Saturday, 31 December 2011

Sick Of It

It's not being ill that's the problem so much as getting better, or at least feeling better. This is a horrible realization. When you are ill, well, games up, you're flat on your back, you can't do anything but moan and be grateful. It's when you are feeling better that the problems start, mostly because you are no longer allowed to do the things that it took thirty years of practice to perfect before you so unfortunately tumbled into intensive care. I do not, for instance, want to 'take a stroll round the block' showing a sudden enthusiasm for exercise, I want to sit in the pub for hours drinking lovely pints of beer, soaking. This is what I call a problem, and so far I have yet to solve it, other than by spending mountains of money in pseudo gratification on e-bay.
Meanwhile, those loved ones who have got so used to you helpless are now uneasy at the return of your semi, even very semi, independence. This situation must have inspired the screenplay of that film Misery.
Meanwhile, we have a long holiday period and I'm sick of it, I couldn't give a fuck if celebrities can cook, can spin, can win mastermind, can piss on mountains, have breakdowns in jungles, bake bread, fall flat on their face, can make programs about their own programs or fart. I'm going straight to work entirely clad by Julie in e-bay.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Tom Wolfe

Trying to divert myself from 'Campervan Crisis' on Disc Turbo I remembered my dream last night. I dreamt my 'Unauthorized Biography of Architecture' (text now complete, but probably awaiting such additions as 'Mistakes I have Made'- the Marquise de Sade thoughtfully added that to his memoirs, and 'Conspicuous Omissions' explaining why there is no mention of Alberti or Gaudi whatsoever) had been published as one of those Commando comic books I used to love. Now an architecture graphic novel is not such a bad idea! However Asterix might be good enough for me. Then again, what Hollywood did to Michelangelo with The Agony and the Ecstasy would put anything in Commando to shame.
I'm reading Tom Wolfe's 'Electric Kool Aid Acid Test' and I doing it out of a kind of penance. it's extremely hard to write or for that matter read about people who are permanently super stoned, and on occasion, literally stark raving mad. I suspect this is why Wolfe wrote it in the first place, as a kind of challenge. He must have said to himself; 'For my first book I'm going to crawl across America cooped up in a school bus populated by a troop of crazies gulping LSD laced orange juice from the fridge all the time and deduce if this is really an epiphany for mankind..........or not. So I read it with growing respect for all the things he doesn't say rather than what he does, for instance, he never says, which all of us would have at one stage or another 'GOD I HATE THESE PEOPLE!!!' Not once, at least not yet, instead he doggedly chases that epiphany like Bernstein and Woodward, and this, from a man who famously never wears anything but a white suit (with the crazies, your lucky to get indian warpaint at breakfast). That demands respect.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Jingle Bells

So having got through that great day of mass inferiority, I reclined, thankfully, to a decent nightcap, and caught the last half an hour of Ocean's Eleven -the Clooney version- wishing peace to all men including myself.
After all Downton Abbey had finished so pitifully with happy ever afters for the ruling classes (in 1920!) how was I too feel apart from deeply historically cheated, and the neighbours who'd come round had talked of little but doctors and pills and holidays in Mediera, and the meal, for such a simple roast, that seemed to have exhausted the washing machine entirely.
So I sank in to my chair and while nobody cared anymore could watch this super saturated edifice, and eventually turn up the sound a bit. Of course I cared not a jot for the mundanities of the plot, instead I will admit to feeling transported, for there is nothing like the sound and feel of a giant casino floor jangling away, nor the chill of the Vegas desert night to inspire a passionate chorus of 'Walking in a Winter Wonderland'. For me, it remains the most beautiful of things, a non stop celebration of human frailty, orchestrated to make you feel good, and ran by those who make you feel better, mammon's cathedral with bells on.
I thought back to the days and days I've spent prowling around Mandalay Bay in search of slightly better lounge acts, or rejoiced in the Venetian with my pal Jackson the chief bar tender, striking up conversation with hookers playing speed poker wearing shades of lemon meringue, or Big Men who drive Big Machines before they hobble off to see Elton John and cry. Jackson, who's job it was to make me, and everybody else, feel absolutely marvelous. Hi Jackson, Hi Doug Twist in the Peppermill Reno, Happy Christmas! You were my Santa's for sure.
Nothing like a good Christmas film eh!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas's I've Ruined

I excused a nasty black eye as an accident during an indoor American Football game at the university when really I'd just fallen out of a cheap (but I thought 'atmospheric') hotel bed with a nice girl from Wakefield. I nearly ruined a midnight mass by joining the choir in the belfry and it was all fine until I began to swing dangerously backwards and forwards in drunken carol singing. I went to a party wearing a fur coat and my father chased me around the house with a carving knife- it was a nice fur coat - belonged to one Debbie Kopel wherever she is. Innumerable Christmas's have 'peaked too early' to the detriment of main courses, and once the dalmatian ran off with the turkey. I've eaten ready made turkey dinner to porn movies and 007. I've been stoned in Reno and loved every minute in Las Vegas, and I've probably cried my way through a few of them. The problem is, Christmas always belongs to somebody and you are always in line to ruin it.
When everybody asks you how it is, how it will be, and how it's going so far, it's almost impossible not to remember such events. By comparison settling down and paying your American express bill is hardly exotic. Cheers and heartfelt seasonal greetings to you all.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Muffins

Muffins, Minx's...whatever, winners of X Factor, doomed forever and everywhere, but the elephant in the room is clear, there is an odd one out, and that's a bit mean because there's only four of them, if there were five it would be 3vs2 - better odds by far. I could not help but notice that for last night's Sun sponsored loyalty contest for the Great Patriotic War that one of them clearly spends longer in the dressing room than the others to increasingly less avail. She looked like a decorated Christmas pudding if you were inclined to be unfair, and unfair I generally am to teenage superstars. They won't like you looking at them, but look at them you must, and it would be a cultural studies crime not to wince at the 'Romford look' which has her speeding effortlessly in to the slipstream of Alison Steadman (and towards a certain part in Gavin and Stacey if the little muffs don't work out) alongside an accelerated career path that appears, within a matter of weeks of embarking on a life on the boards, to have her appearing inexplicably reminiscent of Cilla Black. Meanwhile she dances like she's tugging on a rope.
Don't blame me for such cruel observation, blame the record companies who cruelly exploit these poor mites and their audience in the name of massive and easy profit and a model for the music industry in general which is now so morally disgusting one can hardly think it might once have harbored genuine concern about anything except eternal love at thirteen years of age and the size of your arse.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Less booze, more E-bay

Staying away from the booze is fucking hard this time of year. Almost everything is driven to send you to the bottle; Family life especially, and almost anything on TV. Personally I can't wait to light the candles and settle down with Julie to a good game of Escape from Colditz. We have now arrived home to our own self styled grotto and I'm not inclined to let anybody else in. We have a candle to light on Christmas Eve and when it goes out fifty hours of beeswax fumes later it's over, thankfully over.
Cards are a particular bane, cards with round robin letters telling the recipient of the years activities soul destroying.
Do not start such a missive with 'We had our flu jabs a fortnight ago..' nor end it with 'We had to buy a new television...but don't listen to any of the salesmen, we did our own thorough research and are now perfectly satisfied with our purchase! Merry Christmas!.....' Such a letter found it's way to my mum and dad, another began 'We managed to finish the glass handrail on the balcony at long last....quite and engineering feat!!' or 'I was going to go on a business trip to Dubai but would you believe it I broke my foot at the organic farm the week before...'
Fucking hell, not exactly Scot Fitzgerald is it, but it is modern life, and my jaw dropped and my eyebrows rose in horror.
E- bay, now, is addictive. Less booze, more e-bay, that is the equation.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Steve Jobs does University

If...Steve Jobs had run a university department what would it have been like? Well we'd all be sitting on nice chairs for one. I'd discount his own more zen like taste in interior decor, or that of Norman Foster for that matter, as a mere sign of Jobs, and go back to the cosiness of the garage maybe, take delight in the feel of things rather than the feel of things falling apart. The food and drink would be excellent, no more crappy quiche ever again and when you touched a table you wouldn't spend five minutes wondering what it was made of. You wouldn't have to clock in, you'd be clocked in 24/7 right at the start, and graduate when time and funds ran out. A certain idealism would be involved, there would be an air of revolution, perhaps the perfect, ongoing variety, and periodically, dated formats would be junked entirely.
But would failure mean death?

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Our Tribe

I was very excited about my ebay purchase of two oak art deco bookends until they arrived today. they looked, well, err...rather more substantial and distinguished on the screen, but these two might have been knocked up last week in somebody's garden shed. I winced when I thought of the price I'd driven myself too, and the other rival twit who'd done the same.
However, I am not disheartened, this must be happening to thousands of people everyday as husbands, wives, girlfriends and boyfriends discretely and hopefully open mucho cardboard packaging to reveal....oh.....and promptly realize the great gift is not quite what it was in the minds eye.
Still, other things have a way of being much better than expected. the most unlikely of which was a friends fiftieth birthday party last might. Thankfully he'd had the gumption to hold the event in Blush, closed for the night, upstairs at the White Horse. But before you are imagining all the goings on just stop and imagine the opposite, quiet middle aged folks noodling along as best they can, commune with their favourite dancers, bar staff and host all fully dressed and quite prim and proper munching sandwiches and so on hardly raising a dicky bird of interest, but all very pleasant to be back with the tribe (remember, I'd been away near two months). It may not be much of a tribe, but at least for Julie and I, we realize that this is ours, honorary members if you like, me and Julie, take your seat at the bar Paul, and nobody will bother you at all. Delightful.
Of course, finding your tribe can take a long time, and there are many bogus versions. I've never enjoyed the tribe of architects, even architects bar's (there was on at Bristol when I was there) they are just hopelessly tedious in a way that Christie from Southend and her pals simply are not. This is not inverse snobbery either, it's directed at those who think that people who strip for a living are somehow weird, somehow impossible, when in my experience they appear the most natural folks in the world.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

McCloud

Lots of television celebrities are now engaged in the seasonal quest to be overenthusiastic to the sound of canned laughter, even Sandy Tostvig, who was never funny in the first place. But I wish somebody would have judiciously placed canned laughter all over Kevin McCloud's Grand Design last week for two very pertinent reasons. Firstly, now all Mother Teressa about housing for the people, Kevin expressed distain when he spotted his mug shot high and mighty over the site hoarding, advertising his great effort. What on earth did he expect? Did he think sales would employ somebody who might agree 'yes, you know what, lets keep Kevin's name out of it - it's hardly necessary?' Clearly Kev has no idea about marketing.
The next, earlier in the irksome process, was when he confessed to us privately (!) that he'd spent £450,000 of his own money (so far) with fuck all to show for it, then parted company with his forward looking N London architects who used a vocabulary almost exclusively involving the word 'pod' to eventually come up with a flat plan that almost any of us could have given him for nothing on day one! Even then he cocked it up.
Kevin would be very welcome round at our house for some instruction. It would be a lot cheaper and less misery making for everybody.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Dear John..

