Friday, April 29, 2005

South London calling 

Why Streatham rocks: #3 in an occasional series

"An' if you're in the Crown tonight,
Have a drink on me,
But go easy, step lightly, stay free"

- Stay Free, The Clash

Onionbagblogger tipped me off a while back to the rock'n'roll connections of Streatham's Crown & Sceptre pub, but we'd managed to avoid its dubious charms - until last night.

I was thrilled when two tickets to Saturday night's Zutons, LCD Soundsystem and Soulwax gig at the Academy landed on my desk yesterday - but heartbroken to remember I'd agreed to work at the mighty Encompass Festival all weekend. So I arranged to pass 'em on to the Scottish Dobber, who told me he'd just discovered the Crown and had bunkered in for the night with a flagon of cider, surrounded by old drunks and happy as a pig in mud, and I should get my arse down there immediately.

Being just down the road from Smacked Face Towers, I've walked past the Crown a million times and oft noted its promising-looking garden bar with sunset views. Thus, with summer fast approaching, it was high time I gave it a go. Surprisingly, I can recommend it. The nachos are disgusting and the prospect of Steak Club (Tuesdays) and Curry Club (Thursdays) positively frightening, but it rules for people-watching, with its clientele of sifty-looking characters and red-faced alcoholics with a story to tell (if only they could remember it), and its cheap organic cider is surely nectar of the gods.

And as I drank one which became four, the awe-inspiring thought that I was drinking where Joe Strummer had once knocked back many a pint briefly transcended the dingy, boozehound-soaked reality of life in the modern-day Crown. Should I stay or should I go? Alright, just one more then...

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: The worst trainwreck in the world (cheers Quentishtown)...

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Sins against cinema 

I'm struggling to remember the last film I saw that I hated as much as I did Tarnation last night. Garden State's a contender, but at least I managed to struggle through to the end of that one - the Scottish Dobber and I lasted no more than 20 minutes into Tarnation before realising our guffawing and violent shaking of heads might be disturbing other patrons.

"I'm going to the loo," I whispered. "And I may not return."

"I'll see ye at the bar, lassie," Dobber replied, and he was out the door quicker than if they'd just announced drinks were on the house.

We retreated upstairs to nurse a Belgian-brewed Palestinian beer, check out the Wednesday night reggae (too polite for our tastes) and discuss the self-indulgent nonsense we'd just witnessed.

We'd actually planned to see The Assassination Of Richard Nixon, but on arriving at the Ritzy discovered they were screening the other Sean Penn flick out at the mo, The Interpreter - and after discovering a shared loathing of Nicole Kidman, an alternative had to be quickly found. For some reason, we decided on this steaming pile of trite tripe.

I suppose we should have been wary when a cineaste friend we encountered in the foyer hesitated before giving her cautious approval. "I don't know if I'd go again, but I'm, er, definitely glad I saw it. Yes, erm, definitely," she said, knowing full well it was too late for us to change our tickets.

Briefly, Tarnation is comprised of 19 years of Super-8 footage shot by Jonathan Caouette, recording his mother's mental illness and his own journey to gay adulthood, via drug addiction and a whole host of traumas. I don't know why this didn't make me run a mile on reading the synopsis, but it's had such good reviews we thought we'd give it a go. And give it a go we did - we gave it 20 minutes, then we had to go.

We had a grand night out in Brixton though - 'dinner' of a delicious and cheap bagel at Mother's Touch, a Diet Coke at the Prince Albert, a couple of wines at Z Bar, followed by two Leffes too many at the refurbished Dogstar (no more Ned B***s graffiti - boo!) and, unusually for me, a nice little nightcap of Lambeth green.

Sometimes SW9 really turns it on.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Do You Know The Way To Amarillo, Tony Christie (c/o Popbitch's excellent joke today, cheers for that, grrrr)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Electronically cursed 

Apologies for the lack of posting of late. Not only have I actually been having a life - albeit a tramp's life, but a life nonetheless - but every single piece of technology I own has decided to go tits-up in the past week.

The Sky box copped out a week ago, and the Sky folk tell me we'll need to get an engineer round, which is encouraging, given my chequered history with Sky engineers. The stupid thing is, I never watch telly, but suddenly I can't think of anything I'd rather do.

Next, my shite old Dell PC has begun freezing, crashing and flashing weird error messages on a daily basis. I've been too scared to investigate further in case the whole thing goes kaput again and I lose all the years of photos and music I've collected (which is probably why it's going kaput in the first place).

Finally - and worst of all - my much-treasured iPod started making a fearsome clicking noise during Saturday night's dinner party before flashing up a little folder/exclamation mark icon and clicking a little more furiously, then flashing up a little unsmiley face and stopping clicking, then finally stopping doing anything at all. It's the hard drive, I've been told, and it's pretty much buggered. As Dusty once sang, I just don't know what to do with myself. I am heartbroken. I may even set up a charity collection to help get myself a new Pod. Just £1 a day - a little girl waits...

Not happy. :(

Friday, April 22, 2005

Weak end 

Sorry, I'm a bit rubbish this week. That evil 'wine' has rotted me brain. Anyway, this weekend we recommend:

Nothing. Stay in. Have a BBQ. That's what we're doing. (Apart from Ms G, who's going to the Groucho Club, check her out, oooh...)

