I still see streams of idiots heading for the sales standing at crowded bus stops- fools- you wait for those letters. I just got one. It does not make for New Year cheer when the printers packed up and the dishwasher's defunct.
Wednesday, 30 December 2009
So it's all over, now watch out. I fear for a terrible financial year, since we've all spent money we haven't got and are in limited states of mental health (having shot people without discretion on computer games on giant screens in living rooms with twelve year olds and sang 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World' far too many times on kareoke in the next room with their elders)
Sunday, 20 December 2009
Congratulations everyone! Rage Against The Machine our Christmas number one! I don't care it's not a great record, I don't care about Christmas number ones, but it's a great feeling that so many people voted to stick it to the motherfucker! May they play it long in to the night.
It lightens our hearts here in Julie and Paul land. I suddenly feel well!
Friday, 18 December 2009
Deal Or No Deal? Predictably Copenhagan is a morass. We sure have to seriously THEORIZE our politics. It won't do.
I tell you other things that wont do. Yesterday the printer exploded. That printer was an expensive piece of kit and little more than two years old- but suddenly springs, yes springs, sprung in to the air and a metaphorical cloud of very expensive ink dust filled the room. Can they fix it - NO.
Today, and I can't believe this is happening except that this sort of thing always happens at Christmas- the dishwasher packed up.
Thankfully I've been laid up in bed.
The worst thing ever invented may be 'Planned Obsolescence', maybe they even plan it buggering up at Christmas as part of their BIG CON.
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
As predictably as Christmas itself, I'm sick.
You draw the drapes, turn off the phone, sip Lemsip and whisky, sleep for a day or two, listen to the sounds from outside and the ticking of the radiator.
You shiver and shake sometimes. Realized it first with a cold sweat in the Misty Mountain yesterday noon- running errands. It must have been the brats at Sundays family party- with their germs.
I will sometimes rise and watch Columbo.
I reach for books and put them back again
But when you're ill- Bukowski is best- he wrote good poems. Ones with lines like
'gravy barks like a dog' and the paper is always fine.
He's very fond of animals- not so keen on people.
Gravy can bark like a dog.
Thursday, 10 December 2009
Apparently these posts are getting a little grumpy. Actually tonight should change that- but not quite. Spotify+ Apple + Bose (Bose arrived today, fitted by clever Julie). Very simple, I'm like a squirrel on hazelnuts. Too bad this new combination of technology shortens your attention span so you only seem to listen to the first ten bars of any song before move on to the next nostalgic gem- it's musical crack; The Ruts! Funkadelic! Duncan Browne!(?) Wishbone Ash! Robert Wyatt! Blue Cheer!!! it won't be long till I'm on to Steve Hillage and Gong. Is this a good thing? I already feel rather edgy.
I'll have to play some Jamaican stuff; Sly and Robbie- but they rattle the windows. Those people at Bose know what they are doing.
Love to all for the holidays when I've promised to rest and recuperate. Gotta get my head together. No Parties- always a disaster.
Yeah, Sly and Robbie.
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Topics to write about?- well I guess it's what you find yourself doing and fearing in this mad world. Today's world took me sadly with the news that Gordon McLean, architect of no parish, resident of Soho benches, wearer of fine suits under adversity, the last of the Soho I understand as worth enjoying, and university tutor, is in UCH with pneumonia and all the rest (critical that is). At the same time the postman delivered me a very fine copy of 'Low Life' Jeff Bernard's brilliant musings, mostly on hospitals and horse racing to be honest. It's good to know that Sally, Jeff's old nurse, is with Gordon as I write this. There is some continuity after all amongst low lives.
I was in the Coach of course and said a Soho prayer for him, but they had a fucking Christmas tree and Yee Olde Victorian advertisments for singalongs. Christ how things have changed for the worse.
Earlier had a jolly 'Christmas drink' (I'm joking) with Nic in the White Horse. We mused on the unsexyness of Australia amongst other things (Der yerr wanna do it agin?- Der yerr wanna go outside?) and the impossibility of me developing some kind of career path because of all the twenty five year old cunts coming up behind even if I wanted one in the first place and I despise even the word.
Julie arrived home resplendent in a new military trench coat and Russian hat, and to boot she'd been pushed and pulled in knee therapy in some other hospital. She enjoyed the experience so much the coat and hat were irrisistable. Very Carry On missus.
Kirsty's Home Made Christmas will now make me throw.
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
I never thought the word 'discharged' would be so delightful. But I was discharged today from hospital with nothing but the most amazing and unique case of gout of the nose. Gout is a form of arthritis and grows lumps here and there when you are not occasionally in intense joint pain. (There is a lovely story of the Count of Medici very grumpy indeed laid up in bed with gout when they had no anti-inflamitories). My own case astounded the surgeon as 'unique' and he even asked if he could have the rights to publication! That doesn't half make you skip to the pub opposite as soon as you are done. 'You are done' was also a delightful phrase, having sat in the waiting room for hours contemplating death and bombs in Iraq on the TV screen they so helpfully provide to entertain you with the hell of the world while you just sit there with other people waiting to be diagnosed with something awful. Some writers would say we get to like it. They may be the best writers.
Sunday, 6 December 2009
How come we are in the age of celebrity and there are no celebrities?
Where are the Richard Burtons or Peter O'Tool's of yesteryear? the Isadora Duncans, the Valantino's, The Francis Bacon's, the Jeffery Bernards? Instead we have Katie Price on the cover of every tabloid every day doing precisely fuck all and somebody, not unsurprisingly, has even threatened to kill her. We have Cheryl bloody Cole as some kind of expert on what? Precisely what does she represent- the epitome of the non entity made good I suspect, the tyranny of the bourgeois?
Thursday, 3 December 2009
Bloody Hell, just spent the WHOLE EVENING (Julie out photographing burlesque) listening over and over to the Foo Fighters. The Pretender, My Hero, Times Like These, these to me, with the benefit of lots of whisky, a day of 'crits' (how I hate that word- and to be honest everything the system involves- I really just want to talk abut architecture in a beautiful way) and damn fine speakers and amp (never buy cheap) have suddenly become essential, and I mean that in a bigger way than just ' I like it' What you like matters fuck all. The issue is what might it mean! Much to the annoyance of Pat next door I'm playing this stuff over and over again and might even forget to eat! Rock and Roll can still sound like salvation. That is a very,very good feeling. Maybe I'll flood Theory 2 with the Foo's tomorrow.
Stone Temple Pilots did the same thing to me.
And Zeppelin of course (saw them at O2 - guest list-you need to have good pals).
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
I can't help it, I like the Foo Fighters. I wouldn't say I'm a fan, I don't buy their actual albums, I ask other people to buy them for me, but coming in out of the rain tonight, realizing you've forgotten basic supper ingredients, Julie out at some lecture and so on; the Foo Fighters slot right in quite loud and appropriate, and we have new neighbours to educate. Of course it's the Greatest Hits album which marks me totally middle aged, but you'll all get old sooner or later and buy greatest hits albums because you have to trust somebody else, and I hope I can still shake my head (hopefully with hair) with the best of them till I die. In fact, I'm sure I'll listen to this album more than I will the Nirvana Greatest Hits I also possess but never play. This may make Dave Grohl very clever, he certainly looks very clever, he has a very good look . He has...er...moved on (in my opinion).
I remember dancing to Feels Like Teen Spirit for the first time- I smile as I think about it, some dingy SOHO nightclub with the eminent Jo Hagan spinning the discs and me and Alex de Rijke smashing the place up in a virtual way (because we are both rather polite young architects back then). Now of course, Alex is a real architect.
