Posts from 31st October 2001

Oct 01

VARIOUS ARTISTS – “What’s Going On?”

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 268 views

I should make it clear I’m no fan of “What’s Going On?” in its original form – a heartfelt and well-sung cry of anguish for the woes of humanity, but it says less to me than anything I’ve heard that Marvin Gaye did before it. Berry Gordy’s wish to scotch Gaye’s album says plenty about his insensitivity to his artists and his decline as a pop weathervane, but aesthetically I’ve got a sneaking sympathy for him. Anyway the album came out and the rest is history. All of which is just to say that I’m not one of these people who would slate the new “What’s Going On” for ‘butchering’ the original in charity’s name.


We are needed more than ever.

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 304 views

We are needed more than ever. It’s an undisputable factoid that following Pumpkin Publog’s – ahem – vacation, the pubs of Britain have slumped in quality. For example the King Of Corsica, never admittedly a nice boozer but now entirely beyond the pale. Evidence (garnered from regular attendance at KoC karaoke nights):

i. Removal of nice karaoke bird with nasty karaoke bird (evidence of nastiness – never picks our tracks, forced me to sing Crazy Town, called us “hoggers”). There is no truth in the suggestion that nice karaoke bird had a breakdown after hearing Pete sing “Yesterday Once More” in his special voice.
ii. Arrival of karaoke bloke who is even more incompetent and shares nasty k-bird’s trait of doing all the songs himself.
iii. Decline in good manners of KoC clientele, eg the one who threatened to beat the crap out of a Publog associate in the toilets. There is more chance of being approached in the toilets of the KoC than any other pub I go to. Not for anything exciting like gay sex, but just by mad drunk men. They say something completely incomprehensible in a kind of vaguely question-ish way which means you have to try and make the most non-commital noise you can, like “Ahhmmmrm”, and nod quickly and then dash back to the bar.
iv. End of 2-for-1 alcopops offer.
v. Crowd of boorish yobs standing in corner singing over the top of U2 songs. Oh wait hold on.

Cellar Bars underground

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 324 views

It would be sad if Pumpkin Publog became a graveyard for decent pubs, but I feel it only fair to erect a textual tombstone in honour of two sadly-deceased and much-missed Edinburgh pubs, both cellar bars near the uni, and both long-term refuges from the tyranny of style bar, theme pub and student pub which swamps the Southside. Yes, gentle reader, both Maxies and the No 1 Cellar Bar are no more. I drank copiously in both the night of my viva earlier in the summer, went on holiday and returned to discover both have been closed. One for redevelopment as a giant multi-level student bistro-bar (also involving the destruction of a regular lunch-time haunt on the street above); the other because the boss wanted to go for a proper restaurant, although as yet there’s no indication of whether the site will be redeveloped. Such are the times, my friends. Despite the high prices, appalling food, iffy memories and high chances of running into colleagues associated with both places, these fine examples of the licensed premises will live forever in our hearts and minds.

End the red button madness

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 234 views

So there’s this pub. Native State. Well, it’s more of a bar-cafe-pub thing: food, drink, long beerhall type tables and all that. And the decor! It’s one of those theme pubs that doesn’t seem to know what its own theme is: random junk, polished metal, videos playing on big screens behind the bar, arty black and white photographs of vaguely ethnic types. (Which could fit the name, but half of them look like rock stars). The menu’s no help either, a mish-mash of Italian and Mexican cookery, all at a price which is too high for a pub, but not high enough to force you to take your custom elsewhere. Anyways, we’ll forget all that, since it’s one of the few places to be sure of getting a seat and a pint around Edinburgh University, so a blind eye will have to be turned.

But. BUT. BUT. There’s this problem, see. Come five o’clock, out comes the BIG RED BUTTON. The B.R.B is connected to a video screen on which are a set of options: Full Price (three of these, funnily enough); Half Price; Same Again; Free Drinks. Each flashes in turn (but I’m certain Full Price flashes for longer). Here’s the deal. You order your round. Before you pay, you get to push the B.R.B. and stop the flashing options. If it’s one of the good ones, wahey, if not, what a waste of time, eh? Just fun and games? A little amusement to spice up the lanquid hours between five and seven? Now I’m all for jukeboxes; quiz machines; pinball; pool; space invaders or whatever (so I’m no luddite) but this is clearly a step too far. How can one drink in peace when the very foundation of pub life, the ritual buying of the sacred round, has been pimped out to profiteering and gambling; when the necessary condition of drinking routine has been given up to the vagaries of chance and contingency.

Or it may just be that I’ve not managed to win any free booze yet.