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Moon

Posted: September 22nd, 2009, by Chris Summerlin

I hate going to the cinema. I think it must stem from some long-suppressed childhood memory. Maybe I was flashed at? Who knows. All I do know is that being made to endure the ticks, rustles, coughs, chomps, nasal whistles, mobile phone beeps and whispered questions of a room full of strangers (not to mention all of the above from myself too) is close to a form of torture for me. So I rarely go. I especially rarely go and see a science fiction movie.
My primary problem with movies of the genre is that they’re invariably made by people who have an interest in details. It’s understandable. In order to create a believable futureworld you have to be able to consider every last detail to make this vision believable. You have to think how door hinges would work in the future, how tin openers would evolve, how you’d take a dump in zero gravity and so on or your film will just end up being the subject of a very detailed website pointing out the flaws and contradictions in the science involved and people who go to fan conventions would laugh at you. And, most importantly for me, you’re saddled with a film that lasts 17 hours and 17 hours is a long time to spend in the cinema.
So why the hell did I end up watching Moon, the directorial debut by Duncan Jones (aka Zowie Bowie, son of the Thin White Duke)?
It wasn’t just because it was free.

It’s because the cosmos lights something up within me. I can stare at well-taken images and film of the solar system and our own planet for ever. The recent BBC documentary James May At The Edge Of Space made me cry. I share most pre-pubescent boys’ dream of being an astronaut but it’s not to boldly go where no man has gone before but just so I could sit there and look at Earth in one frame of my eyesight and in total peace and silence. Imagine it. So I went along figuring that, if nothing else, I’d get to see some beautiful shots of the Moon and Earth whilst sitting in a comfortable chair.

What I actually got was totally unexpected. For starters, this is a very compact and minimal film, weighing in around the length of your average John Hughes flick at just over 90 mins.
This has been achieved by completely stripping the science fiction elements down to simple offerings of only the most important information. You know the central character Sam Bell (played by Sam Rockwell) is on a 3 year employment contract to man a space station on the Moon and oversee automated processes to mine Helium 3 from the soil. That’s about as far as the tech side of things gets. You see machines work and processes happen and quickly understand that the details are somehow not important and that you should concentrate your efforts elsewhere and that being wowed by a person’s vision of the future is not Jones’ aim here.

The great thing about this film is that it manages to completely capture what it is about the moon that fascinates us but yet scares us too. This sense of the unknown, of a freedom and ambiguity that is both very liberating and very oppressive too. The juxtaposition of tight, strip-light-lit claustrophobia and this overwhelming sense of space that the surface of the moon has gives the film a strange and creepy quality. Jones has been careful to restrict the number of locations that the film is set in to accentuate these feelings of contrast and subtle touches like the repeating refrain of the music help to bring about a dream-like state in the viewer that allows you to accept some of the films more peculiar moments as being conceivable.

The mid-section of the film is willingly given over to this feeling of peculiarity and confusion as the routine of Sam’s existence gets abruptly broken when he crashes his lunar mining truck after seeing the vision of a young girl in his path on the moon’s surface. He comes round in the medical bay, tended to by the onboard robot GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) and then impulsively wants to get outside of the space station where he eventually stumbles across himself, unconcious in the lunar truck you presumed he had been rescued from.
Any other science fiction film would have force-fed you so much information by this point that, as the viewer you would probably understand that what is occurring is that 2 clones of the same man (unaware that they are clones) are coming face to face with each other. As it is, Jones’ embracing of the sense of the vague and the mysterious means you never quite accept that solution even when it slowly dawns on the duo of Sams that this is the case and that the weekly correspondence with their “family” is pre-recorded and that the reason they can’t contact Earth is not due to a malfunctioning transmitter but because the people who cloned them and put them there don’t want to them to know the truth.

