Sunday, 30 January 2011
I got the funk. Sitting in the Birdcage as usual on a Sunday, content since I'd finally filed my fucking taxes, I stared up at the screen as the SOS Band played 'Just be Good to Me', a long forgotten classicagoogoo. Now you may think of me as a Planet Rock kinda guy, but nobody can resist the FUNK, and it brought an avalanche of memories; Fatback band, Gap Band, Brothers Johnson's 'Strawberry Letter 23', Funkadelic !! (futons, big amp combos in your otherwise empty bedroom, blown speakers after parties) But the best think about FUNK, the funniest thing about FUNK, is that the main lyric in the best funk is the word OWW! Pick any of the classic Johnny Guitar Watson albums and the main lyric is OWW! It's OWW! then OWWW! then Oww! some more, all helping along the funk of course. Saw JGW once, he played for twenty minutes thinking he'd played for two hours (typical for the time) He died on stage in Japan not so long ago, his last words being 'Ain't that a Bitch'. Way to go.
Saturday, 29 January 2011
I watch the revolution on TV. I'm sure everybody in any seat of power in the USA, in Israel, in Saudi Arabia, is crapping themselves. This is the massive difference between having and not having made manifest on the street- one of the four horsemen in Zizek's apocalypse. It is rising commodity prices (wheat, beans, rice) meeting no jobs. It is climatic crisis meeting no jobs meeting autocratic government. And good luck to them, but this is only the beginning of one big fucking mess. Keep watching the weather.
Thursday, 27 January 2011
So mad is this world that Hackney councillors, in their infinite wisdom, decided last night not to close the existing strip joints on The Shoreditch High St and Hackney Road (phew!) Instead they said that at least in the case of the wonderful White Horse, that they would have to 'reduce the number of doors to the street' and 'put the striptease in the basement'. This is the first time I've come across such a body literally driving other bodies it can't bare to think about underground (although 75% of respondents in their consultation process said 'NO' to their NIL policy on such entertainments). They are clearly morons. This is clearly an illustration of just how stupid our rulers have become, no matter how low on the ladder. So if people declare they don't agree with you, make it impossible for the places to operate with a visit from Health and Safety. I suggested I'd happily mock up the ground floor to the street as a Parisian cafe if they wanted, just to make it look nice, but I'm not sure Sue the landlord could afford the fire escapes.
It's pathetic, really pathetic.
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
In a desperate attempt for popularity, The Trench has instigated 'Poker Night' on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I was caught up in the preparations while recovering from a whole day reading crappy dissertations by students who should know better than to write whatever they wrote with re-runs of The Professionals (very funny) in the background. Julie turned up from her own crappy day with the equally daft and we watched the developing scene, a cross between Binion's Horseshoe Las Vegas and Old McDonald's Farm (but nothing like the above, which seems the perfect mix - rather the opposite) with the fresh arrival of fat people and very thin people with a clearly considerable social problems and interest in securing the big money and very intent on the seriousness of it all (well if you can win £70 in an evening for a £10 drop go ahead.)
I said, 'Will the bar staff be wearing sequins and cowboy hats?' which gained zero response in the terminally unenthusiastic Trench where Keith the landlord was determined for us to watch a large bit of 'Coast' on the big screen before Arsenal play Ipswich. God help us I thought, no hats, no cleavage, no high heals, no 'buttock decollage', just nerds on the run.
But back to those students, who should begin to understand that there is something called beginning to understand the world you are in (takes a little work, say reading 'Marx for Beginners' for starters- and thats done in cartoons) rather than just sucking it up like a fucking goldfish thinking you HAVE A FUCKING OPINION WORTH A DAMN while listening to R&B fuck music sung through a computer and sitting your arse on Facebook.
Monday, 24 January 2011
Woke up this morning singing Eddie and The Hot Rod's (sic!) to myself. Amazing I could remember all the lyrics to 'Do Anything You Want To Do..'(1977) and could sing them in the shower. It is a sure sign I am feeling better, even if it is a little strange what floats in to your head first thing in the morning (I try and blot out the Bee Gees).
Friday, 21 January 2011
The steroids are not so great either, at least in their side effects. Julie informed me in the pub that she had read the small print (which of course I would never read) and they include 'suicidal tendencies' and from my own point of view I'm not looking forward to my third sleepless night of thrashing around in the midst of no doubt ball healing but mental trauma between 3 and 9am, seeing my whole life before me played out like some kind of Terry Gilliam cartoon, and waking only to sleep till noon . It's like taking LSD, including the insects.
