Sunday, 30 June 2013

Mumford and Sons

Well, just Coldplay for rustics.

The Stones at Glastonbury

I've always thought, at least since those first doses of Gimme Shelter or Street Fighting Man, fought out across suburban living rooms at seventeen wafting long scarves and doing Jagger's moves and colliding with G-Plan; that the Stones told you how to do just about everything, even if it ended up a house extension in Clapham.
I think this is still the case.
One of the loveliest things about staying up to watch them this evening was that image of Keef not unlike a wonky building with a paunch, unconcerned for anything but his own little moments, the parts he knew how to play so well and those moments (and they are just moments) he gets to play on top and under and all through and those moments he doesn't play at all (which appears, rather delightfully, to be quite a lot of the time). That man knows the meaning of architecture alright, he understands the feel of it,  the way it can piece together, when to play and not to play. He once said; 'If I'm dancing it's either going very well or very badly'. Too right. Anybody who takes to the stage with any passion understands that one.
I LOVED watching the Stones tonight, I loved the fact that they cared but did not, that Mick Taylor came in, and that it was all....well what you might expect, but they deserve it. They stand for stuff that is not so much 'dope', as 'gas'! Above, Ronnie Wood, from his Twitter or whatever.
Meanwhile I also loved Primal Scream, or rather Bobby Gillespe's excellent version of the Stones as the warm up. I thought his perfect puce suit was, well, sort of affectionate, very smart.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

On Method

They always ask you about your methodology, they always do. And it always makes me ill to admit I haven't got one. It gives me a pain in the neck. To admit that my method might approximate more to rummaging around in the attic, or to a delight in spontaneity, or to the rather tricky business of sticking together words on paper or sentiments from the rostrum to make effective stories (which means so many of my students lecture notes are haunted by expletives) might be bad. Weirdly I know it isn't.
One student told me the other day; that she had found a set while rummaging in her attic, and had kept them, just for the expletives. I found some joy in that, it eased the pain in my neck.
It's all a search for something. I never give out those 'unit evaluation forms' either, that's a bit embarrassing too. If I was to be asked by those with furrowed brow, I would just have to admit that I just don't think they are very rock'n'roll; that it's a bit peculiar to ask an audience after a couple of hours of attempted inspiration: well can you all go off now and evaluate exactly just how inspirational I was! In general, after performances which are any good, even those which are a bit duff, such stuff is embarrassing. That of course, to many an academic ear, is very arrogant indeed. Personally I reply I'm sick and tired of a culture which has decided you can't even buy anything on Ebay without having to state you enjoyed the experience.
I've got a morning off between examinations and meetings and I need to nurse my pain in the neck, so I read the poems of Emily Dickinson, and I look carefully at the sketchbooks of Le Corbusier and I wrestle with the pain of Louis Sullivan all in the hope my pain will go away. All of them hated the academy, and all of them were brilliant.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Tabloid Press

For the benefit of Daily Mirror readers who today believe that a young Maths teacher killed his fifteen year old lover, he didn't. If anybody killed anybody it was the mother who 'killed' her relationship with her daughter by setting the forces of Interpol or whoever in a pan European hunt for a daughter who skipped off with her lover in a way that lovers have done for centuries.
One of the interesting things about the tabloid press is it tries very hard not to say anything. In this case it makes out the mother to be reasonable. In general you can't easily work out, for instance, if Murdoch is interested in politics or not, despite his enormous influence. That's the trick. For millions of readers the appearance of balance lets them rest safely back on their own preconceptions with nothing to worry about. In fact, the British press tries very hard to make sure nobody thinks at all, or reassures them that if they are for a moment caught out by events, their preconceptions are just fine. Since the preconceptions have been built up steadily via decades of misinformation this might be seen as a problem.
Certainly in this case, the baying of the masses for what might as well be the lynching of the unfortunate lover is callous beyond belief, and anybody who thinks things are ever going to work out in that particular family after this ridiculous episode is an idiot.
However, in the USA things may be even worse. I read last week that viewers of FOX news (a Murdoch channel) are deemed more stupid than people who don't watch the news at all.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Giving the Game Away

