'Everyone dances to his own personal boomboom'

Cracking Up / Force Majeure

I crack up

We try to keep ourselves together in order to function on a daily basis, especially if we have a Job. We must not crack. Under the strain of what? Mere daily life...you're not living it as you once dreamt you would, when you were a child, perhaps. I dreamt of being an artist (professional), then a writer (professional). Now I'm both, for 'fun'? Sometimes. Mostly to keep from cracking up under what would be the unbearable boredom of doing neither; that imagined boredom only existing in relation to my creative activity. If I'd never started doing what I do I couldn't recognise the boredom of not doing it...I start to crack just thinking about such things...

Now I try to think of people who crack up for a living....actors? But that's pretend, isn't it? Although, when it came to being cracked, Dennis Hopper did a pretty good job of convincing us that it was for real. Perhaps it was. The best brought real madness to their method, I suppose. Tippi Hedren's bird-induced terror was real, Hitchcock being the cruel director.

Men aren't supposed to crack up? Women can get 'hysterical'? In Force Majeure, Johannes Kuhnke's Tomas starts to crack up in the hotel corridor, only to have his wife accuse him of faking it, but in a master-stroke, director Ruben Östlund allows the crack up to continue in their room, for several minutes, until we begin to wonder how real it is as Tomas's crying goes on until the kids lay down with him and force their mother to join them all in an emotional heap. It's as if he's sucked them (and us) into his personal vortex of despair. It's a great film for many reasons, not least the interior and exterior settings, the contrasting environments of a characterless, modern hotel and the menacing, bleak beauty of the Alps. Then there's the insistence, to the point of embarrassing guests and us, the viewers, from his wife that Tomas faces up to the truth. His humiliation compounded by a cruel joke involving his attractiveness, or not, to other women. A skiing holiday and never looked less appealing. Not that I've ever fancied one.

I have a bright idea...

...and they don't come along too often, so I thought I'd record it...

Microtonics Compilation

Here's that compilation you didn't ask for. Someone did, though, just because he was having to paint a room and wanted some entertainment. "Don't think about it too much", he said, so I didn't. It still turned into a pretty good selection. Jazz, electronic (old and new) beats and moods for modern people - ha-ha! So if you want it, click on the link under the track listing. And enjoy. Or don't.  

1 sirius and vega - $.99 dreams
2 spiritual eternal - alice coltrane
3 birchwood landscape - andrzej Korzynski
4 primitive london 3 basil kirchin
5 cha tatch ka - baron
6 magma - camille sauvage
7 microtonics 9 - broadcast
8 earth message - bernard fevre
9 ?
10 post emancipation psychosis - djs2
11 atonium vertigo - felix kubin
12 flicker.funk - frank bretschneider
13 big tunnel recordist - frank riggio
14 trafelato - ennio
15 la malizie - gian reverb
16 grass roots - andrew hill
17 jazz rule - johnny hawksworth
18 it's after the end of the world - sun ra

Here (55MB MP3)

All Over The (Andrew) Hill

Yes, it's Andrew Hill Day (not worldwide, nationwide or even citywide, but flatwide) - I'm all over him today and he's all over me, smearing me with his music (?), coating me (?), caressing me (?) seducing me again, because he did so several lifetimes ago when I was less wrinkled and grey than I am today but although I'm not (hopefully) close to sleeping The Big Sleep I am having a Dance With Death...

...despite the title it's no morbid contemplation of The End and has this, for instance, which is not introspective or 'out' but juicy...in a slow, sweet, sticky drip-like-honey mode...mmm...slurp...

...I nearly named my book after the Andrew Hill album, Point Of Departure...it need pluralising, of course, since there were many points from which I departed...the album is essential. Today it feels as if many Andrew Hill albums are essential...do you ever get that kind of hunger for an artist? A Compulsion, you might say...take a deep breath, we're going in (and 'out', for this is one of Hill's most adventurous pieces but accessible, I believe, after you've ridden out the initial 3-minute 'storm'...listen to Cecil McBee's bass...hook! Freddie Hubbard blowing his (and your) brains out! But it breaks down again, a fantastic descent into which John Gilmore throws his chops...amazing...

...before you slip into the Land Of Nod...

...because you've absolutely no interest in or love for Andrew Hill, I shall say TTFN and continue listening to him...