Pigeonhold at Salmon & Compasses, Angel - Gid, Karen Normal, Will B and Emma FuseBox play records at you for your pleasure
• Marathon Session at Cicada, Farringdon - support my mate Kay, who in turn is supporting the very excellent Bays, who in turn are doing it all for charideee
DJ Spinna at the Jazz Cafe, Camden
• Um...

• Picnicking in Brockwell Park
£5 comedy at the Hobgoblin, Brixton

Er, that's it. Enjoy. xx

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Odds, sods 

It's me mum and dad's birthday today - yep, the same day, the only thing they've ever had in common... Raise a glass to the olds then.

I'd promised a Hives review today, but our names weren't on the list last night so we weren't getting in. So have a D4 review instead.

Weekend gig recommendations on their way... In the meantime, guess who's back in business? Welcome back, Mr Pettifogspot. About fooking time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Top Ten Tuesday: songs to drink Buckie by 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usIn memory (or lack thereof) of what must go down in history as one of South London's best 48 hours ever, here's the soundtrack to our weekend of South London rooftops in the sunshine, tonic wine and homecooked five-star cuisine. Dobbaz for life. (And yes, I know I may have said something about an MP3 blog appearing here this week - but, er, that was before the invasion of said Scottish ned elixir.)

1 Abracadabra Steve Miller Band
It's been a feature of these Top Tens before, but you cannae beat it for getting a roomful of people on their feet and singing along like idiots.

2 Gut Feeling Devo
One of rock's best guitar riffs, then that keyboard kicks in. Utter genius.

3 Hurt Johnny Cash
The boy named Sue cropped up with unfailing regularity on the iTunes shuffle. I like to think the great man was watching us from somewhere up there, smiling on us and approving wholeheartedly of our trampjuice-fuelled antics.

4 I Got The Blues Labi Siffre
You know this cos Eminem stole the hook. Or maybe you're so cool you already knew this Smacked Face Towers staple from 1975 before Slim got on the scene. (I didn't, but that doesn't prove much.)

5 Far Beyond Locksmith
Booty-bumping and grinding funk much beloved of Brixton boys the Jaxx, and likewise by us.

6 One Nation Under A Groove George Clinton
Pure understated smoky springtime party grooves. (See also Marvin Gaye's Got To Give It Up; George Benson's Give Me The Night)

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us7 Uptown Top Ranking Althia & Donna
A title which, bizarrely, ended up along tattooed with Vivid marker up a pal's arm, along with "Up the bum, no babies" and "DOBBER" in five-inch high letters across his arse. Erm, moving right along...

8 John Peel Tribute Mix Optimo
All hail the mighty departed, and all hail records played at the wrong speed. A man after my own heart.

9 Rotation Herb Alpert
One of my Favourite Tracks Of All Time, I didn't think this sublime delicacy could get any better, but thanks to sometime Alabama 3 lyric boy B being in the house, we were treated to some of the most amazing impromptu rapping I've ever witnessed over the top. There's a video somewhere, and I need to find it - spine-tingling is not the word. Ahhh.

10 Low And Sweet Greenskeepers
A Peelie favourite actually - sublime 1930s-style jazz guitar action. A track that cannot fail to cheer up the surliest dancefloor - and usually get 'em stomping up a storm and dosey-doh-swinging their partners across the room by the end of it. Like idiots. Again. Or is that just us?

Thanks to all involved. And whoever brought the Buckfast, you're barred...

Monday, April 18, 2005

Buckie rage 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWhy did we have to go and ruin a perfectly good Sunday with a marathon boozing session involving this vile drink (<--), courtesy of a radge Scottish house guest who insisted we partake of his national drink? There's irony and there's irony, but surely this is a joke too far. My pounding head and churning stomach agrees, and as the DTs set in, it's all I can do to type this, I'm twitching so much. Pure poison.

Anyway, what better way to deal to a hangover than to head out to a noisy East London club to hear a bunch of Kiwi lads thrash out some punk-edged rawk - The D4. I just want to crawl into bed (covered in red wine from Saturday night's exploits, yikes) and nurse my aching body, but apparently I have to review 'em for this lot. Howl. It's nae fair.

Saturday, April 16, 2005


I knew my run was too good to last - yep, we've been burgled. Luckily it was a fairly hit and miss job, just small, easily carried stuff since the thief obviously accessed our place through the fire escape (a lot of cash hidden in underwear drawers, my digital camera, the flatmate's phone, etc, etc), and some really obvious shit missed - duh. He's obviously not the smartest of crims. But still, knowing some gyppo has been rummaging through your scanties is a grim thought.

Apparently there's a crack fiend living in an old car behind our building who's been shitting in our garden (!) and hanging around the fire escape, and who threatened war when asked by another tenant to cease and desist. We asked the lovely policemen who came to our aid to pay him a visit and see if he's taken up photography lately.

At least he didn't shit in our bath, I guess. Though if I happen to catch him, he won't be shitting for a week, the dirty, thieving fucker...

Friday, April 15, 2005

Life's a riot 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMetro Riots!!!!!

Er, sorry, I got a bit carried away there. Um, let's go back and start at the beginning of this rock 'n' roll London fairy-tale (read: Smacked Face finally has a decent night out).

So. Six months ago I get an email from DC, informing me his old mucker Graeme bFM is in town and instructing me to introduce him to the wilder side of London life. On Sunday, the bugger finally gets in touch. An agenda is set for Thursday night, involving three different events and a whole lot of travel on the Northern Line.