There are particular phrases of insouciant evil or just plaintive agony that hit between the eyes. Here's one from the Nazis:  'We are going to shoot you now, in family groups'.
Here's another, not quite a phrase, but a story unbearably true, that of the seventies Hollywood film director who decided one day to commit suicide by swimming out to into the Pacific, but couldn't find the right trunks to buy when he went out shopping. How desperate and brilliant and all encompassing is that!
PS: How about this? Can any dictator be taken seriously after calling his eastern headquarters 'The Wolf's Lair'? Surely those commanders must have made many jokes at Hitlers ridiculous 'look I'm a wolf!' posturing, it sounds like a very bad Iron Maiden album.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Please Excuse the Lack of Posts

It's the end of year, and therefore politic to shut up and carry on; you get aches and pains, your stomach knots up, all because those bastards confused knowledge with money, in fact they confused everything with money. That was a really bad idea. Soon be back.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

How to Understand Work vs Product

I was thinking some more about The Eagles and some more about Steely Dan, and I ended up figuring, suddenly awake at around four thirty this morning; what if I tried to apply the theories of the Production of Space as espoused by Henri Lefebvre, to the music of these particular groups; a Marxist criticism of MOR! (See post below)
The division, if there is one (it is somewhat unclear) between work and product is something that Lefebvre tries to work out. Coolly, I have a simple illustration. We should think of the music of The Eagles as product, it reproduces itself, it enjoys competition, it excels, but we might still think of the music of Steely Dan as work, for whilst the mechanisms for it's production were peculiar and indeed obsessively repetitive, they are certainly not to be confused with repetition itself.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Take it Easy Rimbaud

I was gripped by the Eagles film shown over the weekend on TV. I've never been a fan, they were way too stale for me even in 1977. That's saying something. I liked Dire Straits, Little Feat, Steely Dan..and the Doobies if I wanted cowboy outfits. But The Eagles are important, not least, for those involved, in creating the biggest selling record of the twentieth century (above). Last night David Geffin described Don Henley as a 'malcontent' and when Henley wanted to leave Asylum in his solo years, apparently sued him for $30 million. That seemed not only a little excessive, but a bit weird, and it might be pertinent to any discussion of what The Eagles, well, mean.
After all it was Geffin who traded malcontent, there's Joni, Jackson Browne, all of them on Asylum. I guess he was real pissed at a real malcontent rather than one who just mewed about it. Not that Henley seems a real malcontent at all, he did not, could not, change the world as Jim Morrison had, the flawed genius who inherited (or assumed) the mantle of Rimbaud. Don's songs of malcontent, after all, are excellent; Dirty Laundry, Boys of Summer, Age of Innocence, all terrific. Jim's are not, they are definitively inconsistent. The point is Don couldn't be real no matter how he tried because the real no longer existed by '75. The reason The Eagles sound so much like a business is that they were a business, but a business that really believed in it's own authenticity, a business that might be valued at approximately $30 million, and by last last night's showing, rather tiresomely still is. As such they are truly great, but they are hyperreal. And they are really significant; they prefigure everything else going the same way.
Now I'm not moaning about this, it's just a fact of life as we live it, we have to live, make the best of it, but it does rather put in to perspective why I might have intuitively liked the Steely Dan of the same period more (still the most deceptively subversive material you might hear in a decent cocktail lounge) and took a long time to appreciate the true sardonic quality of Randy Newman, whose
Short People (1977) I'm still inclined to sing to myself walking down the street.
However on checking the sleeve notes of Little Criminals, the album, I note with sinking heart The Eagles might as well have been Randy's backing band. Then I listen to it. There's one track where Newman shows he knows the harmonies are too perfect; 'Rider in the Rain' a parody in itself of course, has that moment when Newman leads them in with 'Take it boys...' he might as well have winked at them.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

The Open Hand

I think it might take a lot of time to understand Le Corbusier's open hand monument at Chandigarh. Of course, it's easy to to say, yep, giving and receiving, all of that, but really do we get it? Two things have make me think about it recently, firstly that when Le Corbusier was drawing his open hands, his wife Yvonne was probably making fists, she would die in 1957, famously cantankerous, fed up and inclined  toward the pastis. But he loved her all the same. Julie has started making fists too, she does it almost automatically, we joke about it, I prize her hands back open, then she even clenches her toes. I guess we get angrier as we get older. 
Then there is our all pervasive grab, the money grab, the steel, the catch it while you can, which seems the dynamic of our neoliberalist age. Indeed, in our lowest moments, it seems the only mechanism that animates us. Is everybody now just in it for the money? It's that or they're hanging on by their fingernails. What seems the purpose?
I had also not seen this drawing before, nor enjoyed Le Corbusier revived on YouTube, where he explains that the Open Hand monument was purposely set aside from the apparatus of state, that the hand moved like vane in the wind, and that the pit was for contemplation and debate about what might be real, and that there are always two sides (in this case obliquely set) to every argument. Indeed, I think he even used the word 'real'. What we are in now is not real, that's for sure, it's everyman and woman for themselves, and that should lead us to look very fondly back on Le Corbusier's idealism.

