Wednesday, May 31, 2006


The Guardian Culture Section finally deserving of its title: Jon Ronson on Frank Sidebottom.

So this is Spanish?

In case you want to practice some essential Spanish before coming to Barcelona for the Primavera Sound festival, there's this Cool Spanish course, where you can hear some interesting examples.
I wish there was a Cool Catalan course as well.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Honesty Always the Best Policy, I Find

Roughly translates as Industrial Hotel (and Catering) Services from Terrassa, a city near Barcelona. I wonder if they know?

Thanks Pep.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Evil That Men (and Women) Do

Martha Stout’s The Sociopath Next Door is only a slight book, and much of her work draws on excellent research previously done by Harvey Cleckley and Robert Hare, but it has rapidly become a best-seller in its field, and while reading it I have to confess to having been powerfully affected by a number of her insights, possibly because so much of what she had to say hit close to home. Forgive me if I quote from her extensively here, but those of our readers and fellow Counagoites who’ve known me for more than a short while will soon understand why:

Here’s Stout’s description early on in the text of the archetypal sociopath (the terms sociopath and psychopath are used interchangeably by researchers in this field):

He or she is more spontaneous, or more intense, or somehow more "complex" or sexier, or more entertaining than everyone else. Sometimes this "sociopathic charisma" is accompanied by a grandiose sense of self-worth . . .

In addition, sociopaths have a greater than normal need for stimulation, which results in their taking frequent social, physical, financial, or legal risks. Characteristically, they can charm others into attempting dangerous ventures with them, and as a group they are known for their pathological lying and conning, and their parasitic relationships with "friends."

Stout continues

. . . sociopaths are noted especially for their shallowness of emotion, the hollow and transient nature of any affectionate feelings they may claim to have, a certain breathtaking callousness. They have no trace of empathy and no genuine interest in bonding emotionally with a mate. Once the surface charm is scraped off, their marriages are loveless, one-sided and almost always short-term. If a marriage partner has any value to the sociopath, it is because the partner is viewed as a possession, one that the sociopath may feel angry to lose, but never sad or accountable.

You would imagine that anyone encountering such shallow, superficial people would run a mile, wouldn’t you? But because of their “charisma” and their glibness, sociopaths are able to entrap victims only too easily. It is part of what makes them so dangerous.

Enhancing the animal charisma of sociopaths, there is our own mild affinity for danger. Conventional wisdom has it that dangerous people are attractive, and when we are drawn to sociopaths, we tend to prove out this cliché. Sociopaths are dangerous in many ways. One of the most conspicuous is their preference for risky situations and choices, and their ability to convince others to take risks along with them. On occasion—but only on occasion—normal people enjoy minor risks and thrills . . . Our normal affinity for the occasional thrill can make the risk-taking sociopath seem all the more charming—at first. Initially, it can be exciting to be invited into the risky scheme, to be associated with the person who is making choices outside of our ordinary boundaries.

"Let us take your credit card and fly to Paris tonight. Let us take your savings and start that business that sounds so foolish but, with two minds like ours, could really take off. Let us go down to the beach and watch the hurricane. Let us get married right now. Let us lose these boring friends of yours and go off somewhere by ourselves. Let us have sex in the elevator. Let us invest your money in this hot tip I just got. Let us laugh at the rules. Let us walk into this restaurant in our T-shirts and jeans. Let us see how fast your car can go. Let us live a little."

Around 20 years ago, I was engaged in a relationship with such a person for 18 months. Without exception, the paragraph above is a perfect encapsulation of the relationship we had, right down to the name of the city. Uncannily accurate. Eerily so. The woman involved left me penniless, out of work, heart-broken and humiliated; worse, she permanently or near permanently damaged a number of friendships I had through her scheming, most of which was going on behind my back, although I can’t deny that I was willingly negligent in trusting her reassurances; the truth is that I wanted to believe her when she lied to me because I had been flattered by the amount of attention she paid me, by her incessant compliments, and by the prospect of the exciting life she seemed to promise. This, sadly, is how sociopaths work, and the people they entrap are usually a little low in self-esteem and consequently easy prey, susceptible to someone who appears to recognize in them something unnoticed by the world at large.

According to both Stout and Hare, sociopaths constitute around 4 percent of the U.S. population. That is one person in 25. Yes. That many. You’d think we’d be able to spot such a scourge with little difficulty, but the truth is that by and large they go unnoticed, because the majority of sociopaths are not psychotic murderers or serial killers. A very, very small minority of sociopaths behave that way, because the variables required for such behaviour to manifest itself so rarely coincide in any one individual. Most sociopaths will simply go through life engaging in fraud, theft, and lying, leaving behind them a trail of broken hearts and empty bank accounts because those are the opportunities afforded most of them and which most easily gratify their desires.

