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{{I'm just off on a mini-break to the South Coast,
to walk along rainy beaches and focus on some
horizon wider than the size of a computer screen;
so don't panic... I haven't re-entered one of those
"My Dark Ages (I Don't Get Around)" phases...

posted by Ian 2/27/2006 12:55:00 PM

(9) comments


Brief note.
Can I just bring this blog to your attention, Pill Boxers?
A really good mix of the personal and the political, I think you'd agree...

And thanks to Brooding Persian for the link ...

posted by Ian 2/23/2006 10:56:00 PM
(1) comments
Have y'all heard about Henry Rollins being reported to Australia's equivalent of US 'Homeland Security', because of a book he was reading on his plane fllight from US to Australia?

Is this a one-off bit of silliness, or a portent of things to come?

Here's Rollins own response from his website:

: 2139 hrs. I just got a letter from a nice woman who told me the man I sat next to on the flight from Auckland to Goldcoast Australia reported me to the Australian Government because of the book I was reading.

“I hope this finds you before you leave Australia as I think its something that won’t surprise you but might give you a smile when you are sitting in a hotel room. I work in one of those Government areas that deals with anti terrorism matters. A fine service is provided but unfortunately we get to read a lot of things submitted by lunatics. The Australian Government set up the National Security Hotline to report terrorists.
The person who sat next to you on the flight from New Zealand does not agree with your politics or choice of reading and so nominated you as a possible threat. As they were too cowardly or stupid to leave their details I can’t call them to discuss their idiocy with them.”

Interesting that he and I exchanged nothing but polite hellos. I was reading Ahmed Rashid’s book Jihad: The Rise Of Militant Islam In Central Asia. He’s a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and the book is on the Yale University Press. Didn’t Bush drink beer at Yale? Didn’t he not seem to learn much at Yale?
Of course I wrote the nice lady back.

“I was reading a book called Jihad by Ahmed Rashid which is a history of Central Asia. I didn't speak to the man next to me past how do you do. I think Ahmed Rashid is published by Yale University Press. Bush's alma mater. Please tell your government and everyone in your office to go fuck themselves. Tell them twice. If your boss is looking for something to do, you can tell him I suggest he go fuck himself. Baghdad's safer than my hometown and your PM is a sissy. You have a nice night.”

I really don’t take kindly to that kind of shit. I like it though. Love it. Confrontation. Tension. Adversarial relationships. More please. It’s the only time it gets real.

posted by Ian 2/23/2006 10:58:00 AM
(1) comments
The Pill Box bunker is empty and lifeless.
In the pitch darkness, only a flickering TV, playing what appears to be a loop constructed from the opening 30 seconds of a recent Richard and Judy ...

"It's all about ICONS today!!! ... for fans of iconic images like ... and tales of the 60s icons behind such ... and 70s icons Dempsey and Makepeace..."


posted by Ian 2/23/2006 10:32:00 AM

(4) comments


a ZZZZZZZZZZZombie rites...

1) "Sit back and enjoy the story of one of the most memorable, iconic even, rock LPs of all time..."
{frm. 'The Observer TELEVISION: 5-11 February 2006', re: BBC2 Classic Albums, Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon.
... Noting only that
a) for once, I might just buy this if they were talking about the cover (which somehow does have enduring non-dated force of some kind of icon or emblem...);
interesting programme, as it happens (and I DO like the album);
this, no less than the sins of Ms. Hanman, is just as much a prime example of quasi-PR anony-prose... ("of all time" indeed! ; and to ask
does the fact that, say, inter alia, in theory, a 22 year old bruiser from Liverpool and a 16 year old girl from Glasgow and a 63 year old Physics professor from Moscow and a 46 year old putatively 'ex punk' blogger from N7 (not to mention his 70 year old Dad, who actually bought it at the time of its release) might all dig 'Dark Side of The Moon' (1973) make it MORE or LESS 'iconic' - i.e., does the fact that it is no longer 'iconic' OF its so called time and place and type of music... do you see?

possibly overlooked comment from few boxes ago...

"YES! That Danish cartoon has become our true and ultimate contemporary ICON - in its un-viewable and powerful absence!

Flippantly "iconic" and apocalyptically invisible... a perfect merger of old and new..."