How not to Interview a Porn Star

The thing that prompted my nostalgia yesterday (see below) may have been more obvious than I thought. Lacey happens to be the spitting image of porn star Jill Kelly, who I interviewed many years ago when she was riding the wave. Jill Kelly Productions has gone the way of many a porn business I believe- bankrupt as a result of free porn on the Internet, but I dug the interview out. It was never published, largely because my editor wished I could sound a little less like a lovesick puppy dog. It is embarrassing for sure, and a lesson to all those who think interviews can carry information; because my performance was certainly limited. However Jill Kelly is still great. I post it as a period piece of mild interest to aficionados, and for educational purposes.

Jill Kelly Interview.

Date: Deleted

Lots of ringing tones, messages etc later

PD            We saw you being interviewed at the AVN awards. You looked fantastic!

JK            Well thank you!

PD            We're interested in the presentation of the company

JK            The actors have residuals. Some companies have done this for certain girls on certain movies. Even as a contract girl you get paid x amount of money and that's it. But mainstream people constantly get cheques. It's motivation for the talent  and it's fair you know!

PD            So is it like being a Hollywood star when you get a percentage of the movie's profits.

JK            Exactly, it's setting standards for people , you know, later down the line.

PD            You come over as a female orientated company. Does that give you a lot of headway in a man based world?

JK            Well I think in this business women have a lot of power! More than the average job! They can pick and choose what they do and what they get paid and stuff. You still ht some firewalls. It's kind of hard to be female and be respected as much as a male- you know what I mean? The transition from being the talent to being the boss is really hard. It's very hard for me to direct anybody because either I'm seen as too nice or too mean! There's no in between you know.

PD            Do you have a drive to shift the industry in some way- open up new areas?

JK            They only thing I'd like to really change is that I'd like for the girls and the guys to have a future. You can be in the business ten years and if you weren't wise with the money and invest and taken care of till you're done and then everybody knows who you are where are you going to get a job? So that's where I think that it's certainly sad to have the top stars that unfortunately didn't manage there money correctly and then.. nothing!

PD            That's terrible!

JK            It's horrible - It's disgusting!

PD            I think it's a hard industry to be in

JK            There are some great things about it and there are some bad things about it. The bad things are more or less people sitting in their ivory towers. The talent is all at work and they're not getting compensated. It's unfortunate and sickening and bad but it's the nature of the business and even if there was a union of talent it would never work because there will always be somebody else round the corner who will work cheaper.

PD            So what are your particular ambitions for JKP. Where would you like to be in ten years time?

JK            In ten years I'd really like Haven, my contract girl, to be running the company. And I'd like to have a little sports bar!

PD            You'd have a sports bar!!!

JK            YES! A dream I'm a southern cowgirl at heart!

PD             So can you tell me what's on your cd player at the moment?

JK            My radio stations on the country station.

PD            You're going to NewYork next week, yes? What's it like dancing? Is it hard work?

JK            What, hard work dancing or hard work travelling all the time?

PD            Whatever..

JK            Well, like I'm going to Canada tomorrow, then I come back Sunday then Tuesday it's off to New York. It's very hard because I work seven days a week. My days off  I'm travelling so I consider that, you know, work. The when I'm home or when I come back to LA I'm working on shooting or I'm doing a magazine layout or I'm doing a boxcover or organising this, going through calls….

PD            Which is your favourite bit of the work at the moment?

JK            Shooting the box covers and creating them with the photographers and the artists.

PD            Do you fly first class Jill?

JK            Yes I do. The only way to fly let me tell you.

PD             When you are travelling around do you take many people with you?

JK            On the dancing gigs I have a roadie because I have pyrotechnics and a smoke machine and they have to do a lot of things. When I'm working for the company Usually one of my contract girls will come along with me on a signing.

PD            Do you have a favourite venue? Where are the best fans?