Moreover, there doesn’t appear to be any class-based explanation for sociopathic behaviour insofar as sociopaths appear right across the social spectrum, as lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists, factory and office workers, prison inmates, prison warders, rock stars, nurses, you name it. This, say Stout and Hare, is because the sociopathic personality has a genetic component that is inevitably found across society as a whole. Class does make a difference, however, in that, crimes like those at Enron notwithstanding, sociopaths born into wealthier and better-heeled families are less likely to be found out and more likely to get away with sociopathic behaviour. Working-class sociopaths are more likely to end up behind bars, are more likely to be on the run from the law or from creditors, and are more likely to fuck up or be found out, which is not to say that better-off sociopaths do not fuck up—it is in their nature to take risks, act irresponsibly, engage in dangerous, impulsive behaviour—but that very often the people around them fail to identify their criminality, or else actively collude with the sociopath, excusing their behaviour as “artistic temperament,” for instance, and even covering up for the sociopath because of the potential damage that might be done to the organization they belong to by the revelation of one form of abuse or another perpetrated by a high-ranking member of staff.

There are further sociological considerations that require exploration, however, touched on by both Stout and Hare but largely outside the scope of their work: the way that contemporary capitalism actively encourages sociopathic behaviour through an ethos that glorifies nonconformism, as well as the danger posed to the majority of people in any hierarchically structured society when sociopaths occupy dominant positions.

As Thomas Frank has convincingly described in The Conquest of Cool and elsewhere, since at least the 1950s the prevailing ethos of capitalism has been the glorification of the rebel, the hipster, the nonconformist. Marketing organizations even that far back were encouraging a “Just Do It” mentality among consumers: Live life to the full, don’t think of the morrow, let the kid inside you flourish, be irresponsible, don’t feel guilty, purchase our product now, on credit, and enjoy, give voice to the inner you and fuck society and its conventions, stick it to The Man by buying our bike/car/T-shirt/records. Far from co-opting 1960s rebellion, Frank explains, businesses actively espoused the idea of rebellion as a lifestyle, if not before, at least at the same time as the counterculture was taking on “The Hegemon.” This glorification of the rebel without a cause has resulted in a society that doesn’t just condone sociopathic behaviour: It actively encourages it. Go look in Business Week and Forbes at the sorts of behaviour that are regarded as praiseworthy: ruthlessness, the capacity for making "hard" decisions, risk-taking. Go back and have a look at what Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling were up to, then consider how they were regarded by the business world before they got found out. And, without wanting to be accused of stating the obvious, have a look at Hare’s checklist for psychopathic behaviour and see how many of the characteristics he identifies are exhibited NOT JUST by the present incumbent of the White House, but by the previous one as well. It seems pretty clear to this reader, at least, that we as a society are colluding in self-destructive behaviour whenever we praise, ignore, fail to face down, or fail to render accountable those individuals or businesses that lay waste the planet or ruin people’s lives for the sake of a quick buck, a profit margin, a legacy, self-aggrandizement, or caprice. Guiltless excess has been the watchword of capitalism for nigh on 50 years, not just during brief periods in the 1960s or the 1980s, and at the risk of sounding like an alarmist, we need to recognize that capitalism as a whole is sociopathic and requires surgery: This is a sociopathic society.

Stout is less convincing on why it is that sociopaths get away with so much: She cites the research of Stanley Milgram on obedience to suggest that most of us have a natural tendency to defer to those we regard as legitimate sources of authority. Moreover, she says, most of us find it difficult to believe that someone can lie so blatantly, even after their lies and machinations have been exposed; sociopaths simply do not care about being found out, which is why so many of them eventually do end up with ruined lives themselves (in this respect, it is the rest of us who are the problem, simply by virtue of our innate decency. There’s nothing that can be done about that!). Nonetheless, it is heartening to remind ourselves that 96 percent of the population are relatively reliable, decent, honest, caring, empathic human beings; it is only if we are unwilling to confront and curtail sociopathic behaviour that it continues because sociopathy will not end of its own accord (even though this is not strictly true of individual sociopaths, whose behaviour appears to modify and soften after age 40, according to Hare).