The Foos are also sublimely AMERICAN. It takes me back
The Foos may be the new/old Cult.
Friday, 27 November 2009
I cannot sing the praises of NHS doctors, surgeons or nurses enough, even with a big wad of cotton wool stuck up one nostril. They were, infact, a complete delight, and even admitted that because of the drugs they would inevitably have to give me to get me through the ordeal with the knife of no small proportions, that I would feel 'rather euphoric' on waking from those deepest of anesthetic sleeps. It was as if they were a special breed of nice, some breed apart from the world I am used to. Now I stare at the squirrels playing on the balcony with delight, and am enchanted by documentaries on the beavers of Yellowstone Park.
Thursday, 26 November 2009
Before I go (and by the way I love doctors and surgeons) I have to render this picture to the world. It has me and Matt White (architect) on what is mutually agreed to be one of the loveliest days of our lives, where we hung around for long periods in a sun drenched Las Vegas car park, then finally helped Julie photograph the Penthouse Club, which was empty of dancers of course. Above there is a classical column, a fire escape, a VIP rope, a marble floor, a shop display and breasts as big as the both of us. I consider the composition profound for our age.
I'm going under the knife tomorrow, admittedly not a very big knife, but it matters to me- remember Tony Hancock. However, at least my 'Pre -Op' mental status quickly excused me of another potentially godawful meeting this lunchtime. You know I have never known a MEETING to have achieved ANYTHING in thirty years of university life (it is also my birthday tomorrow- so I know that exactly- it IS thirty years).
Instead ~I made for the White Horse to sooth my soul and found the remarkable Franca look as if she were suspended perfectly horizontally by wires naked from the pole- and then slipped down it imperceptibly like a magician. It's a very secure place the White Horse (for me) and full of wonder and I thought 'best to have a couple of drinks now rather than later', and 'weren't/arn't Journey a crap rock band'. These are the thoughts that flourish in such circumstances as the White Horse. Dhalia came over and chatted to me about her stalker and her work backing up at university reading 'recreational studies' at Tin Pot University. That's the way it is- and that is civilization.
Hospitals on the other hand, are full of mad people especially the doctors and, god help me, surgeons. Who in their right mind at eighteen years of age says 'I want to be a doctor because I'm bright'. It must be the cruelest of delusional fantasies inflicted by 'The Machine' on our young. Surely when they are gaping in to whatever they have to gape into for the millionth time they realize they've been conned. Now all those of my generation are suddenly subjected to continual probing, gaping and fifteen page questionaires about our lifestyles and it is not pleasant. Well I can tell you if I could say I ran five miles a day and drank one glass of wine with dinner and thought fun was climbing a fucking fell hopped up on vitamin tablets in the rain while happily playing fucking badminton with my colleagues over weekday lunches and eating nothing but mung beans whilst furiously banking- I'd be FUCKING INSANE.
I may be the worst patient ever. Julie has the whisky on ice for when I get home.
Of course, dear readers, since I've paid my bills and may never return, I should point out that being an architect may be the second cruelest and delusional fantasy for young minds, but if you can learn to learn from life itself, not so bad a subject at all.
Goodbye to all that.
Sunday, 22 November 2009
I like Garrows Law (BBC) on a Sunday evening. Sunday evenings are for life mournful events, and the triumph of justice over avarice is heartwarming, even if this production is another piece of pure theatre manufactured by the 'machine'. I really don't like this 'machine'.
Late last night, those of us nearly fifty, nearly sixty and nearly ninety joined together as a family as we do once in a while. The drink and conversation flowed until we knew issues of some importance would inadvertently be discussed. I was doused as a Marxist, Julie too, my father was quiet, even he sees trouble at the mill he used to ascribe all hope to, my mother plaintively longed for us all to join the church. My brother said the church was evidently missing the point in all and everything- when did you last hear a parson deliver a sermon on global warming or heroin clinics (good or bad?) It was at once healthy and surprising and scary. Middle class families or course do their best not to discuss anything for years and years- it is their very definition.
I bought a tweed flat cap when Julie and I escaped to the garden centre this morning with hangovers. I needed head cover in the rain, but I'm rather pleased with it.
I look like either Chas or Dave.
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Saturday afternoon. Julie's downloaded Spotify or something, then some other thing where we can get any film we want. What an incredible situation. Of course most people now take it for granted, but I can tell you that when she asked me what I'd like to hear (from the past) and I said 'I'm in Love with a German Film Star' by The Passions, and up it came, the first time I'd heard it in thirty years, I was overwhelmed. That was me! That record epitomizes me at that time- rather foppish, rather romantic, rather inclined to desperate unrequited love and the romance of place and time and weather. Big black overcoats were required to seal in our sensitive souls. A love of that twinkling guitar! I wonder where the Passions are now, and I want them to know they did something really really good for at least one person in the world, they insulated him when required. Oh so did Robert Wyatt ('Shipbuilding' 'At Last I am Free').
Julie's turn, and fabulously she chooses 'Peaches' by the Stranglers. I say- 'My God!- I've got you!- all in your Doc Martins and donkey jacket. 'Yes' she says 'Yes!' Doc Martins and a donkey jacket.
I think that's love.
Monday, 9 November 2009
These dancers are brilliant! Here they are demonstrating against Tessa Jowell forbidding just about everything. What they do is honest work. So much work around us is clearly not honest work. People should be clearer in their thinking. Photo by Julie last Thursday in Parliament Square.
That Guinness ad is really offensive. To imply that by drinking Guinness you are somehow saving the planet...are you kidding me? They have always ran really epic campaigns, but this sucks. the STUPIDS have clearly taken over. I bet they are under twenty five. Probably that's who they're hitting at with the ad. Well you're all daft and I feel old.
Saturday, 31 October 2009
Oh Stacey! That was not rock! Not even X Factor 'rock'. Unfortunately for the format, 'rock' conjugates too well with 'band' and the only band left are those circus performers 'Ed and whoever' Why didn't they provide a damn rock band live for the show? They play the late lamented but essential Darkness in the background...which only proves that rock is guitars AND hairdos (or lack of them- check out the wonderful 'Bald' on the second album) and that Simon Cowell has never 'rocked' in his life. There is one rock album where I never got past the first track- it's Aerosmith's 'Rocks' and the first track (Back in the Saddle) is so blistering that I either play it again and again and again or have to just turn it off. Thats how you should feel about rock.
Thursday, 29 October 2009
Good things like a big soft bass reverberating through the room, with all the tinkly bits on top - each knowing when to play and not to play, this artistry never ceases to move me. As I'm nearing fifty of course the artist in question is Jackson Browne (The album is The Naked Ride Home). Me and my brother share the same tastes - he's nearly sixty- I got a good musical education from him at age ten, but I can't play a note. I can't play a note but I can feel it right at the heart of me, and I hope, desperately hope, that my students of architecture will be able one day to feel that subject too. It's not so different. I hope they will spot the chicanery and love the unlikely, that they will see through magazine promo and smile at gentle intensions, that they will appreciate the odd polemical gesture, and of course that thing about when to play and not to play, that they will appreciate Keith Richards for just being fucking brilliant, and struggle for an architectural equivalent only to realize that there is none. You can't make buildings you can dance to.....but you can understand 'up on the roof tops baby- baby I'm ready to go!' (strangely co-opted for both the world cup and selling of bicycles) Maybe they will even appreciate pirates in general. After all the Somali's just want their cut.
