alexsarll: (default)
Just over a week now since I got back from Prague; the now-traditional late anniversary trip which has taken us ever further afield, first Margate, then Bruges, and this year Mitteleuropa. The first time I've flown in getting on for a decade, too, and I still can't abide the ridiculous mixture of security theatre and profiteering which we still have to go through on account of one half-arsed terror scheme all those years ago.
In Berlin, which even more than Paris seems to have made too many concessions to the automobile, we almost wholly failed even to skirt the fringes of the city's famous nightlife. True, it can't have helped that we were there on weeknights in January, but mostly we tired ourselves out sufficiently doing the hits (museums, Wall fragments, the Brandenburg Gate) that evenings in with Lidl fizz were a welcome wind-down. The exception being the black light crazy golf, which was a truly consciousness-expanding experience (not something one often hears said of golf), even given we left the cocktails until after. And then, a train along the Elbe, all castles and crags. Well, I say that; first there were interminable plains which made East Anglia look fascinating, but I try to forget those. But then the romantic riverside, and then Prague itself, one of the very few cities which to me is a thing in itself rather than a monoculture ultimately traceable to a cutting from one London district. This was my third visit, and I hope it won't be my last, for each time there are new riches, or at least new riches to me - the Cubist cafe, the old Jewish cemetery and the Municipal Hall have all been standing since long before my first time there, way back in the nineties. There's a lot more English spoken now, which I put down to the stag parties and the Internet; also a lot more Thai massage places, which I'm pretty sure will just be the stag parties. But it's still Prague, still cheap by any standards other than the past's, still enchanted. And long may it remain so.

Since I returned, I've managed to be busy without being particularly social, in part because I was already booked elsewhere on the night of the month's big people-I-know-gig. Still, worth missing the odd show to see Daniel Kitson, who remains, well, Kitson - more comedic this time than sometimes, more play than storyteller, but still a law unto himself. Ditto Birdman, a film I like despite it being up for awards from the Academy, whose general cluelessness is finally beginning to become more widely apparent now they've snubbed The Lego Movie (I'm not saying they're the world figures most in need of hanging from lamp-posts, but I would like to see them on that list). Even at the Union Chapel, for my first Daylight Music of the season, I managed to miss many of the people I knew on account of it being unusually full of people I didn't. Who could have known that the mainstream draw they needed was Amelia Fletcher singing about chickens, Sarah Cracknell's new sixties-style side-project, and Darren Hayman doing William Morris?

There's still a ton of other stuff I should write up - most of Autumn and Winter is jotted in drafts somewhere - but let's post this now, at a sensible length, rather than strive eternally for something compressed and complete.
alexsarll: (seal)
As a rule, while I'll follow current bands live, reformed bands I only see once. I've always been impressed with them - Bowie, Morrissey, Roxy, the League were each shows which I feared would be saggy, worth it just for the knowledge that one was in the holy presence, and each surprised me by how good it was (especially Roxy, still the best show I've ever seen). The problem is, My Life Story blur the boundary. They're the first of 'my' bands to reform. And really, I think I should have gone with the reformed band model, Last night was great socially - musically, not so much. The selections weren't what they could have been ('Nothing For Nobody' is not encore material), the Crow wasn't there, the whole thing felt a bit like a doomed attempt to recapture a high. And I didn't even realise until I saw a friend's feather boa after that she was the only one. I think that's the last one for me.

With My Life Story yesterday and Britpop night I Can't Imagine The World Without Me tomorrow, this seems like as good an opportunity as any to point out some great lost pop videos of the nineties. Some of them I never got chance to see in the nineties, because they were stuck on the paltry selection of music video channels which we didn't have anyway, and Youtube was not yet a glimmer in the internet's eye. This one from the wonderfully overambitious Ultrasound, for instance - and it is the only Ultrasound video I can find, because otherwise the word just brings up a bunch of ultrasound scans. Yes, as in foetuses. Who all look identical - at least babies are different colours! WASTE OF YOUTUBE. Particularly when set against a video which has THE MOON CRASHING INTO TWENTIES PRAGUE. I mean, does it get much better? Oddly, though you'd think Youtube would not have been kind to gargantuan Ultrasound singer 'Tiny', he looks rather suave there - whereas Vanessa, who was pretty hot, looks a bit Nurse Ratched. Speaking as someone deeply unphotogenic myself, I sympathise. Then you've got all the acts who look exactly as you'd expect indie acts to look - Geneva, say, or Hefner, still singing songs about everything going wrong with girls while all the cool kids were at the Britpop party. And somewhere between the two, Spearmint's 'We're Going Out', a song which should have been at the party but whose invite got lost in the post. Way ahead of The Schema and The New Royal Family with the Dickon cameo, though.
Or consider Puressence, a band who looked like more scruffy sub-Gallagher oiks, but sounded like caged angels. Whipping Boy, too indie for the Nick Cave fans and too scary for indie.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Greg Dulli was still young and hot in the Gentlemen vid - although from 2007, his younger self looks almost as unlike him as the old or black doppels who share his role here. Never mind, he may have filled out since then but at least he lost this beard.
Meanwhile, back in the modern world, I'm not entirely sold on Los Campesinos' 'You! Me! Dancing!' qua song, but the video is bloody brilliant. And if I were ten years younger, their 'International TweeXcore Underground' would probably be my new favourite song in the world.