Throughout, Jones comes back to this theme of humanity shining through even the coldest and bleakest situations; shining through where they should be no humanity there. The messages Sam hears from the bosses of the mining company are noticeably less tender than the robot voice of GERTY and when the realisation hits the ‘old’ Sam that he is a clone and he tries to hack into the computer system to check CCTV tapes it is GERTY who helps him do it. The tapes themselves reveal a succession of Sams, each growing more thrilled as time draws closer to the end of their 3 year spell and they view the same pre-recorded messages from their family and long to return to Earth. Each growing more ill in the week leading up to the conclusion of their contract as some pre-installed disease eats them up. Each climbing into a pod to be returned to Earth only to be vapourised and a new Sam delivered from a stock of hundreds in the depths of the station to awake, dazed and as though having been in an accident and with the necessary memories of their arrival and their life on Earth pre-implanted in their brain.
Rockwell shines here, conveying complete deflation of an already struggling person with a subtlety that is hard in a film where you play both the central characters.

It’s far from perfect though. This idea of space bringing about feelings of helplessness is nothing new – in fact, it could be argued that the basic premise for this film is pretty much Red Dwarf right down to HOLLY/GERTY. Also, working in the realm of space travel, human beings as alien forms and cloning is hardly fresh ground when your Dad is David Bowie and some of the visual elements, appealing though they are, are straight from the Stanley Kubrick school of font-obsession and creating futuristic environments from source material that we understand as being from the past.
I also have a problem with the ending. The pair of Sams work out a way of blasting the ‘original’ Sam back to Earth in a pod before the help team arrives to fix the crashed truck and discovers them both there. In the end, the illness that overtook each of his predecessors finally gets him too and it’s decided that the ‘new’ Sam should be the one to go in the pod. It seems to me that they go to great lengths to give any future clones a better chance of working out their situation and I read this as being because they don’t know if the pod will get back to Earth OK or not. I like this ambiguity and it seems deliberate.
There is a beautiful moment where the ‘original’ Sam dies just after he sees the pod with the ‘new’ Sam blast itself off the moon and into space. You understand somehow that because they’re clones it doesn’t matter which of them makes it back and in effect it’s just Sam Bell returning to Earth and not one version or another. You also accept that the pod maybe won’t make it, but the next clone of Sam might work out a better way, or the next clone, or the next clone and so on and so on…
This makes the voiceover from a talk show (in which Sam is exposing the conspiracy upon his return) that has been overdubbed over the shots of the pod approaching the Earth’s atmosphere a little too neat for a film that has been built, up to that point, on deliberately shaky foundations. It feels like this was tacked on at the behest of a focus group or to conclude the film more completely when it didn’t need it.

Having said that, this is a fantastic film. Rather than being a science fiction movie and dealing with detail and technological wonders in order to astonish an audience, it’s a supremely touching story about how important the past (memories) and the future (hope) are to establishing exactly what it is that makes a human being human. Even though the memories that Bell has are fake they are still memories and even though he/they understand that they are clones they still have a human instinct to help and to protect each other and most importantly to return home – even if they’ve never been there before.
You feel this compassionate instinct too in a sense of profound upset when you realise the videos of a family that are keeping Sam sane and motivated are of a family long-gone, of a family he never really knew. You really feel for him and how utterly alone he is and how utterly pointless his existence is too. Let’s not forget you’re feeling this about a film in which the 3 central characters are 2 clones and a robot.
Like I said, this is a film about humanity where there should be none.
If Jones is going to show the same level of compassion and warmth in all his movies then consider me a fan.

http://honeyisfunny.blogspot.com/

Posted: January 20th, 2009, by Chris Summerlin

I’ve decided to do a blog of my own as well as writing on Diskant. It’ll be an anything goes type thing, photos, artwork, music and writing. You can guess I am sure: http://honeyisfunny.blogspot.com/

Ron Asheton

Posted: January 6th, 2009, by Chris Summerlin

Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events which are causally unrelated occurring together in a meaningful manner. In order to count as synchronicity, the events should be unlikely to occur together by chance

A post-Xmas browse of charity shops turned up a copy of Gimme Danger by Joe Ambrose, the biography of Iggy Pop, for a pound. I bought it and set about reading it. The introduction details how the author was present at the J Mascis & The Fog show in Shepherd’s Bush in 2001 where the band encored with Stooges covers joined by Stooges founder Ron Asheton. It led to an unfortunate incident where Bobby Gillespie brained some kid for (rightfully) vocally slagging his onstage Iggy impression.

