Thursday, December 28, 2006

And I won't let go, and I can't let go

Oh yes, I forgot to mention. I've written some articles on rockbeatstone. Here is one about Bonnie Prince Billy's recent album, The Letting Go. Here is one on the Charlatans best-of collection called Forever. The Singles. They are both ace records that you should check out.

I received a nice email today from someone congratulating me on my review of Dylan's Modern Times. That was really nice, so thanks Matt wherever you are and if you are reading this. Perhaps he is going to become my first fan/groupie? I'm not sure that I want a fan or a groupie however. Especially a male one.

Also my blog is doing weird things with text dissapearing into thin air, so sorry for that. I have no clue why this is happening or how to remedy it. It works fine if you scroll down then back up for some reason.

Solid Rock

Sister, lemme tell you about a Vision I Saw (#3)

Visions that encapsulate London. #3 - Xmas Ghostown.

One of the weird things that I can never get over is how empty central London always is over the Xmas period. In between Christmas and the New Year, I have the unfortunate pleasure of working in the office. There are only two of us in, so that’s really weird, especially when you don’t have much in common and there’s not much to say.

The tube is unusually empty in the morning, there are about three people on who are quite obviously going shopping in the sales (you can tell by the glint in their eyes). Then there’s a few people with large suitcases who are on their way out, quitting the town for a New Years Eve celebration somewhere different, quite obviously happy that they are leaving a deserted ghost town behind.

Then there are all the small local shops and restaurants which are boarded up for the Xmas period, hand-written signs solemnly declare that they are closed for the holiday season and will re-open on January 2nd. And there’s me wondering around this empty landscape, wishing I could be someplace else, taking a massive lunch break and spending twenty minutes smoking a fag.

London at Xmas - Ghost Town

Working at Xmas – there is no point. I’ve done no work, I’m spending most of the time watching YouTube videos. The only time the phone rings it is the boss to check that we are still physically present in the office. Mentally, I’m far, far away. Still, I’m happy that there are very few of us experiencing London like this – it feels like it is something special that I will be able to tell my grandchildren all about, or something. No, le me rephrase that in a more truthful manner - it feels shit to be working when everyone else is on holiday.

Read other Visions of London

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Soon you will be dancing the fandango

Christmas can be a very lonely time for single people, yeah sure you're with your family and all but it's still a bit of a shame that you have no special one to share your happiness with. So I guess it can be quite depressing. However, it is not as depressing as BBC TV's Christmas schedule.

I stopped watching Eastenders about three years ago, I calculated that watching the programme for four hours a week was costing me over 200 hours a year (or 8.67 days a year) of my time so I stopped watching it. However, my family are avid 'Enders fans so I was almost forced to watch it. Even over the Xmas period it was all depressing with Pauline Fowler dead, fights aplenty and just a general aura of East-end gloom. Why anyone chooses to watch this, I don't know. It's no wonder that people get depressed at Xmas time with this stuff on the telly.

The other Xmas programme I watched (well again, I was forced to watch by my family) was the final of Strictly Come Dancing. If ever there was a candidate for euthenasia then it is Bruce Forsyth. He sang a special song at the end as well. So as well as being famous for being a game show host he can now claim to be the heir to Frank Sinatra. Bloody awful. Anyway back to the dancing. They get 'celebrities' to do ballroom dancing, the public votes on which one is best and proceeds go to charity. The funniest bit in the show was where both couples were dancing to 'Perfect Day' by Lou Reed. Funny as hell to see this on prime time television, when the song was originally about scoring and doing heroin. It's great to see that the BBC have hijacked this song and that the irony is lost on almost all of the viewing public.

Anyway, what i'm trying to say is that Xmas TV was shite this year.

Romance in Durango

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Watch the river flow

I have spent the last thirty minutes on YouTube. What a great online resource it is. OK so you can see clips of people doing homemade Jackass style stunts but you can also see some amazing concert footage.

Here is an amazing version of 'The River' by Bruce Springsteen from 1979. He sings it with such emotion and raw power before he had released it and played it about 5,000 times in concert - just look at the tears in his eyes. I love the lyrics, such a brilliant song about love and relationships and how things can change. I especially love these lyrics, "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true? Or is it something worse?". True rock n roll poetry. Unfortunately, the video clip stops towards the end of the song which is a shame as it is such an intense performance that you never want it to end.


