of milk straight from the fridge. Adding the reserved semolina and stirring it all together in a large chunky wine glass, I congratulated myself on the creation of a fine-looking beverage and then swigged the lot. One of those fancy super-wide straws would have aided the experience somewhat, but overall it was satisfyingly chewy and tasty.

Verdict: time-consuming but not onerous, and jolly good fun for the amateur kitchen chemist.

p.s. I placed a small portion of the pearls in their syrup in a jar in the fridge to see how they keep. Results to follow via comments.

Talking about agents

TMFDPost a comment • 202 views

Talking about agents, as we were, here’s a story (at least here’s the story I can work out by reading behind the lines):

1. Newly-relegated cash-strapped club spots promising young player, playing semi-professionally in an even lower league.
2. NRCSC offer PYP chance to play football full-time
3. PYP impresses, though attracts some comment from fans that he’s erratic and sometimes looks uninterested.
4. PYP is picked for the Grenada national squad, the first time NRCSC have had a current, full international for more than forty years (Dermot Curtis I think, that’s another story).
5. PYP is offered new, two-year contract with significantly improved terms, which he rejects. Club say there is no room for negotiation. They are, after all, cash-strapped and foolish decisions on expenditure by previous owners are what strapped them for cash in the first place. There’s nowhere to go.
6. PYP spends some considerable part of the season suffering from a back injury
7. PYP’s agent is working to get PYP a place at another full-time club. Good luck to him.
8. PYP’s agent is plastered all over the back of the local newspaper saying “it’s a matter of principle, everyone gets to negotiate their wages, even if they don’t get what they want”.

Is there a baddie in this story? There do seem to be accusations flying around…

(I have to say, I do find “It’s all about the money” refreshingly honest…)

Product placement:

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 220 views

Product placement: via Kultureflash comes news of (yes) an art show (yes) with (guess what?) a DIFFERENCE.

Presumably to promote some new motor which they want to position as ‘edgy’ in some way, BMW are sponsoring a group show on the theme of ‘car’, and it’s to run from lunchtime tomorrow until sometime on Sunday evening. Continuously! Wow! That’s like, all night, folks!

It’s called carparc (that second c is presumably a 2004 equivalent of Tom’s 1991 y) and as with most group shows it looks like it contains a load of old tosh with a few gems thrown in. I’m always interested in what Trevor Jackson’s up to, for example.

It sounds intriguing, but there’s always that fear that you turn up to one of these ‘sounds intriguing’ events and stand there feeling self-conscious and wishing you hadn’t bothered. It’s in a car park!

Years ago I’d have fumed at commerce getting its oily fingers over art. More recently I’d have shrigged and thought it was the way of the world. Now I’m actively quite pleased that some corporate advertising cash goes to someone who might do something interesting with it. That’s not to say I think corporate sponsorship of art is always or unreservedly a good thing, but that’s a more complex question for another day.

FT Top 100 Films 62: GHOSTBUSTERS

Do You SeePost a comment • 1,255 views

FT Top 100 Films
62: GHOSTBUSTERS

Can you review a film by the quality of its spin-offs? Let’s see. I’m not talking about The Real Ghostbusters the significantly less real cartoon incarnation of the who-ya-gonna-call guys. No, I am going to a much darker place. The Ghostbusters Role-Playing Game.

Licensed games, be they computer or RPG’s have a pretty bad reputation. In the role-playing arena it was often an excuse to staple fiendishly complex game mechanics on to a huge mythology (Star Wars, Tolkein) and let the nerds fight it out. The problem was that the more ham-fisted these mechanics were, the less likely you could ever play a game resembling the source material: the rules would directly prohibit it. But that was okay because those games were not strictly designed to be played. They were aimed at fourteen year old billy-no-mates fans of said source material who liked seeing how strong the Hulk was compared to Thor.

The Ghostbusters game, by West End Game had a slightly different problem. Coming out six months after the film, and pretty much ignoring the cartoon, it was left with next to no source material at all, except a two hour film which had pretty shaky made up science. However these were the people who had invented Paranoia, a game which was much more entertaining to read than play, so they chose a different route. It was a big box which had a pretty slim booklet in it which contained pretty much one instruction.
“Do whatever you like”.

They knew that this unfettered role-playing (in the proper sense of the concept) might not go down well with the purists, so it also included a dice. With a Ghostbusters symbol on it instead of a one. No complex rules about what happens if you hit someone, no complex psuedo science about crossing the streams (great urinal advice notwithstanding). Just think of a character, and go have an adventure and, if there seems to be some sort of conflict where you want stuff to be a bit randomised – throw the dice.

Standing against everything that role-playing games were in the mid-eighties, the Ghostbusters game reminded everyone that this should all be fun. In content it resembled the film, all smart-arsery and big ideas, with its heart in the right place. Not only that, the designers walked away with a tenner for nearly nothing, without pissing off the punters. Best game ever, best film ever. (Bar another 61 to go of course)

Small pleasures

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 416 views

Small pleasures

I suppose I should introduce myself as a contributor rather than assuming everyone knows me from ILX:

I like cooking and eating but am no Heston Blumenthal. I am very easily bored and thus a novelty junkie, but always return to old favourites that my granny (the nice one, not the witchy one that nearly everyone seems to have) taught me as a mere spawnling in her terribly English country kitchen. There really is no equal to gorging oneself on toast spread sumptuously with fresh guinea-fowl egg lemon curd that contains not a little of one’s own fingers, grated finely and enthusiastically along with the zest.

THE FREAKY TRIGGER INDIE AMNESTY

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 424 views

We at Freaky Trigger are trying to raise money to help keep a struggling football club alive. The first steps on our leisurely journey towards £500 have already been taken with the launch of the FT Indie Amnesty.

As you are probably aware, many if not most of the Freaky Trigger writers are lapsed indie kids. Whether this lapse is temporary, permanent or mere self-delusion is unclear: what is certain is that lots of us have a big heap of awful indie records stinking up our shelves/boxes/lock-ups. Several of these records are likely to remain rotten no matter how fashion changes: Miles Hunt, come on down.

But a lot of people are reluctant to sell their old records, particularly the embarrassing ones. Hence the Indie Amnesty. If you think the Grecian Earn appeal is a good cause – and it’s not a charity or anything, absolutely no moral coercion is intended – what we’d like you to do is this: select one old indie record you have, no matter how unsaleable you think it is, and give it to me to sell on eBay. Your name will at no point be made public.

I will put the records up for auction and publish the eBay link here so you can see how well my – ahem – ‘marketing skills’ do in the cut-and-thrust of the world’s biggest marketplace. I’m quietly confident, having flogged a Shirehorses CD for sixteen pounds the other month.

All money will go to the Grecian Earn appeal.

If you don’t care about the appeal, we hope you enjoy our public attempts to sell off frightening mid-90s alterna-tat anyhow!

(NB for obvious reasons the Indie Amnesty is mostly open to people who are likely to encounter me in the pub.)