First up, the opening of the Gregory Crewdson exhibition at White Cube. Lots of free cold Asahis out on on the cold, cold street. But we were there for the art. Of course. Er... You've probably read about this exhibition in the press of late - it was The Guardian's Weekend mag's cover feature last week, if I recall rightly. Anyway, it's quite spectacular - lots of large-scale, Douglas Sirk-tinted, weirdly-perspectived, saturated-colour prints of small-town American life. Gorgeous to look at, but I found the subject matter trite. Worth a peek though.

Celeb count: 2 (Bond girl Rosamund Pike, Sam Taylor-Wood (of course), many other familiar but nameless faces)

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usNext, the launch of the Future Legends - The New Faces of British Music exhibition at Proud Camden, a huge collection of photographs by Roger Sargent, who you may recall did the excellent Libertines exhibition last year. This is where it really starts getting good.

To say half the London music scene was in attendance would be understating it. With the Libs' Carl Barat DJing, and The Rakes, Dogs and Metro Riots playing live, the place was heaving with next-big-things and big scene players, the majority of whom seemed to be sporting the near-obligatory Keith Richards poodle do. It was fearsomely hip, tragically even, but this didn't stop me falling in love every time I turned around, because I'm a sucker for muso types, especially those sporting OTT haircuts.

Because of our jam-packed schedule (dahhlings), we didn't make it to Proud until after 8pm, by which time Dogs and The Rakes had already played. But we did get to see the Metro Riots, and thank Christ for that - they're my new favourite band. The posturing! The arrogance! The screaming! The flailing limbs! The big hair! The sheer rock'n'roll energy! (The bassist who looks 12 years old!)

I recall seeing this lot at White Heat a while back, but they can't have made much of an impression on me then. They made up for it this time. If this London foursome aren't the biggest live act on the circuit by the end of the year, there is something seriously wrong with the world. I have not enjoyed a gig so much since... ever. They're playing the Windmill on Saturday, so you bet I'm sneaking away from the Horse and up the road for a bit of Riot action. More photos here (I forgot my camera so the crap pics on this page are courtesy of my new all-mouth-but-no-trousers Nokia 7260), and please go here and buy their new EP right this minute. Now.

Celeb count: too many to mention...

Next, a quick bite to eat at trusty old Bar Vinyl and it was down to London Bridge for beats and bleeps courtesy of Autechre. It's not my usual cup of tea, truth be told - I'm a girl inclined to cheap, fast thrills, and tend to think of Warp Records stuff as the sort of music you hear at the end of the night when the drugs have worn off and all you can hear is booming, repetitive beats and you just want to be at home in bed right now, but there's an epic night bus journey ahead of you and, and, and... - but as I won't be making it along to Sonar this year, I guess I should get my glitchy electronica fix where I can.

Advice for the ladies? If you want to go to an event where you're outnumbered by men 20 to 1, and where there's never a queue for the loos, a Warp gig is a safe bet. Naturally, it was anorak central - and let's be frank here, some of those anoraks needed a wash. However, I sense to the trainspotting masses laundry may be a dirty word (or alternatively, 'dirty' and 'laundry' are the same word)... Anyway, t'was all good fun and I had a blast.

Celeb count: 0 (any recognisable celebrity aspects obscured under legions of hand-knitted Christmas jumpers)

And the best thing? All that fun for less than £15. Nothing paid!

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: RIP Mother, Metro Riots

Thursday, April 14, 2005

You hummus, son, I'll play it 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAn exercise in procrastination. How one picture launched a thousand emails... (And yes I'm too lazy and hungover to blog proper.)

Life Of Reilly: Kebab anyone? (<--)
Smacked Face: Ooh yes, i'll have a pitta the action.
Nick Speakers: Salad days...
SF: ... Although a little chilli.
Ms G: I doner know you guys.
NS: Shish, what's a guy got to do?
SF: S'all greek to me (cough ta)
NS: That one's mint (sauce), mate.
LOR: Jeez... I go into a meeting and look what happens. Mind you, I nearly fal-affel off my chair with laughter.
NS: We'll keema 'em coming... Here's my kebab recipe:

Take several pints of Stella
Marinade in them slowly
Demand that dog meat be heaped in a cardboard pitta bread
Abuse long suffering man at counter
Ask for more lettuce, and receive contempt of entire takeaway
Shake well using Delia's 'pissed and staggering walk' technique

Serving Suggestions:
Eat in taxi rank
Spill down self, and pick choice bits out of coat pocket
Consume with deep sense of self loathing

MG: You should feel ashawarmaed young man. That's disgusting.
SF: Ah, spit on it and rotate...
NS: Stop kebabbling, it's nearly the end of the day.
SF: Get back to work everyone, stop gherkin off. Hmmm, I might go to Kebabric tonight.
NS: I'm going to Pittaborough.
SF: Are you on the lamb?
LOR: You are starting to wing it, chickens.
NS: It's true, these puns are all repeating on me. Still, let's make a good breast of it, eh?
SF: That's right, if you can't beak em, join em... The thigh's the limit.
NS: I'm burgered if I can think of owt more.
LOR: Awww, ye running outta batteries, hen?
SF: Looks like the chickens have come home to roost. Eggscellent.
MG: Mikeyray's gonna crow over this when he gets these 80 messages in his inbox.
LOR: What, that old rooster? Thinking he's cock o the walk... He can pluck right off, chicken.
SF: Ah, dinnae fret, hen.
NS: I certainly would not frot a hen. I don't know what you're implying.
SF: Any chance to get your cock out...
NS: That's fowl.
SF: You just need to get laid.
LOR: All the chicks here are like a box of KFC. Take away the breast and thigh, and all you're left with is a greasy box.
SF: Finger-fucking good?
LOR: Yep, tastes like chicken, but smells like fish.
SF: Yeah, but you'd still like to 'fillet'...

