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I was really looking forward to watching the new series opener of one of my all time favourite TV progs, BAD GIRLS*, last night... and then it was all spoiled for me by a glimpse of a trailer. They'd decided to be 'topical' and 'meaningful' by putting a Muslim Woman Prisoner in amongst the slags and dykes and space cadets... I just couldnt watch it. In fact, I can't watch anything that has plots or sub plots about 9/11, Etc in it ... take the forthcoming Oliver Stone movie World Trade Center (sic): this kind of rugged, unfocussed sentimentality is what occurs in our society instead of Thinking. A mediasmic mirror perhaps, to the East's sentimentality of martyrdom? Except here, your 'after life' will be as a mention in a cop drama or family sit com or po mo Towering Inferno blockbuster.

I like a lot of what Momus has to say about Syd, and Syd imitators, and MOJO magazine and rock's Museum culture. Maybe one area not touched upon is TIME. When you think how mid to late 60s groups recorded whole albums in an afternoon or whatever, it made of the pop 45 a distant cousin of Improv - somewhere, in fact, between Deep South Porch strummed Blues, AMM type Improv and a kind of teenybopper performance art, where 'artlessness' was the key (or qui vive). No camp, no irony - just a shot straight through the ear/eye to the head n heart.
When LSD was added to the mix it produced 45s of astonishing economy (or echo-nomy) (domine). In this day and age where bands can take years to produce their album, and can have between 50 and 70 minutes worth of CD time, and can set up digital studio in their bedroom and so on and so forth, it seems like 'we have ALL the TIME in the world'... but it somehow turns out wrong, or not quite right. We have too much time, and therefore can never quite inhabit Time and make a genuinely untimely sound ... which may indeed be one reason the culture of 45s has withered...? [NB: This is all off the top of my head, a pop up speculation...]

This goes back as well to what I was saying about a time when you had to WAIT for the weekly music press, or WAIT for 45s to turn up in your local out of the way record store. I remember being aged about 10, literally sitting all day with my ear pressed to a little palm sized transistor, waiting to hear specific new records played on Radio 1 (the ONLY place I might do so) ... these days everything is all over the place before you've even had a chance to register its coming into being. (I know this all needs refining, but there is a kernel of something here, isn't there?) ...**

... the look on Syd's face is as if he's has been seized by something Other, possessed by unholy components of Pan (panic, pain, agape)... in the features you can sense De Quincey and Rimbaud; rather than - sorry Momus - Richard Ashcroft and Robert Smith (aaaagrrh! inner silent scweeeeam!). The difference between feeling oneself possessed and pulled and torn by forces just beyond one's control, and styling onself into an imitation rock 'icon' is just vast ... and today's icons want to have it everywhich way - stylishly moody for the rock mags, but Up For It when some mention of footy rears its bruised head...

Can you imagine Syd or Nick Drake turning out for a Celebrity TV Soccer Match?

Their legacy is small but perfectly formed. All told, added up, shorter than some 'double' CDs put out by sub-par artists these days. You can noodle on forever... remix forever...

... even WIRE type Improv Heroes put out a LUDICROUS amount of CDs these days, dont they? It's always struck me as odd that Improv, supposedly so dedicated to the passing flicker, is obsessed like a Kremlin or CIA apparatchick by storing and archiving every last bloody gig and duet and meeting ... it would strike me as far more unsettlingly (and ideologically) 'radical' if it decided to record nothing whatsoever leaving behind just a spectral Borges like map of unimaginable un-ossified possibilities ... then I might be a bit more convinced.

Sorry, I seem to be drifting just a bit, here. Altho', it is all to do with Time. How many of you, like me, have shelves full of Improv CDs that you say to yourself - o, theres all the time in the world, I'll listen to that ... later. (And then put on your favorite tacky 45 of the moment for the fourth time that morning! Or is this just low-rent lazy boned me?)

Syd, Nick et al: we'll never get that golden/uncanny Time back again.
2006: o god, another 12 new 63 minute CDs to sit through... o christ do I really want to sit through a Thom Yorke solo album when the sun is shining and I could play Relics one more time ...?

*{ I'm only surprised yesterday's afternoon delight lucid dream didnt have some ref to Bad Girls characters/scenes gone by, frankly... speaking of which, there ought to be a Penman's Law, which is that, in any Face Off in Bad Girls (or similar hi cultural product: sweaty girls behind bars, I suppose about covers it..), my subconscious will ALWAYS without fail somehow pick the Lesbian to, so to speak, root for ...