We’ve been here before, and Norm has spent many a post, I know, labouring over this conundrum. Why is it that some people do intervene in the face of evil, what defines the individuals willing to confront authority illegitimately employed, to face down bullies, to take the risk of standing up and being counted? Stout maintains that such a lack of deference is exhibited only by people with a strong self-image, people who regard authority figures or bullies as peers bound by the same rules as the rest of us, as equals, not superiors. Such a self-image accepts no authority that is not accountable or imposed; it is also possessed of a sense of right and wrong independent of context, which is to say, a set of values that apply universally, to everyone, regardless of how many stripes they have on their sleeve. But not only must such individuals hold such values, they must also be willing to insist that they be applied, even at the risk of their own safety. And this means not just being Bolshie but to be in possession of a set of morals that they apply to themself as much as to everyone else. Ironically, as in the case of the serial killer, such a combination of strong self-image, lack of deference, possession of and adherence to a universal moral code, and fearlessness in the face of physical threat do not come together all that often in one location, in one person. We can all cite examples of such moral fortitude; they are passed on to us as exemplars: Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela. Sadly, they are exemplars precisely because most of us fail to live up to their standards. They are to be emulated, of course, but few of us manage it, and it is to be hoped that few of us are ever called on to have to.

Stout makes the observation that a society entirely composed of sociopaths would collapse under the weight of its own irresponsibility. Sociopaths are incapable of cooperation with others beyond short-term exploitation, and a society in which everyone exploits everyone else would result social suicide. For this reason, she says, the evolutionary explanation for sociopathic behaviour requires some explanation, because it is difficult to see how it can be selected for. Her conclusion is that society has a whole can tolerate a small amount of sociopathy; sociopathic behaviour is effectively parasitic on the co-operative behaviour exhibited by the majority. The evolutionary unit of selection, she says, cannot be the individual in this regard, precisely because it is not in the interest of individuals to be sociopathic. Were we all so, the species would be extinct. But at the level of the species, such behaviour is tolerable, because most of us are not sociopaths. Sociopathic behaviour has not disappeared, either because it can serve some social function (Stout cites the military as an organization that actively requires cold-blooded, dispassionate killers, drawing attention to the accumulating evidence that most people, even in the military, are not natural killers) or because, at such a low level (whether or not 4 percent is low enough, I leave for you to decide) it is selection-neutral; it neither damages nor enhances the species’ survival chances, despite the damage done to individuals who encounter sociopaths. Indeed, it is possible that sociopaths do us a favour, serving as a salutary lesson about trust and accountability. Certainly the Enron scandal does.

Here then, paraphrased, is Stout’s list of 13 rules for dealing with sociopaths in everyday life. I pass them on to you in the hope that you never have to recognize a sociopath with the benefit of hindsight, the way I had to:

1: Swallow the bitter pill of accepting that some people literally have no conscience.

2: In a contest between your instincts and what is implied by the role a person has taken on—educator, doctor, leader, animal lover, humanist, parent—go with your instincts.

3: When considering a new relationship of any kind, practice the Rule of Threes regarding the claims and promises a person makes, and the responsibilities he or she has. Make the Rule of Threes your personal policy. One lie, one broken promise, or a single neglected responsibility may be a misunderstanding. Two may involve a serious mistake. But three lies says you’re dealing with a liar, and deceit is the linchpin of conscienceless behaviour.

4: Question authority. At least six out of ten people will blindly obey authority to the bitter end. The good news is that having social support makes people somewhat more likely to challenge authority. Encourage those around you to question too.

5: Suspect flattery. Compliments are lovely, especially when they are sincere. In contrast, flattery is extreme and appeals to our ego in unrealistic ways. It is the material of counterfeit charm, and nearly always involves an intent to manipulate.

6: If necessary, redefine your concept of respect. Too often, we mistake fear for respect. In a perfect world, human respect would be an automatic reaction only to those who are strong, kind, and morally courageous. The person who profits from frightening you is not likely to be any of these.

7: Do not join the game. Resist the temptation to compete with a seductive sociopath, to outsmart him, psychoanalyze, or even banter with him. In addition to reducing yourself to his level, you would be distracting yourself from what is really important, which is to protect yourself.

8: The best way to protect yourself from a sociopath is to avoid him, to refuse any kind of contact or communication.

9: Question your tendency to pity too easily. Pity is a socially valuable response, and t should be reserved for innocent people who are in genuine pain or who have fallen on misfortune. If, instead, you find yourself pitying someone who consistently hurts you or other people, and who actively campaigns for your sympathy, the chances are close to 100 percent that you are dealing with a sociopath.

10: Do not try to redeem the unredeemable. Second, third, fourth and fifth chances are for people who possess conscience. If you are dealing with a person who has no conscience, know how to swallow hard and cut your losses.

11: Never agree, out of pity or for any other reason, to help a sociopath conceal his or her true character. “Please don’t tell,” often spoken tearfully and with great gnashing of teeth, is the trademark plea of thieves, child abusers—and sociopaths. Do not listen to this siren song. Other people deserve to be warned more than sociopaths deserve to have you keep their secrets.