When is an album not an album? If no-one visits Include Me Out, does it exist? These and other critical questions will not be answered by me. Another critical question that went unanswered by me came from a woman yesterday in the charity shop who asked: "Is this dress too short for a funeral?" I wanted to say "It's too short for a woman of your age, luv" but didn't. It was almost a 'little black dress' but not quite - an inch above the knee. She wasn't asking me, of course, but I couldn't help looking. The woman she asked reassured her it was fine, as did another, but she was mad. I know this because she'd entered another charity shop wailing nonsense to anyone who would listen...

...so is this an album? Have a look at the 19F3 site and decide for yourself. It certainly is a collaboration between Kek and Rene Kita, that much I know. It's also better than anything else (new) that I've heard in a while...a long while, it seems...because we know that 'a long while' in electronic music is about 3 months. 6 months into 2015 and I don't have a Best Of nominee yet. I don't think...if I could remember...

...there are 15 tracks on the album-which-may-not-be-an-album (isn't the internet confusing enough?), some of which last for only 44 and 47 seconds...barely existing at all, you might say, but I'd rather the brevity on display than relatively lengthy boredom, wouldn't you? Kehruuing (47secs) contains infinitely more possibilities than a 4/9/20 minute thing - condensed, micro-mood music of thunder and rewind...

...these are sketches...of pain? Horjuttaadown packs enough wallop to rattle your brain, as befits our age of accelerated vision, it's a blur, a whirr of sounds...and like that black dress, it's almost too short... 

49p Skidoo & Help The Randy Aged

'I'm being lead up the garden path..'

Fresh coffee, Lindt Roasted Sesame chocolate (dark) and Chick Corea on the turntable - whoo-eee! - I know how to live! That's as exciting as my life gets. Sorry, I'd love to post about my latest white-knuckle must-do-before-you-die near-death adventure but...I'm sure you can find that kind of blog somewhere. I'd never follow such a thing. I prefer seeing that people are leading duller lives than mine. Don't you? It's a way of making myself feel better.

More excitement this morning when I found these for 49p each in the charity shop. Yes, it was a case of 'I'm having that at this price' which, as you know, usually means buying what you wouldn't if it was a pound more expensive, i.e., mediocre albums. Still, there's nothing mediocre about Charles Lloyd's playing on the Chico Hamilton albums, or the prog-modernist-neo-bop excellence of the Chick Corea double, Inner Space. I owned 23 Skidoo's Seven Songs when when it came out, sold it years later, got it on MP3 then, as you can see, welcomed it back in its original form. Ain't it funny, this modern music lark...all the possible mediums and the way we utilise them? The way they play with your head. They do mine, anyway, because buying it again on vinyl was unnecessary, of course, yet the combination of price, condition and nostalgia for vinyl won me over easily. 'Pay No More Than £2.99' is says on the sleeve. 

I've a weakness for cha-cha-cha or mambo albums, in good nick, original (of course), so here's Perez Prado's Mambo Jambo, complete with obligatory young woman in exotic attire amid skins (it's usually that or semi-naked go-go babes, you know)...

...and it's helpful to have hand-written descriptions next to tunes, don't you think? It whets the appetite. I wonder if the previous owner was a DJ...

...David Hamilton, DJ for the Help The Aged radio station, was entertaining me whilst I flicked through the vinyl. He was more entertaining than he intended when, having played Randy Crawford's version of Rainy Night In Georgia, he started to name it as 'Randy Nigh-' before stopping himself - ha-ha! Well, I thought it was funny...talk of randy nights on a Help The Aged station. Mind you, I'm not saying old folk shouldn't be randy...

Bohemia Of The Mind

Forget the bohemian, this is the age of the so-cleanian - ha-ha - right? Mod was defined by Pete Meaden as 'clean living under difficult circumstances ' - well, you know, funny thing is that no-one was telling them how to live in the Swinging 60s, they could smoke in bars and clubs! Oooh, very revolutionary...now, it would be...it would be breaking the law fer fuck's sake - ha - funny...

Big S(M)other, telling us all how to live (eat, drink & think) - ain't it great, though? Years ago people were allowed to ruin themselves peacefully - not that the Government didn't try, I'm sure. I want a doctor who smokes and recommends a brand in an advertising campaign!) ....