Watching the River Flow

Thursday, December 21, 2006

And for Christmas, buy her a drum

As you all probably know Christmas is now here. For anyone who has still not bought all their presents, shame on you and I hope you enjoy the seasonal crush at the shops. I know that Oxford Street (or any town or city centre) will be absolutely heaving with people who will all be thinking about getting their presents earlier in 2007 but probably won't.

For those looking for gift ideas, I give you the George W. Bush doll. Designed to commemorate the moment that he officially announced the end of hostilities in Iraq (what a joke!), it features the former alcoholic and drug user in full aircraft regalia. Cool, I think you'll agree. You can buy it here from Wartoyz.

Or if that isn't interesting enough, you can get a George W. Bush talking doll. He says interesting things like "working hard to put food on your family", "freedom itself was attacked", and "I come from Texas". You can get that from I actually quite like the idea of that one.

Anyway, Merry Xmas from me and the Ramones.

She Belongs to Me

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ev'rybody wants to be my friend

Hello everyone. I've finally decided to catch up with everyone else and get myself a MySpace page.

Come and be my virtual friend. As of time of writing I have zero pals.

I still don't know why I have done this or what I will do with it. I'll probably just end up surfing other people's pages looking for attractive women to become friends with until I get bored after five minutes. I think others can comment on my page as well, although quite what they'd like to say about me, I don't know.

Edited to add that I now have five friends including (somehwat implausibly for the first two, I think) the Charlatans, Bob Dylan, the Tailors, Gemma and Will. I rock. Apparently Bob Dylan has 62,427 friends on MySpace - no wonder he keeps himself to himself. One of these friends is John Denver, so make of that what you will.

Long-Distance Operator

Friday, December 15, 2006

If God's on our side

Yesterday I put up a link to an article I wrote about Southampton FC. I mentioned Matthew Le Tissier who was possibly the most talented and underrated footballer ever to have graced the Premiership, he was a legend and a gentleman and not driven by money like so many of the modern players are today. Here are his best 10 goals courtesy of YouTube. Enjoy. Many of you reading this from abroad won't have heard of him, but he was absolutely amazing - he should have been an England regular. Hell, they should have built the entire team around him. His nickname at Southampton was 'Le God'.

He scored some great goals, there are possibly twenty or thirty which should have been included. He only ever missed one penalty in his professional career. My favourites are the one vs Blackburn and both of the goals vs Newcastle. Although the one vs Arsenal in the final match at Southampton's old stadium was something special. He had the romance element of football down to a tee.

In other news I went to see a band called Second Sense. Read all about it here.

With God on Our Side

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I'm goin' down south

A second post today for you lucky readers. I've had my first article published on a website called Sportingo. It's a place where sports fans can submit their writings to be published as a kind of communal blog. I wrote it about Southampton FC and the future in a money driven footballing world.

Read the article here.


A master in the arts

It’s sometimes great working in central London. While I was on a Xmas shopping errand on Oxford Street I stumbled upon Santa’s Ghetto. This is the now annual event which showcases controversial art by people like the now infamous Banksy. Many have criticised the show as being too commercial and just an attempt to flog rubbish at inflated prices. Maybe it is or maybe it isn’t, I just know that I laughed. A lot. I don’t even pretend to know anything about art but I do know what I like and this kind of guerrilla art is, in my opinion brilliant. Below are some photos from the shop/exhibition which I’ve stolen from this person’s flickr account. Thanks to them for taking the photos in the first place.

I particularly like the vend-a-limb and the picture by Peter Kennard (apparently Ken Livingstone's favourite artist) which was in the front window of the exhibition right on the pavement of Blair using his mobile phone to take a picture of himself in front of a massive explosion. Great political statements, in my opinion and quite obviously created to offend and perplex.

They also had original Modern Toss prints. If you know Modern Toss then bravo, you are now as cool as me. It’s a great cartoon series. Here an example of Modern Toss. You can find it in the Guardian guide every saturday if you live in the UK.

Of course all of these prints, photos, works of art and the associated books are selling for outrageous prices and any of these would be the must-have gift for any art lover. However, it was great just being able to witness these works of art in an accessible place for once and not being surrounded by the artistic, literary and cultural elite so to speak. What a great exhibition. Let’s hope they do it again in 2007.

Ballad of Donald White

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Or am I still acting like the boss?

A few months ago I told you about seeing Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band at Wembley Arena. Last week it was officially named as my gig of the year. Here is the review I wrote for Rockbeatstone of the two nights in November.