If someone without conscience insists that you “owe” him or her, recall what you are about to read here: “You owe me” has been the standard line of sociopaths for thousands of years, quite literally, and is still so.

We tend to experience “you owe me” as a compelling claim, but it is simply not true. Do not listen. Also, ignore the one that goes, “You are just like me.” You are not.

12: Defend your psyche. Do not allow someone without conscience, or even a string of such people, to convince you that humanity is a failure. Most human beings do possess a conscience. Most human beings are able to love.

13: Living well is the best revenge.

May you all live well. Ninety-six percent of you, anyway.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Anarchy in Timperley (nearer Sale actually)

Set list included:

Anarchy in Timperley
I should be so lucky
Hit the north
Anne the DJ
Guess who's been on Match of the Day
Twist and Shout
Oh blimey, it's Christmas!
The wonder of me

and the Guinness was 2 quid a pint. Fantastic

the death of the internet?

i don't want to worry you but The Man is after it, guys.

if you are american you can sign the petition for network neutrality at Save the Internet

do us a favour for once, eh?

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Latest From Trunk Records

I wonder if Mr.Sidebottom will be buying a copy of this.

Careful! That's How the Mormons Started

Review from the Independent of the Handsome Family.

That Primavera Line-up in Full

Can be found here (pdf file).

Get out your highlighters.

And if you can't make Primavera, why not go to Camperfest?!!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Moby or Eminem

Thanks to Griff's sense of occasion we arrived at Finsbury Park Station last night 30 seconds after this and 30 seconds before they evacuated the station.

Damn huddies.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

New Addition to Blog Roll

The Internet Archive has audio recordings of live shows by Mekons, Jon Langford, and Neko Case, among all your favourites. Some of you, of course, might be able to see the real thing in London tonight. Lucky sods.

Fly Aer Arann and See the World

An anticipated two-hour flight from Angers, France, to Manchester resulted in a 30-hour trip for Andrew Parson of Eccles, visiting six airports in three countries.

Mr. Parson, a French teacher at St Mary's Roman Catholic High School at Astley, near Wigan, regularly takes schoolchildren to Angers, Wigan's twin town in France. Having been invited out to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a school in Angers, he decided to fly out for the weekend rather than take a 16-hour coach trip.

It was the return journey that went awry, however, right from the very beginning, when his flight from Angers was moved to Nantes at the last minute.

You can read all about Mr. Parson's odyssey here, perhaps the only time you'll find a link to the Daily Mail on C&S.

What have Roy's fans been up to now?

Notice on the door of The Faulkners Arms

"No tracksuits, no huddies"

Birthday Cakes

Happy 30th to Kathy. Still the youngest and prettiest of our team.

Now get your computer fixed or we'll send Bill round!

Done Dreaming

The Man Who Made "You Were Made for Me" meets his Maker.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Going Down I'm Afraid, Chaps

The Alty have had their appeal rejected so, assuming they've got their finances in order, Scarborough escape the drop despite finishing rock bottom.

Insolent Mockery from the Lower Orders

Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Miller is dead.

"Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Miller, who died on Wednesday aged 87, was Crown Equerry to the Queen from 1961 to 1987; besides his court duties, he was an excellent horseman in his own right, and introduced the Prince of Wales to hunting and Prince Philip to carriage driving.

Born on February 4 1919, John Mansel Miller was the third son of Brigadier-General Alfred Douglas Miller, CBE, DSO, of Shotover House, Wheatley, Oxfordshire. His mother, Ella, was a descendant of Andrew Fletcher, the distinguished 17th-century political writer, and of the Earls of Wemyss and March.

. . .

Miller took part in more than 64 birthday parades and rehearsals. Most of these occasions passed off flawlessly, but the Queen's official birthday celebration on June 13 1981 was an exception.

Miller was already nervous for superstitious reasons, on account of the date. And in the event the Queen was shot at in The Mall; the Queen Mother slipped on a staircase, injuring her leg, as she left the Duke of Wellington's office from which she had been watching the ceremony; Prince Philip's charger went lame, and his groom was injured in an accident.

. . .

Inevitably his duties brought him into close contact with the Royal Family. He blew the hunting horn at Balmoral to welcome the Waleses home from their honeymoon, and was responsible for mounting members of the family when they expressed an interest in riding.

. . .

A courtier through and through, Miller was effortlessly polite and wholly devoted to his Sovereign - though he was rather less genial to those whose social position was unclear to him."

Ah, they just don't make them like that any more.