Sunday, 25 October 2009
Ok, we are close to the end of western civilization. Danyl nearly went out of X Factor. This travesty, this truly horrific moment displays all our psychosis and mean despair. That you yes you, nearly vote out the best singer in a singing competition is a demonstration of how stupid we have all become as folk who enjoy a simple talent competition. I shall use this information for weeks in theory lectures, I shall use it as a precise demonstration of .... you know the rest.
However this also makes me out to be a total fucking modernist, when I should be surfing on the absurdity of it all. Oh well.
Apparently we are all our own brand now! Peter York - Oh you can hear that chocolaty patter as he writes- says so in the above. The system has eaten us all up, the technology has given us the almost level playing field, we've all now just got to scramble about on it wondering what we are doing on it - I would say preferably something just a little bit more imaginative than 'being successful'. Perhaps everything is now only appreciated for it's/his/hers exchange value (as opposed to use value) Apparently successful people are now all so consistently branded they may appear rather stupid. Who would honestly want to be a breakfast TV presenter, a weathergirl or a top estate agent? But they do.
However to enable us to gobble each other up some more, it's up to us alternative brands to seize the moment. Ha bloody ha- read some Burroughs and Ballard first and the news could be fun.
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Of course we all know blogging is a fucking waste of time (Hi Kit!) However, perhaps those possessed by golf, loyalty cards, cheeseburgers, oil or international diplomacy might wonder at what the fuck they are doing instead. It's all (not to get Marxist on you all) a question of power. Personally I love wasting time, it is almost the be all and end all of my existence. I do a bit of activity, then I have to fuck off and do nothing at all of value for at least twice the amount of time and preferably more. I suggest this has always been the way for intelligent folk, which is why Simon Cowell is such a turd. Also, wasting time may also be how art gets made in one form or another. My old colleagues at the Coach and Horses long debated the issue of work, since manly we were avoiding it en masse. The conclusion was that three hours a day was the maximum to be effective. You may think this view is decadent- I see it as criticism- at least as long as I've done a decent job at doing the job bit in the first place. That job? Working hard in your head and having fun with it too. And anyway, the Coach and Horses in the old days was a real education.
Monday, 19 October 2009
Is time travel the same as nostalgia? Of course not. Time travel seems to be where technology is taking us, not literally yet, but certainly in terms of information at our disposal and the workings of us as sentient beings. I know more about the hell of the past (I usually choose Stalingrad TV docs on the remote) than I could have done twenty years ago. It puts me there progressively more. However it only works backwards. Looking backwards is usually called nostalgia. They are obviously not the same thing, infact they are probably totally opposite things. And don't think I'm going all William Burroughs on you. This has confused architecture, which appears to have confused knowledge with progress; less and less knowledge- more and more tomorrow. This is a troubling thought.
Friday, 16 October 2009
Tough week. They seem to get tougher. Reading William Burroughs probably doesn't help matters. When you start to think ' Oh, I'll take WB's 'The Job' up to bed with me for a little bedtime read' (instead of the usual ancient James Bond thriller) you may be in trouble. However, in The Job, Burroughs comes over as a fabulous intelligence even if he was bonkers.
Julie was bonkers yesterday- trying to do the Frankfurt Book Fair in one day. Trouble was, deciding to do such things usually happens late in the evening after decent quantities of fine wine, and you end up the day before realizing that Ryan Air are going to deposit you for threepence halfpenny on an ex-military base at least a hundred miles away. At least the planes were on time, but for five hours in Frankfurt Book Fair hell, she had ten hours of shlepping back and forth from our front door. I'm not sure that is good for anybody. However, for somebody who is proud of his personal dedication to the sedentary, I would say that.
Saturday, 10 October 2009
X Factor is not terrible, and then it is. It's a good bonding instrument on a saturday night for sure. You sit on the couch and get amazed. Tonight I heard Danni and Cheryl slag off pole dancers as if they were some sort of disease. Sorry, won't have it- perhaps Danni and Cheryl may have had some problems with pole dancers that make them rather prejudiced. At the end of a fantastic performance by Danyl (sic)-the sort of spelling that ranks with Danni (smiley face after) Danni starts making insinuations about his sexuality. Are these two ladies so...er...so repressed...or at least somewhat parochial in attitude? Of course it's all about selling 'the papers', good old footballers talk for knowledge. I despair. Read Terry Eagleton's 'After Theory'. After a lunch with Scott on the significance of the Rosicrucians (and I'm n0t sure who they were exactly) it was an easy ride. Get real everybody, read stuff like that. I promise it will make you feel better in time.
Friday, 2 October 2009
Friday, 25 September 2009
I will go so far as to say that as things are, the future can only be a disappointment. Contemplation of the future can only, as things stand, be pessimistic. Example? We meet a friend in the Graucho. He's delighted to be in the Graucho because he's just come back from Uzbekistan, but even in godawful Uzbekistan tomatoes taste like tomatoes and mushrooms taste like mushrooms, largely because the Uzbekistanis haven't travelled down the line of so called development that brings us universal tomatoes not tasting like tomatoes and mushrooms not tasting like mushrooms, and not yet demanded some poor Jamie Oliver figure to embark on a path of despair advertising the crap. No wonder, in his latest TV series, Jamie appears to be conspicuously hitting the bottle- a relief to me- something has clearly dawned on him. The Uzbekistanis do not yet have a hideous Simon Cowell figure in control of all musical production by means of pseudo opportunity and the mass marketing of humiliation, they only (as yet) have the President's daughter, who is apparently both top pop star, top fashion designer, top actress, top everything. There's nothing like keeping it in the family. Uzbekistan was the only former republic that wanted to STAY in the old USSR (perhaps one other?)
As Scott said the other day in the Trench of Despair 'The future is flint'.
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
You might not believe this, but this is my old home. My parents were the last owners. They remain unsure what cannabis might be.
Thursday, 10 September 2009
Keef plays his guitar really hard, I've just read it in a Rolling Stone magazine from July 17th 1975 (courtesy of time travel via e-bay and some collector in New York and aeroplanes). His guitar minder is moaning that all the guitars are broken after one gig in Batton Rouge. Funny, I was playing (the earlier) Get Your Ya Yas Out the other day. I was playing it loud for lots of reasons in the sunny afternoon (great speakers (Mordant Short towers), fabulous amp (NAD 3020- bought when I was seventeen) university meeting that morning, whisky in the afternoon) and I could feel him playing that guitar hard, I could feel him wrenching the noise out of it, it wasn't even as if he was playing it. That immediacy, that challenge to the cosmos, is the essence of rock and roll for me. You don't have to be brilliant, you become brilliant in demonstrating the effort and soar to the gods, and you do it in every way. The Stones live, at their best, were always ON THE EDGE OF BEING AWFUL.
If only universities understood they were not manufacturing products or tickets with such mechanistic banality, but selling TIME itself. Time to do fuck all if you like, but most people would get bored with that after a while, and then people would just get on with stuff - playing hard if you like, and if you were any good, dedicated, just like Keef, and you enjoyed advice, history, whatever, who knows what would happen. Not knowing what might happen seems good to me- constructive failure you might call it. The alternative is a nasty little bastard called FASCISM which is creeping up on us. In ten years time I wouldn't be surprised if I was paid by the number of students who passed. I always thought having the happiest FAILING students was more constructive in the long term. Still do.
Funny. Our authorities are currently extinguishing education in their apparent enthusiasm for it, simply because they have adopted a stupid model and never listen with care to rock n roll.
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
Spent the morning in a meeting trying to...what...I have no idea. The need to re-think everything at this time of year (I call it The Phoney War) is a an eternal recurrence, and of course we shouldn't bother. The university, of course, is only interested in product, so innovation is needed, but innovation is hardly needed in education at all- education is the delivery of knowledge. That can't change that much. So we fiddle about and waste time and I get pissed off.
