An almost daily dump of observations, quotes, travels, and consumed culture.

28th Dec 2019 11:40 pm #

The decade that broke popular culture — Simon Reynolds, author of Rip It Up and Start Again, reflects on the vast quantities of TV and music thrown at us by this decade. A shared temporality has given way to an unmoored and meandering “culture-time”, born from the “new liquidity of cultural products freed from solid form and turned into pure information.” It’s so relentless that seminal moments soon fade from memory.

Spent the afternoon with the Rudkins, which included pancakes, origami, and wristband access to Aggy's bedroom disco party.

26th Dec 2019 11:55 pm #

We enjoyed a lovely Christmas Day at home. Delighted with my presents, especially the Juicy Sonic Magic tapes — a US/Canada-only Record Store Day release, Geri tasked her Mom and Dad with securing the one copy sent to Fred’s. The tapes, recorded at Berkeley using The Mike Millard Method, sound so tinglingly live, and the hand-rendered details remind me of bootlegs sold down Portobello Market in the 90s. I also received Nick Cave’s stunning Ghosteen (probably my album of the year) on vinyl, a Kinto flask, National tee, obligatory chocolate orange, and a few quid.

I surprised Geri with an authentic 1:2 scale Gashapon vending machine from Japan and she was chuffed to bits. I'd ordered it after she'd mentioned how such a machine might attract more customers to her Geri Draws Japan stand at events. It's a shame the brass wagashi cutlery I ordered got delayed by customs, but a Blu-ray of The Cure’s 2018 anniversary shows was a smart last-minute sub.

Went for our now traditional lunchtime run around the Trent; weather lovely, lots of people and pups out for air. We’d planned a simple dinner, so enjoyed a relaxing afternoon with minimal prep and occasional bird probing. FaceTimed the in-Laws over in Newfoundland; nice to see a white Christmas out of their window, and even nicer to catch up.

Dinner was just right: tasty turkey, simple veg, and my famed chestnut nobbies. Shared a bottle of Prosecco and two little puds. Later, we watched Detective Pikachu and it was awful, though I did laugh at least three times. Rewatched a few episodes of Rilakkuma and Kaoru to smile out a cosy day.

Boxing Day has been delightfully lazy. After breakfast, I sat in my music chair and listened to Ghosteen. Sometimes, I read along with the printed lyrics, and other times I gazed at the tree lights and let my mind drift. Such a sad album and yet so full of beauty.

Rained all day, but we took Mam for lunch at the Wollaton. Back home for sofa snoozes and Prime Premiership footy binge. Turkey and cranberry sandwiches were as delicious as expected, and there's plenty more for tomorrow.

Utterly exhausted from all the relaxing.

Juicy Sonic Magic by The National

24th Dec 2019 11:00 am #

Today sees the last post from 24 Ways, an accidental side project spanning fifteen years. Huge thanks to Drew and the many folks that helped bring it to life each year, and to all the authors. I contributed three articles, with one of those included in the volume dedicated to Tia Sharp. End of an era.

23rd Dec 2019 1:00 pm #

Tibb's Eve (AKA Tipsy Eve)
Date: 23rd December
Observed by: Newfoundlanders
Significance: Beginning of Christmas
Observances: Drinking

21st Dec 2019 11:45 pm #

HBO’s Watchmen is so good — although I can't imagine what anyone who hasn't read the comics makes of this continuation. Today, I enjoyed eps 3–5, and the influence of past events is coming to the fore. TV this trustingly complex and richly detailed is such a treat; I can't wait to binge the rest.

20th Dec 2019 11:05 am #

Forty-two years after Darth Vader scared me to tears in the long-gone Odeon, we watched the concluding chapter, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, at the Cineworld or Cineplex or whatever it is. I won't spoiler you or offer a snap review.

I will say that we were both frustrated by the relentless pacing and endless exploding of everything. It's a style of filmmaking J. J. Abrams admits he uses to keep audiences moving onto the next thing, lest they start asking questions about each implausible scene or device. There's a lot to love about the texture and mood of this film, but still, we wished for a little more breathing space between scenes; time to absorb emotions and environments. George Lucas was far from perfect, but at least he knew how to pace a story.

All my career, I've learned to strip away the extraneous and simplify the message, as all good designers, artists, filmmakers and musicians do. But today's cinema-goers expect to be pummelled by a deafening wave of everything all at once, over and over. And so, Hollywood gives them what they want.

These days, I tend to enjoy slower movies (we're both fans of Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, for example) and found ourselves again discussing a film that has stayed with us and continued to reveal its layers; something totally at odds with these Disney sequels. I'm referring to The Irishman, a deeply cinematic and quietly rewarding movie that pays back what you invest. Scorcese definitely has a point about modern cinema.

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker poster

19th Dec 2019 10:50 am #

Last night was our Christmas party. There’s only Geri and I, but everyone deserves a party — and by party, I mean a lovely meal. We enjoyed another stunning tasting course at the enjoyably unpretentious Alchemilla, our first visit since they earned a Michelin star. Our seven course tasting menu:

  • tenderstem broccoli, satay
  • squid, squash, pork belly
  • pot roast cabbage, oyster, buttermilk, berwick edge
  • raw venison, chimichurri, BBQ salad
  • squab pigeon, walnut ketchup, kale, peppercorn sauce
  • toasted hay, bramley apple, burnt sugar
  • yoghurt, pine, wood sorrel

We also enjoyed several small "snacks" and delicious bread and butter. The food is always a talking point but last night it was exceptional. That pigeon; the plate looked like a meticulously organised nature table and tasted extraordinary. I washed everything down with two cans of Magic Rock's Saigon Fog IPA, packed with lychee goodness. Party hard.

quab pigeon, walnut ketchup, kale, peppercorn sauce at Alchemilla
That nature plate.