JK            Spearmint Rhino, City of Industry, not too far from LA, That's a great club.

PD            Do you have a favourite performance on film that you could recommend to the punters over here?

JK            Oh Gosh….there's so many that I totally love. It's probably going to be this new movie …how we are going to shoot it and everything….it's kind of like The Crow but kinda different. We haven't named it yet.

PD            Can we talk about some more of the personal stuff? If I was to say what is your favourite food?

JK        Fois Gras. I love it!

PD             Drink?

JK            Chambord

PD            Can you tell me what your first car was?

JK            Oh god…do you know what a metropolitan is? It's an old old…my mum's boyfriend collected cars and that was my first car. It looked like a little toy car.

PD            And what's the first thing you think of when you get up in the morning? That's a bit of a rude question!

JK            Arhhhhh….Snooze! The snooze button.

PD            Here's another fun thing…I've heard that Brittany Andrews and Jenna Jameson are really dying to be able to eat burgers.

JK            Well I eat whatever I want!

PD            So you don't have to worry?

JK            Well..I do have to worry but I guess I'm very lucky. I'm very at peace with my genetics. I do start to worry- it's like I'm thirty now - but I'm very gifted in that manner where I eat cheese and mayonnaise …so I do but I don't…I'm very very lucky , very very lucky and very thankful to. I don't know if I could give up all the junk that I eat!

PD            I don't want to hold you too long….

JK            Oh I'm just drivin…drivin

PD             Your driving?

JK             Drivin through downtown LA just now

PD            So your driving to a job or what?

JK            I'm have to go look at a location that we're going to shoot in at the end of the month.

PD            Right- I'd like to talk about heros and villains or heros and heroines in this business. Who are the people you really respect in the business?

JK            There's a lot of people I really like………that's a tough one. You mean, like somebody who's made a difference? …gosh there's so many. Candida Royale for doing her couples stuff which is awesome and Janet Moore from a women’s point of view which I totally dig.

PD            Is there a diference between porn at appeals to men and porn that appeals to women?

JK            Well I think it's not 'men' and 'women' but each individual where ..even a girl might like to see anal where another girl won't , or there's guys that don't like anal…and…you know what I mean…it's like people say well girls know how to eat pussy better and that's not true because every girl like her pussy eaten different.  Every guy likes a blow job?…what…hard ? soft? Licking? Everybody like something different so there's no 'men' and 'women' porn. There's still stuff which is good for couples which is ' story '. You know what I mean? But some couples don't like 'story'! So it just depends on everybody's taste.

PD            Is it hard to meet people outside the industry?

JK  's kind of funny because even mainstream people look at you as a superstar. Especially in the United States - I don't know about London or England - it's very 'in ' to be a porn star . It's very very trendy , it's very hip.

PD            So you're feeling good then- you're on a wave!

JK            Yeah. It's Good…I'm so pleased I caught the wave when I did. But it's really wild. Porn is very chic! Cocaine's out! Porn is in! Look at Britney Spears - she dresses like a porn star! I love it!

PD            When you were young did you imagine going in to this business?

JK             I was always sexual…er…actually, when I was really young I used to fantasize about being a hooker (laughs)

 (Ends with pleasantries and thanks)


Thursday, 6 June 2013


I've been writing about nostalgia. Nostalgia is very easy to feel and very hard to define, since it is essentially a nuance; a deja or presque vu; a melange of stuff you can't quite put your finger on but know when it's there. My anchor for talking about it will be the music of Joni Mitchell, who with tracks such as Refuge of the Roads, or earlier Circle Game, or even better Last Time I Saw Richard almost exemplifies the nostalgic temperament. However, my sense of nostalgia might be a bit different in content.
When I get nostalgic these days I go to the White Horse. I go there especially and especially today with it being so bright and sunny out. It's a dark cavern, with a couple of blokes and the dancers reconciled to a slow afternoon, meaning you can get lost somehow. I thought of Las Vegas, and all those fabulous afternoons I've spent in, of all the world's peculiar places, The Girls of Glitter Gulch, a venue, nomatter how tawdry, that is one of the best rooms I know.
Lacey, one of the more fabulous dancers in the White Horse, eventually tottered up to me and asked me for a dance. That is what she does, most of them don't bother with me, I'm not fresh enough meat, but she's professional about it, she's delightfully both hard nosed and soft natured. That's a real skill. It's amazing how few people might realise that dancing for a living involves more chat about your interest in interior design than it does taking your clothes off. Anyway, it was a slow afternoon, and a girls gotta live.
Anyway, our discourse, such as it was, which would end either in 'OK' or a 'maybe later', reminded me exactly of so many of the same conversations I'd enjoyed in Las Vegas over the years, in the same dark caverns out of the blazing sun, the same black holes where you you can't see anything when you first walk in, and later, once acclimatised, your beer looks green, and you begin to feel just a little like Jim Rockford. Best of all, once I'd said, 'maybe later', Lacey detached herself smartly to try the rabbi sitting over in the corner, and he said 'OK' almost straight away. It's lovely isn't it, knowing the rules, breaking them occasionally, staying calm.
Above 'Anna', one of the series 'When Sizzlin' Stacey met Dazzlin' Darlene' which I will be exhibiting and discussing, if I get it together and they like the idea, at a conference titled 'Nostalgias' later this year.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

