Loughborough Junction is a poor neighbourhood but a buzzing community. It’s one of London’s in-between places; halfway between Brixton and Camberwell down the Coldharbour Lane. You can walk there from Brixton in 10 minutes and post-Olympics its railway station is busy. I go there a lot because One Cat Studio is there, where I make most of my music. The more you get to know it, the more vibrant it feels: plans flying around recently for renewal.
The last thing they needed was a Tesco mini-market. There are already a thriving bunch of local food markets that keep eachothers’ prices competitive. There are already other branches of Sainsburys, Tesco and the rest within 15 minutes. This is a Tesco opened not for the weekly shop but specifically where it isn’t useful; where the company can siphon a load of money out of a circular day-to-day local pedestrian economy, onto its own balance sheet.
And it opened last month in basically the worst location possible: on a tricky bend in the main road. It’s not glass-fronted nor welcoming; it looks threatened by the area it landed it. It looks like a bank.
Tesco (as per) over-rode significant local opposition, opened directly opposite a long-running independent mini-mart which has instantly shut and the company isn’t even bothering to fix its own smashed windows from disgruntled locals.
But the worst thing is this: there was just one possible benefit from a new Tesco: a free cashpoint. There are none within a 15 minute walk, so several pricey paid ATMs live along this stretch of road,
ripping off locals. Tesco apparently decided not to put in a cashpoint because it would cause traffic congestion. Yet the store’s unloading lorries are causing a huge logjam each time, that fouls up a busy through-route on a risky bend and stretches back towards Brixton.
Piss poor effort, Tesco.
When we were six, aunts and uncles and friends of our parents would say to us “How you’ve grown.” This happened to so many of us, right? It’s such a timeless, universally repeated phrase, it becomes a linguistic trope that passes into culture. It can be spoken by an archetype rather than a real person.
“My, how you’ve grown.”
Yesterday, several lovely friends who now have young families came to my London performance of Disobedience. For the first time, I was aware of the other meaning of “My, how you’ve grown,” which is a far more bittersweet realisation of an awareness that transpires between adults; that we no longer see each-other often enough. That noticeable growth of a child is a slipping away of time.
I don’t know why but it was so transparent, for the first time. It happened over again, three or four times in the space of an hour, with different people who I adore but don’t see; both family and friends. Reasons, not excuses. We live in the wrong town. We’re all couples and they have kids and we’re all busy. Tacked onto the corkboard of the post-Milne melancholia, this became a bit overwhelming. By which I mean it’s a fucking daft thing to do for your birthday. Don’t feel bad for me though: I drank it away in grand company, with wine and Talisker, once the remains of us was small enough to manage.
It also reminded me (yet again – though I repeatedly forget) that my own gigs are precisely the worst places to catch up with close friends. I don’t know how many times I have mantra’d this to myself, trying to drill it in that I need to separate my live music shows from my social calendar. If I was a plumber, I wouldn’t get someone to come and see me fixing a sink as a method of hanging out with them, yet still I use a gig to hook you to a north London pub crawl.
Which reminds me, I must do another London walk before it gets too cold.
The other day I heard an eye-opening piece of thinking and wanted to share it with you. So badly in fact, I spent an intense, frustrating hour yesterday on the train looping this three-minute bit of audio over and over, trying to transcribe it. Daft, because you could just go listen: it’s on a recent episode of Slate magazine’s Culture Gabfest. They were just finishing a discussion on comedian Mike Birbiglia’s new movie Sleepwalk With Me. But the subject matter isn’t important. Here’s Stephen Metcalf:
“Isn’t it amazing that the struggling lonely artist who sacrifices everything to his own vision, a romantic trope now in western culture for 300 years; [only] one person is permitted to embody it now, in contemporary culture, without being laughed at: which is the comedian. He’s the only person who can get away with it anymore. Let me tell you, if you pull that shit as a poet or novelist, you are laughed out of the room. It’s interesting that the one person who’s allowed now still to be a tortured artist is the comedian.
I really believe, starting in the 90s, probably starting a little bit in the 80s but gathering steam in the 90s, it became a social type that people were deeply uncomfortable with. It was huge in the 50s and 60s when existentialism was huge and on into the rock’n’roll era where flaming out early and the beat poets would be an example, Lenny Bruce very early on was a comic version of that.”
And his (for me extraordinary) conclusion:
“But it’s something about the cultural authority assumed by the person who presumes to suffer for all of us, attain a higher wisdom and then lay it on the rest of us? That became a form of cultural extortion that people were really uncomfortable with. The reasons have to be deep and I can’t, off the top of my head, think of exactly what they were. But the idea that someone had gone off, sat on their own in a garrett, burned the candle til late at night, explored the darkness of their own soul and come back with The Truth that the rest of us were going to have to sit and patiently listen to; that paradigm went way out the window.”
This feels on-the-button to me – and also of real concern; surely that is an exceptionally important (and broad) segment of our cultural conversation to lose, just because we’re all trying so hard to walk and talk like winners. Particularly in terms of its real usefulness to the lives of the audience – inspiring a stepping away from mundanity, or from mental slavery, or from traditional oppressive value systems of winning and losing. It’s a core pillar.