[# posted by Ian : 9/2/06]

posted by Ian 2/11/2006 02:31:00 PM

(7) comments


Advance word is that the Grauniad isn't publishing my letter about their immensely silly 'Never Mind the Britpop' article [see below]; not that it's some great historical epistle about one of the solemn topics of the day, but here it is, anyway:

I, too, have always been suspicious of wrinkly older
critics who declare the "death of rock/pop" and posit
irretrievably superior bygone eras - so I have some
sympathy for Natalie Hanman's rhetorical defence of
the current music scene [Comment 8.2.06]. That said,
critics are supposed to provide context and comparison
and know their history. Henman's "onslaught of
indie-rock bands that are selling out shows, storming
up the charts and creating a golden age of music" is a
fond, but rather myopic notion, delivered in the
doubt-free syntax of excitable PR. What about context,
what about comparison? This would seem especially
necessary in a 'scene' which is 98.9% laddishly
homogenous, skinny-white-boy riffy-rock.
Bloc Party and Kaiser Chiefs sound disturbingly
reminiscent of post-punk third-raters like The Members
and The Ruts; Franz Ferdinand are more an I-Spy Our
New Wave References game than a real and original
band; while Babyshambles represent the triumph of
self-mythologisation over smeary, half-cocked
I’ll reserve judgement on The Artic Monkeys
(partly, yes, because I'm old and wrinkly and not the
most excitable of chaps these days); but I suspect that
in years to come they’ll be remembered as much for the
*manner* of their irruptive
underground->mainstream/internet->chart crossover, as
for a music which is 25% youthful sizzle to 75%
formulaic boilerplate and standard teen-boy moan.
Where is any hint of strangeness, of over-reaching
ambition, of at least SOME departure from post-Oasis
post-Strokes norms?
There: that patronising enough?

posted by Ian 2/09/2006 07:03:00 PM
(42) comments
(more) ZZZZZZZZeitgeist...

The Grammy Awards: U2 (FIVE awards), Mariah Carey best "RnB" album, and Chemical Brothers (CHEMICAL BROTHERS???!!!) best - I dunno, best "Urban single AND album" or some such piece of logic from the Planet Corroded Nostril where all these Grammy judges obviously live... I mean: you can kinda just about see why black artists might get just a TEENSY bit p'd off with the whole rigmarole, mightn't you?

On a vaguely related note, did anyone see the Young People coming out in force against K-Punk (re: the Zombiefication of Pop) in yesterday's Guardian Comment pages? Tee hee. Don't worry, Mark: I've already written a letter protesting. No - I really have. I mean - I kinda agree with the thing about Boring Old Critics always banging on about "The Death of..." pop and rock and this and that, when all that's really died (in many instances) is their own innocence and sustained interest*; but otherwise the piece really is hilariously awful, like some Editor said: 'Get Us A ... YOUNG PERSON! to write about these Artic Monkey chappies and whatever the moptop hell's going on there... '

{{*co-incidentally, my own original namechecking of the "hauntology" puncept was in a Pill Box piece in which I critiqued parts of Ian MacDonald's (here and there admirable) The People's Music for just that crime... 'Oh things were a lot better around here when I were a flower-headed lad... no bangin' soul-dead drum machines or baseless nihilism then blah blah blah...'

posted by Ian 2/09/2006 12:44:00 PM

(7) comments



There's been a few things in the last few months I noticed pop up in The Pill Box and then duly crop up in the pages of The Guardian days or weeks later - but I kept silent, you know, it might have been sheer coincidence after all...

But note, in last Sunday's Observer [05.02.06], p 44, under their regular WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA slot ["A guide to the spirit of the age" - yeah, right]: South Park Conservatism. Dudes! We featured that here in ... 2003!!! (We even had our own South Park neo Conservative Correspondent fer crissakes!*) C'mon! Get with the programme!

{* one of the many people I didn't email back during my extended period of 'absence' and who, if he happens to read this, I'm sorry, do get back in touch...}

posted by Ian 2/07/2006 05:07:00 PM

(14) comments


{{ Am I the only one ... uncomfortable with Curb Your Enthusiasm, who doesn't think it's the great holy untouchable masterpiece everyone and their press agent claims it is?