Sorry... Normal transmission resumes tomorrow etc.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Top Ten Tuesday: let's get physical 

Summer's coming, so you'd better believe I've been hitting that gym every day to try to shed my winter coat. Thus these tracks are going to be well and truly put through their paces, courtesy of the shite but free work gym. Do their pounding beats make one pound the pavement? Do their pulsating basslines result in throbbing (gym) members? If the golden weather hits and I'm still looking like a pasty walrus, you'll know they've failed in their task.

[BTW, I'm not promising anything but it's pay day on Friday - and about time too, it's been the longest, brokest month in recorded history (thanks to all those who proffered money for bog roll) - but next week there might just be an MP3 blog waiting for you here. How about that then, eh?]

1 Pounding Doves
My all-time favourite Doves number. When this comes on, I do as it says on the tin and pound the fuck out of the cross-trainer/pavement/nearby friend. Gotta love that driving beat. And by the time that jangly harpsichordy bit at the end kicks in, I just want to take off and fly. Er, like a dove. But preferably a hawk. Like Kes.

2 Rocks Primal Scream
Oddly enough, Bobby Gillespie's the celeb I've seen most about London town. Yeah, he's a wrinkly old smackhead, but I still would... Another insistent drum-basher, this track. Kinda makes you sneak in a bit of a Jagger-like strut in to your striding too. Wicked.

3 Black Betty Ram Jam
Headbanger extraordinaire. Right, Ms G? If you don't love the ridiculous excesses of this track, you're a damn fule. Ravi McArthur has my eternal love and devotion for always slipping this into his sets. Rock on.

4 Gym Tonic (Thomas Bangalter mix) Bob Sinclar
"Stand with your feet together, buttocks tight, stomach pulled in and your arms straight out to the side... 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and back". Many a summer night spent jumping about to this track - which neatly sampled Jane Fonda, no less - in the dank confines of Calibre back in '98/99. No wonder I weighed just 8 stone by the end of that year.

5 Muscle Car Reform Reprise Mylo
Surprisely good treadmill track, this. Mylo's playing Glastonbury this year. My friend Matty says he has hairs growing out of the top of his nose. Another mate shagged him and said she didn't notice.

6 Throw Paperclip People
Best techno track ever! Drive that beat home! Yay!

7 3am MIST & High Contrast
Because disco D'n'B is the single best thing in the world to run to. Just beware of inadvertent chicken-pecking while you're out on the streets...

8 Beat Surrender The Jam
Another surprise contender. Not The Jam's best track by any stretch of the imagination, recorded at the end of their career, when you can hear the Style Council sound creeping in. But great to stride to.

9 Heartbeat Gloria Jones
Pulsating, uptempo Hammond-led Northern Soul, a track every bit as good as Tainted Love. I love this woman.

10 I Believe In Music Mass Production
This track is so goddamn funky that thinking about it makes me blush, because I know when I'm on the cross-trainer and this comes on that I do a little sideways funk-shove on the kick beat and nod my head about like an idiot, because I'm forever catching glimpses of myself in the mirror doing it. I'm a useless dancer even when I'm trying, let alone caught off-guard. Shamola.

Honourable mentions: Energy To Burn BT Express; Energy Flash Joey Beltram; Pump Up The Optimo Twitch; Move Your Body Marshall Jefferson; Should I Sing Like This? Greenskeepers; Romantic Rights DFA 1979; Search & Destroy The Stooges; A To B The Futureheads; Teenage Kicks The Undertones; Bodyshine (Larry Levan mix) Instant Funk; Whip It Devo; Soul Grabber Pt 3 Soul Grabber; Get On The Good Foot James Brown; Give It Up LCD Soundsystem; Take Me Out Franz Ferdinand; Do What You Wanna Do T Connection; Far Beyond Locksmith; Dance To The Music Medley (Danny Krivit edit) Sly & The Family Stone; Delirium Francine McGhee; Fix Flash; Mr Brownstone Guns 'N' Roses; Relax Frankie Goes To Hollywood; Cowgirl Underworld; Gonna Make You Sweat C&C Music Factory...

Monday, April 11, 2005


Can't say I'm overwhelmed by the Glasto line-up, although I guess it ticks all the boxes for the guitar bands I've been listening to of late (but where's da funk?!). Nice to see Kiwis Salmonella Dub on the bill too.

All the dissers going, "Ooh, lucky you, rocking out to Coldplay and Kylie!" in drippingly sarcastic tones can eff off, however - as I understand it, we won't be forced to watch either of these acts, so it's not really any of our concern. In fact, I think such rubbish headliners are a good thing - they'll act as a sort of creche for the tasteless masses, concentrating the tossers into one handy, easily-avoidable area. Excellent.