So I go to the pub, the barman is educating me on the state of our times- he is clearly off his face. Whatever he has taken gives him VERY STRANGE facial twitches. He is probably working out if I'm a reptile or not, and trying very hard not to be conspicuous. Strangely I cheer up. I catch the bus to The White Horse. It's a lovely day so it's quiet- the girls are pissed off. Then a gang of guys turn up, and THEY ARE CLEARLY OFF THEIR FACES TOO. Their eyes bulge, they talk all the time, they love each other in the way that people on drugs love each other and everybody else. Is this my life? Guess it is. Shouldn't we we wondering just a little more about just what the fuck is going on?
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
What the fuck is wrong with this country? I return to the university and it's like a day swatting wasps. I sit with a headset on in a big room full of computers and it's like a call centre and everybody has a complaint and THIS IS A UNIVERSITY! I venture up to my pigeon hole (how quaint!) and discover a copy of the university's corporate plan. It's titled 'Students First'. I realize where we are going wrong. We have managed to reverse the whole polarity of education. You could spend forty years becoming somewhat good at a subject- it takes that kind of time- and, well, suddenly, 'Students Come First' WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT! Conspicuous consumption for all, even knowledge. Might as well work for Tescos, and Tesco's sells food which is NOT SO GREAT. As far as I'm concerned, everybody should have a chance, but if you can't make it, then at least have the dignity to acknowledge that- for whatever reason- and NOT SUE MY FUCKIN ASS!
Here we go again lovelies
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
It's HOT. Activity must be limited, so I sit in the old fellas bar round the corner once more biding time around lunch; time spent successfully standing still, or even going backwards. Inside it's dark, and there's nobody else but me and the owner. I could sit there for hours, staring at people walking past.
The man I now understand to be named Wolfgang comes in and he sets out his little tools on the table meticulously (this ancient table is made in a workshop, I note, the silver cars outside in the sun through the doorway are made in factories, and this, I decide, is the way it has always and should always be for western civilization). Wolfgang begins making more of his 'musical instruments' from bits of wire and bottle tops as I sit with the slow beer. This is very German I think, and quite precious in a way. He's wearing a beige safari suit, because of the heat. There is a good deal of silence, punctuated by the occasional lament of a lovelorn German girl from the ancient jukebox.
Monday, 24 August 2009
Visited the Berlinische Galerie today- very swanky, quite a nice bar too, appropriately run by surly types enjoying some kind of seriousness in just being there. I enjoyed their total lack of interest in us, and really enjoyed the stuff in the gallery (DADA - and Constructivism of the kind I would hardly normally like- but hell) until it was time to retreat to the bar and watch art people once more, and there are plenty of them, and there are horses, yes horses, in the city farm in the distance (goats too!) and the real german art people wear wonderfully strange clothes- black leather boots mated with flip flops was an elegant (?) first for me, and trousers which appear as wrap around skirts and in grey all over (same girl) and big sunglasses circa Fane Fonda in 'Klute'. Like most people in galleries I spend most of my time in galleries looking at the other people in galleries, they should really kick me out if they knew the thoughts in my head. Weirdly, I think I'm not alone in this.
Saturday, 22 August 2009
Chucked away the theory book. The more the academic waxes lyrical about the poverty and the pain of Baudelaire, it seems the less convincing he becomes. I have known several Baudelaire's in my time, there's Floppy Tom for instance. Floppy Tom got bared from most of Soho, and you could never work out how the guy who knew so much (about writing) got the time to read it all- what with his dedication to being pissed out of his mind. I have 'flaneured' and I have 'derived' with the best of them, and the academics book slowly began to STINK as I remembered this.
So it's back to the basic activity of holidays- the searching out of new objects. The street markets of Berlin are perfect for this, and we graze them happily, looking for objects. It's probably why our home is so full of crap- but it is all crap that means something to us. It is a delicate operation and involves much disappointment, but I think I've found something Zaha would REALLY HATE just up the road. It is a figurine. Might use it to start my course at the AA. Unfortunately it is horribly expensive and this reminds me of those holidays one had as a child- where there was only so much pocket money. Luckily, on holiday, you don't think of money in quite the same was as you do at home, so I may well still find myself with the figure of an adolescent girl splayed on her arse stroking an erect cat. Let's see.
Friday, 21 August 2009
A hairy Norwegian has just collapsed on the television. He has collapsed from walking to excess, in a most peculiar manner, not unlike a speedy chicken, the streets of Berlin. And he has collapsed in to the arms of a giant teddy bear mascot and he appears to be in agonizing pain and I'm bewildered as to why anybody would decide to walk faster than anybody else in the name of sport, to somehow stop yourself from breaking in to a useful long distance trot as the very essence of the activity. Other than sado-masochism what is the point of that? They must be a very strange bunch, the walkers. Some sports are better than others. I can see the point of the pole vault, soaring up high to challenge gravity itself, also the high jump, but I don't get the long jump at all, they are still doing it now when all else is called off in todays lovely Berlin rain.
We had a grey day ourselves; a few drinks in an undistinguished bar with a view of grey housing, and an adventure, misplaced, to buy a discounted frying pan in a department store. Grey days can be good, especially after last night encounter with ARTIST and artist studio. All too too perfect for me and a bit of a shock. It was lovely, but awash with all the signifiers of success, the palacial flat and another for the art, and well, ART THING. It demanded grey today, because at the end of it, at the middle of it, and at the beginning of it, I couldn't feel anything but those bloody signifiers and felt as much of a buffoon as anybody else.
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
OK, so I've recovered enough now to ask some basic questions regarding civility, such as 'why can't architects furnish their apartments with comfortable chairs?' This is our second architects home, in Berlin, and believe me I'm bloody grateful, the place is FANTASTIC, it displays SUBLIME TASTE, apart from four flights of stairs. But can I sit in a comfortable chair -NO WAY. I have to fucking climb out of them. I worry the condition is symptomatic of a deeper neurosis- I know for instance that all German architecture students were forced to build Reitveld chairs for generations, and I cannot see the point of the Reitveld chair AT ALL. I'll give it to Eames he did nice chair, but nobody can afford them, and if you get a nice copy, you are still not with 'original'. Actually come to think of it I can't get out of an Eames chairs either. Seamus has a lovely cream Eames lounge chair, which reminds me of a cream leather jacket I had when I was 25 and thought was terribly cool - BUT, buttfucks- IT WASN'T! or maybe a cream Cadillac. Luckily he's pretty cool and laughs because he got his for next to nothing anyway from a car boot sale or something jut like he would ALWAYS DO. Some arsehole on Grand Designs put an Eames chair on his stair landing (just for show) IDIOT.
Anyway, round here it is NICE. The bar (www. wilhelm-hoeeck.de) round the corner still has the same old men in it. One of whom presented us with his homemade musical instruments today-bottle tops mounted on skewers. I think he was serious. What do you expect, he says, 'This is Berlin!'
I don't want to make out that Berlin is full of jolly eccentrics, but I do like places where jolly eccentrics are tolerated and the food is better than in Bethnal Green.
Trying to read very serious books in preparation for next academic year. This is an amusing pursuit, as long as it is accompanied by sufficient alcohol and something by Ed McBane.
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Knew you'd miss me. We've been away up a mountain near Cork- rather uncharacteristic- for a whole week with limited supplies. Wrote a couple of unwrought poems. This one describes an attempted escape.
