Friday, December 31, 2004


Yes, we are using the home wireless network, if you must know. Very handy it is too, although at present we are mere feet from the base station. Fun to have a laptop by the telly for when you'd like to look something up. And it keeps us out of cutesome companion's hair.

Think of this post as an exercise in catch-up, and chance to get our cultural and critical house in order before 2005. All the stuff we should have talked about earlier.

1)The first ever Trial And Error Recordings party at Club Infinity in Mayfair, a venue that we probably should have been going to ten years ago, but were now gracing in a suit. With a checked shirt, if you thought we could have Nick Caved our way out of it. Trial And Error have a legendary antecedent, apparently, a band called Simian that rocked Hoxton a year or so back. The last lot, Dolorosa, sounded the most like Gretschen Hofner of any band recently, although our associate for the night might be right that the singer has something of the Andrew Eldritch about him. During this set there was a 2-4-1 happy hour. Very important in London, that.

The main event consisted of Lions And Tigers, whose dedication to the animal theme of their label is admirable, although the name is not hugely good. Their grooves are sort of Beta Band rocking out by stealing Tortoise's instruments and metronome. So they have words, but not tunes. But they got very pretty during this tiny window of opportunity before they decided that Radiohead had invented a whole new type of music, so it was alright if they sounded like that. Which isn't true.

We then went to a Spanish bar to see how long we could tolerate obnoxiously drunk Colombians. FWORTEH!

2) House Of Flying Daggers (link to flash site). We're not trying to be contrary, but we much preferred Hero, which was grimier, and less honorable, and more epic and with added temples. Which isn't to say the scenery (90% woods and fields) wasn't stunning. Just that even natural beauty can get a bit monotonous, says this Seven fan. One for the ladies, like a Fosters and lime...

3) What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt. She writes as a middle-aged man trying to get into the head of a would-be Michael Alig. Freaky. We suspect that Lords Of Chaos will be more amusing, but that, like so much else, will wait for 2005.

Happy New Year, to everyone except the sharks at PC Richards.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

No Sleep Till Brooklyn

We had hoped that the Turning Leaf might have left us more well disposed towards our hosts - and by and large it has. Then there's the small matter of sparing us and cutesome companion sore knees. And finally there's the fact that they're so damn nice. So BA slid gently off our enemies list, before they'd even made it there. For that we can blame T-Mobile's wireless fiasco, which has cocked up the task that Hong Kong, Singapore, Toronto and even (just) San Diego managed to complete.

There we are in Heathrow Airport, two pints of Youngs to the better, waiting for the ladies and gentlemen of BA to call our gate. We had tried in vain to get wit cutesome companion in our cabin, and were pondering the London that we fled. It wasn't pretty, neither London, nor the thoughts.

It was mostly pretty bad - brief flashes of beauty buried beneath lightless and airless streets, a pavement that while preternaturally unkempt seems to hold a perverse fascination for a populace that refuses to look dead ahead.

And then there's the graphic design. Nothing wrong with making your shop tidy, nothing wrong with keeping the signage economical, nothing wrong with stripping out the accessories and flock wallpaper. But you need too have good stuff - good sandwiched rather than slightly out of focus pictures of them.. Top fresh meat rather than an entire wall saying "Eat".

Take yer new-style bar cum gastropub, all minimalist pine and arial fonts on the signs. Do you have the slightest idea whether it's any use at all, whether the beer is suitably live and fruity, and whether the landlord is an utter cock? By and large, you rarely do. And this is why we like anonymity in bars. No signs, word of mouth or, we admit, reviews, rather than splashy frontage and one pound a shot. We've seen the future, and it ran over Lincoln. Not pretty.

But we're tucked up now in World Traveller Slightly Less Thrombosis Risk Class, soothed by the lighting-on-ice sounds of Dark And Long Dark Train, which Underworld put on Dubnobasswithmyheadman to amuse train travellers. It's working mighty fine on this rather turbulence-ridden flight, although our typing is degenerating.