Got a letter today from my GP, it says, presumably because I'm ill, that I shall have to register with another surgery rather then theirs. This is Cameron's world alright, and it's pretty fucking demoralizing. I mean I've only just begun to get to know the doctors in there, only just begun to feel at home after years of not needing them at all, then this bolt out of the blue, like a Dear John letter from a would be long-term date! It happens, actually that our address is right on the bordering street of their area, and coincidentally, after thirteen years, I have just started costing them some money. Very miserable making on a grey day, after all those years of carefree gadding about, and all that National Insurance.
I don't think I want the NHS to take on the model of the British education system, do you?

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Not Howling, Dozing

I doze a lot right now, my chair and I are very well acquainted, and I fantasize about writing fabulous blogs and howling at the moon, but for some reason I haven't been doing it. Even if I was horrified to realize that to be in a rock band you needed to win Celebrity Get..... and get the drummer on Strictly Dancing, even if I was dumbfounded at newshour exhortations to read your Dickens by the shore of the Thames, even as I noticed that there was suddenly a Christmas Channel on Sky (as if we need that!), even as I hated almost everything, instead I dozed.
There is however, much to be fearful of. Inactivity breeds contemplation, activity the opposite. Right now I feel like a character who walks out on to the balcony of some Christmas party in evening dress, staring in to the sunset and exclaiming something like, 'You know........there are very very bad things on the horizon', and taking a nice slug of whisky, before the bombs tumble down the next day. I groan with the responsibility.
However I seek solace in James Madge's book on Sabbioneta - he was my old tutor, with it he rises from the dead, and in very nearly done dissertations on life in the woods with Gunnar Asplund and the corrosive effects of Grand Designs (whose author can no longer watch 'popular' television).

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Before They Make Me Run

So I'm sitting in my chair last night, Julie's baking bread, I'm not doing very much at all, but there is this show on Planet Rock about the Stones 'Some Girls' album of 1977. Now I have danced around a great deal to this record in the past, and it just so happens that there are not many tracks anywhere in the world that precisely record particular circumstances, so as Keef finally got to record that fabulous confessional 'Before they Make Me Run' as his life hit the buffers in Toronto, it was funny to sit there smiling in Bethnal Green as my life hit the buffers here. I noted it is not a sad song at all, in fact, it's full of optimism, and it made me smile a great deal more.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Covalescense

The doctor says I'm supposed to be convalescing, which I take to mean sitting in a state of semi consciousness under a rug drinking tea between re-runs of Millions Like Us and some awful pap like 'Junior Bake off'. I am astonished there is actually a programme called 'Junior Bake Off', it must be some kind of sick joke, and nothing could bring me to watch it. Nothing can bring me to watch almost anything on today's TV, I long for Columbo, Ironside, The A Team and six o'clock cocktail hour but I long in vain. I wonder if tea and cakes will appear, but they do not, and then Julie says she's going out tonight and I start to hum the refrain from 'Ruby Don't Take Your Love to Town'.
I don't think you can do convalescing self consciously, I think it is one of those great negatives, sort of 'don't do anything' unless you are stuck in a deck chair up a mountain in the sunshine of the alps, that never did Thomas Mann any harm, but I'm stuck here instead, three days a week, in recovery from the world.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Coldplay fans

Enforced to watch a lot of adds on the TV, and eventually reduced to muting them in disgust, I noticed last night the dreaded Coldplay are going back on the road. Now that's funny, have you noticed the 'Green Flag' roadside assistance add? 'We may not be the biggest, but we aim to be the best!' well that's not the main point about that add, the main point about that add is they promise to FIX YOU, no doubt tugging at the heartstrings of Coldplay fans, who no doubt, when you think about it, are probably more likely to be driving ropey motors than most demographics. Clever huh! Then remember that all roadside assistance companies claim to fix 93% of cars at the side of the road, but of course this is because 93% of roadside breakdowns are due to running out of petrol, and inability to fix a flat tire, and locking your keys in the car, which I suspect, is also something which statistically is more likely to happen to Coldplay fans, dozy lot.

Recovery

I’m sorry there’s been no blogs for a while; too bloody miserable by half. Bet Bukowski would have blogged solidly every detail of such an enforced lay up, lyrically recorded every spasm. Picked up Jeffrey Bernard’s Low Life, and even he manages to make hospitalization in to something, even if it is somewhere between Carry on Nurse and Dad’s Army. I couldn’t get anywhere near either, I was glum beyond glum and hospital was nothing like either anyway, it was a humanitarian disaster. Now I’m sick of ‘Hitlers Generals’ and even ‘Wheeler Dealers’ and I drink tea.

Still I am back at work, the lecturing bit anyway, I reckon I can avoid the dreaded meetings for quite some time yet, and a nice Turkish man comes to pick me up and whisk me away again in his person carrier with great efficiency and all for the money I’d usually spend in the pub. Instead I glide like royalty in a smoked glass goldfish bowl through the city streets. Without a pub to sit in I could be anywhere. And I lecture sitting down, which when I saw Dave Hickey do it, doubtless for similar reasons, can be pretty cool, but still exhausting.

There is a great fear lurking, having worked so hard on my pleasurable past, what will constitute any kind of pleasurable future? About this one has to be almost devoutly sanguine.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Learning to Walk

OK so now I'm learning to walk again amongst other things, almost every other thing actually. Did I mention I had a blood transfusion? Only in my imagination could it become Keith Richards in Geneva rather that yours truly in Whitechapel. However new blood went in, and now I'm wondering, not about the worst things that might be in blood, and I'm sure they test for all of that stuff, and they even showed me the sell by date 'Look.. fresh!' said my nurse, a if demonstrating a menu. No I'm worried I've been donated stinky person blood, that incredibly unfortunate affliction. I've never thought I've smelt of anything but scotch, but now I really worry about my armpits.

Monday, 24 October 2011

McLuhan

Enough uuughrrrrs, enough Aaaaah's, enough yelps when julie nudges my foot by mistake. Every ten minutes now i have remind myself I'm not going anywhere right now. Reckon I could do one of my classes entirely virtually this week, I sit in my room here, they sit in their room there and we blog away live. It would at least get us started, but the media would bring out it's own strengths and how could I resist the chance to ask, just once, 'what are you wearing?' followed by 'I'm naked wearing a fun viking helmet' on the basis of our all mutually understood invisibility and the lack of visual stimuli. Thats seems much for fun to me than skype. Thank you very much Marshall McLuhan. Students walk around again clutching McLuhan and far away eyes. But I think he's better on the 'simple' things in life, like wearing sunglassses to be cool than whenever he even goes near Finnnigans Wake. His best line is on the attitudes of topless dancers in NY, He explains to his colleagues over lunch; 'Well of course, they are wearing us'.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

uuuughh

laid up on the sofa i get to watch all sorts of tv. most of it appears indelibly worse than on previous occasions i've been laid up to do precisely that, i have to keep reminding myself this is our own flat for instance, and we are not removed from our natural habitat to study anything else somewhere else, we have only ourselves, over long sleepless hours, to ponder. which means i think the presenters of autumnwatch become, on the coming of the revolution, the first up against the garden wall, followed by the unfunny hopeless jonathon ross, who would be a lot better if he just reconciled himself to being hopeless and dropped away with dignity like oliver reed. instead you get the feeling these people might ride on forever, like roman sentors of schmaltz, whilst we all get progressively pissed off with of them and their simpering worlds which become bit by bit, all pervasive. soon dc might be heard from some instrument or another installed in your kitchen congratulating you for getting up and joining in.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

pain is not bureaucratic

the thing about pain-and note i no longer possess the dexterity for capitals-and your image of me doing this should be that of an elderly chimp stabbing a single digit at the keyboard- is that pain is not bureaucratic, it is not running a railway system on time or collecting taxes -neither of course is education even though it is so keen to embrace this model- but lying in hospital bed just begging for an extra paracetamol under a bureaucracy of superstructure over use value turns into a hopeless case of form filling, box ticking, and questions you've already answered about a million times- after four days, these all came at me from nurses i hadn't seen before, i didn't see the same nurse twice over the four days of my incarceration - and my file was already as thick as a novel, and i was in total despair.

boody pills

so now I'm at least trapped here at home, in a kind of heaven, but since I can't actually do anything because everything hurts it is still hopelessly miserable. My body appears to have seized up at all the joints which I suppose were being soothed by the little bastard pills which were ruining my stomach.
Here I can also attention, wearing julie out with plaintive requests, which explains why hospital nurses behave like concentration camp guards in their dirty spaceship beep beep beep AAAAaaaaaagh, beep beep beeepertybeep Uuuuuugh..thats the noise of a hospital all day and all night for ever and ever.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Hospital