**{Philosophical agreement comes from an unlikely source. I just read in The Grauniad's I.T. section , this, from the venerable Dave Lee Travis (!), on the imminent cancellation of T.O.T.P.: "The world has overtaken it [...] People are watching music videos on their mobile phones. The world is just too fast-moving for a programme like Top of the Pops."

posted by Ian 7/14/2006 12:00:00 PM

And thus is accessed the back garden entrance into Hornbyland, if we're not careful...
talking of the glories of Brit Lit (hur hur), i meant to say to you M. - strange coincidence - I started reading that BS Johnson biography on Sunday, too ... (altho I've kinda stopped half way thru, finding him *far* less sympathetic than I expected to...

I'm not sure I understand the Hornbyland comment - altho at a stretch (ouch) the "back garden entrance" *could* be something to do with my strange De Sadean phantasies I suppose...
syd and acid - well, piper does actually set the experience down yes (and the reynolds idea that mdma music does the same thing - oh fuck off!). but isn't that what any good writer does? EM Forster for example. A great writer is what syd was. Meticulous recall.
I find it fairly key that the name Dennis Potter (who I would propose relates to BSJ much as Italy taking penalties relates to England taking penalties), does not occur once in the BSJ biog, but I'm going to address/clarify/muddy that issue on CoM at some stage next week.

About Hornbyland - it just occurred to me that if we take the why sit through new CDs when we could listen to Relics route to its logical conclusion (much as I'm in sympathy with that!) we might all indirectly end up in the same backyard of Fings Ain't Wot They Used To Be/All Fields Round Here but with Syd B instead of Gram P.

Then yesterday teatime I was reminded of the Wire browser section in Ox Circ HMV with all its carefully-patrolled/fenced off sleeve designs at £16.99 a throw, and suddenly grew nostalgic for the days of finding Sun Ra Saturn cutouts for 49p a throw in the Barrowlands of my youth - i.e. for the scenario of DISCOVERING things for MYSELF, against which I am certain the Home Office are preparing laws.
i somewhat agree with marcello here -- the past is a good garden of remembrance maybe, a nice cool place to wander and clear your head -- but the present is where we ARE, and running away from its actual* terrain** is running away from changing this terrain

*ps did you see the ep of "waking the dead feat.trevor eve" with nigel terry as a jewish prog blues guitarist who was also a london gangland hitman (repeated from 2004 as it happens) -- i'm going to post abt it at the revamp freaky trigger in the next couple of days
**obv the unreclaimed part of the territory includes us here and blah blah, but isn't part of the problem w.bad girls "doing topical" that yr watching it on yr atomised own and actually need a gathering of like minds to reclaim "our" unsteamrollered perspective on it; to use it instead of wilt before it?

also: syd and nick d BOTH SUCK MASSIVELY -- i cannot be swayed here
i think i swapped discovering new things for myself for discovering new people for myself --- which makes me think that even back in the day the attraction of the things was the people that went with em (eg find fellow ornette fans CHECK; find fellow moomintroll readers-as-adults CHECK; find friends i could disagree with fruitfully CHECK)

what we probably wanly refer to as the "spectacle", william cobbett called THE THING (always in caps); and when he wanted to escape it he rode out of london on horseback till he reached somewhere, and discussed i. its soil; ii. what grew in that soil (he is obsessed with SWEDES!); the people doing the growing; how much they made and what the cost was --- but the key, i think, was the encounter with the people, the communicative exchange

maybe we should band together and buy a horse (i am allergic to them btw)
finally: re the "you must listen to/watch all this stuff" --- i totally don't get where this dutiful impulse comes from, let alone the worry attached to it --- gather it if you like (i am a hoarder same as the rest of you) but address it when it's YOUR TIME to address it, in the context of YOUR CHOOSING; there is no hurry --- you can tell all you need to know about [insert artist here] by listening to a SINGLE NOTE (haha provided you pick the right note and address it the right way) --- we should not let these phantoms possess us

my line on ILM was always "i never listen to any music -- it would only spoil my objectivity"