I’d say (Metcalf doesn’t imply this at all) that it will inevitably turn out to be the top-down establishment that has – consciously or not – whittled away at its coolness. Bloody Cowell, yet again, in other words.
From: Lottie Naughton-Rumbo <lottie.N-R@princesstv.com>
Date: 30 May 2012 17:37:48 GMT+01:00
To: Chris T-T <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I hope you don’t mind me contacting you, I saw your details on Singer/Songwriter.com I’m form Princess Productions – the production company who make Love Machine, T4 etc.
We are currently making, back to back, two series of our new dating show and I was wondering if it was something you would be interested in?
The premise of the show is as follows:
8 men upload videos on themselves singing a verse and a chorus of their chosen song and our female picker chooses her three favourites. She then chooses a duet and the three males record the male part of the duet. She has prerecorded the female version. She watches all the duets back and picks a winner. She and the winner then come into our studio – where we make t4, love machine etc, and it is dressed like a recording studio, and they meet and record the duet together with a professional voice coach.
We are looking for people who are interesting, can find the fun in these sorts of things and can sing, not matter to what standard.
It’s a SKY LIVING new show and most of the filming would involve webcam uploads and our crew coming to you, until the final part which is filmed in our studios.
The link to apply is: https://princesstv.wufoo.eu/forms/sing-date-application-form/
If anything I thought it could be a good platform for you.
but feel free to get in touch via phone or email for more info if you would prefer!
Our turn around is tight and if you know anyone else who fits the bill please forward on my details.
email – email@example.com and phone – 0207 985 1772
Look forward to hearing from you,
T: 0207 985 1772
M: 07903 433 043
Third Floor Whiteley’s Centre,
151 Queensway, London
I think Twitter is very important; the most important web-based communication tool yet developed. I don’t need to tell you (whether you use it or not) that it has had a profound effect around the world, created an accessible, robust new route for contact and real-time search. We’re only beginning to learn the benefits it could bring.
If you live down a well with no radio, on Desert Island Discs famous/important people pick eight pieces of music they’d take to a desert island. Then at the end of the programme they pick a book* and a ‘luxury object’, meaning something that won’t help them escape or communicate with the outside world but will improve their stay on the island.
In a conversation with Anth Melton a couple of months ago about augmented reality, Anth said something that turned my view of the technology on its head. It’s stuck with me, got to be shared and he won’t be bothered, so here goes.
We tend to come at augmented reality from the point of view of the benefits ‘within’ it, ie. what it does for you once you’ve got your Google Goggles or iSpecs on and you’re wandering around a world you’ve programmed, seeing a range of content and adverts picked out and filtered for you. But Anth suggested we should regard the development of AR from the other direction, from a town planning / eco-improvement perspective. Perhaps it offers an incredibly powerful tool (or at least impetus) to sort out the real physical world. I honestly haven’t heard this perspective on AR anywhere else and it amazes me, the more I think about it, it’s almost Mayer Hillman counter-intuitive.
You know the way that sometimes urban spaces look suddenly, unexpectedly beautiful if you look up above the ground floor? The truism that if you’re walking around a shoddy town centre, overcrowded with consumers, full of advert hoardings and with every building covered in shop signage, that the buildings themselves are actually gorgeous? You just have to look slightly upwards – to the first floor and above – to get smacked in the face by how lush these streets of varied historic architecture are, especially at a quieter time of day. For me Oxford Street and in particular Charing Cross Road are like that early morning, when there aren’t the usual bucketloads of numpties. Brighton is like that too because we have ramshackle, alleyway architecture which fades into the background when the town is rammed brimful of tourists and shoppers.
With foreign films I guess the assumption is always to watch the subtitled version, not the dubbed version. But with animation I’m only just now realising this is dead wrong. Late to the party, I know. My logic has always been: I want to hear the ‘original’ voices and follow the script on the subtitles, not listen to a bunch of jobbing Hollywood b-listers chew microphones through some kind of Disney-ised, morally compromised script?
But now I’m forced into a rethink, thanks to a conversation with a spectacularly well-informed barman in the upstairs coffee shop at the Duke Of York’s in Brighton. They have posters up for the new Studio Ghibli animation Ponyo, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, which opens in two weeks. It’s profoundly exciting news for anyone into Ghibli animation, and will hopefully rebuild my faith in the studio after the disaster of Tales From Earthsea, where Miyazaki’s inexperienced son Goro was given the film of Ursula Le Guin’s classic pioneering fantasy novels, after Dad had chased them for years. Goro fucked it up big-time.
Over the weekend I wrote my Morning Star column, which this week is about LSD. Then yesterday, for the first time, the editor refused to publish it.
The subs told me: “Not that we’re anti-drugs or anything, but he reckons you’ve crossed a line by actively, massively advocating the stuff.”
So I’ve written them something new, which I’ll email in the morning, though it’s probably too late for this week’s copy of the paper.
Meanwhile here’s the column they didn’t want. If you regularly read this blog but not my MS columns, it’s worth remembering this was written for print, not a blog, with their house style in mind (ie. it’s a bit different from most of my blog entries and not so readable onscreen!) and also it might be old hat because I’ve boffed on about this subject here already. But anyway…