And anyway, it's not just about the music, is it? I anticipate me and Ms G spending the majority of the festival swanning about in Margot Leadbetter-style frocks in the Lost Vagueness casino, shooting craps with men dressed as ringmasters and challenging Peter Pan and the Lost Boys to a best-of-five. (Or sitting alone in our teepee on acid to much the same effect.)

Ooh, I'm well excited now.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Do You Realise, Flaming Lips

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Five-toed sloth 

I tried hard to have a productive day today. Really I did.

Going out last night on a red wine and alcopops bender wasn't the smartest move, I concede, leading as it did to spending an awful lot of money I don't actually have and waking up this morning with the world's worst hangover, something I rarely succumb to. Cue several hours cursing the sunshine, devouring all the paracetamol and Alka-Seltzer to hand and whimpering softly to myself in a dank nest of Smirnoff-scented sheets.

By the time I emerged, blinking painfully into the light, a sizable proportion of the day had passed, and I was still feeling rotten. Thus I turned down an invitation of champagne, strawberries and Grand National in favour of "working on the book".

My problems with the book are manifold. Firstly, I still haven't managed to nail down the new concept, having decided I loathed its first incarnation after months of working on it. Because I'm not happy with the concept, I haven't really sorted the plan. And every time I think about the plan, I think about how tedious planning is, and can't I jump right in and just write the fucker? And then when I do just leap in and start writing, I realise how horribly stilted my writing sounds, and that I don't know where I'm going, and that I really should do some more planning.

Needless to say the book has not advanced one jot. Esteemed novelist Dr Johnson has mockingly signed me up for a free trial of this, a course that promises to enable anyone to write a book in just 28 days. (He thinks it's hilarious - but he won't be laughing when in a month's time I've sent my pulp fiction off to Mills & Boon to make my fortune and he's still sitting in Starbucks, planning in triplicate his next crack at world domination.)

So what did I do today? Applauded the happy couple (ah, didn't she look marvellous? Looooved the funky grey number), forgot to cheer on my sweepstake nag Colnel Rayburn [sic], drank a lot of tea and spent a ridiculous amount of time doing online personality tests, thanks to Charlene Ramsay. (For the record I am a ENFP/type 3. So bang on it's positively spooky.)

All in all an utterly unproductive day. As per.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: The Jezebel Spirit, Brian Eno/David Byrne

Friday, April 08, 2005

The world is full of smashing whores 

I was going to write a big long post responding to the brilliant Jason Mulgrew's recent sketchy post on women and the sexual tally slut factor* (apparently more than 11 is unacceptable), but I decided I couldn't be bothered making myself a poster child for the "bohemian principles" brigade, and besides, I've talked about all this before.

All I'll say is that maybe Mr Mulgrew should get himself out of Repressedville USA (aka New York City) to some place where the livin' (and women) is easy (aka London/New Zealand). Although given that I imagine him to make Comic Book Guy look good, I suspect we're all better off he stays right where he is.

In other news, I wish Chuck and Cam the best for their big day tomorrow. I've always rather liked Charlie's plant-talking, dope-smoking drippiness, and the fact a battered old broad like Camilla can inspire such lifelong devotion gives hope to us all. (Although according to today's ES Magazine, she's an absolute goer in the sack. I bet she's had more than 11 partners...)

* "Mathematically speaking, the average 25 year-old non-slut woman should have slept with around 11 men. This presupposes that a woman became sexually active at 18, and thus has experienced seven years of sexual activity. It is assumed that at least two of these years were spent in a monogamous relationship, so that leaves five years to sleep with around 10 men, or two per year.

Though mathematically this sounds correct, all 10 of my male friends said that 11 men is WAY too many men for a 25 year-old woman to have slept with, and seven of the 10 said they would not date a woman who's slept with 11 guys. One guy said, 'Well, it's totally OK if I've slept with that many people, but it's not OK for her. And if that's a double standard, then so be it. I'd shake her hand, wish her luck, and tell her that in the future she should probably lie about that number.'"

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Warm Leatherette, The Normal

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Scurrilous gossip 

And all of it second-hand! But originally from the horse's mouth, or fairly close anyway... Er...

Reilly tells me of a chap he met recently who works on the Meltdown Festival (Patti Smith curating this year, wahey). Apparently under Morrissey's stewardship last year, there was a "meat is murder" ruling, with no meat whatsoever allowed anywhere near the festival. Thus the sneaky carnivore crew employed a "meat runner", who would take orders and sneak back bacon butties for the boys, and risked being fired if caught. Snarf.

And from our man in the know - which celeb couple have retreated to the countryside this week to bunker down with £1,000 worth of smack and crack, closely guarded by a host of armoured vehicles and ex-SAS squaddies?

Ooh, it's all gone 3am around here!

Books etc 

There's nothing worse than weblogs infested with series of so-called "memes" - sad little questionnaires spread from blog to blog, much like viruses, supposedly to reveal more about said blogger, whereby said bloggers generally spout forth a load of old bollocks to make themselves appear much cooler/more cultured/alive than they really are. They're to be avoided at all costs... erm, except in the case below, which grudgingly came my way from fellow meme-hater James Noizyland, and because his site rocks, I'm letting myself be sucked into the meme pool just this once. Hell, I can show off as well as the next man (see: entire blog).

