Thursday, 30 June 2011
So on the run-in, I am down to a snail’s pace. The swiftness of a tortoise. Atlases both, with the weight of their own world upon their broad shoulders. The Native American myth - Iroquois is it-? Yes here we are (‘verification needed’) - of the giant turtle that catches the mother-angel inadvertently somersaulting from heaven, who then proceeds to sow the whole world on the creature’s back. Hosannas all round now, for the weird and wonderful parabolas of the Information Superhighway, which saves me from going totally round the bend.
For here’s me stuck in my office, sowing nothing, coaxing naught into life, other than the beady eye of a blinking cursor. Management’s vulturous iris, scanning me for inactivity. Holding my fibre optic nerve, now my mouse tumbles that circling vultures on the thermal gyre are called a kettle. I’ve milked that excuse for leaving my workstation once already this morning. Double creamed by returning to wash my mug at the sink.
Next I unearth the truffle, that the collective noun is a ‘venue’ of vultures. If only I had one such to be at for an appointed time. Whisking me out of here, so that I might further dawdle in meandering my way to the destination. Oh for a bannered headline limned into the diary template. But I am not consequential enough to merit a coloured tag all to myself. Bereft of any meeting for my line manager to sign off on my behalf. For their name to give me body.
However, though unappointed, I do in fact have someplace where I can go alright. But nothing so lofty as to deem it a venue. A bolthole just about captures the nub of it. The only question, is it yet time? The answer is posted up high on the wall above the facsimile machine. It just hasn’t transmitted itself satisfactorily to me as yet. It appears to have prolapsed.
Who’s to say that the wall clock is accurate? My desktop icon insistently begs to differ by a full four minutes. No matter how often I reset the confounded thing, back it jumps to its own silicon mediated timekeeping. Could always page the speaking clock- does that even still exist in this digital age?- but all our calls are monitored, so how incriminating might that look? I would be court-martialled and make no mistake. Padded shoulders lopped off with a letter opener. Probably my boss’s faux-jewel, imitation curved dagger brought back from an ersatz Turkish bazaar, as part of an authentic ‘taste of the Orient’ excursion. Not that I sport padded shoulders of course. I’m not one for power dressing capaciously enough to light up the national grid. Unlike some I could mention around here.
Wouldn’t surprise me if the higher-ups employed someone just to sit and stare at the server, auditing what websites we visit. I bet all our virtual preferences, are laid bare in our actual personnel files. Still, I’ve nothing to hide on that score. News, current events, isn’t that what we represent here anyway? I’m just checking up on the real life movements of some of our stilted inmates. Sorry, exhibits. Shame it forms no part of the remit of the Waxwork Museum's bought ledger team.
Don’t suppose there’s much in the way of clockwatching from any of my team-mates. (From my crossword fiend days on the London Underground, ‘team’ and ‘mate’ are anagrams of one another, but there again so are ‘tame’ and ‘meat’). Too busy adorning their eager-beaver time sheets. Constructing their baroque dams to prevent the walls of commerce from falling in. If any of them are chancing to peek at the internet, it’s probably to scout for bargain holidays in order to use up their allowance. Only as a point of principle mind. An entitlement is an entitlement after all. Something you perceive you’re owed. Certainly it’s not because travel broadens their minds. Ergo cheap, quickly tarnished letter openers. They’ll likely spend their whole time abroad, scavenging for gobbets of gossip on our more significant movers and shakers, bolted down on their plinths beneath us in the galleries. Reading the English papers from abroad to sustain them. Clodhopping carbon footprints just to stand culturally still in place.
I could always just chance it. And what if I’m caught in the act, could I in all conscience defend my corner? For instance, attribute it on the lack of synchronicity within office chronometry (see, not such a tight ship as they like to imagine). Or maybe point the finger at parallax. That, from where I’m sitting, to my eyes it certainly appeared to be eleven. Hmm, the colonnade sharpness of Roman numerals rather than curvy Arabic ones probably rebuffs that ploy. Or even pin it on the irregular spin of the earth on its axis (verification needed). It is only a meantime we proceed from after all.