Nearly as Impressive as the Salmon of Knowledge

Tuna caught off Kenya features a verse from the Koran on its scales.

Beat that, Krishna!

(FYI: Salmon of Knowledge.)

Monday, May 22, 2006

That New Nightingales Single

"Let's Think About Living" can be heard here, before you buy. There are more downloads, including a song about the group recorded at the Hideout, at the 'Gales site.

The Real Stars of Eurovision

Since Jane is clearly just trying to be controversial.

If you thought Lordi were scary, what about German Country and Western? The real taboo busters.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Newsflash! Society Where Women Are Dominated Found in Darlington

"A sex slavery cult based on a series of 1960s science fiction novels has been uncovered by police in Darlington.

The group, called Kaotians, follow the Chronicles of Gor novels, which depict a society where women are dominated.

. . . Lee Thompson, 31, says he is the "master" who trains the slaves at the Darlington address.

But he said everything the women are told to do, which includes cooking and cleaning, is "voluntary and safe".

"It works on the system that some women have a desire to serve," he told the Northern Echo newspaper.

He said: "Most people think it is a very sexual thing, but it is about every action that they make, they do it for their master.

"Saying that, the girls will do everything they are told when it comes to sex, but it is all voluntary and all safe."

Mr. Thompson added: "I have been called sick but I don't think what I do is bad."

Mr. Thompson said up to 350 followers regularly meet in pubs and clubs around the North East, in an area from Berwick to York."

"Followers"? In the old days we just referred to them as Yorkshiremen.

Nice to See Something's on the Mend, Then

The June issue of American Artist carries an article on how the art scene in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans is recovering from the devastation. Accompanying the article are several paintings by longtime New Orleans resident and landscape painter Phil Sandusky, including Tattered Fence, Reynes Between N. Tonti and N. Rocheblave 2006; Sloops in the Road; and House Broken Around Telephone Pole, N. Claiborne and Forstall. The Web site features more of his works, such as Collapsed House and Car, N. Galvez & Forstall; Houses Smashed Into Each Other, Galvez Between Andry & Choctaw; Foundation of House and Crushed Car, Tennessee Close to Prieur; and Sloop in the Parking Lot of the Southern Yacht Club.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Let Joy Be Unconfined*

*Not valid in parts of North London.

Who Are They?

Congratulations to Accrington Stanley on their promotion back to the Football League and on only getting fined £200 for failing to get clearance for James Robinson, an oversight that may cost Alty £1000 and relegation.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wang Yu very much

If you ever wondered who buys those £3 martial arts dvds in places like Music Zone look no further than yours truly.

The latest addition to my Jimmy Wang Yu collection is "Deadly Silver Spear" aka "Shaolin Silver Spear" aka "Der Silverspeer Der Shaolin" which , although not a patch on "One Armed Boxer" does have the best underwater Kung Fu scrap I've ever seen,(Wang Yu was originally a swimmer and Olympic standard water polo player) , and the best incidental music since "The Man with the Golden Gun" , ( probably because they use the theme from TMWTGG. Shameless!).

The dvd is only let down by the fact that the first 5 minutes of the film is a montage of b&w stills taken from the film you're about to watch and the bonus features which include:

1) one page biographies in type too small to read

2) an extra fight scene (from another movie)

3) a two sentence interview with Wang Yu (that's shoe-horned into a fight scene from yet another movie).

Still, you won't get a Bruce Lee film for under a fiver.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

So, One Is Entirely Based on Fantasy, Whereas the Other . . .

An article by John B. Breslin in the April 17 edition of the U.S. Catholic magazine America contrasts the two different approaches to writing about Jesus adopted in two recent novels. Jesus: A Novel, by Walter Wangerin Jr., succeeds, Breslin says, largely because Wangerin has remained faithful to the contours of the Gospel genre, and also because he is an exceptional writer. In contrast, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, by Anne Rice, is necessarily largely fabrication, due to the miniscule amount of New Testament material. There are some powerful passages in Rice's novel, he points out, but 90 percent of it has no basis whatsoever in the Gospels and can therefore only be called fantasy.

Hmm. I believe J.G. Ballard doesn't like excessive accuracy and attention to detail in novel writing either.

Is That a Recommendation, Then?

The opening line to a review of the musical version of The Color Purple in the March 20 issue of Jet magazine:

"From laughter and tears to resentment and fear, the engaging Broadway production of The Color Purple stirs up all kinds of emotions."

The fear being, presumably, "They're never going to let us out of this theatre."

While Manuel Estimulo Is Indisposed

There's an interesting piece over at Backseat Drivers, by Diana Pérez García, commenting on the interview in El País Sunday’s supplement with Manuel Fraga Iribarne, Franco’s minister and founder of PP. The conclusion in particular is worth reading.