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be?
[EDIT: OK, so we all fucked up this question. See comments box] Um, I don't want to be it, but alas I can't help it - Yoga For People Who Can't Be Bothered To Do It, by Geoff Dyer. I'm reading another of his books at the mo, Out Of Sheer Rage, a study in procrastination - Geoff's account of his attempt to complete a book on DH Lawrence. I can identify. Yoga For People... is a so-called travel book, but basically it's a collection of the frustrations, irritations and unrealised ambitions of a far-too-old-to-still-be-such-a-hedonist Brixton-based writer - a particularly well-chosen gift from Charles Pettifogspot when I was last in NZ. I am Geoff Dyer and he is me.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Only Sick Boy from Trainspotting (not the Porno incarnation though), but probably only because I'd already seen the film by the time I got around to reading the book and thus could only picture Jonny Lee Miller... Hmm, a good-looking, sadistic drug addict. Nice choice.

The last book you bought is?
Any Human Heart by William Boyd, on the gushing recommendation of m'learned friend Dr Johnson.

The last book you finished is?
Allen Carr's Easy Way To Stop Smoking. It's a tedious read so I've been dragging my feet over it, but I've finally reached the end, and by god, it works. I feel incredibly suggestible (no, really?), but two months now and not even the slightest hint of a craving.

What are you currently reading?
Granta #80 - The Group: Pictures From Previous Lives. I'm really enjoying this particular collection, though admittedly Granta doesn't often get it wrong.

Five books you would take to a desert island?
* A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving. Uplifting without being cheesy or - gag - 'spiritual'. Genius.
* Catch 22 by Joseph Heller - as for James Noizy, for me it's a keeper. Although as I recall I lent my last copy to Jeremy West at university and never got it back...
* Easy Riders, Raging Bulls/Down And Dirty Pictures by Peter Biskind - still the best books ever written on the movie business. I'd need to keep my 70s Hollywood addiction sated, and get my pop culture fix too.
* Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee - might as well learn something while I'm there...
* Funk: Music, People and Rhythm of the One by Richey Vincent - just in case I wasn't permitted to bring my desert island discs (a whole other story).

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
Again, following in Noizy's anti-meme footsteps, I'm not going to actually send this to anyone. I'll throw it open to the sidebar girls though, if they feel like playing the game. Meet:
* Charlene Ramsay - who seems to lead a spookily similar life to me. Our paths have yet to cross - I suspect they will one day at Optimo, and I fear for when they do...
* Stressqueen - Stoke Newington film buff, good taste in booze, books also?
* Harvestbird - literary genius hailing from deepest, darkest Canterbury. She knows her stuff.

But feel free to decorate the comments box, anyone. That's the last "meme" you'll see round here for a while...

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Liquid Sunshine, Parliament (because there's snow expected tomorrow. Ah, London...)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The life aquatic 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe phone rang. It was Tom Ah-Fro.

"I need to vicariously experience your nostalgic delight, fellow Kiwi. Go to this link, now."

Nostalgia's a bit of a theme round these parts at present, so I wasted no time. Such was my delight I felt similarly compelled to forward it instantly to all my Kiwi friends and wait with bated breath to share their reaction.

How much do we love the new L&P campaign? (For those not from the colonies, L&P - or Lemon & Paeroa - is a true-blue Kiwi soft drink, kinda of lemony and full of paeroas, I mean, made in Paeroa. It's world-famous in New Zealand and it's pretty darn nice.)

We've soiled ourselves over the genius of 'Stubbies' before, but the ad that so delighted Tom Ah-Fro and myself (and everyone else) today was the 'Bombs' TVC, dredging up golden, Technicolor-saturated memories of a million childhood days spent poolside, baking in the ferocious New Zealand sunshine, in the days when sunblock was for pussies and your mum made you smear on coconut-scented Hawaiian Tropic Dark Brown Tanning Oil before you left the house, with maybe a streak of pink zinc for your nose.

It made me wonder how the hell we're all still alive. The pool-related adventures we used to get up to are surely now banned under OSH rulings. One of our favourite pastimes as young 'uns was to hoon down the Hampden Street School pool's water slide sitting in one of Dad's big tractor-tyre inner tubes - risking injury in so many ways. You could tip off the tube on to the concrete below. You could burn the skin off the back of your thighs at high speed on the hot, dry plastic of the slide if someone had sneakily turned off the hose at the top. Or you could enter the water with the tube spike poking up the wrong way and do yourself a fearsome injury.

The warning signs didn't do any good, that's for certain. Sure, we read the pool rules as we ran past to do another bomb, buy some Pineapple Lumps and a K Bar or dunk our mate, but we paid them no heed, apart from to snigger at "No heavy petting" (once we'd asked our mums what it meant). The only rule we adhered to was not pissing in the pool, for fear a special chemical in the water would turn our wee purple. (It never did - friends, they lied to us.)

The swimming pool - a treasured rite of passage for all self-respecting antipodeans. We'll surely all die of skin cancer in the years to come, but by hokey, Hokitika, it will have been worth it.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Going Back To My Roots, Richie Havens

Top Ten Thirteen Tuesday: SUMMER! 