...yeah, one who I know is going to nip out for a puff after he's seen me because physicians are more than twice as likely as the general population to kill themselves so deep down he's bloody depressed, probably more so now because he can't make money advertising fags or even be seen smoking one....

...thankfully, despite constant health advice, a lot of people still insist on walking the own road to self-destruction; trouble is, they're not bohemians, they're proles, puffing and munching away in their addiction to nicotine, alcohol, fat, sugar, weed whatever in an attempt to stave off the hourly gloom that will descend as a result of their futile lives....

...do any bohemians exist today? That was a question asked by Victoria Coren Mitchell in the BBC4 series How To Be Bohemian, which ended last night. No firm conclusion, of course, though she was taken with a mob who squatted the 12 Bar Club where, coincidentally, I saw The Sleaford Mods on their march to fame where they are now. Andrew Fearn's often seen vaping, as was Will Self on the BBC4 documentary - sell out! What a let down, although I did read that he had a nasty disease so perhaps he's forgiven, being forced down that route....

...imagine the bohemians of old (let's say artists and poets in Parisian cafes) having to constantly go outside to smoke - "Hold that thought, I'm going outside for a cigarette!" - they'd all be outside anyway, probably, in the pissing rain, spirits dampened, perhaps, freezing cold...unable to spark creative revolutionary ideas...therefore never organising Surrealodadaexistism (I made that up, I did) shows, exhibitions, pamphlets etc. History rewritten: The Snoutsider by Albert Camus, a tale of the tortured lives lead by artists forced to be outside all the time when they want a smoke...

...so-cleanians...mostly middle class, ironically, as were many bohemians in history; financially free to think freely, to be 'free' (and shag each other, dream up proto Hippy ideas, party hard etc) - whilst the proles were too busy trying to earn a crust, as always. The only escape route for proles into bohemiaville is the dole which, in the 80s, wasn't a bad thing to be on - it was almost de rigueur, my dear - well, I knew a lot of dolites, myself included. Aye, the dole were great in them days, not like now, when you have to call into the office every hour to prove you're looking for work, or act insane (or terminally ill) to keep getting money. Mind you, getting pissed on cheap brew in your rotting bedsit with those in a similar boat hardly matches the Jazz Age party lifestyle or country house shag fests of old, does it? And nobody in dolesville will write a great book or poems and get rich...

...now the middle class so-cleanians write laws to control prole behaviour (pleasures) and chart political career paths administering them, along with activating thought control mechanisms via the big PC Machine, which smashes rebel thinkers to pieces should they spout contrary words (ie, not the party line) - and some wonder why folk are bored with, and mistrustful of, politicians, those sparkling droids of the dictatorial democratic State. These party replicants are playing to win, win the votes of the darling middle-classes (except Scotland, bless the sweaty socks), which means being clean, respectable, middle-of-the-road and not rocking the boat with free-thinking radical shit that will scare the middletons to death....

...Mr & Mrs Middle...they're so nice, so Nice Age - not a crazy thought in their heads (except the ones they keep firmly locked inside because, deep down, they're all psychopathic, like you and me). And the boundaries of nice, clean living make them feel secure - why shouldn't they? Look what right-thinking has gained them - everything! At least the documentary gave the impression that from this most sensible of backgrounds revellers did rise up regularly (to squander daddy's money!) or dream mad schemes about being nude and wild in the country...even make art....

...hold on, is bohemia a state of mind? That's not a new idea, but I think it's valid. You don't have to act in a stereotypically bohemian way to think outside of the big box we call 'normality', do you? Perhaps it's that old thing called 'individualism' (yes, I know that's a big general term). In our thoughts we may well inhabit bohemia if that fictitious land's name must be evoked. Deeper still, it is not something we cultivate and wear as fashionable ideas (and clothes) for a while, but a state of mind that evolves as part of our character whilst we grow and see the world we inhabit...see how everyone else appears to embrace 'normality', the dreary-minded, political/media dictated mindset of grey sky thinking mixed with hip capitalism that keeps Youth occupied...as the masses march towards middle-earth utopia, which some will never actually inhabit but need to dream of doing so (that tasty carrot!)...perhaps you have not joined in (until you win the Lottery, but even then, would you really like to live amongst these people?)...perhaps in your mind you are free, or at least maintain a small plot of land called bohemia...

