Friday, October 28, 2005


Congratulations all round. Firstly to Tom, a friend of mine for about 21 years now. He's just got engaged to his girlfriend Dom. Congratulations to her too, of course. Tom was always well against settling down, marriage, housebuying, getting a pension etc, so he has completely sold out - but news of the engagement is surely a testament to the good vibes surrounding that relationship.

Congratulations too to my university friend Cat, who just had a baby boy. He's called Oliver John Hudson. I for one will be taking advantage of the fact that Cat's surname is Bell by calling the child "BabyBel". Until he's a toddler, when I'll start calling him "OJ".

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Single review: Sleater-Kinney – Jumpers (Sub Pop)

Yet another song about the problem of sweater shrinkage? Thankfully not, though Sleater-Kinney’s new single initially seems to be about traffic jam stress. However, it quickly turns into a more poetic and dark creature than such mundanities might suggest, as we realise the song's protagonist is considering the merits of jumping off the Golden Gate bridge. Not one to stick on at a wedding reception then, unless the sight of the bride running out with mascara-stained cheeks fills your ugly heart with leaping joy. The lyrical feast comes with side orders of off-the-beat staccato guitars, banging drums and stark vocals, giving the whole thing a quality both lo-fi and epic. Urgent, intense and bleak – but much more fun than that sounds.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Bad sign

Saw a sign on the side of a truck today that made me simultaneously smile and shudder: "This truck contains no Bovine Vertebral Column". Euuurgh.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The best headline in the world

There was a cracking headline in the Sunday Sport yesterday: "Woman gives birth to 8lb haddock". If this wasn't genius enough, it was followed up with the fantastic subhead: "There but for the grace of Cod".

While we're on the subject, check out the Daily Mail headline generator. I blame Channel 4/political correctness/Gordon Brown/asylum seekers.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Freak show

Like every good Goldsmiths student, I went through a photography stage, reading Susan Sontag's On Photography, then spending about, hmmm, a week poring over pictures by Andreas Gursky, Walker Evans and Diane Arbus. Then I got bored and moved onto, I dunno, skateboarding, or something.

Anyway, those Arbus pics really stuck in my head, so I was quite excited about going to the exhibition of her work at the V&A last night. And it was very good, spanning 15 years (1956-71) of her portraits - of ugly women, New York, transvestites, women who look like men, circus freaks, celebrities, the disabled and old nudist couples. It had bits of her writing too (she was amazingly eloquent, in an oblique poetic kind of way) and memorabilia (less interesting - though it's quite exciting to peer into the lens of one of her old cameras). I also managed to resist the temptation to piss everyone off by pointing at photos and exclaiming in exaggerated American accent, "Dude, look that one! What a totally gross freak!"

It's hard to say anything about the photos. Sometimes when you try to analyse great photography or beautiful poetry, pull out the meaning, it gets so frustrating. You just want to give up and shout, "It doesn't mean this, or say this! There is no better way of saying it than the thing itself!" Perhaps that's what Arbus meant when she said, "A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know." But probably not.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Everybody needs them

I have just one thing to say today. Happy birthday Neighbours. And Cliff Richard, happy birthday to you too.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Tom and the Chinchilla

Got a text from my friend Angry Tom yesterday to tell me that he'd just had "a rather embarrassing encounter" with ex-Art Brut guitarist Chris Chinchilla, who he'd spotted in the street. I said that I hoped he hadn't told Chinchilla about the Harvester advert idea we drunkenly came up with a few weeks back (it involved the man Chinchilla, a small dog wearing a skinny tie and Bob Hoskins). Tom said no:

"I spent five minutes modulating my walking speed so I was awkwardly next to him on New Cross Road. Turned. Smiled. And asked simply... 'Do you know any local guitar collectives?'"

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Google nemesis, or The Two Blakes

Funny article in the Grauniad today by Blake Morrison about his namesake, another writer who's also called Blake Morrison. "Bad luck on my parents, who thought they'd called me something inimitable," he muses, realising his uniqueness has been shattered. I find doppelgangers, name-sharers and lookalikes pretty interesting, especially as my every waking second is haunted by people saying, "You look like Bob Dylan Gene Wilder Edward Norton."