Monday, May 15, 2006

When Someone Has Done Something Good, Then Perhaps That Good Deed Becomes the Eye of a Bird

Featured in the latest edition of Harper's:

From a “protocol,” dated April 18, 1931, by Fritz Fränkel, a friend of Walter Benjamin’s, detailing an experiment of Benjamin’s with hashish. The notes, translated by Howard Eiland, are included in On Hashish, published this month by Belknap/Harvard University Press. The Latin phrase below, from Horace, means “Mountains will labor; a funny little mouse will be born.”

11:00 P.M. Walter Benjamin, 1.0 gram.

12:00 A.M. SUDDEN LAUGHTER; repeated short bursts of laughter.

“I’d like to be transformed into a mouse mountain.” (Naturally: “Parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.”)

Subject notices a crumpled piece of paper lying next to a bottle on a little table, and in a delighted tone he designates it “little monkey” and also “stereoscope monkey,” “little stereoscope.”

It is a sign of the very bright and friendly character of the intoxication that the subject’s pleasurable relation to his own existence does not manifest itself here, as it usually does, in arrogance and distance. His exultation is put to use in an opposite direction—namely, as tenderness toward things and, above all, toward words. The play with the words “stereoscope monkey” is wholly characteristic of the way the hashish intoxication sets going a volatilization of ideas into word aromas, so much so that, for example, the proper ideational substance of the word—the root idea “monkey”—ends up completely evaporating.

The room we’re in is said to be “lacking charm.” The subject explains that “oriental palaces belong here. I am not thinking of describing them, although that might suit the palaces.” Then the subject says he would like “to see something beautiful.”

Subject picks up a newspaper and makes a serious attempt to read it—is therefore not really occupied with any inner visions brought on by intoxication. Of course, for whatever reason, physical or mental, the reading attempt fails. (Presumably, the cause is physical and mental.) The subject finds himself inexplicably amused by the dullest political slogans.

At this point, the test subject crosses the threshold of intoxication (properly speaking).

“All colors take their rise from the snow—you must have regard for the colors.”

As in earlier experiments, the subject raises his right arm, supported at the elbow, to a vertical position, with the index finger pointing upward. “Perhaps my hand will slowly turn into a little branch.”

Test subject occupies himself again with the room, this time in a friendlier spirit than before, calling it “little room” and addressing it in the familiar: “Little room, I’d like to say something beautiful to you.”

The test subject turns to colors again, uttering the word “green” in a long, singing tone (held for about twenty seconds), and then he says, “Green is also yellow.”

So far as this last remark is concerned, it surely means what it says, hut also presumably more than what it says. Fundamentally, there is the experience of a representation of something yellow next to that of something green. These representations can be circumscribed most readily by the image of a luxuriant meadow whose border spills yellow sand. The lengthened vowel in the word “green” implies that the voice is being drawn out by the sound, just as the idea of green has appertaining to it something attractive, enticing, something that draws one ever further into the distance. The voice wanders in pursuit of the sound, and the inner eye in pursuit of things.

The deepest stage of the intoxication begins, it would seem. Introduced with much ado, the proclamation of secrets begins. Unfortunately, the second of these secrets cannot be recovered, since at this point the compiler of the protocol was very energetically prohibited from taking notes. This behavior speaks for the depth of the intoxication, for at shallower stages the vanity of the intoxicated man is gratified by the fact that his words are being noted down. The first of these secrets: “It is a law: There is a hashish effect only when one speaks about the hashish.”

The test subject urgently requests that the window be shut. I close the window, and my action is greeted with a lively show of gratitude. In this context arises a speculation: “When someone has done something good, then perhaps that good deed becomes the eye of a bird.”

The test subject claims to be feeling “an exceedingly strong effect, combined with the most powerful things I’ve ever felt with hashish.” The character of the intoxication seems to him now “indescribably festive.” At this point the second secret made its appearance.

Test subject expresses the wish that the protocol writer not address him in the familiar as “du.” The reason for this: “I am not I; I am the hashish at certain moments.” Physical manifestations are also particularly strong at this stage:
“My legs as though tied together.”

The following sentence—”Important thoughts must be put to sleep for a long time”—may relate to the process of deferment in the expression of a thought, that hesitation which can sometimes lead to total suppression of the thought. There follows, in a “deep phase, in which I descend almost at will, and to a mighty depth,” the third “great” secret. This is in fact a crystallization of the basic character of this particular intoxication. It is designated the “secret of wandering.” What defines wandering is not purposeful movement, not a spontaneity, but an unfathomable being-drawn. Wandering may be understood in reference to the clouds, if one were prepared to follow their drift with the feeling that they are not moving on their own but are being drawn.