David Kay RIP

Irascible, irascible, irascible; argumentative, opinionated, and alive to everything. But not now. Even the pastor commented that from what she'd heard, he'd be uncomfortable in that casket. Sadly Dave Kay (1966-2013) saw us off today (a bunch of curious eccentrics ourselves when you think about it) Us being mostly class of '88 at PCL whatever side of the fence. God knows; the admissions tutor and head of school must have been under some kind of spell. Those were the days, and we are all grateful. I'd just began tutoring, and was barely four years older than Dave and many of his class mates as they started out. Many of them were there at his funeral today; it's like a clan.
My own favourite Dave irascibility story involves my own work. I wrote a novel and it needed editing. Dave was kicking his heels in treatment, so why not? Over a summer while I was in Berlin a stream of re-writes came through, really good stuff, I was laughing out loud, walking down the street with Julie going,...'You know this is really good!.....I've got to publish!'  Then something weird happened, I couldn't remember writing the stuff, and whole new characters started to appear! I put it down to the steroids Dave was on; they make you kooky.
But after today I'm not so sure. So many stories about Dave's incredible ways. He got thrown out of the Bartlett, legend has, for letting off smoke bombs at his final diploma crit. He attracted more fire engines when he lit up the hillside of the M25 with the plan of the Barcelona Pavilion in fluorescent lamps. When asked to do a detail project on the way glass meets timber, he took a piece of glass and a piece of timber, and wrote 'hello' on each. When my pal Matt White moved in to a new flat Dave shared, he found a golden harp in Dave's room and him writing an application to drive HGV's. He was something else. As Matt said today, he always had a thing about big vehicles.
You know what, along with all the nurses and doctors and everybody who helped Dave, even the architectural world can just get a little bit of credit for being decent. Dave's old company Stock Woolstencroft (a number of whom were there today) when they learnt he had cancer, were as good as gold.
Our love to Louise and little Daisy, who read Blake's 'Tyger Tyger' without flinching in front of a  tearsome crowd at the City of London Cemetery, where Dave is now interned in a heritage grave.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

See Post Below

Albert Frey

I know a man who decided it was imperative to hang all his radiators from the ceiling on piano wire. This sort of thing is as very architectural as it is conventionally bonkers. But today I was browsing a very nice little book on two houses by Albert Frey, and he hung his dining table from the ceiling on piano wire. I can imagine this, as much as anything, being very inconvenient for everything but the hoover. He also hangs his staircase from the ceiling, an open-treaded staircase. This would seem obsessive unless you are a trapeze artist. It's a nice little book, very nicely produced apart from the fact that the author only presents us with an interview, so in short we get next to nothing of interest. This generally happens where substance is deferred  to the mode of the interview, which is a shame because Frey, the nut eating yoga practising Swiss emigre of Palm Springs, is, or was, clearly more fascinating than that. I've just looked his images up on Google Image and found two exactly the same, with him in exactly the same spot, but leaning on two alternative cars, plus the one above, which is very curious indeed. I don't know why.
People who like Frey are the kind of people who want to hang their radiators from the ceiling, they are also likely to the kind of people who, at almost any opportunity, take their clothes off. I'm not sure why this is true either, but it fits. Such, therefore, is the necessity for writing, not for interviewing, writing about something or someone is far more interesting because you have to make an interpretation, you have to get under the ice, you have to read between the lines and join the dots. It's a shame to remark on such a missed opportunity.