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Wonderful dream this morning, in which CHARLOTTE CHURCH and I join forces to defeat the Nabob of Nothingness, the Preening Prince of Sham pop*, SIMON COWELL.

In the closing seconds, Charlotte subsides magnificently upon a kingsize bed, in a P.O.V. shot whose hydraulic detail must have had HOWARD HUGHES spinning in his grave. As is always the way with these things, the moment of epiphanic merger, the apocalyptic swoon - my arms spread, and about to sink into MY OWN PRIVATE CHURCH, a worship all fiery and still, pinky lamb and gushing milk in my veins and polar eyes - is no sooner announced than I am torn from this plashy and gurgling deep end, and pulled roughly into a blinking, a solitary light. Ach.

I had intended to begin the day with a implacable rant about last night's beyond-Spinal Tap COURTNEY LOVE documentary (a programme which put the cause not just of women in rock, but women per se, widows, widows in rock, celebrities, celebrities with those big horrible plastic surgery injection fish lips, drug users, blondes, etc, back at least 50 years**) but as a Charlotte-less morning dawned, I have to say my first impulse was just to forget it, let the rant go to the wind, smoothed by the morning's calming and rational light...

We'll see.
*During the recent PAPAL CONTROVERSY did anyone else see the news report where they panned over all these stagey Middle East protests, but more particularly, the one misconceived lost-in-translation banner that read: SHAME ON POP (?) What a potentially excellent name for a blog!

**It's saying a lot that, these days, given the choice between a night of LOVE or a night in CHURCH, I would plump, in all senses, for the latter, every time. (CC's shining affect-free joy vs CL's monstrous and delusional self-pity. CC's unembarrassedly fleshly embonpoint vs CL's wince- & nausea- making Lesley Ashe alike FISH LIPS.) Don't get me wrong - I'm a big fan of tawdry - I do not even have to be drunk to argue that when people say 'clash of civilisations' it is my opinion that TAWDRY is pretty much what we in the anti-monotheistic West are fighting for, and MUST fight for - and I'm a huge fan of slutty drug abusing blondes with no shame, always have been (indeed, there were times in my raw youth when I was their biggest friend!) ((in fact, come to think on it, I am a slutty, drug abusing blonde with no shame!!)); but Courtney has abused these privileges, and cheapened them with breath taking hypocrisy and stupidity. She deserves to have her child taken away by California Social Services or whoever it was. Not because I believe that drug users can't also be good parents - I have known many sane and organised drug users who were excellent, even above average parents - but more because anyone who has that much money and that much clout (and, post KC's suicide, that much sympathy), and who could quite easily do as MANY DRUGS AS SHE WANTED in the privacy of her mansion(s) without ANYONE ever knowing about it, but who instead choses to conduct her life entirely for the benfit of the watching TABLOID EYE, for whatever strange and corrupting reasons, actually deserves to have their child taken away. This programme didnt alter that feeling one jot - worse, it intensified and even burst through it to a new level of certainty, the moment Courtney brought her 14 year old daughter ON CAMERA , as - and there is no other interpretation - as a PROP, as a prop to prove I AM A GOOD MOMMY, as a prop in a production to advertise NEW PRODUCT. At this point, she forfeits ALL sympathy.

"If anyone fucks with her, I will fuck with them," she hissed at one moment, daughter by her side, in a spotless limo. This was par for the course: the world it is in all its stations that is in a conspiracy to 'get' her daughter and deny her a decent childhood. Never Courtney: never ever Courtney! She cannot even speak abut HER OWN DAUGHTER without it being, relentlessly, gruellingly, uninterruptedly, 100% ABOUT HERSELF. (A couple of scenes with Billy Corgan and Carrie Fisher - where the former had an acutely revealing anecdote to tell, and the latter had acres of good momsy advice for CL - were also revealing for all the wrong reasons, as they showed a CL who apparently lacks even one faint iota of ability to LISTEN TO WHAT ANYONE ELSE IS SAYING.)

We won't even go into how she exploited the "memory" of KC, who, by the way, I am in no wise a big fan of...