17th Dec 2019 11:45 pm #

Like last year, New Adventures is a struggle. There's little over a month to go, and still so many unknowns. Organising a conference used to be fun, but these days I mostly yearn for sales, and replies to my emails.

15th Dec 2019 11:25 pm #

I’m struggling to compile my annual music roundup. This has been a phenomenal year for noteworthy music, but with the usual 365 days in which to consume it all. I’m now doing extra homework and cramming. Which releases will make my top albums, tracks, re-release and compilation lists? Who will sink into notables? What goes in the bin? This is incredibly important.

14th Dec 2019 10:00 pm #

Lovely crisp day. We met Mam in town, only her second venture out since she left hospital. Went to Effy for flat whites (Honduras El Rodeo from Bailies Coffee Roasters, Belfast). Mam was tired after a little while and went home. After a little gift buying we entered the crowded Christmas market for mulled wine and roasted chestnuts.

Went for a browse in Rough Trade, then stopped in at Botti Di Mama to discuss the New Adventures speakers' meal. Very cosy, and the staff welcoming. Might have a winner there.

12th Dec 2019 2:00 pm #

Still buzzing from The National in Nottingham on the 10th. My eighth time seeing them, but the best because Matt borrowed Geri’s phone! We always need another show to look forward to, so we've just booked to see them in Belfast, June 2020.

Voted for Labour this morning. Torrential rain. We helped neighbour Liz navigate the polling station and back to Coop (she's blind).

At 10pm, the devastating exit poll. Turned the TV off almost immediately.

8th Dec 2019 5:40 pm #

Spent a couple of days in London. First stop: the new % Arabica Covent Garden, for a reminder of that Kyoto coffee goodness.

We loved the Christmas Compendium of Reason with Prof Brian Cox and Robin Ince at Hammersmith Apollo. Loads of surprise guests inc Milton Jones, Josie Long, three astronauts (Chris Hadfield, Helen Sharman, Tim Peake) and an electrifying Eddie Izzard tearing into royalty, religion, Donald and Boris Trump! Also, our friend Seb on lasers!

The next morning we got the bus from Canary Wharf to lively Broadway Market, primarily to visit the other new % Arabica (definitely the right aesthetic at this one, plus a real community feel; a more diverse and local crowd). Afterwards, we pottered around the bustling market, flicking through record bins, browsing at Artwords Bookshop, and grabbing cardomom buns from Pavilion Bakery. Then off to Brick Lane and Spitalfields (bumped into Chris Allwood) for a good ramble.

Cozy Sunday at home. Put the new Christmas tree up. It's lovely.

5th Dec 2019 11:15 pm #

Took my Mam into Beeston, her first time out since being hospitalised with bad pneumonia. Bought two bags of the Greenhood & Colonna collab; the beans suit our machine and combine well with Oatly.

I successfully installed our new integrated dishwasher; not as easy as I'd expected, as I needed to move the pipework outside to make it fit. Skills.

My Spotify 2019, Wrapped is interesting. I discovered 271 new artists representing 33 countries, played 5,407 different songs, and listened for 59,038 minutes. My top song is Red Bull & Hennessey by Jenny Lewis. My no.1 artist is The National (no surprise). Like many others, I learned that "Chamber psych" is a thing.

My Spotify 2019

4th Dec 2019 11:00 pm #

I finally deleted my Facebook account. I increasingly feel that to have an account is to endorse — or at least not care about — their unethical involvement in almost everything. I'd previously deactivated.

3rd Dec 2019 2:20 pm #

Jeremy Deller on private school indoctrination. Source

"It was run on the lines that the British empire was still a going concern. And therefore you were part of this incredible project, you’re the elite of the greatest country in the world. You were literally taught exceptionalism.

Big fan of Deller. I think his reenactment of The Battle of Orgreave is one of the bravest and most important works of art ever made about UK politics and society.

He's also responsible for the best telly programme I watched this year: Everybody In The Place - An Incomplete History of Britain 1984-1992 (told through rave culture, to a classroom of enthralled students).

1st Dec 2019 5:00 pm #

A few hours in London, four art shows. Here are some tiny reviews made possible by a nice IPA in the Tate members’ room:

Eco-Visionaries (Royal Academy) is disappointing because there's loads of interesting and engaging art, architecture and design in this area, but it's not here. This small show failed to spark my imagination and didn’t feel very hopeful. Plus, long waiting times to see some jellyfish.

Other Spaces (180 Strand) is ace. Step off The Strand into pitch black corridors and a string of impressive installations. Fan of ecologist & sound recordist Bernie Krause so I loved The Great Animal Orchestra: captivated audience listening to threatened creatures, surrounded by soundwaves.

24/7: A Wake Up Call for Our Non-Stop World (Somerset House) is expertly curated. Like that it begins with the industrial revolution, Wright’s 18th century mill lit through the night. Hate the possibility that sleep will be stolen by capitalism. Actually made me sleepy, but I did catch a 7am bus.

I've loved Olafur Eliasson's glacier photos for two decades, so I made sure to see the beautifully depressing new melt update at Tate Modern. I did a deep dive into the show a while back, and plan to write specifically about the glaciers soon.

30th Nov 2019 11:00 pm #

Made time to watch The Irishman uninterrupted this afternoon. The three-and-a-half hours whizzed by. Been thinking about it all evening.

26th Nov 2019 12:00 am #

This is my new Stream: an endless dump of thoughts, ideas, quotes, travel notes, and consumed culture. It's a place for the stuff that doesn't lend itself to a Journal post, or that I might like to remember. It's my version of Weeknotes, and there are no rules; it just flows.