Meanwhile, in the day, when the bastard stuff hasn't yet kicked in brain wise, you sit in your dressing gown scrutinizing the amazing activity of your balls, which suddenly become alive with a mind of their own. If you stare at them they shrink like some kind of sea creature, and glance away and they are back having a party. I've never seen anything like it. Eventually, your balls shrink from grapefruit to wallnuts. I don't know where I am with them.
However, put Scott's brilliant drawing framed up on the wall today, and such art brings solace. Something has to.
Thursday, 20 January 2011
I should have known that evoking the ghost of Jeffrey Bernard, whose sobriquet was 'Jeffrey Barnard is Unwell' in the Spectator when he was 'indisposed', would bring disaster. And waking up in the middle of the horrors of the night to find your balls the size of Texas and your wanger inflating like a balloon was not good at all. It was clear a visit to the doctors was urgent, or even a visit to the A&E.
Now getting me to the doctors is a bit like dragging your aging, wily collie to the vet. I do not like it. You might have to attempt to con me with savaloys to do it, because I know it's possibly the end and I need you to help me come to terms with it nicely. I pretty much expect the wrath of god to descend and life to vanish. So at least I always dress smart in the hope that they will recognize 'well he looks pretty respectable', that 'at least he can walk' and not send me for incarceration.
Dr Sami was more than nice, and I'm now on steroids which make me feel a bit funny, pills that accompany the steroids and more pills help those pills, and I have to sleep a lot.
Thankfully I have to report they seem to be working. And by the way, the cause was 'an allergy'. Now an allergy to what? Life? Work? World? David Cameron? I certainly don't think it's washing powder.
Monday, 17 January 2011
Woke to great itching of the feet, and fire in my balls. Flaubert commented that as soon as we are born things seem to fall off, but they fall off quicker at 50 I tell you. However I'm not sure I'd want to recite these symptoms to my doctor without saying first to Julie 'It's not what you think'. So the day started badly on all fronts; grey beyond grey, rain, itching, balls on fire, prospect of trying to avoid everybody at the university, the sort of day you dress the best you can to secure your soul.
However I scuttled in and out of the university without turning any lights on, and at opening time in the Duke of York Todd (an excellent barman, streets ahead of the idiots we find in the Trench of Despair over here) informed me that it was 'officially' the most depressing day of the year. I was right in tune.
So I sat and Todd says things like 'Would you like another drink?' a phrase entirely unheard of in the Trench, and I said thanks. And then a chirpy student comes in who anyday now is probably going to scoot across Africa in a 'C Type' Land Rover (with his dad) to solve the world's evolutionary crisis, and he cheers me up because it's hard not to be cheered up by such a fellow, and it's hard not to be cheered up by fellows who actually deliver some work (even late work).
Later, the DJ at the White Horse offer's me his sandwich. This is really quite something for it is a top quality sandwich from the Conran emporium over the road, and then 'Daisy' dances to Imagination's eighties classic 'Music and Lights'.
Life really does look up in the afternoon.
Saturday, 15 January 2011
Paid a fortune for an original copy of 'The Society of the Spectacle', Guy Debord's famous text. Probably this is a total waste of money. Reading the first paragraph on how we live in a series of representations without any reality made me nod off just as I did when I first read the bloody thing twenty years ago. The fact that the book was written forty years ago and we are still here surely belies the premise, for a lot of 'reality' has happened in the mean time for sure. However, this little book is cute, and we probably do live in a hall of mirrors of representation. Historically, in my little life I have much preferred them over anything authentic, and I have never understood what might be authentic, except, that a world of cheats and liars and exploiters is probably not so great, and a world of laughter and honesty and idiocy is probably better. So I'm probably well keen on a bit of the authentic, with an eye for a bit of the pornographic on the side.
All fools out there ashamed in their beds, howling and crying, afraid of brown envelopes, I salute you.
Friday, 14 January 2011
I had a miraculous moment the other day while napping in bed and browsing the book which has been such a disastrous influence on my life; Jeffery Bernard's 'Low Life'. The book itself is so utterly hilarious and so utterly real and so utterly miserable- 'a suicide note in weekly installments' - that I recommend it to you all (probably it's hard to get- typical of fucking publishers- really it should be obligatory on every school reading list, like 'The Cruel Sea' or 'A Kind of Loving')
The moment, however, the bit which had me smart from my slumbers (for I hadn't noticed it before) was when he describes his preparations for a visit to Bristol University, an event which he is nonplussed about in the first place (for he has 'nothing to say'). The thing is, I was one of the audience when Jeff came to Bristol University and that event changed my life. ( I was in love with the oppo of the Literary Society who'd invited him by mistake- thats why you love people, and that's why Jeff didn't understand why he was there).