I was at that show too. It was something of a pivotal night for me. Through a weird series of events I ended up breaking up with my long term girlfriend as a result of going to the show. I met someone else there and then got some bizarre life advice from none other than Mike Watt who mentions the incident in his tour diary from the time.  I saw the Fog 3 times on that tour (once with Asheton) and they played Stooges songs for the encore every time and completely blew me away and re-introduced me to the Stooges back catalogue with vigour.

A short while afterwards I went to see Asheton Asheton Mascis Watt – the Stooges reformation Pt I (Iggyless) at the LA2, a show notable mainly for being awesome but also for sowing the seeds of the Dinosaur Jr reunion when Lou Barlow got up unannounced to sing I Wanna Be Your Dog.

Never one to miss the chance to make a buck, Iggy finally reformed The Stooges (with Mike Watt replacing the late Dave Alexander who Iggy had fired in 1970 and who died in 1975) in 2003 and I was lucky enough to catch them play Funhouse in it’s entirety at the Odeon in Hammersmith in 2005. I still think that’s the best gig I have ever seen. They absolutely killed it. I gushed about it on Diskant back then: http://www.diskant.net/blog/2005/10/10/the-stooges-hammersmith-odeon-30805/

It looked a bit like this:

I’m on the left somewhere. Probably laying on the ground.

The Iggy biog has made it something of a Stooges Xmas period for me. Even before I bought the book, at the first proper practise with a new band we did a little bit of TV Eye for fun.

Then last night on the way to the supermarket, my housemate and I were chatting about how awesome the Thurston Moore ATP ( http://www.diskant.net/features/atp-2006/ ) was and how we snuck in to both Stooges shows by waving the wrong wristbands at the security accompanied by some Ben Kenobi mental force that made them see them as the right colour. Getting a bonus Stooges show (on the cusp of my birthday) somehow made us all go mental. The first Stooges show was hardly sedate though, I’d dislocated my knee on the first day of being there and was in huge amounts of pain trying to stay upright in the front when Iggy stagedived on my head and it popped out again. I loved it. At the end of the second show, covered in beer and sweat, I managed to get this like a total fanboy:

I was so stoked. Then to top it all off I got to see the MC5 straight afterwards.

After getting back from the supermarket last night, my friend Lucinda texted me out of the blue to say

“Iggy Pop is advertising car insurance! X”

This seemed in keeping with Joe Ambrose’s book. I’ve long suspected that despite his claims and reputation to the contrary, Jim Osterberg is a regular American who sees his counter cultural standing as a marketable tool like any other. Ambrose is a man after my own heart when it comes to the Stooges (with the glaring exception of calling Raw Power their “undisputed best” LP). Despite the book being about Iggy, it’s a must read for fans of the other other Stooges, specifically Ron.

Iggy went out of his way to discredit Ron and his brother Scott and their input into the band. He used his superior public position to slowly whittle away his former bandmates’ reputations, saying at one point that they “couldn’t put together a home aquarium” (much less an album of the power of Funhouse) without his involvement. This is despite quotes to the contrary that credit the music on Funhouse and their self-titled LP to Ron. He took to berating Ron for living with his mother and seemed to delight in throwing an occasional carrot the brothers way only to turn his back on them again when something more lucrative showed up.

I thought it might be fun to write an Iggy de-bunking article for Diskant and I started planning it in the bath last night as I read about the dissolving of the Stooges in the 70s amid disinterest and crippling drug addictions. Iggy interests me immensely. He’s probably the greatest performer ever and is (was) a concise and brilliant lyricist. However, he is also a careerist and a schemer who would sell his own mother’s feet to get a break, who only turned to his former bandmates after it became apparent that the general public was more interested in a Stooges revival than in Iggy performing with Sum41 or Green Day – yet more choices made by Iggy to cling hold of a ‘career’ in the ‘biz’. As a constant reader of Mike Watt’s journals (I even got sacked for it once) it is very easy to read between the lines and see Osterberg as a diva, travelling to gigs on his own in a limo (while the band get the van), separate dressing rooms, fine wines, efficient de-briefings – anything to maintain the brand of Iggy Pop.