Walking Down a Hill To A Place We Can't Pronounce
When I was younger
I would walk days and days
To places I didn't know
Just to do it
Now I am older
I prefer to pause
And watch cows in a field
Doing cow things
But we set out to walk down to the village we could not pronounce
For wine, bread and beer
There was a pub
An hour she said- confident
We past occasional bungalows like temples high up
Stripped and plain and workmanlike
We plodded down woodland track
Noting bits of rubbish for guidance
We passed abandoned houses full of bees and barking dogs
Others just seemed unfinished
They'd lost interest, with wiring hanging out
And unfinished porches
Then we turned to the speed of the road
Tiring watchful of something unknown called traffic
Here men stood on porches
And made big porticos and lawns
Our end was a crossroads and a pub
And shops which were shut on account of eccentricity
Our limbs were stiff as we sampled our wallets
For meagre funds
We had two and a little more
The barman told us of the civilization here
back before the temples, back to mounds
Of recent history he was less sure, for all is change and no buttery anymore.
Sunday, 2 August 2009
Just read a fantastic piece by Dave Hickey. I'd send you the link if I knew how. He's writing about the London Frieze Art Fair 2008- for Vanity Fair. I got it by clicking some photo that came up when I Googled him - of him with his mouth open- putting his foot in it - in Shoreditch House (down the road) of all places (he lives in Las Vegas) . The piece itself is perfect on the Art World. Include the Architecture World if you like. Julie's up in Birmingham today encountering the Art World in a horrible room, or whole series of horrible rooms of various sizes, in Aston University, which sounds bad before you even get there. She is participating, and I'm left here willing her on, but knowing it's all a lot of crap at the same time because I read Dave Hickey and I love it.
There is a melancholy in great writing, and Hickey always manages to hold it together, even when he's falling apart. I think that may be the definition of cool.
Two in the morning or something. Been having a fine time with the Stones (Get Yer Ya Ya's Out) and ACDC (Live) Keef really knows how to drive a band, I find it mesmerizing, mesmerizing my friends. As for ACDC, well is it all about the brothers? Both records, to me, are incredible ART.
Went to a crap art show in Hackney last night- really horribly bad art- (apart from DR of course- excuse yourself on grounds of 'what the fuck am I doing here?') . Hackney is awash with crap artists and coke. It all felt very seedy, and when I listen to those bands above, I hear determination with drugs, not just drug shit. I think if your working and you need some drugs, then use 'em- but not working and doing drugs is bad shit. Perhaps you need to be talented to use drugs properly.
Keef is exceptional.
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
As I sit here Julie is trying to fix a hose pipe to a tap- this has demanded some serious attention, purchase of various fittings and so on, and involved considerable exasperation over time. She will shortly cart the whole lot down the DIY shop and demand a solution, brandishing various useless but so called 'universal' attachments. Apollo 13 we are not. Me, I'm reading JG Ballard's The Atrocity Exhibition (1970)- well not really reading it, you can't do that- you just dip in and go- OH FUCK he's right- right at the heart of it-we are psychotic, especially NEWSREADERS. Newsreaders must be the lowest of the low, but it's probably a close run thing with solicitors. But newsreaders are clearly the most awful people in the world. They are prepared to get up very early and be incredibly chirpy and care about every little shitty thing about their appearance and then be chirpy about just about anything. When did you last see a newsreader cry? But when Walter Cronkite died- all they showed were his tears (on JFK's assassination) We should have decent, pissed, hopelessly wasted newsreaders who don't give a fuck (any more) as ROLE MODELS. We would all take a lot more notice of the news for sure if this were so. It would make the news more real. It could get more and more EXTREME. The level of repression we collectively represent seems extraordinary- which is why, in my list of top professions, I would put strippers first. Strippers are very real. Of course they may be bonkers as well, hardly knowing how real they are. Astronauts would be a close second, because they can't feel how real they are (also bonkers). Those are the only two professions which represent the best bets for youngsters at the careers advice centre. I'd like them all to cue up and demand these jobs. Otherwise you just have to live with all this SHIT. Of course if you could write Dad's Army, then you'd simply be a genius, because by writing Dad's Army, you would sum up the whole repressed bullshit of our little land for the whole of the universe and you would also make the people laugh. Laughter, as Siegfried and Roy used to say, is the cure for all sorrow.
Friday, 24 July 2009
Gerry Rafferty did try to rock. I expect very very few of you might be interested in this. I sat in the Misty Mountain and they were playing his 'Greatest Hits'; a perfect lame pub music choice for the morning. I sat there and I began to tap my foot and I began to listen, and perhaps now I understand why Gerry Rafferty disappeared in such a right old state of incontinence not so long ago. On this album, he at least once, tries to do ZZ Top. The problem with Gerry Rafferty singing is he can't help his voice, which is lovely but about as bedsit as you can get, and his lyrics, ditto. This was clearly a tragedy in the making- the more he wanted to, the more he couldn't. He probably became insanely jealous of Chris Rea; and the only man in history to be so.
I went to a council meeting last night. They were all for change as they always are, which means they don't in fact change at all. The staple is more consultation, more choice, but to be honest this consultation consisted largely of people who either like consultation meetings, or just come for the free sandwiches. People who like consultation meetings are rotten people to ask the opinion of.
The council (actually now called an ALMO- don't ask) in it's wisdom, and a desperate drive for government approval (and funds) started rolling out ideas about green roofs and solar power for the communal lighting. OH NO! I thought PLEASE NO!! I tell you if the council comes anywhere near your home with a load of solar power equipment I promise you will be in the dark for a long period of time, because like Gerry Rafferty, they are what they are, which in their case is generally hopelessly incompetent and thoroughly corrupt and I can see no reason why they shouldn't be.
The lesson is, as Frank Zappa said 'You Are What You Is'. Can't everybody just live with this and tell the busybodies too FUCK OFF?
Friday, 17 July 2009
Cooked myself a Keith Richards breakfast, it's an all day, or all night thing, and must include fried onions. Quite excellent. Earlier: curious day- went to the AA (Architectural Association) to see the show maybe but actually just stayed in the bar admiring the female clientelle which are far more impressive than the work in their summer dresses and why should you bother with the work when tempted by such obviously well bred ..bla bla bound to get myself in to trouble. The AA has been very good to me and I've worked there for years and years, but I loved walking around (eventually) and hating the lot of it as an exemplar of TOO MUCH ENTHUSIASM and IDIOTIC BLIND AMBITION. I fear the days of CRITICAL projects, polemical projects, are long gone just when we need them, these days thought has been subjugated to communication and we should really start to realize how fucked we are. Myself and Michael R did this at length and realized we were now 'old'. So after that I returned to Stalingrad to do some interviews and two of my candidates burst in to tears at the state of things. I could burst in to tears myself but was hopefully helpful.
This is not how it should be- but fry your onions with breakfast is a fine tip.
Thursday, 16 July 2009
It is with great regret that I have to announce the demise of the ACADACADEMICS. We may return, but the times are bad and I'll hang on that Millwall supporter's, or is it a Sex Pistols, line- 'They all hate us but we don't care'- and don't worry I still don't but I FEEL. If you want to know how I FEEL, buy a copy of the 1992 ACDC Live album and fix yourself with a big tumbler of whisky with ice and some water and sit by yourself and play the first three tracks as loud as you are able and you might just get close- I hope you start dancing round the room and get embarrassed when somebody walks in. I would then follow it with 'Live Rust' by Neil Young. All of it. Times are bad. Watch out everybody. The Shits are Here. My My Hey Hey.....