(ok three's the charm --- sorry for multi-posting, it's poor net etiquette i believe)
(um except to say -- it belatedly occurs to me that posting SYD SUCKS so shortly after his death is actually somewhat insensitive and graceless, so apologies to anyone i outraged -- i am NOT a fan of his music or his myth, but his lifestory is pitilessly sad, and certainly moves me; not least the thought of those he leaves behind, wounded, caring and overlooked)
i agree with a lot here and i could probably have headed off a bit of confusion if only i had put that line about a 'golden time we will never get back' in scare qotes ...as its not really (or not wholly) what i personally believe. it was more trying to encapsulate a mood being put about. i agree especially that Syd's life was more pain than it was glory, and have just posted to that effect.
whats that great quote from someone - to do with suicide i think - about it being the unnoticed sunday afternoons of life when things really tear you apart and real damage is done, or surrendered to. 2/3 of syd's life could be seen to eptiomise this - going crazy the english way, in a nice nothing special house in a nice nothing speical suburban street. thousands and thousands of days worth of "leftover time" after the all too brief glory flicker of the EUREKA moment...

re horses - i actually have a friend in the States who, whenever the depression gets too much, does just that... but maybe that's easier to do in New Mexico than N7. i go walking in wales these days, myself. (and one day i may well not come back to London.)

and re there being no complusion to 'keep up to date' - well, quite; in fact these days i tend to wait until hype & fuss has died down til i plunge into certain big cultural artefacts. (especially fils, but also only just got around to listening to kate's aerial, e.g., as it happens.)
Re Waking the Dead - I wonder if that two-parter was scripted by the same person who came up with the one which posited that the killings in Performance (in all but name) were real and the film was just an elaborate smokescreen (!!).... complete with guest appearence by Ken Russell playing the murky director (!!!)
it's not the same writer apparently but haha WOW!!! (i wonder if i can work this into my project to prove that performance is the secret sequel to if....)

the claire goose principle -- anything she's in is pointlessly unwatchable - CLEARLY NEEDS REVISING FAST
Completely agree with MS' "discovering PEOPLE to go with the music" thing (which is what CoM's "nowness" has always been about, in addition to remembering people; the magic non-coincidence of notes played or sung in a Denmark Street back alley or Detroit parking lot in 1969 becoming MY "now" and leading to an Actual Future (new love of my life, check...).

About Cobbett's Thing; notable how BSJ actually came alive whenever he left the hothouse of London, went to Wales or Hungary or Paris and found communicating with people easier and more natural - begs the question of why he didn't just pack up and move there, but then, picking up some of BSJ's own work again, the IMac spectre leers its unsuitable head again, i.e. the confusion of "MY pain" with "the world's in pain" and the inevitable ending to which such thinking always leads.

(i.e. right now I don't need Lily Allen or the Pipettes, but find that I need Atari Teenage Riot and Mary Hopkin...and isn't that what doubles their greatness, if only in my eyes?)
yes... that "IMac spectre" thing and BSJ's measuring of his own dysfunctions against wider errors and atrocity... it seems all the more obscene when the topic under review is a weighing or refusal of choice(s) in a choice heavy society. My pain is relative; the pain of someone who has just lost family, home, job and future in some bombed out shell in Lebanon, seems infinitely less relative. I actually find it *more* confusing, if anything, at times like today, when I feel pretty happy and upbeat, all things considered... I would even hazard the specualtion that I feel the Other's pain far more realistically and objectively at such times of contentment, than when I have my gloomy head up my half drugged ass.
IMac and BSJ seemed to share this unadvanced Teenager worldview, in whic everything is drawn in lines of black and whtie. Perhaps adulthood invovles acceptance of contradiction, acceptance that one *can* flit from outrage at geo political atrocities to ... enjoying Atari Teenage Riot, or the Emmerdale Omnibus... which s why all thsoe immediately post-9/11 pronouncements about 'No More Trivia For Me' smacked also, of the same self indulgent Goth-teen savour... as tho *your* micro cultural decision this morning has the same weight as world events. The response to which might best be - well, either shut up (and do a better job with sifting trivia) or go and work for Medecins Sans Frontieres...
(what would a Q- or MOJO- or Uncut-type improv hero be like I wonder?)

As someone who attends some of these nights (every now and then) I'll say that not every gig is recorded. In fact, quite a few improvisers don't even exist -- you'll see a few who come, play and they'll simply disappear -- at least it does appear like that. So there is something of a mystery to it all.

Another thing is if you see a great, amazing night and then get hold of its recording its useless. A *something* when that you feel you can never get back...
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