How amazing is that doesn't say the half of it. Pissed (long train ride) he talked of women, horses and suicide. With that, he ruined the rest of my life. For me; twenty years spent in the Coach and Horses at least, and the terminal inability to comprehend the sort of consensus outlined below, and the sort of idiots who are terminally indisposed to humanity, and a desire to sit at a typewriter instead. Cheers.
When you wake up in the bleary morning thinking of specialist Mastermind subjects to fox the nation such as 'The Nuances of Smoked Eel', 'Cloud Formations I View Through My Window' and 'My Dreams' you know you are on the edge of unhinged. However I tend to like the slightly unhinged. It's probably why I hate the 'crit' system employed by schools of architecture. It's probably why I love great art. But the spectacle of four or more 'academics' appearing to find consensus and legitimation in front of some innocent soul could only, as a thinking man, send you to the edge of madness. There is a touch of bullying about it, about the very situation, and that is the opposite of the acquisition of knowledge, which by definition is the signposting of individuals in pursuit comprehension amidst almost irreconcilable difficulty.
Thursday, 13 January 2011
Is The Door's LA Woman the best piece of rock every made? For some of us yes. My old friend friend Sean who these days heads up FAT certainly thinks so, if he comes over, it's always his first request. Alright, personally, I think 'Street Fighting Man' is the best ever record, followed by LA Woman and followed even closer by 'Roadhouse Blues'. Why? We were in Paris a few weeks ago and the hotel was next to Pere Lachaise cemetery where big Jimbo is interned. You mooch around in the cold on the hill and follow the crowd to find the tiny spot, it is almost instinctive. Even now, Morrison's grave flocks with fairly daft folks chucking him cigarettes and generally being lack lustre. However, Morrison was something extremely special in Rock 'n' Roll, mainly for he fact he clearly anticipated his own death. Listen to LA Woman and you can't hear anything else, he's jousting with it, it is really the last dance, and that, my friends is one hell of an art.
A day reviewing First Year, well they weren't too bad at all. But after it it's definitely time for a mind numbing RUSH moment. I have to say if I were to suddenly transform in to a rock musician it would be Neil whoever he is, the drummer in Rush, the best drummer and the worst lyricist of all time (words are so hard!!) I wish I could make this post more intellectual.
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Maybe it's the nasty little rash on my foot or reading Nietzsche, or watching too many documentaries on Bomber Command, but I'm still feeling shitty. Tomorrow however I must return to the cradle of knowledge and review First Year projects on the Villa Shodan, the Maison de Verre and the Villa Mairea. Well the first is the result of years of 'patient research' and is probably consummate, but also possibly uninhabitable, the second is definitively the result of severe psychosis on the part of both client and architect and is absolutely uninhabitable unless you are in a film by Roman Polanski, and the third is probably the result of feeling fairly shitty as the Finnish do most of the time and probably quite nice to live in with the appropriate triple filtered accessories.
Judging by the essays I was reading between times yesterday, the students are feeling pretty shitty too, and this is encouraging. It is clear that for the most part, they find it unbearable that they are not allowed to understand what's really going on. Fuck it takes a long time and I tell you you are no better off at fifty than at twenty, however, somehow, the long effort brings rewards. For instance, in reading Nietzsche with some pleasure wearing the world's fluffiest dressing gown with a bracing glass of brandy and lemonade in the morning. That isn't bad. It's better than being Bill Oddie or Tony Robinson.
Tuesday, 11 January 2011
Feel shitty today, really shitty. Everybody has the right to feel shitty once in a while. So I'll sit pretending to read 'Beyond Good and Evil' and not watching 'Babestation' interspersed with 'Perry Mason' through the afternoon and feel shitty. I'm sure they will soon outlaw shitty. The line manager will say 'You felt what???' even though everybody knows what shitty is, it's just nobody wants you to feel shitty, nobody wants to acknowledge such a thing (especially Nazi authoritarians - everybody read some Hans Fallada for scary parallels with our own times!) not even after all the noblest minds of the last two thousand five hundred years have thought and thought and thought about feeling shitty.