When you type my name into Google, as well as the crap I've written, you get some articles about the other Will Parkhouse, an American football player from Bristol. He worries me, particularly as he's jumping up the Google list pretty fast. He does seem to be quite good at the sport too ("he seems to have a big game every week," gushes one report). Pretty alarming, as the more plaudits he gets, the more I'm likely to become "the other Will Parkhouse". He must be stopped.

I should be thankful though. My friend Darren Lee is topped in the Google rankings by The World's Number One Elvis impersonator, Darren Lee. Take a look at Darren the non-Elvis impersonator's new blog, if only to help him in his quest to destroy his lip-curling hip-swivelling namesake.

Postscript: if you type "Blake Morrison" into the Guardian website search box, ironically, you get a review he's written of a Vikram Seth book called "Two Lives". Ha.

Monday, October 10, 2005

When I say 'x', you say 'y'

I love the whole "when I say 'x'..." thing. Not sure how it started (old skool hip-hop perhaps?), but it's a ridiculous and under-celebrated genre, in a watching-car-crashes kinda way. It used to be quite basic, with the MC stopping mid-song to go, "When I say 'ho', you say 'hey'. Ho!" The crowd then shout, "Hey!" and everyone's happy.

I actually find the whole thing really embarrassing and rarely participate, just stand on the touchline, silently egging them on. Especially as the whole thing has now developed into something unwieldy and wrong; witness this cumbersome exchange, which took place in Big Brother over the summer:

Antony: Eugene, when I say "Do you really like it?" you say "Is it is it wicked?" Do you really like it?
Eugene: (reluctantly) Er, is it is it wicked?

There were two more classics at the gig I was at on Wednesday last week. The first came from a pair of rapkids called Natural Selection (imagine if a huge asteroid wiped out all the world's MCs and just these two remained! What a thought!):

Natural Selection MC: When I say "music", you say "snobbery". Music!
Crowd: (muted) Snobbery.

The other one was great, mainly because the choice of words was so unusual and strange; it came from headliners Crack Village. I found them confusing, but quite fun - original too, though the enthusiastic man in front of me ("This is groundbreaking! Groundbreaking!") was probably overstating the case a bit. Anway, one of their rappers, clad in Bobby Gillespie style insect shades, took a moment out to shout, "When I say "crack", you say "village". Crack!" The crowd, loving it, and as one, all yelled back: "VILLAGE!"

Well not quite everyone. I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bury the rag deep in your face

It's been a while since I wrote the blog. Oh lordy lordy it's been a while. Since the Guy episode, I've moved house, and been drinking - nay quaffing - from the cup of culture like a thirsty Brian Sewell.

The question I've been asked constantly over the last few weeks is, "Are you watching /did you see the ScorceseDylan documentary?" They all know I'm a huge Bob Dylan fan, see. The answer has been "no". I managed to buck the trend, by going to a Dylan tribute concert the night of the doc, in which various singersongwriter types got onstage and played Dylan songs. Billy Bragg, Martin Carthy, Odetta, Willy Mason, Liam Clancy and KT Tunstall were all pretty great. (I've noticed that a lot of people loathe KT Tunstall but are unable to give a reason for their hatred. If I hated her, my reasons would be that she gets a bit MOR at times and her voice is just a bit too perfect. But I don't hate her, so I'm not bothered about this.)

I'd like to single out Roy Harper and Barb Jungr, who also played, and were appalling. Barb Jungr particularly, whose cover of Like a Rolling Stone made me want to wrap my jumper round my head in pain. After turning Ring Them Bells into an over the top Celine Dion-like mess, she demolished Like a Rolling Stone, transforming it into a horrible slow "atmospheric" ballad. Lines like, "Threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?" she'd sing with a questioning inflection in her voice, point at an imaginary person, and put on a slightly cross face. This triad of inanities was unbelievably painful to me. Even more painful than Christopher Ricks' dire Like a Rolling Stone article in The Independent the other week.

Anyway, they filmed the show for BBC4 and you can see a couple of clips (of Bragg and Tunstall) here.

And tonight, Matthew, I'm going to be Nathan Barley: off to Medicine bar in Shoreditch to see an alt-rap hip-hop collective called Crack Village. Totally Mexico. Read the press release. They sound terrible.