“No one will be able to understand this intoxication; the will to awaken has died.”

Some chocolate offered to the subject is declined with the words: “Eating belongs to another world.” He is “separated from food by a glass wall.”

The mood suddenly shifts. Test subject calls out abruptly: “New turn in the intoxication!” and, laughing repeatedly, says he’s now “suddenly in an operetta mood.” The subject’s consciousness of the strength of the intoxication is demonstrated by his comment that “the intoxication could last thirty hours.”

Test subject suddenly falls asleep (1:15 A.M.).

Asperger's Syndrome: So Much to Answer For

Joyce, Yeats, Beckett, Dev.

Can you spot a trend here?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

First as Tragedy, then as Farce

The album
of the book of the albums. I just hope Edwyn Collins is getting some royalties from this project, even though his song doesn't even appear on the new album.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Oh Fuck

You Belong in Amsterdam

A little old fashioned, a little modern - you're the best of both worlds. And so is Amsterdam.
Whether you want to be a squatter graffiti artist or a great novelist, Amsterdam has all that you want in Europe (in one small city).

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Future in Need of an Update

For English white boys of a particular vintage and reticence, the novels of J.G. Ballard were as close as we got to pornography in our early teenage years (indeed, for some of us, it was as close as we got to women at all). Quite what impact the clinical descriptions of Elizabeth Taylor's armpit and Jackie Kennedy's left orbit had on our collective sexual development is difficult to say, although I suspect early exposure to H&E magazine, swapped in Mell Square for a packet of 10 Park Drive, was more likely to deprave us (and perhaps the fags would have depraved us still more).

Sadly, none of that obsessive attention to the fetishistic is apparent in A User's Guide to the Millennium: Essays and Reviews. Despite the first half of the title, this collection already feels severely dated, leading one to wonder which particular millennium Ballard had in mind. Indeed, a number of these pieces date back to the early 70s, when some of us were just getting to grips with Crash and The Atrocity Exhibition and looking for more of the same (maybe "getting to grips with" is an inappropriate metaphor to use here!).

Unless you're interested in inaccurate predictions about the future of science fiction or the shape of cities and automobiles to come, there isn't much in here that will grab you. Some of Ballard's reflections on Shanghai may be of passing note, but much of it has been covered elsewhere in his oeuvre. Only the final piece, a "Project for a Glossary of the Twentieth Century," held my attention, and then perhaps only because its central idea was stolen from Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary. Here's a quick sample:

The Warren Commission Report: The novelization of the Zapruder film.

Lysenkoism: A forlorn attempt not merely to colonize the botanical kingdom, but to instil a proper sense of the puritan work ethic and the merits of self-improvement.

Telephone: A shrine to the desperate hope that one day the world will listen to us.

Typewriter: It types us, encoding its own linear bias across the free space of the imagination.

Hallucinogenic drugs: The kaleidoscope's view of the eye.

and last but most humourously

Automobile: All the millions of cars on this planet are stationary, and their apparent motion constitutes mankind's greatest collective dream.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Song for Scotland

I admit I cheated and went by the outlines.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Robin Hood: Trying to Make Crime Fun

Gang of anarchists dressed as superheroes robbing food from posh restaurants in Hamburg and giving it to the unemployed.

. . . they left a note behind saying: "Without the abilities of the superheroes to help them, it would be impossible for ordinary people to survive in the city of the millionaires."

Album Art

A nice post by Tom over at The Bad Rash presents some of his favourite album covers in celebration of the forthcoming show at MACBA, the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona. Happily, the show will still be on while we're there for Primavera, and MACBA's one of my favourite places in the city. Besides, I need to replace my MACBA sweat shirt, which, for no apparent reason, shrunk after a stint in the dryer.

Oh yeah, that was it.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Rest in Peace, Grant McLennan

sometime on saturday 6 may, grant mclennan, one half of the marvelous songwriting team that was the go-betweens, passed away in his sleep.

mclennan met robert forster at university in brisbane in the late seventies, thus beginning an on-off partnership that lasted for nearly thirty years and producing many marvelous songs that never got anywhere near the recognition they deserved.

despite widespread critical acclaim, the go-bies' sales were never more than minimal in their first incarnation in the eighties and they eventually threw in the towel towards the end of that decade. mclennan and forster both released several solo records in the nineties before reforming the go-betweens and, with the backing of sleater-kinnie, releasing the universally lauded the friends of rachel worth. the equally excellent bright yellow, bright orange followed a few years later and last year they released what mojo magazine deemed the "instant classic" oceans apart.