And puke is exactly what I did, astonished, delirious and scared to death as tee shirts soaked up blood. So that's why saturday through yesterday lasted about a century. in hospital, time stands still, the seconds tick past, you become gradually incapacitated, and then you die, especially if you find yourself in ward of crazy people shouting until the early hours while you crouch fearful under that mantle of death.
However after a great deal of effort by others to fix you, even if you no idea what they are doing, even if it is explained in great detail; you feel considerably tiny, frail and in agony as you attempt that great escape home again, that's after you've been lectured to the point of despair by a whole stream of enthusiastic professionals , and contemplate hobbling in to some new kind of future you didn't really want at all.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Rocket

Took delivery of the stuff I bought at Rocket last week, hauling myself out of bed far too early for my liking. There were negotiations to be made, stuff to bring up here, stuff to take to the university. To be honest, all such negotiations, every single one of them, make me nervous. However, it's all done now, and when Julie saw the very cheap but fabulous balcony chairs, she loved them, indeed, they gleam in the sunshine, their thin perforated structure so appropriate, so delicate, so decent, illustrating perhaps some Aalto style progression indoors to outdoors (even though our flat is a relatively tiny thing in what looks like a whole heap of shit) Still, I stare out at those chairs on the balcony, and I look at all the other chairs and lights and tables I've bought from Rocket, and I think, you know, this is all good design for everybody, it is not and has not been expensive, I'm hardly made of money, but these thoughts remind me of a purpose to the architectural endevour which, once digested, might positively make you puke at the next bit of Zaha.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Happiness

Great day today; lectured on ancient Greece this morning and that ain't easy, but started with Jumpin' Jack Flash as a representation of Achilles. Flawed, I know. Later I found a student had actually done what I hoped he would do, it almost brought tears to my eyes. He went to the forests of Sweden and Finland and tracked about on foot with the scarcest of resources (no 4x4, no camper van) to find some little weekend residences of some of our great architects. He said 'I was in the forest, I saw a paw print bigger than my hand'. This is quite tremendous, and reminds me of my own adventurous youth, when, like an idiot, I set off round Europe on a Moto Guzzi in january. It was a really stupid thing to do, but I'm still here.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Get Yer Ya Yas Out

Git up this morning, actually found myself locked in. 'Honey it's not one of those days' came to mind since I'm lecturing at the AA on Dave Hickey (he's a Texan) this afternoon. So while I wait for release, what do I do, well I tell ya'all, I pour myself a large one and I read that Hickey fella over and over again, for he is the only critic who makes me swoon at almost every line, and you know what else, when he talks about Chet Baker, I decide that it's kinda the time to join in with him, so I put on this copy of the Stones live album 'Get Yer Ya Yas Out' (1969) a terrific thing, but this is an original vinyl copy bought for a tenner from the market stall, and I hadn't even put it on the turntable yet, so it's even better, like some kind of find in an archive, meanwhile less compression man, and my god does it sound fantastic. I'm sitting there doing my Jagger dancing and my Keef riffs and I'm time travelling big time, wish it didn't have to end.
You can be sure I'll enjoy my afternoon. Well awwlright!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Greek torpor

I believe I have caught the Greek torpor, a condition ranging from midnight sweats to general melancholy in the face of events, perhaps induced by continual addiction to 'Newsnight'. Then again, it could be just a common cold, induced by ridiculous fluctuating temperatures and an inability to guess dress. However it is true that I have become somewhat addicted to the Eurozone banking crisis, I eagerly observe each news item for it's conspicuous absence. Last night, neither the six o'clock news or Newsnight even mentioned the collapse of two 'Belgian' banks (in reality the condition of their money supply or lack of it would imply almost total internationalism) to the tune of unimaginable volumes of euro. As far as I was concerned, such 'news' being so managed for our consumption, this lack of information, was smeared with the ghostly hand of Josef Goebels just like the waterworks machine that is X Factor.
Paul Mason may of course have had a nervous breakdown, his valiant efforts to explain the crisis on Newsnight almost everynight for the last three weeks, flying around everywhere, trawling information which he attempts, and this is a very very big ask, to put in layman's terms, having finally given up himself.
I understand the Greek lethargy, but I was cheered by one of my students yesterday who said something like 'I know this sounds a bit naieve, but I think they should shoot them'. It was a remarkably Maoist statement for a twenty first century girl.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Derivatives

I am more and more convinced that contemporary conversations in architecture, indeed the very structure of the endeavour, are getting increasingly close to that of the derivatives market for banks. Top schools have to maintain their position by trading increasingly risky bonds on the back of their reputation, ordinary folks elsewhere are seduced in to thinking that's what they have to do too, so they copy them. In so doing the bundle of crap gets bigger and bigger. In fact, I think I may be verging on a kind of Maoist  conversion to an absolutely no bullshit, up against the wall if you dare contradict me response. I was extremely proud to hear from Dan, presently master planning some city in China (as a Pt1student), saying he had written a good old fashioned letter to Patrik Schumacher with the simple demand; 'Why are you such a tosser?' Dan has politics, and he's busy investigating a global calamity, I think we could all do with some of that, and I don't mean being complicit in the name of BIM, I mean something more agriculturally serious.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Nice chairs

Did a lecture on Mies today, then got pissed and bought £500 worth of designer furniture for my new office (when it finally happens). Jesus. Still, Mies himself would be proud and even the owner of Rocket Gallery was impressed I'm prepared to invest in my university accommodation. I say, well, the students have got to sit in nice chairs.

Friday, 30 September 2011

After Theory

I was at the Architectural Association today, another set of presentations. It never fails to amaze me that place, it really doesn't, I sit there listening to all these very earnest academics get up and talk about their proposed courses and I hardly understand a word of what they are talking about, one after the other. Now that is not their fault, they are completely at home, it's just me, and goddamn it if I don't have to get up and talk next, take a swig of fizzy water, and talk about my course called The Theory750 with a picture of me with my first motorbike!
I've worked there fifteen years now, I'm sure I'm due for a gold watch, but I sat and concentrated listening to these very sincere people, and realized a little something; that all the jargon of academic life interned in the AA is still dependent on a central thesis which is never discussed, cannot be discussed, whilst it is implicit to the whole endeavor; our underlying politics.
Terry Eagleton has a lot going for him with 'After Theory'.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Late Capitalist Psychosis

This is the time of year when I sit through many earnest presentations made to students. Collectively they provide; principally because of their timeliness (this is what we are going to do) and earnest quality (this is what we believe in) a profound and disturbing portrait of our times. It is clear that our faith in technology will not be dissuaded, this means funny shapes in buildings, our powers of analysis must not be dissuaded, this means odd objects (which used to be called models) and strange diagrams which nobody can understand, ostensibly metaphorical objects, but which we are obliged to feel represent something terribly important (but usually do not). However it is also very clear we demonstrate the almost equally and oppositely belief at the same time, that we need to return to fundamentals and basic human need! These twin desires now exist in contiguous extremity, and perfectly represent the context of late capitalist psychosis.
Perhaps if we just got students to sit in a nice chair, they might design one eventually.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

This Weekends Worst War Films

'The Bridge at Remagen' is just really boring, being centred merely around a bridge.
'Saving Private Ryan' looks worse everytime I see it. It's good for special effects, but not for Tom Hanks, especially not for Tom Hanks, and a horrible sense of sentimentality which Speilberg can't seem to avoid, it's like, would you like a smoothy with your atrocity?
'The Battle of Midway' is baffling, manly because they put potential star Robert Mitchum in a hospital bed from the beginning covered in calamine, and mostly features many pilots and many ships not knowing where they are in the Pacific. This is not very interesting. To make the Battle of Medway boring is quite an achievement.
'Kelly's Heroes' is funny as a comic book, many because Clint and Telly are superheroes in the Ancient Greek tradition. How do they get over that river? (Don't know, it's a miracle baby, doesn't matter) It's a kind of Iliad thing.
I'm hoping tonight they might schedule 'Cross of Iron', because it's the only war movie (pardoning many British classics 'Millions Like Us', 'The Wooden Horse' 'The One that Got Away' 'The Great Escape' etc) where the director (Sam Peckinpah) actually creates a war on set because he's crazy.
If not that, then 'Where Eagles Dare' which features a largely drunk Richard Burton, Eastward, nice looking girls who don't get hurt,  and a plot I still do not understand after watching it, I promise you, at least 900 times (or so it seems). That movie never fails to baffle but entertain.
I'm sure if there are Soviet Russian WW2 movies, they'd run to about a century, because they'd want to include every gruesome detail in there. You see, it all comes down to editing.

Spitalfields Fury

I'm sure dating sites are wonderful, one of them features an idiot playing a ukulele on a train platform in search of love, the winsome type, on the other platform. It's sort of Strangers on a Train meets Ben Watt.  I was walking through Spitalifields market already furious on friday lunchtime and I saw a whole 'Ukulele Store'. What the fuck??!!. And the whole area was absolutely jammed solid with bankers on their lunch breaks quaffing chablis and no doubt thinking of buying a ukulele to aid their sad fucking lives. There were thousands of them, and the original market has become, irony of ironies, a fucking Craft Fair (no doubt for Christmas god help us). These numpties lose us billions and billions of pounds, lose us our pensions, fuck the world  (RBS headquarters is right next door) and they have the cheek to behave like this? Still?

X Factor

For a unique opinion of the X factor, just download Alain Badiou's 'This Crisis the Spectacle: Where is the Real' an hour beforehand and read it quietly.  It will improve your evening no end.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Deflate

Went to see Tim Pyne speak. Tim Pyne is very very good, but he had to do it in the cafe. The venue, the absurd 'Superbrands' slosh presently showing at the Truman brewery on Brick Lane, showed little other than sultry European scarves around well manicured visages as far as I was concerned, plus of course the security and the pleasantries and the fucking branded bag they give you. The work, I think they would like to call it furniture but it certainly more reasonably qualifies as downright degenerate lifestyle (Gerry, the landlord of the Misty Mountain, assured me the other day that London was now top of the cocaine consumption league tables) certainly smacked of the awkward and way beyond, but cool, that's why those bastards were there.
And I like designer stuff, I just need it far cheaper, far older, and far better designed from Rocket Gallery.
The reason Tim was speaking in the cafe was because the purpose 'built' venue, an inflatable white tent, was so bright you couldn't show any images in it  and the generator so loud you couldn't hear anybody speak.