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
Walking on the moon. For somebody for whom navigating the High St can induce psychological trauma, can I empathize with those guys forty years ago who stood on the fucking moon? For US ALL it would seem to invite total mental collapse- 'You mean I have to JUMP off the ladder!- on to the moon!!- which is made of what exactly? and I'm here ostensibly with a bit of tinfoil made by OTHER PEOPLE and controlled by a bunch of college kids and 'SHIT THIS IS NOT GOOD' (which of course should have been the first words uttered by reasonable human beings if they just happened to find themselves ON THE FUCKING MOON! I'd want a fucking large scotch for sure and many more just to get me looking out the window. I'd have to have scotch PUMPED in to my space suit (Archigram should have thought of this, but maybe Warren Chalk did). After all they have put me on top of a HUGE ROCKET and I have no idea how it works and the percentages show it will probably BLOW UP with me on top and now I'm in this tin foil thing which is going too fast and I'll probably put my foot through it! Can you imagine that??? Then when you are on the moon and you realize you are a form of guinea pig or maybe hamster and what do you do?- I guess try not to fall over, because falling over could be REALLY BAD or maybe some twenty year old has got the calculations wrong and I'll just float off in to space FOREVER. Fucking GREAT! THANKS!! It's a shame Space Oddity is such an unimaginative song.
So what do they do in the end- they play golf and drive 4x4's about just like we do at home. How re-assuring that is, and they collect rocks. They should have sent Jeremy Clarkson, but he was probably only seven (like me) at the time and holidaying in Pembroke.
Worse was thinking - and I do this over long periods in The Misty Mountain these days- what have we done since? Well we have met, as far as I can see, many more Estonians. That's about it. We have developed John Smith's Extra Smooth, and we have mobile phones. These are depressing thoughts. So, salute the heroes of forty years ago, I certainly shall and whilst thinking about being stuck with a bit of tin foil with half an engine on the moon, howl at ZAHA's phoney lumps of concrete down here.
Monday, 13 July 2009
'You can't always get what you want' - remember that? Does anybody remember that? Sometimes, a lot of times, most of the time, I wonder. Nothing, especially education, is served up on a plate, but now folks seem to expect to consume it like Kentucky Fried Chicken, and appear to find failure impossible. To learn, I figure you have to SWEAT. I think of a great writer like Harry Crews, who comes from nowhere out of the deep south, and writes clearly and succinctly and without passion about his world because he TAUGHT HIMSELF how to do it by READING IT. He is now a university professor in Florida (but must be continually bemused by the experience). Education cannot become some kind of ER. Read Kinsley Amis, the old bugger at least got one thing right 'more means worse'. However, I personally still believe in opportunity for everyone, and I'm disgusted that it now comes down to MONEY. Universities (you would think) are by nature equal opportunities employers (of students) so HOW COME IT ISN'T EQUAL? Are we all supposed to gravitate towards better jobs at better universities because that is the way of it? Fuck that. I've met better students at my university than so many from more auspicious places (where I also teach). What am I so upset about? well maybe we need a bit more Jacobin in us, a lot more of Chairman Mao. If it's RIGHT you DO IT. If you don't- the TERROR.
Saturday, 11 July 2009
Experienced TORTURE yesterday sitting in a GARDEN CENTRE. There are certain pleasantries which seem beyond me, such as morning coffee and afternoon tea, especially, I discovered, in a GARDEN CENTRE. We were in 'the country' visiting my aging, genteel, parents, in their adult Disneyland (but not that kind of adult). Their particular selection of Gods Waiting Room is the sort of village you find in Midsommer Murders and their own house part of a special mini village within it where you have to be 'old' and where you can quite imagine The Mayor of Casterbridge might suddenly pop up in full period costume. It's only ten years old. Whilst Julie and I stood slightly nonplussed in the shrubbery a brightly coloured ambulance turned up to actually take away one of the inhabitants. He was rolled out all wrapped in white apart from his head peaking out and he saw us and said 'I'm going now!' This was Westworld for real.
The week before we had been in St Albans for a wedding. The most curious realization here was that female fashions in St Albans have reverted back to something resembling those of 'Up Pompeii'. Still, St Albans is/was Roman. Last night we were most entertained by Vivian Westwood telling us we should not by any more clothes but the St Albans example seems a bit of a drastic attempt at recycling. Of course, she made perfect sense, and precisely because of this, also appeared quite mad, wearing nothing but a big two tone sheet and, apparently, boxer shorts.
Meanwhile Prince Charles was clearly very disappointed by the human race, and despite all attempts at philosophizing that we should be more natural and traditional (see above maybe) appeared increasingly, as, well, a PRINCE, that most unnatural of all creations.
The Great New Tomorrow: forget it. Today is far weirder.
Friday, 3 July 2009
The academic year is over. Time for recuperation, which for me means nursing gout, turning off the mobile phone, only looking at e-mails painfully, reading a good book, and popping down to The Misty Mountain for breakfast. The Misty Mountain is excellent, for the regulars leave you alone because they want to be left alone, the landlord is gracious and only mentions the weather to make you feel at home, and it has big windows on the world (the High St). The mind drifts, ideas might surface. This morning's was an idea for a course titled 'HOW TO HATE THE ARCHITECTURAL ESTABLISHMENT'. Since I have almost a lifetime's experience of this it could be a winner.
Novelist Patrick Hamilton is the subject of the book, great writer, repressed 1930's drunk- too much too young, biographer ill at ease talking about boozing, which of course is not necessarily boozing at all, just 'getting by' for many of us by now. Only disappointment with book; should have been written by an enthusiast rather than an evangelist. Deeply recommend to all his novel 'Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky'. Colleague said he couldn't cope with it because it was 'too real' but that is precisely it's strength, there is no redemptive quality in it at all, just fabulous description of our little lives.
Saturday, 27 June 2009
NEIL YOUNG MAKES YOU WANT TO STAY ALIVE.
Just seen the bits the muppets at the BBC allowed us to see at Glastonbury. Glastonbury I would usually consider an kind of Nurnburg Rally of arsholes, but my GOD. He takes the place apart. My heart rises, we need more drinks, and Julie's heard from Ed Ruscha in LA and he loves her book 'Some Las Vegas Strip Clubs'. Whatever happens; KEEP ON ROCKIN IN THE FREE WORLD!
KEEP ON ROCKIN IN THE FREE WORLD BLAAAASAAACRASSH BANNGMEOOOWTWANGGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRBAMMMM, and my ambition is to LOOK LIKE Neil Young or any or his prehistoric Crazy Horse.
The book is available via www.juliecookphotography.com
Thursday, 25 June 2009
Went down to the Flicker of Hope for a breakfast beer and to stroke the cat, Patch. Patch was entirely indifferent. It is the day after exams. Exams are never pleasant because you are forced to confront people who appear to have totally opposite opinions to you. Ideologies are in combat and a microcosm of global conflict situates itself across a table. There is a certain calm the day after.
More exciting was the postman, who for once I caught, who delivered my package- THE FIRST PORN MAG I EVER BOUGHT. Admittedly it was probably for twenty pence of my school friend who thought he was Keith Richards, but, thirty and more years on, I travel back in time, a second pristine copy to frame on the wall. The first was a document of incendiary potential, to be carefully hidden in a box of Cluedo. How things change. How things don't. A completely ephemeral thing, somehow preserved, isn't it brilliant! The internet has facilitated this, it is enabling us to travel in time, Kurt Vonnegut style (Slaughterhouse 5).