Three Machine Guns

Top machine gun tunes...er...'cause I suddenly felt like it...

Ace visuals by Frank Bretschneider for his top clickbeatology track, Machine.Gun...

The Commodores...a long-time fave, ever since I heard it coming out of my friend Michael's window all those years ago...sadly, he's no longer around...

You knew this was coming...?...had to, didn't I....

Faceless Techno & Philippe Petit's Multicoloured Shadows

Oh I'm sooo controversial.
I'm an old fart too who looks at all the names put to new releases and doesn't know more than ten per cent of them. It's like the old days when I'd stopped reading the NME but picked it up again and didn't recognise one name.
Except it's different.
And I have a good excuse, the same one as you, which is to say that roughly a trillion albums are released each week
(if putting them on Souncloud or Bandcamp counts as a 'release', which I suspect it does)
and it's impossible to 'keep up'. There is no keeping up.
Not like the old days when scenes were what the ink press covered/co-created. Because they could. Because it was possible to have a scene built from five bands. Even in Swindon. Or Bristol.

Back then in another universe LFO made the front page of the NME...

...it was 1992 and the notion that Techno could be pitted against Rock was a laugh, or a viable notion in the minds of music editors wanting to cause a stir. Perhaps it was something worth discussing, although as far as I know Techno, unlike Disco, never infuriated Rockers to the point of filling a stadium in protest...

...as they did in 1979, spurred on by Chicago DJ, Steve Dahl, who encouraged Disco haters to attend a baseball game.

Trad types moaned about 'faceless Techno', as if having your mush photographed and plastered in the press validated you. They hated Techno partly because it's creators were prolific. Surely so much music meant a lack of quality? Anything that could be knocked out crafted in a night by a kid in his bedroom had to be rubbish. Right? 
What about it?
Today we all know that one Suburban Bass single is worth more than the Yes discography, don't we? 
But I jump in time.
I was pre-Jungle. 
But I was thinking today about how House and Techno's torrent of twelves was a dribble compared to today's electronic output. 
It's not a scene, even though some people might visit Resident Advisor every day for the security (limit) blanket of believing that in doing so they know everything that's going on - they don't.
What's going on is so vast that nobody can know it all.
So it's not because I'm 'getting old'.

As Techno grew so did the music editors' dreams of making new stars.
And some Techno-makers obliged because they wanted to be stars and make loads of money.
So they played Glastonbury.
Played Glastonbury again.

Techno became Dance Music which, as you know, conquered the world. 
History lesson - ha-ha.

Today electronic music runs so deep (underground) that a supposedly 'hip' magazine such as The Wire has no chance of even skimming the surface. Which is not to say it still isn't a good read. But no matter how many review columns they create they'll never keep up.

Perhaps they'll get 'round to covering Philippe Petit's Multicoloured Shadows (Aagoo). Then again, it could get lost. It deserves coverage.
More than a non-review in this little online shack.

Here's a funny coincidence: having just bought The Travel Agency Is On Fire I read a few days later that Petit likes to call himself a 'musical travel agent' - well, well. 
So here's the trip he's organised for you. 
It covers a lot of terrain, as explored by Stockhausen, Pierre Henry & Schaeffer plus more.
You'll experience some turbulence 
and strange, exotic sounds...
mad loops...alien warbles...

The thing is that, after listening to so much music in 30-second try-outs (it doesn't take long to determine the worth of something - you know how it is - 'click' - next - 'click' etc.) this turned my ears. Really. I knew it was worth listening to - properly. 
Irony: Petit is, by electronic music standards, an 'old fart', a dinosaur (for 30(?) years?) - must be because, unlike Rock stars, he's seriously into sound, not just making another hit album. Because he'll never have a hit. He can't be tainted by adoring the sound of cash tills ringing (showing my age), I mean mouse clicks on the Buy button, which is the same thing.

This is a brilliant album. I'm being terribly modern by not actually reviewing it, aren't I? No tracks available to stream (oh, very underground!). Trust me, it's worth your time.
So to finish and reconnect with Burroughs, here is Language Virus...

The CD Revival & Tony Williams

'I feel the strange urge to buy a CD...'

'Vampires fall to dust..crumpled cloth bodies on the glass
and metal streets'? What the hell is he going on about....?