I wrote on Diskant once of my excitement that The Stooges were going to make another record. I regret my excitement. The Weirdness couldn’t be more aptly named. It is absolutely awful in every respect. We think of The Stooges as counter cultural figures in the terms of today, but really these guys are old school pro rockers, no matter how outrageous their reputation. The underground back then was far from it. Even the furthest reaches of strangeness were on major labels and made their music as part of the industry and hustled for money to maintain that. To expect these guys to have come through 30 years selling their trade to make a buck with their good taste intact was asking too much. I wanted to love it though. It seems to me like they recorded it in the style of Funhouse with a credible no-nonsense engineer (Steve Albini) and then dealt with the results and the subsequent mixing in the same way as Iggy might have dealt with a stab at commercialism in the 1980s. So they record everything live, warts-and-all and then mix it according to a hierachy of ego, so the vocals have to be up front and loud even if they weren’t recorded with that in mind. And let’s not mention the bass. Or lack of. Or the lyrics, or lack of. It seems popular to blame Albini for the way the record sounds but I’ve never heard him mix something like this before. The stench of Iggy Pop’s ego is all over the thing. I don’t blame Ron. His riffs are pretty good in fact.

However, even with the new songs in tow they remained an absolutely devastating live act. Iggy may have had some of the finest backing musicians around throughout his career (I recommend checking out the 4 piece Stooges-style line-up with Eric Schermerhorn on guitar from the 90s) but somehow the Stooges songs never sound as good as when the Asheton brothers are playing them. And that’s with or without Iggy as the Mascis shows proved.

With all this Stooge-thought in my head it was absolutely bizarre and upsetting to hear the news today that Ron Asheton had been found dead (of a suspected heart attack) at his home in Ann Arbor, Michigan aged 60.

When you consider that Ron was always the (relatively) clean-living Stooge, it’s ironic that he should bow out before his brother, Iggy or latter-era Stooge James Williamson.

Ambrose’s incorrect (IMO) assertion that the Stooges’ finest moment was Raw Power does at least include great praise for Ron’s bass playing after Iggy and Williamson unceremoniously demoted Ron to the bass role. Even then they only did so after moving to England on David Bowie’s coin and failing to find any natives to do the job (or take their shit for long enough). But where Ron was a great bassist, he was an unbelievable guitar player. Ron Asheton was no Jimi Hendrix (and you can often hear moments on record where his hand overtakes his brain) but by stripping down the playing of Hendrix and the first wave of British bands in the US (like Cream or The Who) but keeping the raw sonic element he was the bridge between the far out rock of the 60s and underground rock music as we know it today. He understood, whether by instinct or design, that regardless of technical ability the sound of the electric guitar alone was a political statement in itself. It’s worth remembering that whilst Jimi Hendrix opened doors to every noodling pub blues band you’ve ever heard, there were some people who were just as excited by the noises between the notes as the notes themselves and that’s where Ron (and Hendrix too I suspect) fitted in.

Whereas his peers littered their playing with tell-tale signs of the era, Ron’s two-footed gung-ho approach and truly revolutionary ways of broadening the band’s sound with drone-based riffs and overdriven two-fingered chords still sound contemporary.

As mentioned, his story is one of frustrating under-achievement that (despite his ‘underground’ credentials) is mirrored across the genres of music. Post-Stooges he played in New Order (not the UK band) and Destroy All Monsters before coming full circle and involving himself in Stooges-related projects with J Mascis and Wylde Rattz who provided the modern Stooges re-recordings heard on Todd Haynes’ film Velvet Goldmine. He even acted in some low budget trashy horror movies that you can read more about on the IMDB.

Meanwhile, Iggy toured the world as the Godfather Of Punk with a succession of guitar players playing Ron’s riffs but somehow not quite as good. Ron’s dry wit and cynicism is his saving grace. Embittered though he undoubtedly was, he was never short of a sharp quip about his former bandmate or his current comparable predicament. It must have been very satisfying to be able to re-emerge and command so much attention for playing Stooges songs without Iggy himself at the start of the millenium and even more gratifying that the public wanted a Stooges reunion infinitely more than another Iggy solo record.