Are You Ready

Monday, December 11, 2006

Like in a dream, when someone wakes up and screams

On Sunday for the first, and hopefully last, time in my life I supported Arsenal. As a football fan and having grown up in the 1980s you were always taught to hate Arsenal. They were boring and their fans were dull. All the cool kids supported teams like Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton because they were, at the time, playing attacking, beautiful football and Arsenal were dull as shit winning 1-0 all the time.

Of course that has now changed – Arsenal play attacking football now and they have gone all continental on us, but I still hate them. Football is about irrational love/hate, and my relationship with Arsenal is no different. Yesterday I felt sick to my bones that I had to support them. The reason why I was supporting them? Because they were playing Chelsea.

Chelsea is the new team to hate in English football. It’s because they have come in and just bought their way to success, playing relatively dull football (I mean it’s not as bad as Arsenal were doing the eighties and early nineties, but close). And i'm not the only one who hates them, a few weeks agao the entire pub wanted Man Utd to beat them and yesterday the entire pub was 'rooting', as the Yanks say, for Arsenal. They represent all that is wrong with football. A Russian billionaire with a murky past comes in and spends all of his “hard-earned” billions on a football team, buying superstars at a whim as if it were his play thing. There is one player who is especially reviled. He represents all that is wrong with Chelsea and modern football. He is Ashley Cole.

According to the Observer newspaper yesterday, Ashley (or Ca$hley, as he is fondly referred to) is paid £13,000 a day. That’s right you read me right, a day. (Incidentally, Chelsea’s total wage bill is a whopping £315,068 a day, in case you were wondering). A staggering amount of money. It’s the fact that he met in secret with them while he was under contract at Arsenal, spent the rest of that season complaining that he wasn’t loved and then moved on, insisting that it wasn’t for the money, that makes him such a hate figure. He is simply the epitome of what’s gone wrong in football due to too much money.

His autobiography has thankfully bombed – no one was interested in hearing about his problems and his excuses for leaving Arsenal because we already know the real answer. Quite who thought that Ca$hley would have an interesting story to tell is beyond me. Every single non-Chelsea football fan hates him. Whoever decided to buy his story should be fired immediately. He is a pampered and spoilt football star who doesn’t know the meaning of honour or what it’s like to support a football team.

Ca$hley also has a famous wife. Cheyrl Tweedy of Girls Aloud. Below is a photo that they released at the time of their wedding for the media. Note the lovely matching clothes and the fact that he’s got his fingers crossed (probably in tribute to the national lottery, seeing as he’s won his millions). I love the ‘DREAM’ number plate on the rolls, a nice touch. That photo and his person makes me want to puke. Also who in their right mind finds that photo acceptable - it’s the tackiest thing in the world ever. God, I hate him. I even hate him enough to support Arsenal for a match.

Series of Dreams

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sister, lemme tell you about a Vision I Saw (#2)

Visions that encapsulate London – #2: Commuter rage

Number two in this regular series. Today I’m looking at commuter rage. Road rage is a well documented phenomena, but in London we have commuter rage. It’s been especially apparent over these last few weeks as tubes haven’t been working properly.

A few weeks ago when I was staying temporarily in Leyton and the central line was down. Luckily I had a tip off from my friend and walked to a bus stop a couple of stops away from the tube station, got a seat easily and sat down among the other three people on the bus. When we got to the tube station as normal and there were about 1,000 people at the bus station, the bus stopped people started running to get on. People were pushing, the bus became so full that the driver couldn’t close the doors, no-one wanted to get off. Then two women started throwing punches at each other and clawing their hair out. A proper cat-fight.

After a short moment of arousal, I realised that this is something that only Londonders experience. All that good-will and charity after the 7/7 bombings had been thrown out of the window because people were actually going to be late for work. Selfishness and the product of the Thatcher years have left Londoners with no compassion for anyone but themselves.

The District Line was particularly busy that Day

The tube is also a place where this happens. I saw two grown women (Again! I think women like to fight around me) having a massive shouting match because one accidentally put her umbrella too close to the other person for comfort. I know that this is unpleasant, I know that the tube is crowded and wouldn’t pass EU health and safety rules for transporting cattle, but it’s only a journey into work. Can’t we all be civil? This shouting match went on for about three stops, by the end I couldn’t help but look at them with a grin on my face, until one of them said to me, “and you can wipe that stupid smile off your face you twat”. She was trying to spread commuter rage.

The problem is that people lead stressful lives nowadays, but we have to remember that this is part of living in London and it’s a by-product of needing to commute. We should all also realise that their jobs won’t suddenly go if they are five minutes late, and that their offices will not grind to a halt. The world will not stop if we’re not at our desk at 8.59am on the dot. People tend to loose sight of the bigger picture. "Your life is not your job", is what I will shout the next time I see two people fighting on the way into work.