That's me this morning, getting my fill of Bill, as I like to do regularly - inspired by the recent publication of some cut-ups collectively called The Travel Agency Is On Fire. More on that soon, perhaps even a scan of one, if you're good...

...but of course you're good, you're here, aren't you?

Now, the CD revival. Has it started yet? In Fopp this morning I noticed the posters saying 'Vinyl is killing mp3' - ha-ha, well, they're trying to sell vinyl, that's why - it was everywhere. I even flicked through a box of Jazz, pristine, sealed albums by the likes of Miles Davis...Money Jungle (Ellington, Mingus & Roach) was in there but I'm happy with my old vinyl version, thanks. These represses are for wimps, right? Yes, you have to have the original...to get authentic crackles anyway...

...so I went upstairs where they keep all the Jazz and found two Tony Williams albums on CD (Spring and Life Time) for £3 each. That'll do. I had them both on vinyl once upon a time but don't regret selling...I mean, I needed the money, being on the dole. I think that was when I sold them...or it could have been one of the times I've just looked at all the vinyl and thought 'Something's got to go' because it was crammed in and piled high, like the books. Besides, re-buying is an interesting experience, a return to what you once treasured and can appreciated again. It sparks awareness, whereas albums that sit neglected amongst many others are tragic and a waste of space. I know, we all have them and it's great when you notice a spine, a thin, worn out spine, perhaps, the name long since squashed to become unreadable, pull it out and realise it's a gem! (Such as Blues For A Stripper conducted by Mundell Lowe, the spine of which has nothing printed on it, being plain, wafer thin black, therefore well hidden on my shelves).

Tony Williams. You know, he played drums for Miles Davis in the 60s, when he was only 8, 12, 17. How anyone can be that good at such an age is beyond comprehension. I'd say his talent was 'God-given' if I believed in Him but since I don't, the magic remains a mystery. He wrote every piece on Spring and Life Time, so add that to his skills. These are deep records...contemplative at times, but also sparkling with energy, a la modal, if you don't mind. Well, I mean, not the usual Blue Note modernist swing thing. Sam Rivers is on both, so too is Herbie Hancock. Gary Peacock...Richard Davis...Bobby Hutcherson on Memory...skirting around, inside and out of what would be called 'Free Jazz'...contemplative and compelling.

It took me all afternoon to unwrap the CDs, mind, bringing back memories of when that was a regular occurrence. In this act there was a perverse kind of pleasure, I confess; picking at the sealed corner folds, tearing a tiny piece, then getting a nail under to rip off the rest. Have I sold the idea of buying a sealed CD yet? No? Never mind. I hope I've sold you the idea of these two Tony Williams albums anyway. Although I haven't spoken in any detail about them have a listen and decide for yourself...

Proles Kept Out Of Top Jobs Shock & Advice For The Unemployed

Scene from an interview when my would-be manager suggested
that another applicant was more qualified. I didn't get the job...

June 15th. 'Rt. Hon. Alan Milburn, the Chair of the (Social Mobility and Child Poverty) Commission, said: "This research shows that young people with working-class backgrounds are being systematically locked out of top jobs. Elite firms seem to require applicants to pass a ‘poshness test’ to gain entry. Inevitably that ends up excluding youngsters who have the right sort of grades and abilities but whose parents do not have the right sort of bank balances." ' (Press release)

What a surprise! To whom? Nobody with a brain, surely. As for the proles, they're too dumb to notice, aren't they? It's only right, after all, that those from moneyed backgrounds should profit from their inherited privileges (money & ejudcation) - 'cause that's how it is in the capitalist jungle. In Britain, especially, where we love the class system. Even if we don't, we can't escape it. We can try to escape the class we're born into, though, if we're working class. Nobody wants to escape the middle or upper classes. Everyone wants to be in them - come on, make room! What do you mean, "there's no room"? It's crowded with stinking proles in here and all the immigrants applying for the same jobs as us - the bastards! We want that minimum wage!

If you're redundant it's best to move to Cornwall, become a hermit, grow a (non-hipster) beard clogged up with seagull shit and matted like the wool on a sheep's arse - trust me, that's what I'll do - study ornithology and wear a rugged jumper filled with holes...smoke a pipe...stare at the sea for hours...contemplate what a shitty life you had in the city, crammed in with the rest of the poor bastards fighting over the crumbs thrown to you by company directors on top salaries...

