Sunday, December 31, 2006

Neutral pig's head island

“Those who say that fiction isn’t relevant any more should read Houllebecq – he is in a class of his own”
- Literary Review

That’s what’s written on the cover of the paperback edition of Michel Houellebecq’s ‘The Possibility Of An Island’. The Post-Modernists argue that fiction isn’t relevant anymore, and the book world is listening fearfully. Brandishing Houllebecq, it lands a confident counter-strike…

No, of course the book world isn’t fucking listening; it’s a non-issue cooked up by a reanimated corpse-journalist, rotting but somehow still walking, who very likely hasn’t read the book, instead cobbling a review together by cribbing the press release, posing a few straw men and hitting the word count with a handful of desperate cliches. If blogging really is a public challenge to print journalism, and this is the standard we are up against, then it’s a pushover. In 1946 Orwell wrote ‘Confessions of a Book Reviewer’:

In the morning, blear-eyed, surly and unshaven, he will gaze for an hour or two at a blank sheet of paper until the menacing finger of the clock frightens him into action. Then suddenly he will snap into it. All the stale old phrases—“a book that no one should miss”, “something memorable on every page”, “of special value are the chapters dealing with, etc etc”—will jump into their places like iron filings obeying the magnet, and the review will end up at exactly the right length and with just about three minutes to go.

After sixty years of journalism little has changed. Indeed, it has probably got worse. Orwell, after all, is dead.


“Quintessentially English”

“Achingly beautiful”

“…on acid”

“…on crack”

The decline of the pig’s head in butcher’s shop windows

In the past, when people were fully aware that what they were buying was a dead animal, the customer would check out the eyes for signs of decay. Milky? Sour complexion? Then it’s been hanging around too long. The trained consumer looked for signs of a healthy animal. At least, healthy until it was slaughtered. Nowadays, the consumer’s reaction to a disembodied pig’s head would be along the lines of “fucking hell! That’s a fucking pig’s head. Jesus, that’s revolting”, and they would promptly leave. The public want their food free range, organic, humanely reared and slaughtered, but they certainly don’t want anything resembling a dead animal.

Not Partisan

According to, this blog is, amazingly, politically neutral.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Damp food, bright lights, dead eyes

The Organ
, responsible for my favourite pop record of last year, have called it a day after five years, one album and a handful of EPs. They have admirably chosen to keep their reasons to themselves. A punishing schedule may have played a part in their disintegration; touring provides the musician with the classic bi-polar experience. In sympathy, I’m taking this opportunity to publish an excerpt from my last tour diary. It was nice to know you, ladies.

A snow-bound drive from Brugge to
. A service station. Damp food; bright lights, dead eyes. A notice guaranteeing a thrirty-minute toilet hygiene inspection. Above the cubicle, gaps in the styrofoam celing panels. Cameras, probably. You turn and your leg brushes against the bowl. You take part of it back to the van with you and leave part of yourself there. Now you know why the French shit in holes in the ground. The less contact the better. In/out as quickly as possible. Extract yourself from the dance before it tries to hold your hand.

A Holiday Inn south of Paris. Prison windows groan over a Legoland interzone. You open the door to your rabbit hutch and the rolling guff of a thousand lonely cigarettes swoops down your throat like a decaying pigeon searching madly for a quiet place to die. The bird surfs the slipstream of fruit-scented mustard gas; like hopeless medieval physicians pitching a poultice against a plague, the cleaning staff spray something into the air to combat the stench but for some reason choose to leave all the windows closed and turn up the radiators. Inside the apricot sweat-box the despair hangs in mid-air, blinking in the half-light. Nowhere to hide in the metal door, veneer walls and plastic curtains, it seeps quietly into the pores of its new friend. Pubic hairs on the carpet, semen grease-film on the T.V. remote, suicide-prevention half-windows. Push your face too deep into the pillow and last night’s smoker shares the bed with you. Switch off the metal wall heater and it will switch itself back on at 3 a.m. Baked lizards thrashing in the sheets. Wake up paddling in a diseased lung. The sweat beads can’t get past the plastic curtains. The cloud regroups in mid-air and you have made your contribution to a thriving, multiplying mass grave. You have become part of the room. You have made it that bit worse for the next guy.

love, love, love

Monday, December 11, 2006

All Tomorrow's Parents

You'd have to be in a coma not to be feverishly aware that Britain is sick with feral adults who breed feral children to become feral adults. The Tories choose to point this out to us with reference to Victorian morality and homosexuals. I thought Cameron was paying public relations gurus to show the Tories how to aim away from their own feet. Steady... steady.. and jerk goes the knee!


All Tomorrow's Parties festival at Minehead this past weekend had a running theme: your parents' band is better than yours. Thurston Moore curated the line up, consisting chiefly of bands signed to his Ecstatic Peace label. Many of them were boring. The weekend was rescued by the indie rock elder statesmen: Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, The Melvins, Gang of Four, and The Stooges. It shouldn't have needed to be.

Too many noise guitar bands were hiding behind noise instead of using it. I don't want to see an experiment, I want a carefully prepared demonstration. I want you to crack my skull open. I want this

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

terrorists/hot women

The correct response to a terrorist attack in London

The United Kingdom has an estimated population of 60 million. Of these, 14 million people live in the London metropolitan area. 60 percent of these are aged between 18 and 60.

Roughly half of these are women. According to Gaussian distribution, 50 percent will be judged as average looking, 30 percent as above or below average, 10 percent will be a bit rough, and 10 percent will be pretty hot. This means that approximately 420,000 women in London are by any reasonable measure, pretty hot. This gives us a city the size of Bristol entirely populated by hot women. Who's winning now, terrorists? Hah.

n.b the term 'men' may be substituted for 'women'

Current listening: 'Asceticists' - Whitehouse

"I'm a terrible babysitter. i've got your child in the shower" - early draft lyric for 'Bad Babysitter' by Princess Superstar