Nor will we linger overmuch on how mind bendingly OUT OF IT CL appeared for three quarters of a documentary which was predicated on her being newly and angelically clean and sober. (I know out of it, I know someone ON THE NOD, and she was, o she really was. Again - I am SO FAR from having a problem with anyone choosing to take huge amounts of drugs. What I have a problem with is a) the arrant and arrogant and heedless hypocrisy, and b) the outright and flagrant stupidity on show here)

Talking of hypocrisy, I am really sick of celebrity drug abusers like Love and Docherty getting given chance after chance after unearned chance. Love's twittish friend Billy Corgan here, actually said the words "Courtney has LITERALLY been to hell and back". Well - fuck you rockstar pumpkin brain. Try telling some poor black kid from South Central or North Holloway who gets locked away in high security for a few soul destroying years for their first offence that three months in a cushy rehab (for your Nth offence) is "LITERALLY Hell".

Add to this Miss Love's apparently limitless capacity for blaming everything wrong with her and her life on EVERYONE or ANYONE IN THE WORLD BUT HERSELF and and you just had a LOT to dislike here. (And I have to say, before the programme began, I was on her side! There are three or four of her songs that I think approach genius, and which I would have to have on any personal Desert Island jukebox.) But fer Crissakes, she even...

O, I forgot: I wasn't going to rant.


Coincidentally - switching to another rant worthy subject - one of the only films worth catching this week on FILM 4 (whatever your opinion of the film in question) is unquestionably Gus van Sant's Kurt Cobain drama-doc LAST DAYS***.

Which so far has gone out twice - once at 12.55 in the am; and once (last night) at 1.10. I only caught it COMPLETELY BY CHANCE the first time round. I mean - am I missing something here? Would it really be so difficult to scare up some youthful audience interest in a hip film about a hip 'icon' (there, I said it) by a tres hip director???

The only other film worth catching this week, Miranda July's ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW was similarly exiled out on the edge of midnight, with NIL publicity. (Even tho it's actually a FILM FOUR co-production!!!!) I mean - my own prejudices aside here, ths film was hailed en masse when it was released.

Instead, Film 4's ad campaign continues - inexplicably - to plug middle of the road fare like STEPMOM and MICKEY BLUE EYES and AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS and (one of the biggest stinkiest eggs ever laid) A LIFE LESS ORDINARY (worth catching for one reason alone, for fans of the farrago that is the COMPLETE ABSENCE OF ANY DETECTABLE ACTING ABILITY WHATSOEVER in the post-Trainspotting career of Ewan McGregor****). I say inexplicably, because they are obviously trying to compete with SKY's movie channels, which is just dumb. SKY have loads and loads of NEW movies. Whereas what FILM 4 has - as ANY FULE can see from that list, is distinctly old hat and below par and really nothing special at all. Mickey Blue Eyes? A life Less Ordinary? Are they serious?

Well at least their embarrassed hiding away of LAST DAYS and ME AND YOU... proves that this is not simply cultural APARTHEID as I stated last week. Altho a quick head count thru this week's FILM 4 schedule shows that the SINGLE non-US or non-UK film showing is Thursday's screening of CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. Which - while it's a breath taking film I won't deny - it's hardly pushing the envelope is it?
C'mon someone at CHANNEL FOUR. Give me FILM 4 for SIX - no, THREE MONTHS - and you won't believe the young audience I bring in. Really.

Unless of course ... they're trying to run it into the ground?

*** ... which I havent made my mind up about yet: it may be one of the drippiest and most embarrassing piles of mindless goo ever assembled; or a work of softly avant garde genius. Or, quite possibly, both at the same time.

****Nice comment at the weekend from Keith Allen, who I persist in liking (against all the odds and evidence), when someone asked him for his own estimation of his acting ability. "Below me - a long way below me - is Ewan McGregor. Just above me, Ken Stott." That seems JUST SO, to me, I have to say.