...yes...live in a shack, which is more than you could afford in the city, where you paid half your wages for the rent on a damp bedsit. So you have your shack, perhaps a second-hand telly but no computer, which is OK because the social network only wound you up with it's illusionary world of 'friends' who didn't actually give a shit about what you were doing. Now you're truly self-centred and it's a good thing, the best kind, the kind that no-one else need be burdened with...

...perhaps you'll go to the local pub where, having done so for three years, you'll finally be accepted (unless you're black, in which case, good luck) despite being on the dole because everyone else is on the dole. Those young folk who sit at the same table every week...you finally pluck up the courage to talk to them, only to find out that all your prejudices were unfounded because they do know who Sun Ra is and they've read William Burroughs! Turns out they all lived in cities once. One's even an artist and not the kind that paints rural scenes! No, she paints Hard Edge abstract style, when she can afford the materials, which is never, so she once painted Hard Edge abstracts, at college. Now she's on anti-depressants, never having fulfilled her potential. None of them have, including The Writer and The Musician. But that's OK because you're all in the same boat, as opposed to being with city-dwellers who still imagine they have a chance, because they're in the city...

More useful advice soon...

Ornette Coleman, March 9, 1930 - June 11, 2015

Tomorrow was the question few musicians could answer in 1959 - can they ever? Posing it was everything then (1959) and now, except that now tomorrow looks stale in the state of Jazz. Excuse my cynicism but the death, today, of Ornette Coleman, serves to remind me of how much what he did meant and how little promise there seems to be today. A typical classicist's complaint - 'It's all been done'. Perhaps for the mouldy old figs Ornette never did achieve 'classic' status, but as you know, if it was up to them everyone would still be playing Swing and Trad, never mind Be-Bop. 

I'm not one for long eulogies when a favourite musicians dies; so much recognition of such events on the social network smacks of 'Look how hip I am to know blah-blah'. Yet when you've been listening to someone for over 30 years and seen them 'live' a few times, it's hard to resist saying something. Well, forget how 'cool' liking Ornette Coleman may be, the simple fact is that he meant, still means a hell of a lot in my listening world. I'll be listening to him for as many tomorrows as I have left. No question about that. 

Dolly Dolly - The Jazz Tape

David Yates gets busy dicing 'n' splicing an old cassette tape and as you'd expect if you know his work as Dolly Dolly it's anything but an attempt to reconfigure Jazz as a cool cut-up. Instead, his trademark behind-the-curtains urban strangeness permeates the whole thing...avant-gardening, pastoral perversion, loops to send you loopy, sweating veg, cookery tips...all collaged as a crafty, loving homage to English pop culture. Pure lunacy and I love it.

On Bandcamp

Punk Rock: Would You Credit It?

'You think it's funny, turning rebellion into money' as Strummer sang on (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais - well, is it?

Virgin have produced Sex Pistols credit cards (as I write that it sounds absurd - credit cards? ), saying:

 it's "time for consumers to put a little bit of rebellion in their pocket"

- oh dear, is this what we fought running battles with Teddy Boys in the King's Road for? Is it? Actually, I wasn't chasing, or being chased by greasy quiffs in the King's Road, but I was there. Where?
Punk Land ™ (a theme park coming to you, soon, with white (riot) knuckle rides, a coconut shy (coconuts painted with the faces of Rick Wakeman, Jon Anderson etc) and a ghost ride taking the carriages into the mouth of Johnny Rotten where grotesque wax models of Bill Grundy the queen and others leap out at you...um...etc)

Yes, that olde place, Punk Land, a nearly forty-year-old place (!). 'Kin hell.

So the dust has long since settled, the phlegm been wiped away, bands reformed, butter deals done and all that is either nostalgia or a history lesson, depending on your age. "Granddad, what was Punk?" "Fuck off!" That would be the right Punk response. Instead, kiddy climbs on knees for stories about spitting at bands, pogoing etc.

We know everything gets appropriated and changed by time. Yes. Society's safety mechanism kicks in, cleansing even the filthiest rebellion because it (the marketing and media machine) knows that there are plenty of former participants who revel in memories and want to pour their love (and cash) into what happened. After all, for most former Punks, the future dream is a decent pension scheme. Just like normal people.