Academic life

Academic life, for me at least, seems to involve an enormous amount of hanging about. It's a bit, a lot actually, like war in that sense, Spike Milligan first noted this. These periods of hanging about are of course followed my moments of intense and dangerous excitement, in my case giving lectures and so on. However many of my colleagues appear to be alarmingly busy almost all the time. But I really have no idea what they are doing.
I also am working on the opinion that universities simply cannot do 'front of house', those sort of simple organizational efficiencies that services industries strive for, we are simply doomed to be back of house organizations, and that includes giving lectures, tutorials and so on, it's all rather private, we congenitally keep our public in the dark and when we don't we become heartless machinery appearing rather stupid and boring.
It's a tough time for students joining this new world.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Not stuck

I'm not stuck. I'm just in a kind of agony. The early moderns are very very tricky to write about , but I'm over the hump and highly antisocial as a result. At lunch it was listening to old guys talking about cheese (not as good as it used to be) and pork (ditto, especially crackling). I wanted to kill myself.  Old guys in pubs, I'm probably already one of them, the worst are those who shout at you and won't leave, then there are just the plain bores, don't know why I spend so much time in these establishments sometimes. However, once four thirty came around, the call of the wild, and I was off down the road to my friends at the Rocket Gallery to engage with yet another collection of dutch modern furniture, and pop in to the White Horse, where Lily reassured me of her interest in Scott Fitzgerald, and Simon, the 'ducks in a line' merchant came in brandishing a huge umbrella. It's probably a prop for his courses. He's a nice guy who talks with his eyes closed, as if concentrating, odd to find that in a strip bar. Then I was welcomed with open arms in to the Conran shop to buy more vastly expensive produce and discuss my cashier's present adventures in to the relationship between chemical engineering and archeology.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Stuck

Stuck, I'm fucking stuck, I get to the modern movement and I'm stuck, reckon given the whole history of architecture till then has taken just 25,000 words, the modern bit is just a twinkle in the eye. It's all Malevich's fault, Black Square and White on White fuck you up, simply because they are utterly contemporary, nobody could do anything better. Had that student do the John Cage essay on me last year, crafty bastard; silence, nothing, that was the point with Malevich, he invented ground zero. This cannot be right- this is the bit I'm best at for god's sake, but I'm stuck on early Corbu. Early Corbu is my fucking stuff, how can I be stuck on it? Perhaps I'll just go from Victor Horta to moon rockets, skip the Bauhaus, but I like the Bauhaus, they did good lamps, But then, erased De Kooning!!!!
Gropius was smart. However that is not an option. This is where you have to grind it out and I say to myself, imagine what will happen when you do get to moonrockets and Vegas, you going to get stuck then?
Going to be hard work tomorrow, student life encroaching. Rauchenberg, like to have met him in a bar. Erased de Kooning, what a masterpiece.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Slipping slowly

Listening to Ben Watt, a fabulous EP he made with Robert Wyatt in 1981 called Summer into Winter. I'd lost this for years, but I can now be full of sentimentality for all sorts- The Cocteau Twins, Durruti Column, all of that stuff. Quite a lot of it doesn't wear well, especially the Cocteau's. Too much nothing. Manly this phase of music love came of an affection of the echophlex guitar fostered at the best gig I ever went to: John Martyn at UMIST in 1978. He was in the bar with his band before the gig before he went on, playing pool. I think this knowledge set rather a trend for my own career. I wasn't yet a student, me and my two mates Barney and Rick had snuck in wearing big coats to look older than we were, but that didn't matter in those days, and sat crosslegged and transfixed as Martyn played the set of his life, barely recoverable now on the deluxe edition of 'One World'. I'll never forget it. Dad picked us up afterwards.
To these echo sounds myself and Mike and Karina T were going to change the world, largely to a soundtrack of this plus Gong records and spurious meditation, we really were, we were going to change the world. Well what else should you do at 20 years of age.
I think the meditation helped me pass my exams, I meditated to Gong before structures exams in particular.
But as I walk down the street to Tesco's to buy the wine supplies after a good dose of Ben Watt and think of those years, you'll see tears on my cheeks.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Masterwork

I'm working on my masterwork; The Unofficial Obituary of Architecture. It's going terrifically well, I'm up to Louis Sullivan with 22000words, I can do good impressions of Louis later years pissed off in a bar. It's going so well I worry it might be awful. But fuck it, what do you want to do in your life - heh? I've always thought just one thing, just one thing done really well, but I thought that with The Las Vegas Diaries, which you will only ever read by your thousands after I'm dead (publishers are very aware of death publishing) So the history is everything I've ever known about architecture written just for you, and the way I'm motoring, it will be done - my analysis of the whole history of architecture, written pretty much live without even any books to hand, rather like Neil Young's Time Fades Away album (rather a critical failure at the time, but I fucking love it now) by Easter 2012. Advance orders welcome.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Aphorisms of the day

My favourite aphorisms of the day, dreamt up in exam boards and the local Wetherspoons are:

'It is a total fallacy to think that knowledge helps you do something. Usually, if you are doing it right, it stops you doing it'.

Plus

'The pursuit of knowledge is a bit like the pursuit of alchemy. It's worth doing but there is a lot of crappy by-product'.

And

'We have knowledge because we have a word for it'.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Newsnight

I watch Newsnight on the banks with disbelief and swearing at each of the bastards on there (other than Will Hutton). Weirdly I say to Julie, 'Look.. I suddenly understand this!'
You have to say, basically, I'm not interested in banks investing my money in the name of greed working against the ambitions of peoples elsewhere and just making greater profit for me even as a shareholder back home when they SHIT ON EVERYBODY ELSE to do so. I understand profit has to be made, but it's so fucking obvious- how much- it's just a question of how many countries you want to rape?
If we are suffering a crisis of overproduction, if we cannot afford our own lives, try and work out how much the richer classes should pay to maintain the status quo, otherwise there will be trouble when folks get fucked off with 'Countryfile' or 'X Factor' as meaningful entertainment, since they will appear more and more like C20th versions of entertainments at the Colosseum.

Back in the saddle

Back in the saddle, well almost, at least looking at the horse. It's a new horse, looks pretty mean. Weather looks pretty mean too, High winds a pretty bad omen if I was getting all ancient Greek about it. If I'm contemporary Greek about it, it's even worse. Nothing but banking crisis on CNN this morning, nothing that Scott didn't predict over the weekend. Mondays, they've had time to think about it. Walk along the street, notice number of betting shops has more than doubled. Bad sign. Pop in to the Trench, even Patch has left the place, pop in to Tesco's to check the press and buy some rocket, we're going to lose 75% of our pensions one says, not much of an incentive is it. Living standards to drop 10% says another, but not if you live in Surrey. The third was just the ghost of Amy Winehouse.
So I've got to get on this horse and start riding, it is never any fun this time of year, never any better than just hopelessly fearful every morning. THE FEAR once more comes to sit at the head of the bed. Thank god it tends to get better by lunch.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

22 Seconds

9/11 anniversary, can't get away from it. Everybody can remember where they were on 9/11. I ventured down to The White Horse to see Alison dance to Living on The Edge in a stars and stripes bikini. These days I might be vilified for this, it being clearly not a sufficiently serious emotion, but I assure you I was very serious indeed. I don't have any problem with those choked with loss in 9/11, a tragedy, agony, but I might have a large problem with the way it is being portrayed in today's TV programming however, because I don't think they are sufficiently serious at all, not as serious as me or Alison. I've also read some good theoretical stuff, and the good theoretical stuff on this issue, which you can find in a subscription to the LRB at least, is not the kind of thing that unfortunately made Bruce Springsteen sell millions of dreadful records; those tales of tears and pistons at the same time which seems the only way these broadcasters can present the American working man. All hail working, or not working, American males of course, but watch The Wire to adjust your sentimentality. Hal Foster talks on trickiness of icon making re: 9/11 in the 8th September edition, Richard J Evans on why the Germans never gave up in WW2 where he mentions in passing that 175,000 Volkssturm (Dads Army) died in the idiotic defense of Berlin, and Slavoj Zizek, you got to love him, dissects our riots (a minor matter).
As for the new WTC NYNY, it's a cathedral isn't it, it preceeds our return to medievalism, financial districts the new monasteries. I hope you understand that the average time, globally, that any share stays where it is now is just 22 seconds.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Sand boy


                                                      Me, happy as a sand boy, West Cork
                                                      Photo by Julie of course.