We were maybe a tad ungenerous up there, but we think there's something very unhealthy about a country where the right fonts and the right history is even slightly sufficient to compensate for an outlook that has withered, turned inward, stopped thinking ahead. Jeez, maybe Niall Ferguson is right, maybe we need an empire to stop boring ourselves to death. The weird thing is, we don't think that America, a country built on burnt bridges and eternal optimism, ever needed one. They grabbed it anyway.

Oh well, the Beastie Boys never understood, Brooklyn is best, the rest can take a bath - and here's our Brooklyn chauvinism in full flight. Don't let the Olympics cross the East River. And so we'll turn the Beasties down. No sleep till Brooklyn? Nyuh-huh.

No sleep, indeed, we'll find it soon..

Sunday, December 26, 2004

A New Year's Message From Kirton Lindsey

Not our real location, obviously. Close enough to the blasted fells of the Lincolnshire wolds to conjure up the right imagery for those in the know. We spent a few days in London, working the day job, pondering the wicked ways of nannies and trying to conceive of London's pretensions to world city status, and hosting the Olympics, and shuddering.

Now we're cold and Bronte-esque, stuck on the edge of the wolds and looking to escape the attentions of our older relatives. Or for Edgar Allen Poe to imagine a suitable calamity. We're easy. We did get the presents, as well as "the presence" but both Star Wars viewing and the new wireless will wait for our return stateside. Same goes for hyperlinks, you little tinkers. It's not like we've read the Times much, anyway.

So Happy Boxing Day, and expect a slew of ill-informed consumer reviews in a few days time.

Blog ya later.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

LaRouche You Got Nothing

The regular Gumby Fresh reader will be aware of our diligent pursuit of the secret cabals behind the way we live. We have shed some light on the LaRouche organisation, and its unique perspective on the Special Relationship. To whit, that because Lyndon's wife left him for a Limey the Duke of Edinburgh is a drug smuggler. Quod Erat Duh-monstratum.

But the old country has yielded up still even more fruits. Or at least nannies. Cos nannies aren't fruits. Not even the Robin Williams ones. Or even the ones that have limey accents, like Mary Poppins. Although, we must add, the appearance of a new stage version is the most suspcicious coincidence we've seen since noting the relationships between judicial murder levels and having Allawi or Bush as your leader.

We note that both Bernard Kerik and UK Home secretary were brought low within days by their undocumented nannies. Since we are ordinarily in a work permit-less state (although not at present), we have certain amount of sympathy for the domestics sticking it to the man. We don't think we can quite yet declare the dictatorship of the proletariat (we think the minor gentry still have to have a shake at the top spot in the class war sweepstakes)

First, to Bernie, who it seems was not unconnected to a lot of dubious stuff as a prison officer, and was rather fun of tumultuous pasionate affairs that ended up going badly wrong. The first, as Mr. Marshall is noting, is rather more important, since it could be that Kerik didn't actually have a nanny. Which would make sense because he is a rather cuddly chap.

Second, Blunkett was getting on fine with arranging visas for his lover’s nanny, until he started screaming about his colleagues being incompetent and singing Fred Astaire songs.

So the international sisterhood of nannies is not quite at first blood, we fear. Full disclosure - contrary to popular rumour we were not raised by a nanny. More a wandering tribe of indie-rock druids.

British politicians win the week’s insanity prize, though, thanks to Annabelle. Rock pig.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Had Our Phil

We were sent so many emails yesterday about Dimebag's killing that we thought we should give it a bit more space. Even though, as yesterday's post suggested, we have not followed the band much sice Five Minutes Alone, an admittedly ace single. Yesterday's post sounded a tad insular and possessive, the sort of thing that Phil Alexander would have said during his stint at Kerrang! Phil is now at Mojo, although before Kerrang! he presented a show called Noisy Mothers, which used Pantera's "Walk" as its theme music, and where we saw the aforementioned single.

We don't have much to add to the shock that the metal press has already been steeped in. We are worried that that whenever we want to go to a gig we'll be frisked and generally molested in a way that we have only had to tolerate at dubious "niteclubs", and Clear Channel venues before now. But we'll get by.

