Posts from 2nd February 2005

Feb 05

Save Our Pubs

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Save Our Pubs {please}

Book warns of last orders for ornate boozers“, writes Polly Curtis
in the Guardian.

English Heritage document the 250 alehouses still left replete with their original Victoriana glories (inc. London’s Black Friar, the first theme pub, back in 1905).

Bill Bryson’s verdict?

Every old Red Lion pulled apart and plasticised and renamed the Frog and Orange diminishes us.

Not entirely sure about all uncritical narratives of the ‘old pub best’ approach, but Liverpool’s Philharmonic certainly sounds a better option than yet another dreary chain outlet.

THE FT TOP 100 SONGS 90. The Only Ones – “Another Girl Another Planet”

FT + New York London Paris Munich/17 comments • 6,074 views

90. The Only Ones – “Another Girl Another Planet”

I cannot remember how, or why I had tickets to see The One, Peter Perrett’s mid-nineties bands playing on the fact that The Only Ones were no longer the only ones. Maybe they were supporting some no-mark Brit-pop new wave band who were trying to claim some post-punk lineage. Whatever. They were terrible and I vacillated between ignoring them and taking the piss. What a lovely audience I must have been. It was almost certainly the beginning of my disillusionment with live music, and if I don’t blame The One completely for falling out of love with live music, they had a hand in it.

They did however show the power of “the one good song”. After six or seven of these slidgy guitar based crawls, Perrett shouted something along the lines of “we know what you’re really here for” (the answer surely being the headline act). And The One ripped into “Another Girl Another Planet”. I stopped moaning, I stopped ignoring. I might even have jumped about a bit.

Sci-fi love songs are nearly always greee-eeat. Perhaps it is because they often have funny electronic noises in them, making them novelty hits sonically (I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper?). Lyrically the astronaut love story will be stuffed with references to ray-guns and zipping through space (cf the theme to Fireball XL-5). So even if The Only Ones missed out on the bleeps, and were about as direct as you can get lyrically, they were still writing a sci-fi song.

Another girl – one of pops perennial obsessions. Another planet – this is stupid sci-fi new wave fun. Set your pop phasers to stunning.

Day 17: No Sleep Til Brooklyn AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 LOUSY TUNES

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Day 17: No Sleep Til Brooklyn

Whilst there are people I would much rather be chained to in the world Simone has turned out to be rather resourceful. Actually when pushed I cannot think of many people I would enjoy being chained to. Perhaps David Niven in his prime would be apt. She picked the lock of a motel room off the main drag in Seymour and managed to steal a few clothes from a Laundromat. I refused to put a Green Day T-Shirt on, until Simone threatened to kill me with the lamp in the motel room. I told her she would find it hard to get away with a dead body chained to her, but her resourcefulness was such that she probably could easily saw off the bits of my body causing the problem.

Funny, I faced down a homicidal Sue Lawley but a hip-hop girl from Boston was much more trouble.

“I’ll be shot of you when we get to Brooklyn anyway. I know this guy who has a metal shop there.”
“Brooklyn. New York. So many bad songs,” I muttered.
“Brooklyn is home to the best crews. Eastside.” Simone said, with funny hand gestures.
“Eastside. Might as well be Northside. Take your beloved Jay-Z again. This is a man named after the intersection of two tube lines. Its like a British rapper calling himself Escalator Link or Waterloo & City Line. Mind you, knowing British rappers it is more than likely.”

She settled into her usual sulk when I reminded her she could not listen to any music in my presence. I suppose I was in a funk after not having any gin for almost ten days. Never mind. We would only be shackled together for another day, and this morning she stole a car and we set off for Brooklyn, with no hitches. Except non-stop lousy traffic. But that’s a given. Its New York.

THE BEASTIE BOYS – No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn

No sleep in Brooklyn more like, if young chaps such as the Beastly Boys (nice wording – cheers) have anything to do about it. Or any part of New York You see the rap scene is often referred to as Urban music, presumably because only an ugly grimy cityscape could throw up such ugly, unpalatable music. Or alternatively with all the traffic noise, perhaps it is the only music that can compete with the din. Whatever, rap is nasty, and the Beastie Boys are some of the nastiest. Not just with the casual sexism of Licensed To Make Me Feel Ill (oh, they say sorry now, but have they ever given any of the money to battered women charities?). But the increasingly sad sight of seeing balding, middle-aged men wearing hoodies when they should be clocking on at the office. No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn, when they get home from a long day at work obv.