a year earlier, i had seen them for the first time, performing a greatest hits set at the barbican in celebration of the release of the remastered versions of their eighties output. rarely have i seen such a large audience revere a band so much. it was - to those in the know, at least - a triumph, of sorts, and every face that left that concert beamed like a baby with a new rattle.

despite burgeoning recognition in the UK and their native australia, they remained all but unknown in the USA and a friend of mine saw them play a 400 capacity venue in new york city only last year.

mclennan was, it seems, an affable, modest, literate man - something which comes through in many of his wonderful songs.

doubly sad is the fact that he died, at only 48, with seemingly many more great songs in his power.

he will not be missed nearly as much as he should be but those who do feel his loss feel it so keenly that it numbs the soul.

(a memorial thread has been put in place on the go-betweens message boards. amongst those posting are pat nevin, norman blake, gerard love and edwyn collins)


Happy Birthday to big brother.

Well it saves on cards and postage.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

In which Tony Wilson gets it wrong...again

In his column in this month's Uncut, Anthony H. refers to Morrissey as "the miserable twat from Altrincham" overlooking the facts that:

a) Mozza was born and bred in Stretford

b) Ian Brown is on the cover of said magazine, a more fitting candidate for the moniker and

3) there are lots of miserable twats in Altrincham

Thursday, May 04, 2006


El Barça take la Lliga title.

Rebels to the End

Today's New York Times has a report on the opening night of the "AngloMania" exhibition of British fashion organized by Vogue's Anna Wintour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

" . . . the Anglo-Irish crowd must have felt there was something stiflingly unreal in the hedges and pub food, an Englishness that was merely for show. Anyway, by dinnertime, the grumbling had started.

"Can you believe they're giving us pies?" a British model said when a lamb pie was put in front of her.

When John Lydon, the former Sex Pistol known as Johnny Rotten, found his seat — the last at a long table and arguably one of the least desirable in the highly orchestrated seating plan — he was visibly upset. Which was funny: You wouldn't expect a punk to attend a society dinner, much less be aggrieved by his placement. Mr. Lydon stormed out twice, cursing museum workers. Eventually he took his seat, and Ms. Wintour came by to mollify him.

As glamorous and fun as the party was, as it is every year, you had a feeling that the British impulse toward anarchy — a desire to take the stuffing out of everything — had to prevail. Even the Americans could no longer contain themselves. At one point, the socialite Lauren Davis, sitting with Camilla al-Fayed, Ms. Cole and the designer Lazaro Hernandez, tapped Ms. Lohan on the shoulder.

"Tell me the next time you go to the ladies' room," Ms. Davis said. "I want to have a cigarette."

"I'm smoking at the table," Ms. Lohan said.

"I am, too," Ms. Davis answered. "But I just feel awful about it."

Well, really. Where will it end?

I'm only disappointed they didn't invite Johnny Vegas.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I Don't Believe Anyone Appears in Carlow Deliberately

From the Carlow People:

"Supermodels, movie stars, helicopters swirling in the skies over Carlow and, most of all, bad boy rock stars.

There was more than a little frisson of excitement around Tullow Street, Carlow, last Monday night, when Babyshambles hit the stage in The Music Factory.

The band, whose lead singer Pete Doherty is infamous for living the rock and roll lifestyle, played to a house packed with enthusiastic fans.

Not only was there quite a number of people surprised that Pete Doherty and Co. even showed up for the gig - the band had postponed their only Dublin show the previous week - others were amazed to hear that the infamous rock star turned up in Carlow bright and early on Monday morning.

So early did the boys from Babyshambles arrive at The Music Factory that they had breakfast with staff before Pete himself helped one of the cleaning women with the hoovering!

'Never judge a book by its cover,' Eamonn Tucker, General Manager of The Music Factory, told the Carlow People.

'We were expecting a tyrant but he was lovely, he didn't live up to his reputation at all.

'He was an absolute gentleman. The band hung out here all day, watching videos, eating, doing the sound checks and meeting their fans.'

While Babyshambles blew the audience away with their edgy rock sound, alleged sightings of Pete's ex-girlfriend, Kate Moss, circulated around the venue. Someone else swore that they'd spotted movie-star, Keanu Reeves, arriving by helicopter but most were just happy to worship at the altar of Babyshambles.

Having hung out in The Music Factory for the day, Pete confessed to Eamonn that the Carlow gig was their favourite and even vowed to return to play an acoustic set in a few week's time.

Who knows, if Babyshambles do reappear on a stage near you, he might even be sporting the Carlow jersey he was presented with by his fans here."

Monday, May 01, 2006