My gluteus-oh-so-maximus, decompresses the air bag of my bottom back into my seat. Meantime. A time of miserly intent. Time swiped back from the credit card of life. At usurious interest. Hold all my calls. Not that I ever receive any I might honestly welcome. Only wearying demands for someone else’s money, which just happens to pass through my hands. I am dirtied by the lucre and smeared by those soliciting me for it. We were only following purchase orders... Time for a serpentine cleansing. I run my eye over the path of least supervision through the office and mobilise my facial musculature to blazon ‘unabashed’. Then dash it all, if the padding of my chair doesn’t go and clarion a great sough, when released from the burden of cupping my volume. And my mouse goes for a burton too, its cable all snarled around one of the chair’s armatured wheels. The best laid plans of mice and... Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound.
The clock didn't chime, but my Boss' voice did...
Thursday, 23 June 2011
The skin and bone skinflint wasn't too skint to buy some skinflicks and some skunk to skin up, some heroin to skin pop and enough drink for a skinful. Skinny-dipping in a sinful sink-hole.
Persistent sinking of some of his sink-fund currency into the sinkhole of his sunken and shrunken rectitude, his addictions now had him hooked line and sinker, but he was too far sunk to possess a sinking feeling nor sink through the floor.
Four skinheads in their skintight Sta-Pressed and inked skin art, who only ever went skin deep in their prejudices, perennially looking to skin you alive with their oxblood boots and skin peelers. But he was able to duck into a skin bar and escape these snickering skinflaps by the skin of his teeth, leaving him with a skinny lip, skin abrasions and flesh nicks. Some skinny malinky skank was flashing her skinflowers at him and he felt his own skinflute tooting. He felt a rising urge to sink his sausage, but when he went to his skin-hugging pocket, only to find his sunken treasure hoard had sunk without trace.
Sink the Bismarck sunk.
Wednesday, 22 June 2011
1) U2 Around the time of their debut LP "Boy" I saw them supporting punkers Stiff Little Fingers. (You could say there's been a seismic shift in the bands' relative fortunes from that day). I quite liked the "Boy" album and the single "11 o Clock Tick Tock" but went off them with all subsequent releases. Even then their fans had extrapolated a religio-spiritual image for the band, for as we were entering the venue, there was a collection for the crew of a lifeboat disaster and as I punk-rockerly stormed past the bucket without contributing, I was regaled with "I hope you don't get caught out at sea with your pants down". Not a very Christian attitude I thought to myself...
2) The Smiths Again early in their career, they were supporting then Rough Trade label mates The Fall. I always thought it likely that Mark E Smith just fancied having a band sharing his soubriquet to further exalt his status. I knew the Smithws were being talked about in reverential tones as the next big thing, but when Morrisey swanned on stage and hit us at the front of the stage with his gladioli and set off my hay fever, he lost any possible patronage on my part. I've never liked The Smiths, even if that made me a social pariah at university, where all the young men in long coats mourning Ian Curtis of Joy Division's death, switched their doomy love to Morrisey and thus were able to avoid a wardrobe readjustment. Atchooo!
3) Sonic Youth They were already established as 80's New York's finest purveyors of art noise and I'd seen them headline a previous UK tour. But in a depressed alternative scene after post-punk faded away into synthesizers and foppish New Romanticism, those pimply brothers from Glasgow The Jesus And Mary Chain had whipped up a storm and were on the front pages of the music press week after week. A fuzzbox applied to classic American surf/bubblegum rock and roll didn't offer a whole hell of a lot that was new under the sun, but the fact that their headline sets lasted no more than 15 minutes and thereby frequently prompted a riot among the audience had conferred instant notoriety on them. But as always happens when you play with fire, the band get worn down by the violence and infamy and had taken a break from playing live. This gig was their first London one after that break and Sonic Youth were scandalously below them on the bill. The Youth played a knee-trembling 20 minute set and left the stage with the feedback squall still shrieking at the end of "Expressway to Yr Skull" for a full three minutes. They blew away the Chain and showed them what a wall of guitar noise really was. Part way into the Chain's opener, I found myself wishing that their set would last its normal 15 minutes. They eked it out to 25 and I felt cheated that the Youth had been forced to cut short theduration of their normal set.
