30 July 2009

Down with the programme

Few American writers were able to make a living out of writing books. Somewhere in the 1950s some nut put together the bogus notion that you could haul in some bigwig writer like Ernest Hemingway or Samuel Beckett and get him to teach a bunch of some ten to fifteen young people how to write. [...] The concept of the creative writing program looked good on paper, but it was, in reality, a giant shuck, and the (mostly) poets who were on the lucrative gravy train in the early sixties were, for the most part, a bunch of wasted men who had helped popularize the craft during its glorious moment 1920–1950, when poets like W. H. Auden had the cachet rock stars would acquire in the second half of the century.
I came across this passage the other day while reading Victor Bockris's Lou Reed biography, Transformer, and it really struck me, not only because it was such a vehement opinion on the creative writing programme (previously discussed here), but because it is practically the only opinion Bockris offers on anything in the book's background detail. Elsewhere he maintains the studied neutrality of a dutiful biographer, reporting context without judging it. Bockris graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971. I'd guess that it had a creative writing programme and one Bockris had a bad experience with. Wonder which wasted bigwig it was that taught it.

[Bockris photo via interview with Burroughs here]

28 July 2009

Lo-phy Hyph Mngo

Been playing this over and over. And over.

11 July 2009

One monkey, one typewriter

I was in Foyles to buy Me Cheeta by James Lever. Not finding it in fiction was a surprise, I guessed they'd sold out. When I asked I was directed to Actor's Biographies. I'd like to think shelving it there is a small joke on Foyles' part. James Lever might find it less funny.

Reading a borrowed copy of Me Cheeta in the wake of Michael Jackson's death it struck me that one posthumous explain-that piece I'd love to read would be Me Bubbles.

Foyled again

Writing this from the cafe in Foyles on Charing Cross Rd after a dispiriting visit to Ray's Jazz. Its steady decline from its own shop on Shaftesbury Avenue, to a concession sharing space with the Foyles cafe on the first floor has continued with it being shunted up to the top floor. While there was something undignified about the way it felt shoehorned into the cafe, at least it must have got plenty of through-custom and at least there was a historical rightness to the combination of jazz and espresso bar in this marriage of convenience. Relegated upwards to the top of the building it now has more room, but far fewer customers. It's less an attic than a graveyard. One other customer wandered in and out while I flicked through secondhand racks full of things I remembered from my last visit a couple of months ago. Staff: one. Down in the cafe seven aproned art students eddied around behind the counter. I fully expect to return sooner or later and find that Ray's is now housed under some tarpaulin sheeting rigged up on the roof of the building. Paul Morley is walking down Charing Cross Rd below me.

10 July 2009

World of Echoes (MJ)

('Human Nature', Thriller)

('I Can't Help It', Off the Wall)

('The Girl is Mine', Thriller)

('I Want You Back', 1969 single)

('The Girl is Mine')

09 July 2009


Several posts in the works, but in the meantime... Hollow Earth and The End Times writing at length on The Dirty Projectors' new album. If I can find the time I want to write about Bitte Orca myself.

Also, Fantastic Journal with a fascinating post on the subterranean rural militarism of the 'stay-behind' – sort of negative images of the Martello towers of the Napoleonic era.

FJ's Ballardian take on Michael Jackson is worth reading as is the one at Sit Down Man, where there's also a great post on the Wu Tang Clan spinning off a passing mention in this post. I've just been reading Simon Reynolds' Energy Flash for the first time [guilty shuffle] and there's a whole chunk about the apocalyptic, millenarian, paranoid, conspiracy-obsessed current in hiphop, which I'm hoping to return to in a Doomcore Pt III post.

And more hiphop: Mark Fisher in the New Statesman on the way its ruthless street Darwinism reflected the neoliberal ascendancy from the Reagan-Thatcher years onwards, becoming pure capitalist realism, invalidating all the utopian politics and aesthetics of black psychedelic counter-culture... I've mentioned my own projected piece on psychedelia in hiphop before, this will hopefully appear in a finished state at some point soon. Or at least this year.

08 July 2009

Derek Jarman and Coil

In late '98/early '99 Coil made a soundtrack to Derek Jarman's early Super-8 film Journey to Avebury (1971) as part of their series of downloads, Song of the Week. Above you can hear it synched up with the film. Gorgeously weird electronic rerouting of folk's pastoral drift. (Hat tip: Second Sight)

02 July 2009

Loops out now

Among others, Rob Young, Geeta Dayal, Matt Ingram, Anwyn Crawford, David Shrigley, Simon Reynolds and Maggoty Lamb. Site here, buy wherever.