                           Best building in the world, utterly stupid, me in it, basement. Photo by Julie of course

Best building in the world, utterly stupid, me in it. Photo by Julie of course.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Portrait


This is the most intelligent person I know, I give you Scott at his best. There is a seriousness in saying this, simply because many, or most, or everybody who has any sense of things at all, knows that caring about beautiful things or actions is something vary rarely understood. I found beauty today in the reflection of a bored dancer in the White Horse round opening time. I felt like Degas. For many people they'd say- 'That's too early to be drinking!' I say 'That's the best time to be drinking!' If you are looking for beauty, don't hang with the crowd. Instead, we are patrolled, disciplined, told off, for almost any enjoyment of beauty, simply because we are convinced of the economic sense of things, some other kind of imperative, but hold on, I don't want that imperative, it doesn't work for me, it tends to work for arseholes in grey shoes and grey and pink ties who are looking forward to buying a Mercedes. But we should not be convinced of that neoliberalist crap, which just wants to fill our world with it's super abundance of production, we need to savour and value the looking at a Picasso, or a Beckman, or for that matter Mies. We need to empathize with Le Corbusier as he swam to his death, we need to watch The Wire and savour Sgt Bilko or Laurel and Hardy or Tom and Jerry. Only a few people I have met in my life do this sufficiently, those who show the discrimination that effectively makes art what it is. Presently it is clear that architecture is not art at all, but a mere result of contingencies. Perhaps it always has been, but you have to love those who rose above.
Photo, of course, by Julie Cook.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Beavers

Some idiot in Watford or someplace has decided to call his Lap Dancing club 'Beavers'. I nearly collapsed with laughter. Girls like Lily don't want to work at a place called Beavers, but I admit it is a bloody funny stupid thing to do. 'Beavers'. Idiot.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Enjoy the Interns

We had a launch at Hotshoe gallery last night. I have a foggy memory, but I know I spent a day squeezing lime juice to make six litres of Tom Collins. I'm sure when the serious youngsters who put on their best frocks to man the stalls at book fairs either a) squeal with excitement or b) recoil in horror as we arrive with our bags of what looks like rusty water. It certainly goes down well. Scot was soon wear your bag on your head drunk. Several of the hopeful interns complemented him on the look, before they wanted me to throw him out for bumping in to them and being generally sullen. It was a bit like the slaughter of the innocents, us bitter guys can't help but laugh at the intern culture that supports these adventures, they were shockingly young and shockingly serious. I kept trying to persuade one nice young girl after another; 'Just have a sip of this!...it's really good!!' They would smile and say 'not right now'. Despairing, I wondered how these people could exist.
Nothing worse than hopeful hamsters.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Revolution

Watching some BBC2 documentary on government. I realise the only thing to do is to close Oxford and Cambridge, change them into social housing, and make the so called bright bastards study at Lincoln Met or South Bank with the rest of us. I'm not kidding.

7"

I only have two seven inch singles in my collection, both salvaged from e-bay and enjoyed fabulously. There's nothing quite like listening to just the one song- usually in my case over and over, and probably much to the annoyance of my so called 'Rock n Roll' silent as mice neighbours who I doubt know Joe Satriani from Sinatra.
My two records are Blue Oyster Cult's 'Don't Fear the Reaper' and The Passions 'I'm in Love with a German Film Star'. All readers should buy these items on e-bay and have a little moment in Paul World nursing a large one. If you want to follow it up go for Satriani's 'Living in a Blue Dream' noticing the bass shifts. In mordant moments I wonder at these excellent funeral records, but I think I'd need a bit of WHOOOOAAAHH!!! David Lee Roth too.

Alice Cooper

Ok so we are back here and the man on the record stall virtually grabs me by the throat as I make for the Misty Moon. However he has some great new stuff. I picked up Steve Winwood's first solo album, a pretty beautiful thing to play on a sunny afternoon, an original pressing of 'Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory' from Traffic, and, best of all, Alice Cooper's Billion Dollar Babies totally original gatefold wallet sleeve etc all for £19. Now I'm not in it for the money, I'm in it for drunken afternoons playing 'Elected' as loud as I can and remembering my arrival at Heathrow yesterday. My arrival at Heathrow yesterday was shitty. All you see is huge advertisement's for investment companies using smiling children wanting presents like it's econo-porn. We know these shits are in total crappola and have put us in total crappola. Then of course the taxi doesn't turn up, but we have the privilege of watching the parade of Mercedes driven cheap suit wearing, land of grey and pink shirt and tie (hang yourself please) universal hair styling, tennis racket carrying arseholes who presumably think they are fucking doing some kind of beneficial thing by going on a jaunt for us and I just want to shout 'ARSEHOLES!" at the top of my voice. I don't, I just looked forward to my Neil Young Ditch Collection.
I come home to watch some fucking awful thing about saving English Country Houses, where the aristocracy still, plain as day, think it's lovely to be both stupid and revered at the same time with no, yes, zero, political interests in their forefathers affairs whatsoever. It no longer matters for TV if great grandaddy fucked the whole of Serra Leone. It is extraordinary to me that the British public celebrate dim witted aristocratic idiots, it's appalling.
Just make me some jam motherfuckers.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Weighty matters


Tucked away in a tiny room, space N08, or what Michael Robbins would call 'a harbouring space' the Beckmans, Max Beckman painter, and deep inside Mies's National Gallery, you will gaze at them and then hurry to the cafe and the toilet. Mies's National Gallery Berlin is the only building I know that makes you want to shit yourself, both Julie and I felt the same bowel convulsion, and then you sit on the toilet in your stall, and realize you are staring at a 1" tile grid, everything perfect. This building is the architectural equivalent of the inquisition.
And of course it's deeply unpopular. People want more happening things than this these days, they want architainment in the Sony Centre, but they should realise that this building is anti-happening, even the security guards pace around like polar bears in the zoo, it drives them crazy too.
And in the cafe, where I always take my sacrament, you will stare at yourself in the carefully placed mirrors and stare at the other two people in there trying desperately to divert themselves from this abyss by fiddling with their mobile phones, I just notice the double doors close precisely ON THE GRID. It drives me crazy. They look like Beckman's themselves that couple, how uncanny, Beckman was bloody good, and that little room of Beckmans in the National Gallery Berlin is the best chapel I could imagine, just look at that dog. And they're in the 20th century's cathedral, with the only sound the air conditioning.
Fucking hell, no image can do this building justice in it's total subjugation to the art of fact.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Holiday souvenirs

The end of our holiday approaches, three days to go and it's 'We'd better do something I suppose' that and 'I'd like to buy this...or that'. Buying stuff on holiday always hauls us in an interesting array. So far I've got a couple of 'ditch period' Neil Young Lps (Tonights the Night and Time Fades Away) an etching of Goethe's summer house bought for eight euro's at the Tiergarten Market, and then today's little sortie turned up an excellent solid aluminium 21 LED torchlight which only the German's could make and since our lights go out every time the local junkie steels our isolators, will come in very handy, the worlds tiniest and loveliest photobook (3" high) on GDR Dresden in it's own slipcase and a model of a sex shop for a model railway. They are very keen on model railways here and I'm glad you can buy the obvious addition to any metropolitan railway station, even if it was a bit pricey and we don't have a model railway. Next, simply the duty to go and have a brandy of two in the basement cafe of the Mies New National Gallery (the nearest I get to a church), and then the zoo, hoping the capybaras are in.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

How the fuck did I do that?


A day for shopping and barring, Sunday being a day for fuck all. Still, nomatter the trickiness of shopping in German, we assembled the supplies and hunker down. It's raining cats and dogs.
So between contemplating my fabled monkfish stew and chuffed to see Robbie Savage, by far my favourite football commentator, talk of Chelsea's win on Final Score there is much time to contemplate.
I found myself awake at some stupid hour, scared to death of things I'd done long ago, for instance, taking off in February nineteen eighty something to ride to Greece on my Motto Guzzi V50 to meet and bring my girlfriend home ON THE BACK! We did it too. I was 23. I had to explain to Julie what I took with me, and I seem to remember 90% in the panniers was 'bike stuff' and my spare helmet for Clare. I had a change of shirt, socks and pants and not much else.
I just thought, how the fuck did I do that? I was away for three months.
I felt fucking fantastic when I finally got home, and wouldn't wash the bike for ages, just looked at it with it's 4,000 miles of dirt.
Above is a picture of me with my first bike, a Honda 250 G5, at nineteen.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Heat

Christ it's hot, it's pyjama hot, plus as humid as a cheetahs armpit. Then this evening the skies will darken and Thor will take his place again to give us a good show while we try to understand 'The Wire'- an enjoyable exercise but not easy.
The rest of the time we work. This is really quite amazing for us. Working actually feels like a holiday. Clearly working is actually a holiday. I was writing about Marie Antoinette this morning. Julie says;
'You're writing about who?'
'Marie Antoinette! Very important!.....Nobody else writes about her so I will'
Actually I think she deserves a place in my histoire as I'm pretty much up to Montgolfier and his balloons.
I think this is how Ian Fleming did it on his holidays. He worked on the Bond novels for two hours in the morning, had a bit of lunch and slept it off, then my goodness it's cocktail hour, and he sat back at his desk to review his morning's endevours, and probably in his pyjamas.
Any way Julie now loves my progress since I read out 'The Renaissance' to her late last night and she almost glowed.
The book's all done 'live' with no artificial additives (except a little technical assistance from Wikipedia of course). I'd like it done by Christmas but as soon as we get back home I'm sure I'll get nothing done at all.
Chin chin

.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Thunder

The god Thor tore through our district all day, never heard such a racket, with lightening and pissing rain, driving wind and squealing children in the street. No wonder the goths were superstitious. At one point I'm sure the building shook as the living room pendant light started to swing, so I put on the zoo channel to watch the birth of llamas and buried my nose in Casanovas autobiography. Which by the way is a bit of a riveting read, far more plagued with subtleties than you might think.
Got a rather amusing text suggesting that far from academic pursuit, we might be romping around fetish bars dressed in Nazi outfits in his honour. Nothing could be further from the truth, for of course you have to understand that as soon as the academic term ends, that's when academic life begins, so it's all peace and quiet for us until hostilities resume in September, but we will probably go to the zoo.
Worried about this word 'connectivity' See it coming up on CNN all the time, the new holy ghost I suppose. However it is not a reasonable connection just to witness hell and high water on the TV or get the better of some bastard on the other side of the planet in some business deal fawned over by the awful Richard Quest. And isn't 'Linked-in' just a waste of time? If I were a social networking site I'd have to call it 'Large-One'.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Hurricane

Mien host is a hurricane. When she arrives she appears as a force of nature, then she disappears again to Hamburg, or Malta, or Cologne, or on to expensive yachts where she will play the Carly Simon to any Warren Beatty. She's the kind of woman who cranks energy. She is the weather, and I'm that bunny rabbit sitting in a field for a day in the rain in West Cork. I like it but I cower rather before it, but I stick it out too. The weather is lovely, but I'm not quite the poet to do it justice, you'd have to be Homer to do that.
This time she brought along a new couch, humped up those terrifying flights of steps by German men who knew how...hump...hump...hump- 2.5m of it, four Berlin floors up. A herculean task if you ask me. I was exhausted at just the thought of it, being on the receiving. But there's enough room for plenty of couches in this place and, as I've noted before, there was still nowhere comfortable to sit on account of the aesthetic rather than functional criteria generally applied before my blogged interventions which of course, my host read, and acted swiftly upon. But this new couch is so splendiferous I fear even sitting on it, it being so comfortable and all. It is a real sofa for afternoon naps which I shall be frightened of taking. We must not spill anything on it. Maybe we'll buy a plastic cover, if they make one that big, for insurance.
They are very big on insurance here, given a certain historical hangover assurance is a constant necessity. Even my hosts dog, a huge hound called 'Sonic' (I have always suspected after Sonic Youth) has liability insurance.
Sonic brought us a copy of Patti Smith's autobiography. We will love it. Poetry and seventies rebellion, I guess that's what we stand for.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Future is Medieval

Just got out of a cab with one of those drivers who want to tell you everything about Berlin, like where all the bullet holes are, yes, literally where all the bullet holes are in our local bar round the corner, then stuff like:
'You know there are 1045 bridges in Berlin?'
'Well no but..'
'So what do you know?...eh?'
Well to be honest it's clear we know nothing at all, especially not to pick up a cab from the Tiergarten street market, especially one who's chatting famously with the stall holders who seem to be selling more and dubious nazi memorabilia with each passing year. Photo albums of young guards smiling at the camps, no thank you, whatever camps they were, even if they were probably summer camps.
So this guy starts the trip by pointing out the street lamps were by Albert Speer. I note that the Kaiser Chiefs are touring here with the title 'The Future is Medieval', and it quite possibly might be.