4) Serious Drinking/ Millions Of Dead Cops. The Dead Kennedys, West Coast hardcore punk at its theatrical finest, were touring the UK. Newly signed labelmates Millions of Dead Cops and two UK punk bands made for a strong bill. After a plodding set from The Subhumans, MDC took to the stage. I'd already got familiar with their debut LP, but their set still just blew me away. With songs like "John Wayne Was A Nazi" and "Corporate Deathburger", well you kind of get the picture. Punk rock played at 100mph, with no let up or pause for breath. It was intense. Serious Drinking then took to the stage. A comedy punky-SKA with songs like "Love On the Terraces" and "Bobby Moore was Innocent" they were the ideal kick back antidote to MDC. Perfect for serving up the live phenomenon that were the Dead Kennedys. A truly top night's beer-and spittle-soaked entertainment. Hey don't knock it until you've tried it!
5) World Domination Enterprises/ Loop. These two groups had an honourable deal whereby they took turns to headline, with the other going on first. I was never much of a Loop fan, but they were far more popular than the ghetto World Dom. The version I saw was with Loop as the headliners, but they couldn't compete with the dub-heavy reverberations of World Dom, a three piece who made one hell of a quaking racket. The band sort of expired when their drummer became a Jehovah's Witness. Pity.
6) Swans Again The Fall had afforded a soon to be vital band an early outing as their support act. I just remember spending their entire set with my finers in my ears pressed up against the speakers because they were so loud. But when John Peel played "Clay Man" on the radio, my whole body started twitching involuntarily to the rhythm as its muscle memory kicked and and overpowered me. That's how powerful their short set had been. I was a convert and I hadn't even realised it.
7) Birthday Party. Bit of a cheat this one as they were a double headline with The Fall. The two most important underground bands of 1984 or whenever it was. The Hammersmith Palais toilets were full of people shooting up. The auditorium full of Mark E Smith clones complaining at all the Nick Cave look-alikes, and Nick Cave clones complaining about the Mark E Smith wannabees. Was I possibly the only person in there to see both bands? When the Birthday Party finished the opening set, those around me at the lip of the stage all ceded their berths to be replaced by Fall fans, I've never experienced that before. They were both great by the way.
8) A.C.Temple. Remember them? I barely do and that's despite the fact they seemed to crop up on virtually every bill I turned up to. Never making it past the first act. They weren't realy that good. I never bought any of their records (unlike say Swans or World Dom, bought on the strength of seeing them live and not knowing who they were). I salute their dogged tenacity. There were other bands always turning up on bills, like The Moodists (named by ace comic Stewart Lee as one of his favourite bands) and an early incarnation of The Shamen before they turned poppy sloppy with "E's Are Good". They were terrible as a plod rock band.
So there you have it. 7 support bands of decidedly varying calibre. Let's hear it for the warm up guys!
Monday, 20 June 2011
Thursday, 16 June 2011
Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Saturday, 11 June 2011
Originally I wanted to post my top 10 album covers and extol the art. But I couldn't come up with 10. I stopped buying LPs what ten, twelve years ago? CD covers being much smaller didn't quite cut it and now downloads don't even require covers if you don't opt for the thumbnail.
I'm just in the process of commissioning two different book covers and some modern-day majuscule calligraphy. The majuscules won't be able to be replicated online in any useful way, so that's destined for a print only project. The other two are book covers for kindle books I aim to have out soon.
But do I need covers for kindle editions, other than a thumbnail for online browsing? When you download, you get a poorly contrasted black and white washed out version of your original coloured design, which does no favours to any conception you might have had. There is of course no need for spine or back cover artwork either. Of course one could go to other e-service providers and maybe retain the integrity of the cover design. But what would be the point?
In the same way, perhaps more so, that I couldn't come up with 10 album covers, classical book covers also turn out to be less than precious. Kafka, Burroughs, Camus, anyone you care to mention are forever being reissued in new editions with different covers each time. My Penguin Classic Camus, all have covers bearing artwork not commissioned for the book, paintings by Magritte, Picasso and Masson merely offering some tangential relationship to the title. All my Salinger paperbacks were in an edition from 30 years ago, where the covers were just plain silver-grey, unadorned by anything but title and author name. My "Catcher In The Rye" recently fell apart from old age, so I replaced it and the cover is now some red and white combo, with a black strip for the calligraphy. It really doesn't matter a jot.
