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


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, 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


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'.


'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'.


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

Monday, 12 September 2011


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


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


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!'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


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.


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.