Friday, 19 August 2011

The Horses Mouth

I've been looking at this big book on Gillespie Kidd and Coia architects resident on these Berlin shelves, who were actually Izi Metzstein and Andy McMillan under sobrique. I was wondering, as I flicked through it's pages of brick and concrete, of brutal scots sixties buildings long lost in Cardross, just what made their work so brilliant? The book retails on Amazon over £240, and this one is personally and lovingly dedicated to my host here in Berlin. I'd better not spill my scotch on it. Actually neither Izi or Andy would have scared a jot for spilt scotch, but we live in a different age. I'm surprised the tome isn't in a box.
The answer is quite elemental if you've worked in an architectural school. The work of Izi and Andy represents the sublime manipulation of plan and section in the most artful and ingenious ways, also the articulation of detail in, yes, artful and ingenious ways. They won the RIBA gold medal for it. It also represents an ugliness of every conceivable conception. Both at the same time, a passionate love of the former and a passionate distain for the latter, makes for greatness within a certain conception of what makes things great. It is an architecture which loves elbows and feet rather than that obviousness of the face. We can all love the odd elbow, and feet are now a fetish, but that's not the world they were in, they loved those elbows and feet. This of course, is a great modernist ideal, just read the fabulous novel 'The Horses Mouth' by Joyce Cary and you will understand their sensibility utterly and completely.
I worked for a while with Izi just before he retired. I regret at that my youthful age, I didn't really understand the old horses wisdom. I think I was a real pain in his arse. I went for an interview for a job at the Macintosh school in Glasgow with Andy McMillan, and of course blew it with talk of architecture students making pop videos for the Pet Shop Boys.
Now I stare at those plans and sections.

Back in Berlin

I like Germany. Some people can be pretty harsh about it. AA Gill wrote a particularly bitter thing titled 'The Hunforgiven'. But for me, the only thing remotely Gothic about this oasis of calm, of bicycles occasionally gliding by, of sitting in the same bar with the same people in it eating the same sausage pondering only the minor idiosyncracies of the shower, the toilet and the locks, and dreading only the effort of climbing those four flights of stairs up to our apartment, is the gutteral accent. It feels mighty comfortable. Mind you of course, for AA Gill comfortable is probably trecking through Kalahari without so much as a Bitburger. Pathologically calm, yep that's this place, Charlottenburg Berlin, seen far too much fuss ever to be interested again. It positively seethes 'leave me alone'.....burger off!
But I'm supposed to start on The Goth's for my 'Unauthorized History of Architecture' and the distinct lack of wandering violent hoards is not exactly inspiration. They're all back in England. When Gibbon first found himself in the ruins of the Roman forum 'just after vespers' he recalls, he was transported by the image of the ancients, enraptured by what was missing. Guess I'll have to get more in to the spirit of it, and less comfortably numb.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Van Halen II

So we are back in the metropolis for one day. What happens? I'll tell you what happens, Van Halen and strippers happens. It's what you need after a good dose of the countryside. You know what I love about Van Halen; Innocent swagger. Pour yourself another one and join the party, an urban party which involves people you couldn't care less about but you can stare at in lust. Rather more urban than rabbits in a field. To my knowledge no other band in the history of rock and roll manages to combine being sixteen and fifty at the same time. I think it's called charm, an old fashioned and much maligned term. However, I can't get away from it, David Lee Roth is just the best rock vocalist of all time, perhaps because he realizes it's all 'whoops' and 'woooohs', general yelps and other ridiculousness- showmanship, and he can belt it out better, even if the stuff he's singing is pretty awful, than Mrs Tyler and Jagger and so on- who suddenly become somehow too serious - trying too hard at a children's party.
Anyway. I've put Pink Floyd's 'Animals' on now, 'Sheep' actually, pour big drinks, lie back and remember what the glory of the city is while imagining it's opposite.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Rabbits in the Mist

Julie was singing 'Born Free' in the shower. That's how us city folk react to the undoubted challenges of being stuck up a mountain in West Cork for a week. Nature is dangerous to us, one false move and you've had it. So, understanding this, we did as little as possible but bake bread and cakes in the land of green bacon and emerald fields, emerald if you can see them, which most of the time you can't because of the rain. Oh how I loved that rain, not mere raindrops, but sheets of it, more like wet air! Clouds drift through your kitchen, and I sat there in that kitchen watching a rabbit soaking in the middle of the field all day wondering 'Why doesn't he go indoors?' then pondering, perhaps the warren is flooded, or perhaps he's the look out rabbit. Days and nights were played out to the mysteries of rain and our miraculous enclosure from it.
We played 'Escape from Colditz' every evening, which for us is as clever as chess, and I was always the German security. There's fuck all to do if you play the German in 'Escape from Colditz', you actually play your turn most of the time walking around in circles, so it suited me perfectly. Then of course, there is 'a moment of great excitement' and you get to shoot some escaper dead via playing your opportunity card, and that's the only way you can win. Julie escaped 3-1.
Meanwhile, in these fields where we were afraid of charging cows, on the TV (there was a TV) severe lack of imagination struck the urban poor. They made off with crap toasters stuck up their jumpers and burned down furniture warehouses- because they burn. It is appropriate to call this a kind of simulcrum of revolution, for in the end it simply re-enforced the status of the disgusting powers that be. Cameron's 'fight back' echoed through the loving rooms of every household, the rhetoric could not be resisted, and now, because we refuse to understand this kind of behaviour, we will criminalize it. I hear a woman got six months for looting six bottles of water (water!) that is the same as somebody who recently got done for holding a person in slavery. The price of freedom in this country is now round about £3.69.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Schools Out

It's not just that school's out, it's more that I've just heard School's Out on Planet Rock while cooking German fried potatoes (excellent- just slice the potatoes thin, fry with onion and mustard powder, dill and salt and pepper for 45mins) and it is one of the finest singles of all time. I don't know how Alice and Co did it, for they were notoriously crap, but I guess no matter how fucked up you are you can produce genius once or twice- Elected being the second fabulous exhibit, transfixing me when I was twelve or so, and my cool aunt from Texas sending me 'Elected' bumper stickers for the inside of my wardrobe door. Of course, being savvy if drunk, this Alice tune coincided with the Nixon election.
If that wasn't enough, Planet Rock next presented me with Rain by Status Quo, surely one of the most intellectually underrated bands of all time. Status Quo are like the ancient Greek architects, they knew what they had to do and just did it time and time again for ever and ever. Gradually came perfection, probably the opening salvo of 'Whatever you Want'.
Anyway school is out, so it's time away.

Secret life of what exactly?

Watching 'The Secret Life of Buildings' was awful. To see the world of architectural criticism reduced to a load of parlour games was embarrassing. Of course all the dreadful ideas must have been dreamt up by a bunch of equally dreadful media types who thought it was 'fun' to find a nice building 'Oooh..The Criterion' and a nasty one 'Ahhh......nasty basement' and dunk Tom Dykhoff in an ice cold bath in each one and see how long he'd last (not long).
Surely the secret life of buildings should be actually exposing the sheer heartbreaking misery of the architectural enterprise from the beginning of time. A certain trickiness in being the architect to Rameses to that of being stuck like a battery hen in a faceless office block in Fitzrovia. There could be good cameo interludes: Le Corbusier cross dressing at a party for instance, or Jim Stirling pissing against Paul Rudolf's windows, but unfortunately they just wanted party tricks, not stories.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Youth

We have a niece coming to stay, I think she's about fifteen, but I'm not sure. It throws us in to all sorts of slightly enjoyable quandries since we are not used to others about the place. Like for instance, what do they like to eat? Will they say everything is 'awesome' all the time? What will they think of all the stuff on our walls- especially the girl in the wheelbarrow holding a gun against the clown who's fucking her while wheeling her around? Can she watch Tv for long stretches of the evening? Can we? Will I fall over again dancing to 'Street Fighting Man? Do we have Coca Cola or should we encourage a slug of wine? It is a world of imponderables.
Scott says stock up on shaped chicken nuggets and ketamine and she'll be fine.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Paul Shepheard