Two of my favourite experiences in my life were the aforementioned Funhouse London show and also getting the chance to ‘be’ Ron in a Stooges tribute band a few years back in Nottingham. We played a Xmas show and a wedding as The Sneinton Stooges. I got to dress in aviator shades and a Nazi hat and play through 2 amp stacks on 10. It was the best. It also improved my guitar playing endlessly. Ron might have sounded simple and to the point but simple and to the point is often the hardest to do.

So, January 6 2009 sees the end of the greatest rock band of all time. The Stooges are no more. I hope Jim Osterberg thought the same thing when he found out the news and not “I wonder what James Williamson is doing?”.

That’s harsh on Iggy though. I figure the reason he dissed Ron so much is the same reason he reunited with him: he knows Ron is the greatest.

 

  Ron Asheton, Detroit Grande Ballroom, 1970

 

No shame whatsoever – buy some GIG POSTERS for a loved one this Xmas!

Posted: November 20th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

It’s that time of the year again…

 POSTERS

www.honeyisfunny.com has all the ordering detail and some thoughtful considerations on the Credit Crunch.

By way of offsetting this, here’s a playlist:

Red Eyed Legends – Monsters (from forthcoming LP)
Obits – tracks from immediately sold-out 7″ on Sub Pop that I don’t own
Zomes – S/T LP
Pifco – Live
Long Lonesome Go – Live
Charlottefield – awesome live bootleg from Nottingham that I keep promising to send them and then finding I’ve lost it because I never write on my blank CDRs. I found it again though.
Pissed Jeans – Hope For Men
Notorious Hi-Fi Killers – new stuff played live
Pearls & Brass – The Indian Tower LP
Enablers – Tundra LP
Hot Snakes – This Mystic Decade (from Audit In Progress LP)
Harvey MIlk – Live Pleaser LP
The Ex w/ Getatchu Mekurya LP
The Beatles – White Album
The New Year – Live
Qisa – new studio recordings
Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold As Love LP
The Night Marchers – Fisting The Fanbase (from 7″)
Tanner  – Ill Gotten Gains LP

If you’re in Glasgow on December 12th, first head to see The Vaselines at ABC then hotfoot it down to Stereo to see Roads To Siam, the ex-Sourtooth folks of the awesomely-named Divorce and then last (and maybe least) the first show from Stage Blood, a rock and roll band with members of Eska, Mogwai and me on slightly-quieter guitar than Colin. The above playlist could perhaps indicate some of the sonic direction. www.myspace.com/stagebloodtheband is the obligatory Myspace page, devoid of any actual music so you’ll just have to imagine it.

Mid Nineties Gold

Posted: September 30th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

You Tube Gold, having something of a nostalgia-trip today but how cracking are some of these tunes?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9of3sefxY4[/youtube]

 

SCARCE – ALL SIDEWAYS

Love this song. The guitar is so bendy. I think I saw Scarce once but unfortunately my brain is shot through like Swiss Cheese and I can’t decide if I dreamt it or not. Phil Welding swears he saw Page & Plant play the Ballroom in Nottingham and there is NO WAY that happened. Mind you, I only know I saw the Jesus Lizard because I can pick me out in the footage from TV show The Beat.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnQ0mUoyKCg[/youtube]

 

SENSELESS THINGS – HOLD IT DOWN (Live)

If these guys had done less speed and cider and slowed it down they’d have sounded like Neil Young. Of course that means I wouldn’t have dug them in 1993.  More from The Word in a moment…

Continue reading »

diskant rewind: Honey Is Funny #10

Posted: August 19th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

(Originally posted April 2004)

Honey Is Funny by Chris Summerlin

OK. I need to redeem myself and write something worthwhile, so how’s about some bands I’ve seen play recently?

Let’s start with Three Piece Xylophone Quintet which is actually just one man – Chris Tree – and whatever he feels like playing. Comparisons are redundant, Chris just makes music every day for his own amusement (in about a thousand different styles), and when it comes to a gig he tries to compress the whole history of his musical endeavours into one 30-minute portion. Of course, he doesn’t succeed in being totally representative of the vast range of music he’s made, but what he ends up with is a truly bizarre version of the modern folk singer – in that he plays acoustic guitar and sings – but his arrangements owe more to free jazz and Beefheart than to Bob Dylan. Every gig he’s done seems to be different too. An A&R man’s nightmare, but it makes for interesting stuff. Last time I saw him he had a Minidisc of himself talking going through the PA while he played, oblivious to it, or seemingly so.