I spent weeks sitting through it willing myself to like it, to LAUGH at it the way I did at Seinfeld, but I never did; instead I just got more and more p'd off at it and tired of the template. Breaking point came - ironically enough - with the current More4 ad, that put it all in a nutshell for me: the one where his wife and friends all say to Larry: WHY WOULD YOU SAY/THINK/DO THAT? Well - why would he? And -
would he? He's a sharp Jewish comedian/writer/actor, who's got his wings in New York and L.A. - hard cities to crack, (and even harder cities to stay top in), two of the most socially codified cities in the Western world. And yet - week after week after week after week after week after week - the show is ENTIRELY spun around the same unvarying premise: in any (or rather, in EVERY) given situation, Larry does or says the one thing you shouldn't do or say. OK - it's a comedy, not some hard hitting off-Broadway statement; but you can't have it both ways, and most of the praise is of how socially accurate and truth-telling a comedy of manners it supposedly is...

It's well made, in a sub-Altman kinda way, and I don't even mind that it relies way too much on comedy of embarrassment. More to the point is that its cheerleaders all forward it as some great fearless TRUTH telling exercise, when it's really smug and self consciously outre and wholly hypocritical inside its Hol(l)ywood shell... it tries to have its 'truth telling' realism
and eat its Hollywood-buddies organic cake at the same time. Not a patch on Father Ted - who may be less 'real' and more surreal, but he's likable even at his worst whereas I increasingly think "Larry" is just a tiresome self-involved conceited boor.}}

posted by Ian 2/05/2006 08:47:00 PM
(16) comments

Thanks to Mark at Charlotte Street for the link to this (clear, readable, lucid) 1957 interview with the man Lacan ...

posted by Ian 2/05/2006 12:09:00 PM

(0) comments


{{How far down does this have to go? Just heard on Newsnight Review, with reference to (I can't believe I'm writing this) the Ski Sunday Theme: "another ICONIC tune gets a revamp..." Oh do come on ... }}

posted by Ian 2/03/2006 11:27:00 PM
(3) comments
THIS has to be read to be believed - although I suspect this so called "interpretation" of Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut - as an undercover web of quote "numerous veiled allusions to the CIA's MK-ULTRA mind control experiments and Monarch sex slave programming" unquote - is actually in itself some kind of weird mindfuck put-on by none other than my colleague Mark K., masquerading here under the obvious pseudonym "Adam Gorightly".
(Am I hearing things, Mark, or is that last name there what I think it is - a quotation of your all time fave performance by Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's?)
Come on Mark - the "front" magazine here is even called The Konformist - konformist with a K, punk!? Whaddya think - we're amateurs?

posted by Ian 2/03/2006 03:47:00 PM
(10) comments
"And now here's Mark KP with the rest of tomorrow's news..."

{{Hah! It had to happen! On Channel 4 News last night, an item which combined just about everything that's been in the sooty air for the past few weeks...

---> "SMASH HITS, the iconic teen mag, dies and goes digital..."

Those were the exact words outta Jon Snow's mouf, I swears it; the idea that when something Pop + Icon DIES it has a hauntological afterlife ONLINE... maybe whoever preps the words over there keeps one eye on haun-line chat?

Nah - otherwise they would have found someone other than the usual ZZZZ NOTHING to fucking say cast of quote-bots to comment on this epochal non-event ... including Charles Shaar Murray, who at least these days has the advantage of looking like he' s just been disinterred from a nearby GRAVE... is that a FLY buzzin around his leather jacket? ... poor ol' CSM... I'm sure he's been pluggin the 'TRUE POP IS DEAD / ROCK SMELLS FUNNY, DADDY/WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT TOTP' line since about 1983... which means that by his own lights half his life he's been living in the shadow of (and makin a living off) a DEAD thing... jeez, the likes of him and Farren thought Depeche Mode and PiL were a step too far ... maybe a protracted 'death' agon(y) and purgatorial drift is the most interesting thing that can happen to some art forms...
...+ talking of which, Andrew Graham Dixon last night on forthcoming Tate exhibition about the roots of Gothic/Horror and the work of Fuselli ... looked absolutely fascinating ...}
+ oh, and Anonymous, (hooooever you are!), did you catch the Herzog piece too?}}

posted by Ian 2/03/2006 09:39:00 AM

(27) comments


{{For those of you who don't obsessively trawl the Comment oubliettes herein,
some kindly Anonymous soul has supplied the missing
LINK to the interesting
Steve Erickson piece - 'Teen Millenium' - I mentioned in passing a few posts ago...

posted by Ian 2/02/2006 05:06:00 PM

(0) comments