Of course for years in the 80s New York, nay the nation, nay the whole world was GRIPPED by the ‘beefs’ between crews from the Five Boroughs, immortalised in records such as “The Bridge Is Over”, “South Bronx”, and… actually, hold on, that isn’t true. Nobody was gripped by those records. In fact nobody cared at all in the whole world apart from KRS-One, whose inflated sense of micro-regional pride made him the Citizen Smith of the hip-hop movement. The proud tradition of hip-hop battling rests on the shoulders of this man’s calling out wackness on people because they lived half a kilometre away from him. Any more petty and he’d have been rapping about planning permission and overgrown leylandii. It is a measure of the supremely tedious awfulness of these intra-city battles that alone among hip-hop traditions they haven’t even been ripped off by UK rappers. Luckily one day New York MCs put aside their differences, bought an atlas, discovered that America had another coast and the borough wars ended.

(The Beastie Boys’ latest record, To The Five Boroughs, may be seen as a tribute to this bygone area, or perhaps a rueful acknowledgement that only a city which gave eartime to ARSE Weapons would have the patience to listen to it.)

How Soon We Forget!

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How Soon We Forget!

Greeting me at the tube the last couple of morning has been a poster for HUFF, a new sitcom starring Hank Azaria. “At last” sez one of the pull quotes, “Hank Azaria gets the starring vehicle he deserves…”


It is not often I feel superior in knowledge to a TV reviewer, being as I never watch the thing, but what I say what about HERMAN’S HEAD. This also starred Hank Azaria, and indeed quite a few other people who went on to do Simpsons voices (well, Nancy thingumajig was in it, at least.)

Herman’s Head was great. It was a very late 80s sitcom split between a boring sitcom office and a man’s brain, which was inhabited by aspects of his personality. These aspects would fight for control Numskulls-style and make him do Bad Things. It was all very clever and a bit ‘meta’ and anticipated the fashion in the 90s for slightly ‘surreal’ things happening. It was also handily screened in the wee hours of the morning at the exact time I was a student. But I still maintain that whatever the merits of Huff this was Azaria’s finest hour.

The first series of Look Around You was a pastiche

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The first series of Look Around You was a pastiche of a certain type of School’s science TV from the late seventies. It was short, sweet and really rather funny. The new series has been stretched to half an hour, is now more of a parody of early eighties Tomorrow’s World and is not quite as funny. So far a TV review. What was always nice about the short Look Around You was by the seriousness of the science set-up, it was easy to slip in jokes about Nylon being the twentieth element of the periodic table and so on. New Look Around You illustrates the problem that populist science programmes always had in mainstream television: namely presenters who knew very little about science.

This first show, about future music, had some very spot on gags about synthesizers, the charts and so on, but the presenters did not have the authority that made me want to believe the gibberish they spouted. Why was it I could accept Lesley Judd, as a science presenter but though Maggie Philbin was a no-brain twerp. (This may illustrate the relative standing of Blue Peter vs Saturday Superstore.)

The joke in Look Around You this week that demolished the entire programme for me was that the Music 2000 competition (a competition to guess what Music in 2000 would sound like) was judged by the ghost of Tchaikovsky. A nice non-sequitur you might think, though in actuality an overly drawn out joke. My problem was more what was a science programme doing toying with ghosts. Either there was technology involved in resurrecting it, or science should have been debunking it. The whole premise of the show started to crumble with this one silly gag (it probably did not help that Harry Enfield played said ghost, which was nicely retro in itself but fell apart over the course of the show).


Blog 7Post a comment • 520 views

In February Blog Seven is a Blog about love. Yeuch! What sappy nonsense I hear all the fourteen year old regulars round here go. But truth be told an obscene number of regular contributors are loved-up and go home to their sig others, wives and concubines at night and practice the lovey-dovedness that love gives them.

Not me.

Not in a rebellion way you understand, it just has not happened. And I am not some kind of emotional cripple (if I was though could I park in disabled spaces?) I have just dodged that bullet so far. So what should I write about in this month of love? The word love after all is co-opted in so many different ways that the romantic love that Valentine’s Day summons up (and let us not be coy, that’s the February link) is only one of them. So rather than sit out an opportunity to be bitter and twisted, and to save you from the ramblings of a (put-on) depressive, this suggests a project. Why not take a tour around some of the other types of love, to see what is being referred to. The gooey, icky waves of sentiment which Hallmark suggest underpin romantic love, does that turn up anywhere else. So let me be in your intrepid guide as I go Looking For Love (just not that kind – though if that kind comes along, who am I to turn it down).

1: Self-Love

Actually, probably should not write too much about this in detail. Just to say that I sleep with myself every night and I tend not to wake up and look at me in the mirror with a sense of loathing. Which is almost certainly a good thing. And in the gooey, icky stakes it has a couple of claims.