Finally, a tenuous, free-floating, unlinked ***** apropos of nothing very much more than Pop Crushes... but has any other straight man out there had the unnerving but really rather pleasant experience I've recently contracted, of falling head over heels in love with RUFUS WAINWRIGHT? O. It's just me, then? Well, Rufus baby, obviously there's no other serious competition for a long lazy flaneurs-in-arms tour of Europe's back streets and opera houses ...

But how can you NOT love someone who comes up with a couplet like this (?):

"I tried to dance / to Britney Spears
I guess I'm getting on / in years

posted by Ian 9/28/2006 10:01:00 AM

re: rufus wainwright.
i don't know if you saw that black-slapathon documentary last year on him, but i'm having my doubts about rufus. any queer who accepts compliments from elton john without first asking the disgusting little dwarf why he spent the first 40 years of his life ashamed of being a queer is either shallow or desperate.
Well, the way I understand it - Rufus *was* desperate: he had gone blind/insane/suicidal from concerted crystal meth abuse, and thought, hmmm, gay, singer songwriter, drug addicted... who you gonna call? I think thats quite sweet.

Also, I think generations younger than me (certanly) see Elton entirely differently - without the baggage the old baggage has, so to speak.
And as Queen Mum figures go, he's not so bad.

Also, I know a few people who've met E.J., and whatever else you might wanna say about him, apparently his knowledge and keeping-up with EVERY type of music extant is phenomenal, and still bursting with crazed enthusiasm after all these years. (Also, he's FAR funnier - bitchily funny - in private, allegedly.)

EJ grew up when the Music Industry had a different hegemony and paradigm set up for gayness (one that still had ts Tin Pan Pally head in the 50s really) - so EJ's sticky ambiguity or ambivalence was probably as much his [equally gay] managements paranoid fault as EJ's himself.
The fact that EJ has been able to free himself and have happy life is think is perfectly OK, and really rather sweet. And I say that as someone who has pretty much no feelings about his music one way or the other.

Yes - it can be tiresome the way he is feted now by the Jonathan Ross set every time a (dull) new LP comes out - just like Bowie. Everyone just wants the Old Faves and the Old Crazy anecdotes... which must be wearing, let's face it.

Speaking of which, was it just me or did anyone else find that Bowie cameo in the Gervais thing, Extras, incredibly hypocritically UN funny? All set up not to demean Gervais, but, in fact, to STAGE him as now an official MEMBER of the Celeberati?

But Rufus - let's face it - has a lot to be slapped on the back about.

And having said all that, it *would* be nice for Elton to publically duet with Rufus on the latter's 'Gay Messiah' ... "No I won't be the one ... baptised in cum".
I'm with you on Bowie and Extras... in fact the whole second ep was painfully unfunny. It's real hubris to embed a 'bad sitcom' within a reality com, especially when the 'reality' is even more ridiculous and formulaic than anything in the 'bad sitcom'. Everything you said about Curb Your Enthusiasm goes twentyfold for Extras. This whole genre of metacomedy has outstayed its welcome... did you see any of that simply awful Rob Brydon thing on BBC3? The ostensible self-denigration as self-aggrandisement schtick is now painfully obvious...

BTW, OT, but you didn't see that [Red] smugathon last night (on C4 of course)? Bono reading out his 'poetry'.... dear god, my nervous system can barely handle the level of loathing I feel for that fuck...
Yes - another, seperate and seperately terrible moment in EXTRAS was the bit in the bar where his lanky 'Agent' tries to chat two women up wih a simply AWFUL spiel. But one's thought with this - as with other moments where people come out with supposedly cringemaking 'racist' or 'sexist' lines is: 'I'm sorry, but NOBODY is that dumb anymore.' You cant have it both ways - you cant have a supposedly 'realistic' comedy, and then have characters in it who are, essentially, refugess from a SEVENTIES mind-set. Thats the key - which I realised last night, trying to watch the shockingly inept and flat Kevin & Perry Go Large. Again - same problem. NO teenagers are *that* clueless any longer. It just doesnt wash. It is PAINFULLY unfunny. It works in a brief sketch format, but once it has to follow the rules of extended and expanded real life narrative, it is shown up for the strange (and lazy) conceit it is: SEVENTIES sit com characters (or attitudes) in a supposedly hyper real 21st century format. Far nearer Dick Emery than the Farrelly Brothers, unfortunately.