The contents are kind of irrelevant, but never the less a historical time capsule; adverts for reel to reel tape recorders, scotch, MG's, hair transplants, and 'male chauvenist pig' ties, big muffs, girls from the farm, nice girls from Cheltenham Ladies College in frilly knickers. It is a genuinely strange encounter, for today I see a world of butt plugs and gaping holes. People seem surprised I could remember the item, even more that I should pursue it to join the collection of artifacts that make up our home. But I'm as bemused by these people just as I am bemused at the screams for tomorrow that are still regurgitated by the architectural profession without thinking. There is too much action; Too little thinking. I imagine my own personal demonstration of thousands with placards saying 'What Do We Want? - LESS' 'When do we want it?- WHENEVER!
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
It's exam time, so I'm not blogging. So I'll just let you l know of my appearances on a couple of films. People seem very excited about my role in 'Hangover'. I appear looking rather good on the sides of many London buses, if a little younger. That's a about my misadventures in Las Vegas of course. I'm also a melancholic 'Ghost Writer' in Roman Polanski's new film played by Ewan McGreggor which is not out yet. Always enjoyed Ewan's bearded look from 'Long Way Round' where we all loved him but not his mate (the intricacies of favour in the fame game made tragically clear). We had to forward all sorts of details of our little life for Ewan to assume; favourite glass, coat, chair, god knows what- like a specification. Can't wait to buy copies of both from the obliging Mr Wu in 'The Trench'.
Well and truly in 'The Trench' now as it's exam time.
I'm glad beards are catching on once more. Saw the stuff from the Isle of White Festival when I wasn't in bed and it was clear no contemporary band was without a full beard. We loved the fact that we hadn't heard of anybody except Neil Young, who by the way you'd expect to be bearded but isn't, who I stayed up late to see, and then just got 'absence of Neil Young' (like 'Erased De Kooning') cos he'd just said 'Fuck it' for one reason or another and left the stage early so they just showed a field full of rubbish and re-runs of the fucking Stereophonics. Good reason to become a pop icon, to say 'Fuck it I'm off' and still get paid.
Have started my second novel; 'Not Long Till Lunch' (the follow up to 'Waking up is Hard to Do' which will be available in September).
Tuesday, 9 June 2009
I'm thinking of writing a story about a man who every time he turns on the television sees Steven Fry: Steven Fry hosting quiz shows, Steven Fry visiting far off places via tricycle, Steven Fry in comfortably English but rather dull situation comedies in the tradition of Dad's Army, Steven Fry making over celebrity hamsters on crack, Steven Fry the enthusiastic political analyst on crack, Steven Fry training for space, Steven Fry playing the mandolin for Metallica. Steven Fry's Grand Designs.
He sees nothing but the man until gradually and inevitably Steven Fry becomes the sole representative of mankind on earth, and everybody knows that Steven Fry is sometimes very depressed, and so therefore all earthlings are sometimes very depressed. Earthlings are sometimes very depressed because they can't help it because of how awful they are. Life would be considerably more bearable as a fucking squirrel they mutter to each other while pondering the bargain packs of Steven Fry Sausage Sensations for £1 in Iceland.
Unfortunately Steven Fry has no place left to run off to when he gets suddenly very depressed, so they have to make programs about that too, and creatures from other planets look on aghast at how awful earthlings are, since had long ago learned to behave otherwise. Then they decide to make Steven Fry the villain in their astoundingly successful intergallactic multi media entertainments based on dedicated studies of Star Trek and Galaxy Quest and then they laugh for centuries.
What happens if Britain goes bust?
Saturday, 6 June 2009
There is a restaurant on the upper floor of the brand new Thessaloniki/Macedonia airport thoughtfully and unfortunately and amusingly called the 'Goodbye Cafe'. Students of semiotics stand to attention. Thessaloniki, or Thessalonika, or Macedonia or call it whatever the fuck you like, was one place we were pleased to leave, a cross between Beverley Hills and St Albans in dust which even my Australian hairdresser (yes I do have one- just went there to tidy myself up- recommended- she's called Tegan- next to Coach and Horses Soho- £5 place but please tip heavy) mused as being 'run by the mafia- guys with moustaches'. It's a big place, and makes you want to run a mile to get out of it once you've been scared to death by your taxi driver getting in to it. Where one glass of wine and a beer in a crap bar was ten euro, where the food in the Ohhh Sooo cosmofuckingpolitan 'Bar Kitchen' on the old pier was unspeakable and fifty Euro, where you had to stare at complacent playboys and watch girls on TV twittering seriously about (I assumed) being 'SEXY', like dolls, where on your way out to the airport to escape, you pass mile after mile of kitchen stores and Mercedes dealerships. Made you think that if this is success, we are doomed. We are doomed. And I expect my own stiletto in the back.
This of course, after the complications of life and death in hospital and the simplicity of fabulous food and hospitality in Volos. Made us re-think Big is Bad, Big is Worse. Should we not encourage a Gordon Ramsay in architecture? We need to get back to good stuff, to simple stuff done well, for people preferably, saying FUCK OFF to every deluded, wannabe fashionable architecture student in London? Oh well, just as well the exam season looms next week.
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
I seem to have been barred from the hospital. Most unfortunate, since I've never been barred from anywhere else before. Of course I'm not sure I am really barred, we could put it down to a mere 'clash of cultures'. Anyway I scooted off back to the hotel. I now sit opposite a wheel shop - any kind of wheel or roller you might like, but passed other curiosities- a shop full of very shiny suits for instance, but spent 'lunch' in the pretty cool beach bar. I have never paid as much for a whisky in my life except at Zurich airport. We stayed there for ages as they buggered about with Pete in the hospital up the hill. We inhabit a form of zombie existence. The bar was good because the furnishings were well chosen, the hollow steel sections of it's structure and servicing articulate, and the music perfectly chilled Ibiza, it had air con, and nobody was there apart from three dogs. I like the beach dogs. We just stared out to sea and drank. I never thought I could find the passing of a boat so absorbing, but the Greeks have no problem with it. The Greeks do have a problem with styling however, even though I'm less than sartorial myself. The ladies inhabit a form of eighties fashion disaster and the blokes wear tee shirts with 'Hollywood VIP Decadence' printed on them.
Pete appears to be improving. We will be home on Thursday. At least that is the plan.
Sunday, 31 May 2009
I'm stuck in Greece, a town called Volos if you want to look it up. Nice place, recommend it if you like ordinary things. Nice harbour, good grilled octopus by the side of it. Not that I've got much time to enjoy it, I spend most of my day sitting in a cafe staring at a hospital. My father in law has grown a leg that looks like a donner kebab. Hospitals are not nice places, we have to confront our bodies. Your body is all you're left with in hospital, and all of it and it's processes are not pleasant to observe. In hospital we are forced to confront it all- shit, piss and vomit and blood and death. So I sit pretty melacholic in the cafe opposite between my visits in to the halls of doom, as my wife and her sisters spend hours and hours looking after their dad.
The hospital itself is only four years old, and its bombastic with contemporary architectural pride, yet it's unfortunate that the authorities cannot fund any nurses to work in it. Family members are expected to provide 24 hour care in Greece, which is why we are here.
There is something horrible about this hospital as I sit staring at it hour after hour. I find myself engrossed in it's architectural qualities or lack of them (and right now, I'm not even going to start on the interior) . The whole idea of the thing from the outside is a grid of metallic cladding panels. Grids give a bad architect away. The more I look, the more I laugh, then I feel some kind of pathos for the poor bloody architect as his dream of perfect grid faded away to dust. The Greeks are unfortunately hardly German. Ungers did good grids, and Germans built them with accuracy and fastidiousness. The Greeks, as in everything, show a more pragmatic and somewhat more relaxed approach. The more you look over this field of hopeful grid, the more you find agonizing cock up. This is why Mies was so great and why the architect of this hospital is probably crying. It is a most interesting contemporary illustration of Robert Smithson's piece 'Hotel Pelenque'. It seems to sum up the whole Greek thing.