Paul is a superb writer on architecture, the best of his generation I think. Three lovely books: 'What is Architecture?', 'The Cultivated Wilderness', and 'Artificial Love' prove it, they are an inspiration. So we went along to see him talk last night at the 'Longplayer' festival in docklands, which means a festival you can't find even with sat-nav in your taxi because the road system seems designed to throw you all over the place other than where you want to go via flyover and in circles around HSBC headquarters. Anyway, there we were on some wharf or another, with planes screaming overhead periodically.
He doesn't disappoint. When you eventually get there, there is certainly poetry. My problem is, am I in the mood for poetry? I first met Paul on a flight to Munster and we agreed a trickiness in flying over Germany, especially if you imagined your plane a Lancaster, but that's about it, he was very funny, and I buggered up a launch of his by talking about my own work rather than his by mistake, but I follow from a distance and via my students response to his texts.
Clearly something has happened to me, while I can seep into that silky world I started to get irritated. So I chirped up. Julie likes me to chirp up, she usually nudges me to do so as if thwacking a horse with a whip. The sort of thing I chirp up with these days is; 'Neoliberalist bullshit!'
Or words to the effect. I say:
'You can't ignore the 700,000 kids who died at Stalingrad on the the Russian side alone, people who died in ideological struggle - and say that no matter what happens to us hornbills will still roost dangerously on some island of Scotland!'..... 'We are not birds!!' I exclaim... 'If we are not here, the world no longer exists to us!'
It was the return of that Ian Sinclair moment. I am clearly troubled.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Hookers in Las Vegas

Woke up thinking about a couple of hookers in Las Vegas. It's good to have known a couple of hookers in Las Vegas, it made me smile. It's not as if I do it all the time, this was my first recollection in ten years. Was it Standal who said his finest memory in life was his first visit to a brothel? I can understand that. It was a poignant memory, not sordid in anyway at all, in fact the opposite really, touching. I remember Morgan getting drunk and saying The Shawshank Redemption was the best film ever made and you knew she meant it in every way. She looked like Stevie Nicks. We were sitting at a bar in Caesars, fending off a redneck. She wrote to me later. That's what I mean by touching not sordid. We actually exchanged addresses.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Writing on the Wall

Julie's gone out with an old friend returning from New York, which means, for me, a good dose of Keef's shepherds pie and Little Feat's 'Rock and Roll Doctor' just excellent, also 'Spanish Moon' off 'Feats Don't Fail Me Now' then a touch of Joe Satriani in his blue dream, then it will probably mature (!) to Rush and the crowd pleasing 'Spirit of the Radio', maybe ACDC live with 'Thunderstruck' later. I wish sometimes I could be more imaginative.
But, when I was in the White Horse yesterday staring at the MTV screen, I realized I have no clue about contemporary music at all. McLuhan was right about all this stuff, I can't get it because I don't get the technology that goes into it, let alone the sounds generated, which I can only categorize via genre, just as I can only say famous girls of the fifties; huge breasts, famous girls of the sixties; no breasts, famous girls today; bottoms. But no matter, I sit around watching Battlefield Detectives and think about the Romans.
Girl from New York apparently making headway with 3D photos which I don't understand either.
The excellent Dan sent me a message today from Beijing saying he's second in command of a project for a city for 42 million people in China. He's just got his degree. They might take him to Macao for fun with the authorities because he's from Hull. As a good Marxist he should absorb all information.
Writings on the wall ladies and gentlemen.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

McLuhan

Spent the morning ramping up 'cause and effect' 'We're not in the C16th' I said, 'it's not a case of divine wind' unfortunately mixing my metaphors. I was thinking about papyrus. Marshall McLuhan says that the Romans could build straight roads because they imported papyrus from Egypt and could hence make durable lightweight maps. Presumably you need maps to build straight roads. On straight roads you run chariots and march legions. Without straight roads (the Dark Ages- caused by Egyptian ban on papyrus exports!) you need cavalry, and for cavalry in heavy armour you need stirrups. Now to bring empires down to stirrups or lack of them is a bit questionable. However, sure thing the ancient Greeks didn't have papyrus he says, and didn't build roads in straight lines either. However they certainly did have chariots, so how do you square that? I thought Greece was just too hilly.
However I do believe in the more complex enquiry in to cause and effect. As I enjoyed refreshment in the White Horse, the ever reliable Lily said she 'wanted to go to California, join a commune and worship carrots'. I wondered if this didn't rather discriminate against other inhabitants of the vegetable patch, onions for instance, or broad beans, but she was having none of it.
'Tendrils' she said.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Quiet Coach

They should re-name the 'quiet coach' the 'confrontation coach'. We have yet to have ridden the railways in the sure knowledge of quietitude. Instead, we find ourselves in arguments, admittedly sometimes silent arguments with each other, but sometimes boiling over into stark confrontation with the young family playing snap, or the lady re-scheduling her precious fucking film shoot on her mobile phone. Why on earth, if you're a mum with three young shouting kids eager to go on holiday, did you book the quiet coach in the first place? I'm sure next time we will be hailed as heroes by the silent majority of 'quiet coach' dwellers as the quite coach militia. We should wear tee shirts. Or maybe, when it comes to the next booking, I'll just say 'Well do you fancy a little confrontation next Sunday darling?' Or would you prefer some peace and quiet in the noisy section?
We were only going to Peterborough, but I can assure you a weekend with mum and dad is exhausting work. Hence we snapped at the snap. Endless questions such as 'Do you have a whisk then?' are the sort of thing you get from elderly mums and dads, and then there's the endless 'Would you like some coffee?' when after about a million exclamations, they must know you don't touch the stuff. Or, when you retreat to the Garden Centre, 'Did you have a nice coffee?' 'No we went to the pub'. Still, it is their world, and we join in as best we can.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Soho today

Trying to write my history book in the mornings, I got to the Romans today, completing ancient Greece yesterday, and found myself juggling Asterix with Gibbon, Carry on Cleo and Up Pompeii! Ventured out to the West End as oft I used to do in search of less rarified air. The hairdressers next to the Coach and Horses has historically been most convenient, and I thought; 'A haircut always cheers you up' and 'a chance to cut loose like a dog off the leash' etc etc. After a couple of stops on the way (a dog has his lamp posts) I found myself back in the Coach anxious to see how new owners Fullers were doing, only to find the old manager Alistair still in charge and the place still bereft of carpets or anything or anybody hospitable. I don't know how he did it, manage to ruin a whole institution in such a short time. Anyway Mark was there still becoming an astrophysicist wearing a straw cowboy hat.
I braced myself for a visit next door, only to be comforted by the sight of Laila from Lithuania. If you are going to sit supine in anybodies chair (dentists/hairdressers/psychiatrists etc) I definitely prefer to be sure of the operators powers, and the lovely Laila not only looked as if she could pull a tractor (a look I've always liked) but had the most fantastic tits.
Suitably reclined, I watched her work away to create the most esteemed of victorian beards. Thankfully one part of Soho still works, but the rest, I guess I'm past it now, twenty years in the Coach was enough, let it go, to be honest I couldn't wait to get home.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Murdoch as Faust

Rupert Murdoch reminds me of my father. Watching him this afternoon, of course frail, but still thumping his hand on the desk continually, almost like he had some nervous affliction, not pretty, but you see, he's old, but when guys like him are old they don't stop, they get worse! His appearance told me that this is what he does on a day to day basis to everybody he encounters- thump the desk-still extolling his innocence, his righteousness, his roots, his belief, to everyone. There could be no better contemporary incarnation of a Faustian figure. Faustian figures need to read the story of Faust.
My father has never read a book as far as I know, I figure Rupert Murdoch has only ever read a newspaper. This indeed was 'his most humbling moment' but when your interest in the News of the World only counts for 1% of your empire, don't try and tell me you are not a total bastard when you peddle shit like Fox News.
So they all roll over as best they can, leaving the forensics to chase the real tale. It could be the real tale is something that most of us know but would rather not say, that the whole business is rotten to the core. If it is, and perhaps it has always been, only the radical perpetuation of an ideal of truth beyond what people 'believe' will suffice to draw us out of it, and it will be a planetary truth way beyond the contingences of present political shit.

Flakes

Little could put a smile on my face more than the thought of David Cameron squealing back to London with his sphincter firmly clenched at the thought that everything might possibly go totally tits up for his government of privilege. Especially since we spent most of the weekend in the dark because the local scaghead had whipped out our electricity supply isolators in desperation so he might sell the copper and buy one last shot of smack, and Tower Hamlets had outsourced all it's emergency services to totally flakey so called service providers, who in any reasonable world would be renamed service non-providers, who sit in vans in laybyes somewhere scratching their balls and finding each others jokes, practical or otherwise, utterly hilarious.
The unfortunate heroin addict, in any reasonable world should be looked after, given his heroin, cleaned up, given a room and care so that he might, just might, slowly get himself out of whatever hell he's in now. The conglomerate service non-providers, the Mears and Morrisons of this world, have grown too big to know anything about what they are doing at all, and probably spend all day fiddling the books while the non-operatives sit in their vans reading The Sun.
Two whole floors were out; families with babies, old people, those who don't know what day it is, those who can't speak English and don't know what the Council is. We phoned the council on the hour every hour (when we weren't sleeping) but by Monday morning, almost twenty hours later, Mears hadn't even heard of us.

Friday, 15 July 2011

LA Woman

Most rock and roll is about trying to die. If rock stars don't understand this they are deluded. Just listen to the Doors LA Woman with some kind of sensitivity. Trying to die and not succeeding is the key to teenage and other hearts. ROCK will disappear when it becomes ordinary or programatic. ROCK could be the last vestige of ancient greece, this ancient violence and duty and possible virtue.