Book covers may once have mattered when browsing in a bookshop, but now? Kindle certainly places no value on them. And yet I would be loath to stop working with book designers and graphic artists and give them my commissions, because to me the cover is part of the book qua artefact. I love what the designers bring to the table. Exactly what is being eroded by the trend towards e-versions. Maybe one day my modern-day majuscules can be read on an e-reader. But until then, I will continue to strive to place part of the book's conception and creativity upon its cover(s).
Just for the record, here is my facvourite album cover of all time. But it would have made for a dull article as a chart of one.
The Cure - "Three Imaginary Boys"
Thursday, 9 June 2011
Every detail of you traced in my mind like a line drawing
How the lines of experience crisscross your face like a delta of dried up tributaries
Your aquiline lineaments pressed, recessed and shrouded into geological strata
Parallel lines, fault lines
Hard lines on a hard life
Contour lines countenancing
A fish caught on a longline with abated breath.
Once set early in your timeline
A ton of lines given to the pipsqueak, seeking to press all rebelliousness from you like a juice reamer, until the pips squeak
Lined up outside the headmaster's office to await further correction
His three-line whip cubed as cat o'nine tails
Laying it on the line, thick with a trowel
Trying to make you toe the line
To tread the line of least resistance
A life lived by tramlines
Guidelines on a leash
The pre-written storyline awaiting your signature on the dotted line
You learned pretty fast to draw your own line in the sand, one which saline tears could not efface
Your base camp baseline
Your shored up shoreline
A line which no one could cross
Without battle lines being drawn up
Alignments, geometric and confederate
Lines of attack, lines of asymmetry
Front line salients and invulnerabilities
You hole them plumb beneath the plimsoll line with your low blows and rabbit punches
Blindsided sightlines, they wanted to believe in you
Clotted lines of command, they were desperate to follow you
Everywhere lies behind enemy lines
To all bar you, piercing clarity as to your throughline
Crystalline clear conscience
Preternatural cunning, ley line intuitiveness
The lines you fed your allies
The consummate actor who knows his lines like the back of his hand
And the life lines on the palms to boot
Friends bought your command performance hook, line and sinker
Until you would extend them no further lines of credit
And their lifelines ran out
Over-extended supply lines
As you cut the line on them
You lined them up for execution
They withered and perished in the line of 'friendly' fire
Still crediting themselves acting in the line of duty
Corpses and carrion picked clean all along the line
Flatlined them flat broke
As you lined your pockets with dead men's silver, your neck ringed with their gold teeth
For you the bottom line is all
Somewhere along the breadline the penny dropped for these paupers
And they drew a line under their misery
Disinclining ever to become ensnared in your traplines again.
Down the abandoned line
The decline set in
As your waistline spread
Your sleek aerodynamic lines
No longer streamlined by toned sinew
As your self-discipline dissipated
Once your rush of adrenaline could no longer be maintained
Unable to bear the loadline of your thrill seeking
Putting your life on the line time after time
Nor through the lines of cocaine you snorted
The amphetamines you mainlined
Pipelined direct to your hardened heart
The sclerotic arterial lines
The body's looming deadline
Life's killer punchline
But just so we don't have our lines crossed, there can be no misunderstanding
You bust my bloodline as unforgivingly as my noose bursts the blood vessels in your face
My aborted lineage terminated by you
Ushered prematurely across the finish line into death
Now it is you I have dangling at the end of my line
Hoist on a gantline
Plunging neckline put in, rather than on the line
Gasping, hissing down your hotline to the devil
Your new line manager for eternity
He stands second in line behind me, for the defilements I will wreak
On-line with my camcorder streaming your pain to the world
Maybe a headline in tomorrow’s newspapers
Before your very permanent deadline
618 words, 86 lines, 85 'lines' (1 phonetic)