The Office worked because it had that cabin-fever quality, like Beckett as a management training module: it had constraints. EXTRAS shows that Gervais (unlike his hero Larry David) can't do 'casual', (and *sure* can't act outside his one-note range). Without the CELEB cameos - there's nothing except a lot of The Office's 'anti PC' stuff recycled, but this time it's awkward, jemmied in, by rote, and unbelievable.

And yes, the Brydon was a stinker. I actually tuned back in for the first few weeks - because i actually couldnt believe *quite* how bad it was.

Also hugely overrated and shockingly unfunny: Nighty Night, ESPECIALLY the woeful second series.

I tell you what I have liked recently: Ideal was fantastic (one of the final episodes even managed to redeem that tired visual cliche the 'freaky' Acid Trip with something that was actually uncannily *like* an acid trip!); and the newly arrived I'm With Stupid, which continually *teeters* on the edge of something like a genuine revelation, and irruptions of unforced, surprised, surprising laughter...
(recent edns of halliwells apparently have a pull-quote from me re "Kevin & Perry Go Large"!! -- fame at last -- but i don't know whether pro or con as i think my review was masterfully undeclared in that regard)
ps i am very envious of yr dream(s) -- i have not had a good popstar dream for YEARS!
(my two all-time favourites are 1. i am a member of THE CHORDS and we are teasing david bowie and we MAKE HIM CRY, and 2. i am BRYAN FERRY being interviewed by NICK KENT in a WOODSHED -- but these are from decades ago now)
I agree with some (a lot) of the subtextual stuff in yr S&S reviw of KEVIN AND PERRY (and Kathy Burke *is*, yes, wonderful), but there's something wrong with it on a more fundamental level of comedic mechanics and nuts n bolts. I *wanted* to like it; I *wanted* it to be gross-out funny (and NOT have to be snobbily and crabbily disappointed with ONE MORE dire British film) - but it just isn't, just like the League of Gentleman film isn't. There were even some good jokes in there - in *theory* - but somehow they were thrown away, one after another.

But also, I suspect, anything to do with codifying and de-codifying (and setting in celluloid stone, so to speak) the Byzatnine semiotics of what's (passingly) 'cool' or waht is a 'scene' is fraught with dangers, any way you look at it, even as gross out comedy. I suspect the film probably already felt dated (certainly to its 'target audience') practically before it came out. One of the (very) clever things people like like the Farrellys do is set their comedys in a kind of non-specific 50s-60s-80s hinterland of Hawaiian shirts, bowling alleys, suburbia, and a soundtrack of epoch-eliding 'classic' pop. It's all purpose 'familiar' (yet slightly tinglingly unhemlich). In comparison, Kevin and Perry Go Large had ZERO chance of breaking the US box office say - it already almost requires foototes for a UK audience.

Whereas on TV, in short bursts of sketch show static, Kevin and Perry were just snottily archetypal Anyteens: the jokes didnt depend on anything wider, or demarcated, or specific.

Now, I'm off to dream about more pop stars...
(My favourite one from years ago, btw, was when I had breakfast with Mr and Mrs Les Dawson...)
Sadly, I can't remember one popstar dream, ever...

I too watched a number of the Brydon things, for much the same reason as you... I get this TV solipsism thing sometimes, where a programme is so bad that I have to watch it to convince myself that it exists... With programmes like the Brydon one, it is very difficult to imagine that anyone else is watching it...

