Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Yeah But No But

Overheard on the way home this evening:

A mobile phone chirps.

Teenage Girl #1: (answers phone) Yeah, who is it?
Teenage Girl #1: Don’t be calling me on my phone, ya facking cunt!
Hangs Up
Teenage Girl #2: Who was that?
Teenage Girl #1: My gran.

Aaaaaand scene.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

It’s Just A Shot Away

There is a pub directly opposite my home, and in the three years I’ve lived here, I’ve never set foot in it. The one and only time I’ve crossed the threshold was on the day we came to view the house, and Mrs. AKA and I ducked in there for a quick drink to have a chat to discuss whether or not we should buy the house.

Until tonight. One of my homeboys has decamped from the ‘Hood to live up here as well, and we didn’t know where to go to for a drink. It was convenient and close, and it was raining, so we said “What the fuck?”

It’s great! A quiet little dive where you are left to your own devices whilst the divine fretwork of the indestructible Keith Richards shimmies over the opening seconds of the Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter, warming your insides whilst that first cold beer goes down nice and smooth.

And, with the new licensing laws in full effect here, you can sit and drink until the next day begins, heading out the door as the closing bars of Wild Horses filters through the tinny speakers.

Right now, I need to hit the shower before I bed down next to my wife and start working on my hangover. But I know I’ll be going there again. Wild Horses couldn’t drag me away.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Unfriendly Fire

I know it’s been quiet around here lately, but the words, they are a-brewing. Oh, yes. Stewing in my brainpot to get nice and strong, bitter and toxic.

Anyway, I just found this article, hyperlinked below. I always think I’m some jaded cynic, but when I read things like this, that make me feel so fucking angry and upset, I realise that I’m probably just a na├»ve, blind, ignorant idealist who seems to keep forgetting how warped and doomed this world and its stupid people are. Get your rage on:

Gunned down: the teenager who dared to walk across his neighbour's prized lawn

Friday, March 10, 2006

Ev'rybody take it to the top

Wednesday night. I ventured out for a much-needed night in the Big Smoke. The rain was coming down hard and heavy that night. As soon as I strode out of the underground, pushed out into the evening at Piccadilly Circus, it was like putting on a favourite jacket. Comfortable and comforting, baggy and worn, conforming perfectly to my shape from a lifetime of use. Slipping London on over my shoulders, the cold shards of rain whipped at my hair and nipped at my skin, pinching me awake. The air was twitching with vibrating umbrellas, jerking from the onslaught of the rain. I hate umbrellas. Never use them. I like to feel the rain on me, and I always like to be able to see the sky, and get a good sense of the world around and above me.

Striding down Haymarket with water glancing off the leather and soaking into the denim, the superhuman slap-and-pop funk of the Brothers Johnson’s Stomp thrumming in my ears, it was one of those moments of inexplicable perfection when everything feels Just Right, a serendipitous confluence that leads to The Way That Things Should Be.

Five minutes later, and I was drying off in an auditorium in the ICA taking in Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s Mirrormask, a whimsical confection that riffs on everything from Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz to Labyrinth, highly-stylised but lacking the human hook that makes you care about all the intricate and beautiful design work that’s gone into it. An interesting experiment, not without its charms, but I always felt that I was looking at something, and not immersing myself in it.

But the rain and the night and the city and the Stomp? I dissappeared into that like Cleopatra into a pool of luxurious ass milk.

(Do you have any idea how much fun it is to type the words “luxurious ass milk”?)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Gordon Parks 1912 - 2006

Anyone who knows me knows that Shaft is my favourite film of all-time. There are a multitude of reasons why, and I'm positive I've mentioned a handful of them here many times over the years.

Gordon Parks was a hugely talented man, and, along with Ernest Tidyman, Isaac Hayes and Richard Roundtree, one of the main architects of that iconic piece of pop culture history. But Shaft was only a small part of his life's work. Photographer, writer, director, musician...Parks was endlessly gifted.

"You know, the camera is not meant just to show misery," Parks said in a 1998 interview. "You can show things that you like about the universe, things that you hate about the universe. It's capable of doing both."

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Thought For The Day

While the cat’s away, the mouse has a fuck of a lot more work to do. The kind of overpowering workload that makes me want to shoot metal bolts into the back of people’s heads. You know, the way they kill rats.

Just wanted to share the love.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

It’s Just A Ride

In the early 90s, I was fortunate enough to see Bill Hicks perform live, not once but twice, in the West End. It is not an overstatement to say that both those nights were life-changing experiences for me. Not a month goes by without me slipping on one of his albums and immersing myself in his words.

He was more than a comedian (although I’m sure he would have disputed that), and his routines remain vital and powerful, due to the timelessness of the material: The War in Iraq, the Bush presidency, the corruption of popular culture, the skewed agenda of news media. And, of course, they were damn funny. The world hasn’t come a long way since the days when Bill Hicks was one of our most perceptive and articulate commentators.

I am grateful every day that I got the opportunity to see him weave his magic over a packed house. When he was on fire, he could hold a room in his grasp for hours, luring you in with dick jokes, before seamlessly moving on to more substantial material, the roaring laughter giving way imperceptibly to a hypnotised silence.

He was 32 when he died. I’m going to be 34 this year. I find it hard to reconcile those two facts sometimes. For some reason I can’t quite nail down, the following segment from one of his shows has been gnawing away at me today, and I wanted to share it with you.

“The world is like a ride at an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it's very brightly coloured and it's very loud and it's fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: Is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, 'Hey – don't worry, don't be afraid ever, because this is just a ride ...' And we ... kill those people. Ha ha, 'Shut him up. We have a lot invested in this ride. Shut him up. Look at my furrows of worry. Look at my big bank account and my family. This just has to be real.' It's just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. But it doesn't matter, because – it's just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money. A choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defences each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”