The shooting all appears to have been down to the feeling of this armed fan wanting to avenge the split of Pantera, and who felt that former singer, Phil Anselmo, had been badly treated. Phil doesn't seem to happy, we must admit, but we're still puzzling about what made the poor gimp who shot Dimebag feel he had the right to correct it.

Maybe we have the missing link in Michael Moore's Bowling For Columbine thesis, that it's not fear, or the ready availability of guns, so much as the feeling of entitlement and power to change events that mixes with them. We're possibly intruding upon the genius of the American character, the can-do, and will-do, attitude that makes America such an achievement. But maybe that's not such an asset in a mature, some might say declining society. Not so much know your place, as know your limits.

Maybe we shall blog from the homeland. We shall see. Happy holidays.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Five Minutes Alone

Just as metal gets out of its "evil" and "dangerous" ghetto, along comes a nutter with a gun, ends some people's lives, and drags us all back down. An A**box with a hockey jersey and gun moves down one of the kings of metal. Here's Billboard with the score. RIP, Dimebag.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Is That A Life Preserver?

Surveillance: 4 train. Every stop between Nevins and 14th Street. Stupendously psyched out man wearing one of those stupid woolly Spin Doctors hats over a Yankees hat, with one pant leg rolled up and naked from the waist up except for a body warmer. At each station, as the doors of the car closed, he would start screaming obscenities and exhortations "to stay out of my sh*t" at the nearest person in the car wearing a trenchcoat. At Wall Street, as you can imagine, the cacophony became unbearable. He started calling all the white guys in trenchcoats the n-word, and they weren't really in a position to correct him.

After Fulton Street, he started screaming "slut" at the women waiting on the platform. We lost interest then. We've gotten too used to raving misogyny from our crazies. We listened to Give A Monkey A Brain And He'll Swear He's The Center Of The Universe by Fishbone instead. The song? Not Drunk Skitzo, more's the pity.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Wherefore Art Thou Uncle Chunky?

"Now, every army has its share of lunatics. The litmus test is how their political masters treat them"

Delightful line from Max "Hardcore" Hastings in today's Guardian. Max tries to paint the war in Iraq as a re-run of Gordon's empirebuilding in Sudan. Militarists run amok. There are some interesting parallels to be teased out, but Max seems to be a tad too fond of the Imperial yoke (whiich could be pretty rotten, whatever Fergie says), and a tad too interested in his theory that only atheists shoulld be allowed in politics (we agree).

We'd be of the opinion that colonial rule was not a blazing success, if only because we're descended from the governor of Southwestern Sudan, who appears to have been so mad he disdained from wearing underwear for his last three decades and claimed that tonic ruined the flavor of gin.

We also think that one big problem with empires is tat they're never as blind to ethnicity as their defenders claim. As Philip Gourevitch notes in his book, the Belgian and French rulers of Rwanda tended to divide up their subjects on the basis of artificial racial distinctions, and the British were equally anxious to create a system of "ins" and "outs" for the purposes of divide-and-rule.

The problem? Blowback. Your subjects are now armed with cards telling them exactly which of the other bunch they have to kill. That said, Sadaam seemed to be perfectly able to make those calculations.

Friday, December 03, 2004

The Stress Is On The First Syllable

We don't really share in the jingoism that has followed Bernard Kerik's appointment as Secretary of State for Homeland Security, and not just because the name of the department is one of those cake-and-eat-it tough-but-reassuring phrases that dribble out of the Bush administration so frequently. And we're not too worried that he's a former prison guard, or a current member of Giuliani's little consulting set-up.

Nope, we doubt the man's credentials. Sure, he's reassuring, blunt, a refreshing presence. Which did the trick after 9-11, when Gringcorp, like many other New York residents, found the Kerik/Giuliani pairing a note of calm in the aftermath. But the policing in New York City? We share the skepticism of these posters from law enforcement about Kerik's achievements in the field. What is his "hook"? Giuliani, mostly, as well as some corrections connections.