Punks were normal people. Normal kids. Weren't they? Just having fun, letting off steam. But oh, dear brothers and sisters, if you were there you will remember what a fuss they caused, the bands and their followers.

The Virgin Money Pistols credit card move is so...odd (?) it could be a Situationist prank. But it's only really odd if you were there. It questions the meaning of Punk...cuts to the core of what is authentic, what 'rebellion' means in culture. Did you mean it? If so, what did you mean?
Fuck society?
Fuck the Rock dinosaurs?
Fuck money?
But it was all a scam to get what they could out of record companies, get the best deal and make money. Surprise, surprise, despite the nihilist rhetoric, a band just wanted to be...what? Loved? Popular? Rich like the old farts they detested?

Where did that leave all the daydream believers in vague notions based on 'anarchy'? It's OK, they were just letting off steam like kids have done for decades. No one got hurt. Well, a few did, actually. You could get hurt for wearing safety pins or just straight-legged trousers. That's what's hard to convey, the danger, not to society, but to yourself if you looked like a Punk. And how many variations on the theme there were:

art Punk,
council estate Punk,
Grammar school geek Punk,
authentic street-Punk-in-anoraks-looking-like-the-kids-who-got-beaten-up-at-school-for-looking-stupid (that was just The Undertones, a bit later, actually - no wonder John Peel loved them, they were so cute, those rough-looking boys, so working class, right?)

The Clash get some hate these days for being such poseurs and playing American stadiums. Huh. They wore their style sprayed on their overalls - wankers - how dare they look so good in photos, reference Kerouac, play Rock 'n' Roll etc. It was all a bit London, a bit cool, wasn't it? Yes.

You know, we didn't care where a band came from (even some Northerners were good) or what they looked like. You could look like anything as long as it wasn't a denim clad blues/Rock band (the look of The Enemy, naturally). Just wear trousers that aren't flared, that'll do it.

What went on back then? Councils banned Punk bands. Virtually all of the Sex Pistols tour was cancelled after the Bill Grundy show. Everyone hated Punks. I wasn't even a full-fledged Punk but nearly got beaten up several times. I wasn't a poseur either, mind you, just chose my own style route from the various options.

Punks were freaks, just like Hippy freeks (they just got attacked for having spiky, not long hair). Ironically, they felt the full force of all the Hate bottled up in 'normals' when hate & War were championed - why not? Peace & Love had been played out to no great effect. It's as if the hate felt by Punks met the hate others felt for them and exploded in the faces of both parties. Neither side 'won'.

Being different from the common herd is one thing all youth culture tribes aspired to but something about Punk really riled normal folk. It was as if all the sewer rats had emerged in a year, crawling, spitting, snarling, spiky...spreading their disease everywhere. Worse still, they could explain nothing. No manifesto. Just NO! Pretty vacant faces staring blankly at everything normal folk had built, laughing at the ruins of so-called civilisation, the strikes, shitty jobs, concrete prisons, crap music...

Now there's a credit card you can get which commemorates it all. Whatever it was. Looking back, I still don't know. A bunch of bands, a lot of piss-taking. Thanks to Richard Branson's Virgin it looks like society really has had the last laugh...

On Broadway With Jean-Paul Belmondo

Jean-Paul Belmondo

I'm 'on Bro-o-adway!', where they say the girls are something else - trouble is, it's not that Broadway, but Broadway Parade, Crouch End, London - outside the Honeycomb cafe where, as it happens, they serve Drury coffee and make a damn fine cappuccino out of it - yes, another cafe update from your roving...er...notebook scribbler...

...and look, here's the Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw walking towards me, who seems to give me more than a glance, in fact, almost stares - you know why? Because I remind him of Jean-Paul Belmondo - yes - he senses the Nouvelle Vague-ness about me, he does and he knows I'm JB in À Bout de Soufflé reincarnated. because I'm wearing a cap and sunglasses. In other words, as Michel Poiccard introduced himself, I'm an arsehole - ha-ha! Well he was really, nicking women's money and mugging a poor chap in a public toilet. I'd never do that, would I? So I'd never get a woman like Patricia (Jean Seberg), which is just as well because she'd only betray me to the cops...


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