Extras has so clearly jumped the shark now that there is a malicious appeal in watching it .... Tonight it was the worst yet... lame media satire, with all the luvvies joining in... the preposterous agent character (why doesn't Millman sack him?)... pathetic meta-disability jokes... Curb works because it successfully simulates verite... and the humour has little to do with David's celebrity status... Extras, meanwhile, has no sense of reality whatsoever, and now depends almost entirely on the celebz...
'Curb' haS a strong point of view ('objective correlative'?). We already know Larry is stinking rich, so the minutae of him and his friends becomes even more ridiculous. Any traces of 'lovability' that the Seinfeld characters had is submerged under LA indulgence and cynicism. The repeated motif of rich ruthless people being so childishly sensitive works as a vague satire on hypocrisy and vanity (so nicely old-fashioned, really). Look at the very diffrent way Gervais and David treat racial situations - Gervais is like a 13-year-old giggling behind the bike shed with a new 'rude word' he's just heard; David actually parodies the lazy and shallow liberalism (and the anxieties trhey conceal) of rich whites .

The Office comes from a long line of Britcoms that deal with caged frustration (i.e. the best ones). Extras just seems to be document of Gervais' rise through the a-list ("ohh - I met that kid from Harry Potter, and he's weird y'know") and the mostly had-their-day stars who want to be seen as 'hip' to pomo self-parody. It's getting like the Muppet Show with dirtier (non)jokes. Surely the premise was about the failures and nobodies that lie behind celeb culture? Now it's self-congratulation has overwritten the humour. Is there anything as banal a subject as 'celeb culture' anyway?

Even more irritating is the Bono-like reportage of anything Gervais utters - 'Ricky hates British TV drama' 'Ricky says he would like to make an action movie' 'Ricky likes David Cameron'- reported as news! Did the far more talented and consistently funny Ronnie Barker ever have this grovelling devotion from the broadsheets?
what does the panel about "respectable", the c5 sitcom set in a brothel?

it is not esp.funny or well written, but i have all sorts of zeitgeisty reasons* for finding it fascinating -- and will write abt same maybe when i am not busy

for some reason i have not at all pinned down the two main characters -- who are both very sweet if not especially three-dimensional -- remind me of geoffrey palmer and judi dench in "as time goes by"

*actually it's just my age-old sitcom topic "who gets to have sex?", given a VERY HEIGHTENED context (= c5 in among the wall-to-wall porn docs)
Yeah - I'm kind of pised off about this. I read the pre opening week's reviews of Respectable and they were among the worst I'd ever seen. A reason in itself to catch it - but for some reason (is it on at the same time as something I usually watch?) it has passed me by. Cs I caught the last 10. 15 minutes of one episode and found it kind of intriguing; and bits of it genuinely funny (altho a couple of the characters seemed badly underwritten). There were a couple of gag set ups that certainly beat the pants off anything in EXTRAS.
fuckin FINALLY there are some people who, like me, are not constantly wowed and in stitches over ricky gervais and his hilarious antics with his recently acquired hollyweird pals.
i'm fed up of looking at his rotten smirking jowls and oh-so offTHAcuff remarks. rob brydon is marginally more funny, but the running joke - "i'm famous TOO!!!" - is wearing a bit thin.
respectable's on at 10 i think

it's right after WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE which i am addicted to -- the doc where slebs trace their ancestry which made jeremy paxton weep -- tho i think it DOES now clash w.the new series of "2 pints of lager and a packet of crisps" (which it is certainly better than) (no great claim)

a joke that made me chuckle from an earlier ep -- my rewording tho the original was not very well worded

"pippa [=his wife] would never give me a blowjob. she's doesn't like the hegemony of the penis"
"is that the cheesy knob stuff babe? just rinse it off!"

this is 'allo 'allo stuff really but we have passed thru the shamelessness barrier into interesting territory (given that the main relationship is between a client and a ho who NEVER GET IT ON bcz they are too fond of each other)
I knew Respectable was good when I actually laughed out loud (get out the flags) at the first one I saw, where the prostitute love object was idly wondering about what sort of "normal" man would ever be attracted to her and the doomed client gave a mildly self-mocking description of himself and she replied "oooh, I dunno - he sounds a bit creepy". Ummm.... maybe you had to be there.