Absurd Superstructure

How many standard performance indicators does it take to change a lightbulb? Following on from below, I read today that over the last thirty years, universities have increased their administrative staff by 85%, they have increased something called 'associated professional staff' by 240% and increased faculty teaching by a mere 51%. One again the ridiculous nature of our predicament is made clear, this is 'superstructure' that is absurdly unnecessary, simply representing 'everybody checking on everybody else' whilst in terms of production, the margins for profitability are so thin that we find the banks and media cheating to keep the ship afloat. But even at my university, we spend a whole two months out of the total academic year examining students. That leaves a rather small amount of time actually teaching them. With more regulation, demanded by the seemingly inevitable malpractice, this becomes a vicious circle.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Medievilism

Faster than I thought, we return to medievilism; the clean are dirty, the dirty are virtuous. Back then, the saints were filthy. Evil monsters lived in the sea, so cleanliness in general was suspicious. After another meeting today I can see it right before my eyes, those in the smart suits are those leading the charge to ruin everything in the name of all ducks set in the line, a corrupt line of course, but one that puts up a good face. Of course this has been happening for ages, and I'm thankful architectural departments in universities are most suspicious of such types, most resilient, seeing as all students and staff in architecture know it's best run on dirt. But it's going to very very hard to preserve this heritage.
On recovery from that meeting, I met a 'ducks in a line' merchant in the White Horse. Must be a decent chap because he was drinking himself sensible. He told me a few stories, all confidential of course, like the one about the 'dreamweaver' hired from California (where else?) for £7,000 a day by a government department, to well, facilitate 'well being'. When I come across these people and these figures, I know I'm a poor dirty wretch for sure.
And as I watch, over and over, the latest News Corp news, I realize moral indignation, the only emotion brought to the table, is not much of a tool to operate with. It should be Zizek and Badiou up there, scoffing at such 'moral indignation' and telling us exactly how it is- that a society gets what it deserves, that the system is bankrupt, not the bank, not the media company, not the country.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Wheeler Dealers

OK, so why do I find Wheeler Dealers interesting. Well for one, in this realm of invisible technology, the tall guy fixes cars up like you would like to yourself - it's nostalgic. Unlikely as it might sound, I have stripped engines and stuff, I've run my own motorcycles and fixed them in very strange circumstances in very strange places I can hardly remember, so it certainly appeals to me. It is a youthful thing to do, strip an engine or whatever, put it together again, ride off in to the sunset. Second, the cars are de-mystified in the process, you get to the essentials of the value of the car. But what is the value of the car? That's why you need the little guy; because the car has to be sold for a profit, so the balance between use and exchange value is somewhat volatile, and the little guy is just interested in the money and enthusiastic about the cars at the same time- the balance has to be struck- you love it and you have to sell it- a dichotomy perhaps. A happy ending is he loves the car and he also sells it. That's NOT what car/bike fans do. So you the viewer are the beneficiary here- at least in prospect. And they don't charge in the labour- they do it for love.

Salad Days are Over


I'm not sure how the term 'salad days' came about, but I can tell you that I fear as far as this correspondent is concerned, they're over. Academic meetings are never good for Paul kind, never ever, and this time came the realization that despite having grown up to write about little than sitting in pub and other amusements in the everyday realm of life, and believing my new boss supported such activities to the hilt, there may be a requirement for me to go backwards and write an 'academic paper'. I'll have to look on my cv to work out when I last wrote an academic paper. I wasn't much impressed by them and soon moved on to more interesting and less box ticking genres (writing for books/magazines) until I got pissed off with them as well and ended up being far too tempted by episodes of 'Wheeler Dealers' (Bond Bug today- COOL!!) and a good afternoon snooze/read with the classics to hand and, I guess, this little enterprise of blogging and the little books Julie and I publish ourselves. Bugger it. The machine flexes it's muscles once more.
At the end of my academic paper writing career I would simply have written a paper on 'Wheeler Dealers' itself, in fact I wrote quite a good paper on why architectural education is (while wonderful) essentially a waste of time in the most profound sense. But I can't go back to that. I suppose I could write about the perfect bacon sandwich.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Barbarella

Barbarella must be one of the most preposterous films ever made. I stayed up last night goggle eyed at the idea that Roger Vadim could have got away with it. I mean, the discussions:
'So what's the plot?'
'Well Barbarella, whose a piece of space easy and incidentally my wife, finds herself on the planet Splodge, and is variously fiddled around with in and out of lots of costumes.....er.......not much else'
'What about the other characters then?'
'Well we've got a blind angel with erectile dysfunction, Anita Pallenberg playing an evil witch because she's an evil witch....but would you believe it she sounds like Fenella Fielding in Carry on Screaming, and a bloke who looks like Keith Moon to play a bloke like Keith Moon who plays a orgasmatron thing which Jane breaks because......well.......she's insatiable........as I well know'.
'OK sounds great.....go ahead, here's a few million quid.'
Those were some days. But maybe we could do with a bit more utterly ridiculous space fantasy. We seem to have lost our touch that way, it's all become a bit too real and a bit too disheartening.

(PS But I can't help thinking about Sigourney Weaver in Galaxy Quest)

Friday, 8 July 2011

Postscript

Please see postscript below.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Fuck You Murdoch

That bag of shit the News of the World has closed. Spirits lift: Van Halen's Jump goes on the system loud. Those guys were genuine. I do the washing up, clearing up the house just as you should at such news. I just hope my neighbours understand that playing 'Drop Dead Legs' at high volume represents pure Marxist Leninist political exuberance (However I doubt it , they are already pissed off with the other neighbours praying to Allah.)
This is great news, the closing of a shit newspaper, and don't be daft I know it will be replaced by more shit news and 'we are all just pissing in the wind' (Neil Young On The Beach Ambulance Blues- fabulous) but just give me that moment to say 'Fuck You Murdoch'. He must have realized he had one hell of a fire in the hole.

Postscript: It is interesting that the banks were too big to fail, and now the media is too big to fail. Despite widespread understanding that illegal practices have been almost universal in both cases. Perhaps that's because it is the only way to make money as we crawl toward the end of times. To be frank it makes the Borghias look like Everybody Loves Raymond, it makes Watergate look like some kind of minor classroom prank. Here we have the press, the politicians, the police, all in it up to their necks, it is absolute corruption as a way of life, it is sordid and miserable. It makes Bellousconi look righteous. The scum has risen to the top, largely because the public wanted them to, they bought the newspapers, they voted in the politicians, they believe the judiciary, they think the police are good, they will turn a blind eye to everything as long as there are 99p fish fingers in Iceland.
But I'm not going to let it get me down, but if Mr Milliband had any balls, he could have these people.

Playboy Club


My review of the new Playboy Club in Mayfair is presently in the July Architectural Review. Not surprisingly you can't buy the Architectural Review in Bethnal Green so I haven't read it yet, also I doubt many of you subscribe, and on top of that I'm absolutely certain it will have been hacked about by an intern or two. However, of course, that is their job. So here it is in the original for your hopeful pleasure:

It’s easy to feel despondent when you walk down Park Lane. The tyranny of opulence, a low millage Lamborghini for £199,000 or a white Range Rover that looks like it’s been crossed with a Gucci handbag all unspeakable, and I’m escorting my somewhat flagging middle-aged mojo for a spot of re-vitalization at the newly opened Playboy Club. Playboy has certainly managed to put a twinkle back in it’s own eye. Playboy started with ‘Heff’ at the kitchen table with a big idea and a naked pin up of Marilyn Monroe in 1953, grew to make Playboy one of the more radical publications of an era, spread itself to kooky mansions and into aeroplanes and hideaways of rock and roll largesse, started gaming clubs for everybody who thought he was James Bond (I am of the age where my only slightly older colleagues married Playboy bunnies) and then retired to the surer ground of broadcast media as feminism grasped the physically preposterous politics of girls dressed as rabbits.

As I strolled in through the discrete glass portal, full of these imaginings and half memories, I was rather hoping to be met by a buxom playmate who would nuzzle up and gently sooth my battered ego over several cocktails until I tottered out, temporarily sated, back into the bruising metropolis. So what if it was five thirty in the afternoon.

How old fashioned I am. I was greeted by half a dozen executives for this and that, including the highly obliging architects from Jestico and Whiles. This was not rumpled suit territory; this was corporate new tomorrow. Playboy is back with a brand stronger than ever in the franchise business. We have Playboy Las Vegas, Macau, and Miami, there will no doubt be Moscow and Cancun, all franchises under the wing of umbrella casino operations. Playboy now sells style like Lacoste but with no merchandise other than itself. There was the US representative for Playboy, a man of smart dark suit, white open necked shirt and the more than a smidgen of essence of Daniel Craig or Jude Law. He reminded me of those young entrepreneurs, living the dream at both ends, who grace the pages of LA Style. There were PA for the club and PA the architects, there are many stories to be communicated about this new brand, this new atmosphere, this new experience. There are also plenty of questions that nobody wanted to answer. That is the post-modern business world for you.

The design, which you might be able to detect down into the microfibres of the carpets, bares the theme of heaven and hell, with a side of Alice in Wonderland (disappearing down a rabbit hole). It is louche, louche, louche and nothing, nothing is left to accident. Cigar smoke curls on the ceiling, but as an effect. There are monograms on the walls and silhouettes in the lifts, there are series of fabulous bar displays. Sumptuous ice buckets descend into tables. It is not the memorabilia store of the Hard Rock CafĂ©, and neither is it the sexualized warehouse of Spearmint Rhino. The architects flexed their subtlety muscles just as far as they could, squeezing themselves into every detail, with printed movable translucent fabric screens around the fine dining area that offer, when in action, rather a nice parody of Maurice Binder’s intro sequences to the Bond films. The toilets offer bewildering complexity worthy of Lewis Carroll. There are some large retro prints on the wall, but only around the comparatively neutral staircase linking the two floors. They have resisted the museum, instead this is all about detail, nuance, accent and atmosphere; an architecture which includes the minimum two inch high heels for the bunnies and possibly their perfume too.

So of course that restaurant is not serving Bond’s favourite spaghetti bolognaise washed down with a rough Chianti, it is serving fusion food. Fusion food is what you get in Mayfair, just as Park Lane symbolizes everything and nothing simultaneously. Bond was a phantom of already bygone Britain. International late capitalism replaced him in as many guises as you like, and you will no doubt find them all in the Playboy club. To paraphrase AA Gill, you’ve couldn’t be shabby here, you’d let down your car.

And what of the burning question; the contemporary relevance of those bunnies? The answer could not be easier; with the current fashion for the burlesque, what was considered degrading in ancient history is now easily considered rather cool retro chic. Four thousand ladies applied for the eighty-two bunny costumes.