Right. This week, what with the wonderful weekend weather still spreading joy and cheer throughout the land, it's summer tracks - sunshine songs that make me smile without making me want to reach for a bucket (apart from some of those '98 Calibre tracks, jeez). I started compiling these and got on a roll, so it's a extra-lucky Top 13 today. I was going to try to be objective in my comments too, but summer days really are the best days of your life, so all I can offer is a collection of shiny happy memories (or lack of, in many cases) as I drift off into a dopey nostalgic reverie... Zzzzz.

1 Beau Mot Plage Isolee
Everytime I hear this exquisite piece of shimmery, esoteric electronica, I'm taken straight back to Sonar 2001, dancing under the stars in the 3am Barcelona heat or laughing our way along a maze of back streets in the Barri Gotic at midnight, even though, come to think of it, I never actually heard it while I was there but only on that year's CD, which I thrashed as soon as we returned - broken and battered and minus our luggage - to London.

2 Summer Time In Harlem / Lovely Day Bill Withers
How do you turn a duck into a soul singer? Put it in the microwave until it's... Er, anyway, two very different songs, but both equally lush and guaranteed to take you to your happy place.

3 All Summer Long The Beach Boys
Brian and bros are the original boys of summer (long before hateful Don Henley came along), and this is one of my favourite early tracks of theirs, implanted in my brain at a young age thanks to American Graffiti, I would imagine.

4 Hot Fun In The Summertime Sly & The Family Stone
The sweetest, most nostalgic song they ever did. Hurrah.

5 Sun Is Shining Bob Marley
I suppose pretty much any Marley could go here - or reggae, for that matter, the genre being the ultimate summer soundtrack. I recall taking twice as long to skank along to work on a hot morning last year, due to choosing Prince Far-I as a soundtrack. But this classic's got suitably summery subject matter (and let's be clear here, this is not that atrocious house remix that came out a few years back, oh no), though I was particularly enjoying Toots & The Maytals' Funky Kingston on the bus home this evening.

6 I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun Nuyorican Soul / Whistlebump Deodato
In memory of the many sweaty summer afternoons/evenings spent in Notting Hill Arts Club, c/o Lazy Dog and Patrick Forge's Inspiration Information, hugging anything that moved.

7 Peaches The Stranglers
"Looks like I'm gonna be stuck here the whole summer/well what a bummer
I can think of a lot worse places to be
Like down in the streets/or down in the sewer/ or even on the end of a skewer"


8 Sunworshipper Mylo
Auckland, January 2005, driving back from the beach with my best girl Jane in the bright, bright sunshine, knowing every moment was precious and fleeting and that a return to the grey London winter was imminent, but right now there was barbecuing to be done, friends to catch up with, citronella candles to be lit, and crack open another bottle of that Lindauer, eh?

9 Summer In Space Cosmos / Our Summer Suite Problem Kids / A Grand Love Theme Kid Loco / I Thought It Was You Herbie Hancock / Deep Burnt Pepe Bradock...
All tracks that remind me of the fantastic summer of 98/99, a time when far, far too many hours of my life were wasted (literally) in steamy K Rd basement clubs...

10 Summertime DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
Sadly this has grim connotations for me, reminding me as it does of one balmy summer's eve in 1991, in my hometown of Nelson, when, aged 16 and en route to a BBQ in my little Hillman Imp, I had the misfortune to run over a cat. It was horrible. (I would go on to also hit a sheepdog and my sister's old schoolmate, Billy Kenyon, that year, but I really am an excellent driver, honest. It was just bad luck.) Good track though. (See also: Summer Breeze Isley Brothers)

11 900 Degrees Ian Pooley
Fresh off the boat, more gear than we'd ever dreamed of, every weekend spent getting off our dials at London house parties, bumping and grinding to the world's cheesiest fromage and sneaking off with X for secret snogs in closets. Truly, Halycon® days.

12 California Soul Marlena Shaw
Of course.

13 Here Comes The Summer The Undertones
Unfortunately playing Glastonbury this year. Live fast, die young, kids - not reform at crinkly o'clock with a lead singer who's now a government advisor. That's not rock'n'roll. Peelie would turn in his grave.

Honourable mentions: Samba Magic Basement Jaxx; Summer Daze Nick Holder; Summer In The Parks East Coast Connection; Happy People Brass Construction; Hot In Herre Nelly; Sweet Jane Velvet Underground; Summer In The City Bartel; Sweet Division Del Rey System; Do You Realise The Flaming Lips (sunny Glastonbury 2003); La Vie En Rose Grace Jones (for Nick); Club Tropicana Wham; Everybody Loves The Sunshine Roy Ayres; Walking On Sunshine Eddy Grant; Tour De France Kraftwerk; Sunshine Tomaz & Filterheadz...

Monday, April 04, 2005

Must try harder 

Better remedy last week's multitude of omissions before I even think about tomorrow's Top Ten. It was a bit of a disaster all round really, here's hoping we can pick up the pace this week.

So. Obviously when discussing percussive tracks, the following deserved a mention at the very least:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usHouse Of Jealous Lovers, The Rapture - of course. Duh. Cowbell!!
Spastic, Richie Hawtin - second to Carl Craig's Throw, possibly my favourite techno track ever
Papa's Got A Brand New Pigbag, Pigbag - subject of the world's funniest conversation and a sure-fire killer
Spank, Le Pamplemousse - cheers for the heads-up, Looby. Sample city
Jingo, Candido - bongo madness
Boom, Royce da 5'9" - tick, tick, tick...