Sneaking Fog are based in Norwich and I had the pleasure of playing with them in Lords. Because of their style and their locale it would be easy to dismiss them as a second generation The Darkness. But this is Metal. Not Rock. The singer is an aural spit of Brian Johnson of AC/DC and the band play ripping 80s style metal, like the best bits of Motley Crüe (which are obviously very good indeed). The guitarist blows any idea of them being ironic out of the water, and the singer spent at least 50% of the gig grabbing his crotch.

Charalambides have been mentioned before. I got to see a slimmed down version of them play at ATP. I make ambient guitar music, and I admit that most of the genre is boring as hell. Stars Of The Lid especially – well, most of their records. But Charalambides made a hushed drone that is still super-exciting. I think it’s because the guitar dude doesn’t use a delay FX pedal, which means he has to constantly create the sound and he can’t sit back and wallow in what he’s done by allowing the box to play it back for him. He has to stay on top of it, which gives a live performance some real tension. Combine that with his female counterpart washing quite fast strummed guitar over the top, perfectly countering each other, and you get a wash of sound. Their set at ATP was like getting a guitar master-class, it was great.

Aktion Unit, or whatever they were called, thrilled me too. Thurston Moore and Jim O’Rourke paired up with the most ferocious freeform drummer I’ve ever seen and a sax player that could blow a golfball through a hosepipe. The thing worth noting was that Moore and O’Rourke were the weakest link. As the pace stepped up, the only thing either of them could do was to thrash away at their guitars – or in Moore’s case, throw an amp around, which says more about the freedom of their bank balances than the freedom of their minds. This noise violence was great, don’t get me wrong, but in amongst this ferocity the subtle changes in pattern and tone of the sax and drums spoke volumes. When I say subtle, I mean the subtle change between beating a snare to death and beating a bass drum to death, if you see what I mean.

Lungfish are prophets. The weekend at ATP was over after they played. I missed them tour the UK when I was in Australia, and I was gutted. I know from listening to their records that this is a physical thing, and to witness it live would bring it all together in my brain, so when I heard I would have chance to see them I was beside myself. What I didn’t expect was for it to be a rock show comparable to any I’ve ever witnessed. So much is made of the workmanlike quality of Dischord bands but in Lungfish (and Fugazi and Ulysses before them) they have true entertainers. It might offend them to say this, but seriously, they ruled the big stage – the setting was completely correct. The sound was enormous and engulfing, with a wobbling swampy warmth, and Daniel Higgs as a performer was astonishing. I later went to the beach with them and drunkenly tried to articulate how much I love their band – and I suspect I failed. This week I have Lungfish’s Love Is Love on my stereo alarmed to come on and wake me up. I rise from bed every morning on time and leap into the day.

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diskant rewind: Honey Is Funny #9

Posted: August 15th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

(Originally posted October 2003)

Honey Is Funny by Chris Summerlin

I’m at a loss to what to write about this month.
I feel unusually un-fired up. In fact I feel tired and awkward.
So I’m going to go with it and write about what’s on my mind and see where it goes.

I remember once I was driving with two (female) friends and chatting and somehow the conversation got onto something loosely connected to ambitions. I remember this journey really well because I can use it to pinpoint the exact moment I changed my outlook on things, probably irreversibly. Actually there were two, more of which in a moment…

So, we’re driving and talking about ambitions and the usual thing is being discussed. You know, you’d like to make a great record if you play music or have success and recognition as an artist if you paint etc. I was listening by this point and not really saying much. Phrases like “I’d like to leave my mark on the world” or “I want something that outlives me” were being used in relation to artwork or records etc. It made me think. It made me think where this kind of view comes from. Are we really so obsessed with culture/media that we see the things we make artistically as the ultimate expression of ourselves or our purpose?