And, as Rory McCarthy notes in the Guardian, his record patching up the Iraqi police is pretty mixed. And it seems to be his work here, as well as his appearances after 9-11, that recommended him to George Bush. Still, given that he was wheeled out at the convention and during the Prez' campaign, the idea of a pay-off is hard to shake. It just looks like a choice that would have been more of a re-election play.

But prove us wrong, Bernard. Bring back the pork, make the INS - sorry, USCIS - slightly less unpleasant to deal with, give the coastguards bigger machine guns, and you'll have our love, we suppose.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

David Stoked

We can't say we miss Luxx too massively. It was a funny shape, out of the way, and rarely booked the truly awesome bands, aside from Mastodon. Luxx is no more now, but the development of Grand Street continues apace, and the people who bought Luxx, after tinkering with a gay theme for a while, decided that what the faux-hawked locals really needed was a place that put their PBR-drinking into context.

Thus was Trash Bar born, and my does it smell of rancid grease. In a good way.

We were there to catch The Kelly Affair, who are either named after the circumstances surrounding the unfortunate death of Dr David Kelly, or the skag-laden circumstances surrounding the end of the first Breeders line-up. But the Kelly Affair, while fashioned entirely from girls, does not really compare to the Breeders. Think Sleater-Kinney, instead, a comparison that has likely plagued the Kellies during their six-gig history.

They are very good, though. Our associate for this evening, whose name would be Mig-hell if you put it through a Mexican vocoder, thought that the songs were so good they had to be covers. Nyuh-huh, Mig-hell, originals all. Very punky, and tuneful, although they need to get the vocals a tad clearer and higher in the mix. And stop being so goddammn nice. It's like they're all from Laguna Beach or something. They need the glorious "we have some songs that angels hum, so we're allowed to do whatever the hell we like to the genitals of our roadies" surliness of prime Go-Gos.

But we should probably steer clear of offering any more advice, after our ill-advised "play more in a New Zealand style" urgings at Kill Henry Sugar were mecilessly, and publicly, ridiculed. We would also like to prop Barcade for its cheap microbrews, Roadblasters and Gauntlet. Oh, and fine jerky too. We like jerky.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Ruby Tuesday

We are often asked for ur opinions on the curry houses of this fair city, frequently by itinerant limeys. We spent our first few months in the city slumped drunk in some of the more insalubrious joints in Astoria, which left us with the impression that New York City curry is overly mild and that the city's curry house owners are much more amused by stupendouslly drunk customers than their counterparts in Oxford.

Two things changed our outlook - the realisation that over in Jackson Heights there were authentic and fiery Indian treats aplenty, a realisation that somehow has not yet translated into a vist, and Haveli. Located round the corner from the end of Indian Row, smartly setting itself aside from the gaudy throng, but offering cheap but classy feeding, Haveli is justly legendary.

But we are now prepared, cashflow permitting, to cast Haveli aside like a used hankie. For we have found Tamarind, and nothing will be the same again. Except, we pray, the size of our a*s. We ate till a standstill, and wanted to eat all the appetisers. Which would have done nothing for our appetite. The entrees shoot right past twenny dollar, but we just don't care. The only thing we would take issue with was the lighting, which made cutesome companion look slightly sad, and the rest of the diners look like walking corpses.

And finally a shout out to Gary Younge in the Guardian. Gary we were very rude about when he moved to New York for a period. You see, he set up shop in Fort Greene and started saying outrageously simple-minded things about the neighborhood. We lived there, and would have preferred he bang on about how the yuppies from Manhattan were ruining Franks/Moe's/Alibi, like all the other writers. He's moved back to London, and has just written an article about how crass white people are that is the left-wing columnist's equivalent of "Good Morning Captain" by Slint. The argument starts out quietly, but reasonable, taut, slinky, and then he loses his sh*t, the argument gets louder, but is still reasonable, taut, and slinky. Brutally effective.

Tonight, we're back on the rock, ironic-styler. More tomorrow.