And of course all the suggestions in the comments box. Keep 'em coming btw, my iTunes library welcomes them all with open (if bursting at the seams) arms.

In a west end town, a dead end world 

I spent the weekend chilling in deepest, darkest Chiswick, courtesy of the good Dr Johnson. It was pretty bloody nice actually - eating lots of good food, watching great films, browsing book stalls, sauntering about farmers' markets, reading the papers and scoffing fudge on the banks of Barnes Pond in the glorious sunshine (do ponds have banks per se? Anyway...)

It was an interesting experiment in observing how the other half live, and has left me in a rather topsy-turvy mood. My poor flatmates bore the brunt of it, alas, as I returned home to an exercise in compare and contrast. The place looked like student digs in which a small yet potent bomb had gone off - there were crumbs and recycling debris all over the kitchen floor, the toilet smelt faintly of last week's poker-night piss fest, the lounge was strewn with empty cans and spliff detritus... Suddenly my shabby life was exposed in sharp focus.

In the cold light of day, of course, I realise I was being overly dramatic. (Who, me? Never... ) It's not that bad at all. We live in a lovely flat - it just needs a bit more day-to-day upkeep than it's currently getting, and I'm as guilty as the next man in that department. And could I really handle the pleasantly bourgeois life W4 offers, with its population of happy families and radiant mums-to-be? God no.

But sadly I can't stop thinking of twee west London homesteads, where the bathrooms are lightly perfumed with Jo Malone room fragrance and Diptyque candles. And the feeling I need to make some money. Now.

> INTERNAL JUKEBOX: Go West, Pet Shop Boys

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Breaking news 

Yeah, yeah, the Pope's dead*... But we're going to Glastonbury!!**


* When will Bono learn to stop hurling himself after every bandwagon going and SHUT UP?

* * Pending confirmation of highly-over-overdrawn debit card having been accepted)

Friday, April 01, 2005

Smile like you mean it 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI leave the house 10 minutes late because the iTunes has just thrown up Ronnie Foster's marvellous Mystic Brew, so I open the window, park myself on the windowsill and gaze out to Heathrow far in the distance as I finish my cup of tea. Visibility is down to near-zero, but that's due to the London haze, not rain. The sun is desperate to break through - it won't be long before it does.

I set the iPod to shuffle mode and it kicks off with Cab Calloway's Minnie The Moocher as I slink down the stairs in a swing stylee. It reminds me how much I miss Doc's excellent Count Sizzle nights at the Whitehorse. Big band is the way forward. (See also Bang In Your Face by the Greenskeepers for 1930s-charleston-goes-house action.)

Cab gives way to James Brown (throw in Aretha Franklin and we'd have half the Blues Brothers cast), whose 8-min re-edit of Soul Power accompanies my strutting down Brixton Hill, all the way to Allied Carpets, which I notice has great discounts on sheepskin rugs. The sun has come out, and through the haze can be seen patches of blue in the sky. There's spring in the air and a spring in my step. God, I love this time of year...

... As do Sly & The Family Stone, whose anthem to the joys of the season, Hot Fun In The Summertime, kicks in next. It's one of my very favourite tracks, guaranteed to put a smile on my dial. I like to think I'm sporting just the hint of an enigmatic smirk, a la the Mona Lisa, but know I'm probably grinning maniacally like a goofy Cheshire Cat.

By the time the song finishes, I'm outside Lambeth Town Hall and walking on air. I feel 10 feet tall. As if on cue, the shuffle mode flicks up Bill Withers' Lovely Day as the sun bursts through the clouds. Right now, surrounded by worried-looking commuters and the usual SW9 rubbish, I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be.

Onwards to the tube, but no - the Victoria Line is down and Brixton Station is closed. I jump on the nearest bus, a no 3, without checking or caring where it's going. I head upstairs and get a seat all to myself to the languid funk grooves of Deep Heat's cover of Do It Again by Steely Dan. Gorgeous.

I chance it and opt for the Zen navigation theory, deciding not to get off at Kennington, just to see where this bus will take me. I end up riding it all the way to Westminster. Minnie Riperton's exquisite voice swoops and soars through This Love I Have as we cross Lambeth Bridge, looking over to the Houses of Parliament (which still take my breath away, even after all this time).

Finally I head underground and tap my foot to the jaunty disco strains of Black Ivory's Surrender while waiting for the Jubilee Line. This gives way to The Killers' Smile Like You Mean It, then the Jackson 5's Give Me One More Chance, Rikki by Mylo and Zulema's soul odyssey, Giving Up. Gazing serenely (like the Pope, apparently) at the advertisements across from me on the carriage (and not reading any of them), I suddenly remember the date, and curse my luck for forgetting to put barley sugars in the flat showerhead this morning or execute any other such pranks. I resolve to play the old "I've won the lottery, let's all go to the Bahamas" trick on Ms G and Reilly on my arrival at work. (I do and Ms G falls for it. Sucker.)

We eventually pull into Canary Wharf station as the familiar hollow bass drum intro of Ian Pooley's Disco Love streams through my headphones. It's a track I don't think I've listened to for years - how did it get on my iPod? No matter, it's perfect, and as the filtered guitar riff swells, I board the escalator and climb into the sunshine. I don't turn it off until the last pizzicato notes have faded and I'm at my desk.

All's right in the world? You bet.

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