I shall from now on champion feeling shitty, you students out there, all you have to do is come to me and say 'well I felt shitty' and I'll go 'Fine, join the revolution!' adding 'Well just how shitty do you feel?' which could make for some interesting answers.
Sunday, 9 January 2011
So Lady GaGa as 'creative director' of Polaroid (this is a bit like making Tommy Lee an executive of Jack Daniels) has inspired sunglasses that, essentially, take pictures of herself (as she says-illustrated by the use of mobile phone cameras at her concerts) and then display the results on the sunglasses themselves, presumably meaning GAGA would enjoy, wearing her own sunglasses by polaroid in the concert, an infinite arena of images of herself by infinite mirrorship. She must be squealing with delight.
You cannot avoid comparison with the original image to the cover of Guy Debord's 'Society of the Spectacle' (look it up). It's fucking happened!!
I suppose walking around Tesco's in Lady GaGa's sunglasses will make many young people happy to pronounce 'I'm walking around Tesco's!' on the face of the same sunglasses (Like we are all supposed to care?) However, it is the natural extension of Twitter and so on, but with less imagination than 'I'm having a shit and I'm worried about the blood (Kingsley Amis).' It is more 'Look at me!' - even if I'm just shopping in Tesco's!' And for a man of my generation, it sucks. Sunglasses used to hide, now they profess.
Queen at least wrote Radio GaGa ironically.
Thursday, 6 January 2011
Sunday, 2 January 2011
I admit I haven't been watching my team of late, just listening on the radio. But today in the Birdcage I was transfixed once again, and so were the rest of them. For at least 60 minutes my team of forty years was woeful, amateur, almost comically inept. I could not believe what I was watching, how the wheels had well and truly fallen off, how glory turns to dust, and, most importantly, I began SHOUTING again. They don't like swearing in the old fashioned Birdcage, but I couldn't help it, most others couldn't either. Simplistic discourse as follows:
'WHO ARE YOU!?'
'WHO ARE YOU!!!!!?'
'I'm the landlady, shut up'
(But with worse language)
Then of course the tragedy of life would play itself out in front of our eyes. Terry scores the obvious winner with a minute of so to go, Terry is king once again, Terry the saviour; tears of redemption. They have found themselves once more, they hug the coach, they nearly knock him over, such is the relief. Then of course Villa score a sitter. Oh John Terry's face, my face, everybody's faces. Shakespeare couldn't have written better hubris. And with that, now with my team as definite underdroggs and the affirmation of the ancient gods, I regained my faith in football.
(PS My dad supports Aston Villa, he's 89)
(PPS That's me with my dad's 'works' rose growing cup, curiously modeled on the FA cup c1970)
Saturday, 1 January 2011
It is clear that I seem to dance with glee through days others find interminably miserable. This grey, calm, cold, day was music to my ears.
As I thought about it, especially when Julie and I broached such subjects in the pub, it was clear that Julie likes miserable films, while I might find fortitude in miserable life. This was an interesting discussion. For instance, when it comes to films, I can guarantee that for Julie only the most miserable, slow and desperate films, films where nothing happens for hours on end may bring joy. But for me, it's clear I enjoy the real thing in the atmosphere around me for as long as the day will last. She enjoys it by proxy, and there is nothing wrong or inauthentic about this. To be honest, it just makes us laugh!
But there are levels of misery in film. Julie described tonight's showing of 'Forgetting Sarah whoeveritis' starring Russell Brand as 'silly miserable' That may mean some notion of 'California miserable' which is misery within it's impossibility, hence immense neurosis (If I were Russell's therapist I'd ask him to bask in this notion a little). This is very different to Finnish misery for instance (which I have recently understood there may even be a gene for). Aki K (famous Finnish Film Director) burst into tears the moment he met an old friend of mine-who loved a vodka bottle up her arse -who was supposed to interview him in The French House one morning, the vodka was flowing way before noon. Humans are very curious creatures, read your Freud!
England's misery is dripped in either end of Empire or Mike Leigh or the terrible performances of the national football team, and is necessarily dunked in nostalgia. Russia's misery is being perennially one step from barbarism forever, and Americas by just being squashed by fuckheads in the name of freedom.
New Years Day is the best day of the year. There is an air of complete calm, and you haven't fucked anything up yet. This peace will of course soon be ruined. However it has to be savoured while it lasts.
We went for a desolate walk in Haggerstone park, grey, empty save for a few folks with dogs.
Very best wishes for 2011 to all.