Between Terry Pratchett's Alzheimer's diagnosis (there are so many authors where their brain turning to mush would have no noticeable impact on the writing - why did it have to be Pratchett?), the death of Ike Turner (undoubtedly a utter sh1t, but also an utter sh1t who had a hand in 'River Deep, Mountain High') and the spectacular ineptitude of our glorious leader, the news has been pretty dismal lately. Unless you know Marvel comics, in which case reading about "A UN worker caught up in the Hydra attack" or that "The AIM probe has now returned the first truly global pictures of these phenomena" is worrying, but at least impressive with it. And speaking of Hydra, I'm up to the fourth episode of Heroes' second season spoiler, albeit one which will only make any sense if you read Marvel comics )
alexsarll: (seal)
Fosca's supports gave the impression of having been booked with the specific aim of making Fosca look like Lordi in comparison. Of the various flavours of tweeness on offer, I missed most of The Parallelograms, and was a bit disappointed with The Besties (Bis if they'd been hit with a Fey Ray. As opposed to Bis being hit with Fay Wray, which could at least make you some money on specialist internet sites). A Smile And A Ribbon, though, were very sweet. They appeared to have a song about Darren Hayman from Hefner; even if they didn't, the fact that I could seriously entertain the notion that they might should give you some idea what sort of thing we're talking about. Adorable, and wry, and soppy in a good way. I approve. Fosca themselves...they seemed to be having a whale of a time, but I felt Kate's absence pretty keenly, and ultimately I don't think this side of Fosca is quite the Fosca I love.
On the way down, a bunch of 'singing' christians at Vauxhall (and would such a loud massed performance have been allowed to persist so long by a non-monotheist group, I wonder?) obliged me to start in on the Sebastian Horsley autobiography while I waited for a bus, simply because it was *obviously* degenerate. A mild annoyance, as I'm deep into my main book of the moment, Accelerando, whose cover is fairly innocuous even if the content is anything but. Put it this way: Warren Ellis is acknowledged for having looked at the early drafts, and now all the near-future infoSF stuff he's been doing lately feels to me like the pumped-up, dumbed-down version of this. The ideas are fizzing off the page, and most of the time I can follow just enough of them to keep up, but only while riding a vertiginous sense of future shock and information burn. Which is, of course, a sign that form and content have been perfectly married, because that's what the book's about - the transition to the future. Although, as Stross has pointed out elsewhere, things are already changing so fast that if you want to write something people can follow and engage with, you have to damp down the novelty rate; even this much chaos is muffled. And even this recent and this smart a book has started looking dated in places; there's pretty much zero chance that the next US president will be more morally conservative than this one, and oil at 80 euros a barrel in the 2020s isn't so shocking when it nudged past $78 this week.
So, given what a linguistic sponge I am, I apologise in advance if I start dropping the jargon of a cyberpunk tosser over the next few weeks, especially since it might be mixed in with Baltimore street speak, because I've started watching the fourth season of The Wire online, which itself would have seemed madly futuristic, what, two years ago?
And Accelerando is also implying a possibility as to why modern economics are the one thing which, no matter how many times I try to wrap my brain around them, I simply don't get. Because whether we're heading for Accelerando's future or just a collapse, they aren't going to be around much longer; so in among its various handy (and occasionally otherwise) amendments, perhaps my head just doesn't feel it can justify allocating that much processing power and memory to an obsolescent discipline?

January 2016

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