Re Extras: Gervais made a HUGE error at the end of the first series putting his character into the (semi-successful) position he is now because it virtually destroys the entire Extras premises (such as it was). You'd have to be really blind (as the creator) not to twig this.
PS Fully agree with the unedifying self-pitying neediness of Courtney Love in that doc. Everett True once said he originally really liked her because he thought she didn't give a shit what people thought of her - but once he got to know her he realised that beneath the bravado she cared *desperately* what people thought of her - which surely hits the nail on the head.

I agree though, she has come up with the occasional stellar moment in her time and in her more lucid moments she's a throwback to the kind of provocative figure that the all-enveloping corporate entertainment machine has systematically eliminated over the past two decades. (Far too inefficient as cash-generators).

It was obvious though from those clips that the record is going to be a heap of shit. She'd be better off hooking up with Rick Rubin for something more primal - Linda Perry is the last person she ought to be consorting with. It's embarrasing that CL can't shake off her self-negating obsession with being 'popular' when she of all people ought to know that misfits generally *aren't* popular....... But so what?
If you just read Guardian Guide and Observer/Guardian Tv reviewers, you'd think that EXTRAS was the last word in sophisticated adult entertainment, and that RESPECTABLE and I'M WITH STUPID were beneath contempt or consideration. Altho I'm sure that - as with Grime and so much else - in a year or 18 months time these programmes will be 're assessed' and everyone will be all 'Oh I was a fan all along'...

I've had a mnor pop at Aquirre once before for being too up-and-down CLASS-ist in such matters - but it's hard *not* to see traces of that here. RESPECTABLE and STUPID - along with TWO PINTS OF LAGER (an intersting prog) and IDEAL - are dissed or dismissed as tawdry (altho in fact, are quite equivocal and ambiguous and smart); but when someone middle class and media-profile makes with bum and willie and vomit and 'bad taste' jokes - as in NIGHTY NIGHT and LEAGUE OF GENTLEMAN - the programmes do seem to be (re)viewed from an a priori entirely other perspective.

Same thing happened with LITTLE BRITAIN. By the time of mass hysteria attending the launch of Season Three the gag was utterly utterly desperate and played out (and really rather nasty, misogynist). The duo's heights had already been scaled with the fantastic POP PROFILES thing, and, at a stretch, the more organic SEASON 1 of LB.

I'm sure that if the Royal Court ran the equivalent of TWO PINTS OF LAGER or IDEAL or I'M WITH STUPID, there would be a mass and sighing efflorescence of praise...
Oh, and I meant to say - re the Courtney Love I *do* adore & admire: anyone for the overlooked and underrated CELEBRITY SKIN as a post-Grunge comedown TUSK ???

(And, not to get all Lucy Jordan on y'all, but ...)

I was once driven around downtown AUSTIN in an open top car by a very mouthy and hedonistic Texas gal. She passed me a beer, popped a tape in and began yowling along to DOLL PARTS in the cool six o clock neon-suffused air...
Courtney's ragged paradigm suddenly made a LOT of epiphanic sense right then and there...
(Actually - it was PHOENIX, and an Arizona gal.

Well - y'know, so many open top cars, so many hedonistic gals...
bah how are YOU the lucy jordan here! i nominate ME as one who will "never ride" etc etc
Still pissed off about the last 'Extras' - the USE of the child with Down's was tasteless (and believe me, I usually like bad taste gags). The child's FACE was the fucking punchline.
Whaddya know - 'Curb' had a related scenario; but with a lot more warmth and 'open' humour than Gervais can concieve (David's real 'target' was the cold, uptight showbiz execs).
Also hate 'LB' with it's lazy use of the softest targets - incontinent pensioners, the disabled, teenage girls, the poor, and basically anyone who has little chance of winning a Perrrier award. Funny how it's mainly liked by children (like a lot of supposedly 'adult' stuff)
who now have an 'official' green light to replay this contempt in the playground....
Here's another underrated ignored 'prole-com' - anyone catch 15 STOREYS HIGH while it was on? Was it shunted away because of those troublesome council-flat settings? Or was it the lack of open contempt for working-class characters? Or having a Chinese character who wasn't defined by his 'racial issue'?
Not posh or Perrier enough, chaps?
Agreed, BTW.
15 STOREYS was great.
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