However, it is the only hospital I've ever see with a decent beach attached.
Saturday, 23 May 2009
Did some reviews at the Bartlett last week - fairy stories. Made me quite ill in the long run. Lay in bed today wondering; how did we get to this? I guess firstly because there are no politics, and there is apparently no history. What we have is largely adolescent dreams of a technological tomorrow where we live in rubble with ears growing from our arms but still wearing Prada. I would say the propagation of such drivel might be educationally disturbing, but the consensus in the Bartlett, where apparently 'we don't ask why' is rather the opposite. It seems that fairyland is the only place to be. Worse, in Fairy land (I did say once that Jennifer Bloomer was 'away with the pixies' and I didn't mean The Pixies) if you need to make a model you laser cut it out of bronze to the tune of £800. No wonder it is such a ghetto for the middle classes. As I said, made me ill, literally.
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
The ACADACADEMICS found themselves in hoots yesterday with the news that old pal Kevin Rowbotham had been forcibly expelled from the RCA for going 'beserk' at a crit. I guess it was the laugh of nostalgia, the days of Yosemite Sam (as we used to call him) charging around and ripping drawings off the wall might seem to be over, but I suppose it's a bit like Keef still smoking on stage, it is necessary we retain these images, they are, after all, those the students remember, and if we all turn in to a bunch of carers being kind will it really be any better for the world?
Speaking as somebody who is worried about this caring/animal husbandry role I remember Mike Russum coming to Oxford Brookes for us when Andrew Lane and I were teaching second year long long ago. He went beserk too, and the crowds (of students) grew and grew. They loved it. Of course there were tears and misery and the rest too, but it was a hell of a spectacle. Unfortunately Her Majesties Inspectorate were in the school on the same day with clipboards and grey shoes. Andrew and I realized it was all going terribly terribly wrong, as the men from the ministry tried to peer through the crowd to note the next 'fucking idiot' and the next 'CUNT!' and the next defacing of drawings from our explosive guest. Luckily the head of school at the time, Chris Cross, a thoroughly urbane man, took the whole thing in his stride and I didn't lose that job until I wrote 'Bollocks!' as a comment on an essay. The essay was 'bollocks' by the way, but the fact I'd been seen taking a drink or two before writing it stood against me. They were good times, and I still see some of those particular students, who still cherish, it seems, as much as anything, our being bad.
Good names for race horses:
Jeff bin in?
These are the sort of thoughts that can ride us through these unfortunate times.
Saturday, 16 May 2009
Thinking of going down to the Trench of Despair for a bit of sociology. It won't take me long to think about it. Saturday mornings tend to feature the usual collection of elasticated youth still out from the night before and a couple of old men who are fond of not very much. Recently there's a been additional subset identifiable as 'students' who wear black singlets and tight jeans, tattoos and hair like Derek Smalls, and go to see bands called Sludgehammer or Slump Test, maybe even Funk Piss. Today there will be an added, or perhaps cross party, coalition of Arsenal fans who will take great pleasure in leaping and throwing their beer in the air if Arsenal can put one past Manchester United. This is probably what it was like in the last days of the Roman Empire. Add to this, Julie's reading some book called '10,000 Cocks' (or something).
My mother once asked us if we had a 'set'. 'A Set?' we thought, what the fuck is a set? Then we realised it was Scott. Scott will maybe lope in to 'The Trench' and then we can start lobbing hand grenades of tragi-comic misery at all the happy trenches of the world and it will feel good.
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Channel Four News tonight. Piers Gough: utter twat. The arguments so tired. The same old architect thing: 'I'm such a fancy pants'. Sick of it, so parochial when he thinks he's so cool and urbane and 'on the news'. Not that Robert Adam is some kind of role model either, but we should all remember, and Piers should remember as he associated so much with the Archigram family back in the sixties, that Walt Disney was the greatest architect of the twentieth century. I think if we could bring back Rayner Banham, he would agree with me. You cannot argue with the trajectory of history or technology, and if we can now make anything at any scale from any period, then thats what we will do if that is what is desired. The modernist utopia is defunct, dead, finished, it has just become branding within a market place. 'Simple', as the meercats say.
Friday, 8 May 2009
One of the essays starts...'After having lived in London for three years and experienced it's bla bla bla etc etc , I now have to return to X YZ'. Presumably things are very different in XYZ, possibly worse, possibly better, but usually XYZ, as far as students are concerned, is definately 'more relaxed'. The electric went off just as I settled down to continue reading. When the electric goes off everything stops, no muttering from TCM in the background, no shower, no toast, no router, no bloody water even since they installed the pumps, and no bloody work as far as I'm concerned because I need distractions. If we are in for more of this, and by enlarge the students appear sure we are, life is not going to be easy.
So I meandered out in to the sunshine. Meandering out was fine as soon as I realized I could make myself useful by buying some bread at the top of Brick Lane. Damn fine bread too, and a purpose for the empty shopping bag. I got pilloried in Tescos at the checkout yesterday for NOT having my regular jute bag and needing the plastic seal killers, and watched wildly improbable Brick Lane movie on the TV last night. These days Brick Lane is populated by cool surfer jocks sipping latte over their laptops loving jute and hating Tescos.
Down Redchurch St I heard the mullahs call the faithful to prayer- jolly good too- and ten doors down or so, I found the girls of the White Horse religiously removing their clothes for a pound a go in the jug. All was harmony, no problem at all. This was a decent form of multiculturalism, this was the metropolis, this was London bla bla bla etc etc. I just wish those idiots who desire to be politicians and police us all and especially those in Camden who want to revoke pub licenses for Burlesque shows actually bothered to know what they were talking about. It only takes a walk and a drink and a certain perspective on the world. I also found my armchair (Grandads armchair), which is presently being re-upholstered in full view of the general public behind a glass shopfront. It will cost more than it would to buy a new armchair. I'm not sure it even reduces my carbon footprint, but it brings some kind of pleasure, even before I've sat in it again. I'm all for sustainability, but I hate the word and all the twits who come with it (Oh...Other than that woodsman on Grand Designs- brilliant)
Sunday, 3 May 2009
Lay in bed this morning watching The Wooden Horse. This is a rare occurence I associate with illness, but in advance of the exam season, I thought I'd try it out, because I'll certainly be ill soon. Great film The Wooden Horse, lots of old fashioned black and white drama and better by far than The Great Escape. Julie was at the hairdressers. I'm lucky to have a sister in law up in Happy Valley who reads the Daily Mail and wonderfully sent me a package of just about EVERY decent war movie that they give out free these days with the paper over the weeks. How thoughtful I thought, how ruinous to DVD shops I thought, how does she understand I really like this stuff I thought, and now everything decent gets to be worth nothing but a free gift with the bloody Daily Mail I thought.
Exam time makes all acadacademics feel ill. Came home Friday with my Waitrose branded jute bag full of third year history essays. I had to show the bulging bag to my colleagues beforehand proudly- 'Look at them all!' Thanks guys and girls. In these days of protocol and the predominance of grey shoes amongst the academicals, I was pleased my more loquacious approach to lecturing got such a promising response. I haven't read them yet of course, but the titles seem interesting- 'The DARK side of Dubai' - 'How multinationals fucked my village' that sort of thing.
Tuesday, 28 April 2009
Well, my favorite book of art criticism is Dave Hickey's 'Air Guitar; Essays on Art and Democracy', he says critics basically play air guitar to their subjects. I was also amused that we might become ACADACADEMICS!
Dogging? Well there are a lot of strangers out there and deciding to join in takes a few large ones.