Read other 'Visions of London'

Precious Angel

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

You shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you

This video needs no introduction. The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan on stage together performing 'Like a Rolling Stone'.

Like a Rolling Stone

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

And life is brief

Paolo is an Italian music journalist who has a blog and sometimes comments on my posts. He's very funny in the online world, haven't met him for real yet, so I don't know whether this is genuine, or just an electronic put-on.

He wrote an amazing blog post about Joe Strummer (of the Clash) and Rick Danko (of the Band). You should all read it.

Tears of Rage

Who's gonna throw that minstrel boy a coin?

I went to see Badly Drawn Boy at the Bloomsbury Ballroom a few weeks ago. It was brilliant, what a talented songwriter and performer, definately worth going to see him if you can.
Read about it here.

Minstrel Boy

Monday, December 04, 2006

With No Direction Home

A few days ago I told you about hell and about how it was being drunk in a hotel room. This was wrong. Hell is missing the last tube by a minute because the connecting train was ten minutes late, then walking for half an hour to the bus stop for a night bus, waiting half an hour, getting on the bus, falling asleep and waking up at 3am in Zone 6 , in an area you know absolutely nothing about (Oh, the joys of Chingford Mount!).

The 118 118 service I called gave me a mini-cab number but it was dead! And after all of those bleeding adverts for 118 numbers last year, I could only remember that one.

Of course, by the time I got home it was 3.45am. “But that’s OK it’s the weekend”, I hear you say. Well that would be fine but I had to get up at 9am and transfer across London to move my stuff into a new home. Still it's all over now and I have moved into a new place. So I guess from now on I have no excuse to not know the direction home. Just have to stay clear of too much sauce.

Like a Rolling Stone

Friday, December 01, 2006

A year has passed and gone

It’s that time of the year again. Lists. I hate them but it seems like every blog in the world has them, so I guess I’ll do the same. Here are my personal highlights from the world of entertainment in 2006.

Best Concert: And the winner is…..Bruce Springsteen.
Despite my security scare, which I wrote about a few weeks ago, I had a wicked time at these concerts. These were quite simply, breathtaking gigs which were better (gasp!) that Dylan or the Stones (my other two favourites). He was on fire on stage, blitzing through amazing songs written over a hundred years ago with a seventeen piece Rock 'n Folk band. What a man, what a band and what a concert (or two concerts if you want to get technical). If you ever have a chance to see him live do. I would quite happily sell a kidney just for 10 minutes watching the Boss in person again.

Honourable mentions go to: Arctic Monkeys at Brixton Academy, the Raconteurs at Lowlands and the Charlatans at Brixton (always good for a laugh). Oh! and the Stones as well.

Best CD: And the winner is….Not sure yet.
Tough one this, there have been some good tunes in 2006. The Arctic Monkeys was good, although I haven’t listened to it in ages. Despite initially dismissing this as a record which will not last, I’ve listened to Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins', Rabbit Fur Coat loads in the last few weeks. Amazing record and a lovely, sensual and real voice. I’ve also loved Tapes 'n Tapes debut album the Loon, which technically was a 2005 album. So I’ll have to go with… Jenny Lewis. However, I change my mind about this kind of thing all of the time, so perhaps it’s all irrelevant.

Best film: And the winner is….The Departed.
Martin Scorcese is absolutely amazing, nearly everything he does is ace. The Departed is no different. It is also the first film where I’ve not shouted ‘Matt Daaaaamon’ (see Team America) when he came on the screen in the cinema, because even he looked cool. The rest of the cast is great with Jack Nicholson, Leonardo Di Caprio, Mark Wahlberg and Ray Winstone. Brilliant soundtrack as well. Watch this now, and then buy it on DVD when it comes out and make all your friends watch it. If this doesn't win an Oscar then the whole ceremony is some kind of a sham (I know that it is and I also know that it probably won't, except for 'best crew canteen', or something like that).

Best TV: And the winner is….The Daily Show.
I started watching this when it came on TV in the UK on More4 this year. Great programme - political satire at its best and most rude. Like Have I Got News For You, but on cocaine. Brilliant stuff. Also there’s so much in America to be rude about that they never run out of ideas. Great to see that there are some Americans who are still normal and who see Bush as a buffoon. To be fair before the programme came on air over here in the UK, we only thought that Michael Moore was really anti-Bush.

Bob Dylan's Dreams

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