It’s true people use their abilities as a crutch. I know a lot of people more literate than me and more academically intelligent to me who use their intelligence as a defence or substitute for something lacking, whether they know what it is or not. Everyone does it. So we’re left with this thing where we constantly try and try to fulfil something that is impossible: to create something perfect within the realm of the world we work in. But do you think Brian Wilson feels good because he made Pet Sounds? Bullshit. I doubt his life is much different. I’m sure he’s proud of his work but I bet he still worries about the same things. Maybe money is less of a concern but that’s a shitty thing to worry about in the first place. Seems to me like an unobtainable goal designed to throw us off the scent.

And anyway, does this mean you have to be some kind of artist to really fulfil man’s purpose on earth? I dunno, I would say because of the opportunites afforded to the wealthy and the education they receive more easily that this attitude is effectively saying 99% of the population has no chance of ever doing anything worthwhile while alive. Perhaps this is where the divide between the famous and non-famous is born. Hmmm. Those who add to the world and those who merely dwell in it. Nice. It’s fact. TV is extraordinary. Music and the world of showbiz related to it is extraordinary. Cinema is extraordinary. That’s why we have so many magazines about these things. And it pushes and reinforces this idea that we (and by this I mean, me, you – those not extraordinary) are incapable of doing anything worthwhile and inspires these ridiculous statements like “I want to make a classic album, that’s my goal”.

Arse.

Continue reading »

diskant rewind: Honey Is Funny #8

Posted: August 12th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

(Originally posted April 2003)

Honey Is Funny by Chris Summerlin

I work in a large office of people. It’s quite open plan so you can see what the person on the opposite side of the office is up to even though they’re quite far away. This has major disadvantages in that, well, people are annoying. Me included, in fact especially me. And living in each others’ pockets for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week means if you have the slightest chance of developing some kind of irrational hatred of someone or something then it will happen.

Since I started doing this column I’ve been dying to write one about my office. I only recently summed up the courage to watch The Office and sure enough it was frighteningly close to my life. But I always held back because, and this surprises me as much as will no doubt surprise you, some people who I work with read this column. And I never told them to either! Hi Christophe Dejous!

But this month I get to do it. You know why?

2 days ago I QUIT.

I have no job to go to and I have a 6 week notice to serve here but after that I will be UNEMPLOYED. It’s quite scary but at the same time so is the information that I have (at last count) wasted 2 years of my life working for a company that wouldn’t even exist were it not for Thatcher’s desire to privatise everything in sight.

When asked for the reason why I quit I said there were too many to list but I simply didn’t enjoy any part of my job. So I’m in a bad mood and therefore my column this month will be about the stuff that REALLY GETS ON MY TITS in my life. A Room 101 if you will. A pet hates list. So you can see what a mentalist I am. It’s not restricted to my working life and I will be adding to it month after month as well.

What are we waiting for? Lets go!

THE COUGHING MAN AT WORK

God. This one is the killer. This man (who will remain nameless) has broken me. I have worked in the same office for 2 years and about 18 months of that have been spent within earshot of this man. His job is to call people at home and ask them to read their gas meter. This means that for 8 hours a day I hear him repeating the same line over and over again. I ask myself if my annoyance is because his voice really is that grating or whether it’s the old saying that familiarity breeds contempt but the real reason he makes me want to cave his head in is that he coughs.

“What?” I hear you all cry. Go on, do it…

Sure, everyone gets a cough every so often. Especially working in a close environment like an office. No problem, cough away. But this guy has had a cough for 18 fucking months. EVERY DAY. EVERY FUCKING DAY. And he coughs in such a pathetic, crap way. And the worst bit is he tilts his head back a few degrees prior to coughing and then like some custom built germ-spreader he lets fly with phlegm. Where are his hands? On his desk that’s where. Now we’ve all seen those film clips where it shows germs flying out of a person’s mouth so I know and you know that putting your hand in front of your mouth when coughing really doesn’t do much. But, at the same time it does cover the gaping hideous chasm in your face and it also stops spit and god knows what else from flying into the air or worse still at your neighbour. Every day at 4pm he walks to the coat rack to get his coat and right as he gets there and is facing my coat he lets fly with the coughs. When I leave I’m going to buy him some cough mixture and a tissue. Or better still just wade over the 2 desks that seperate us and pummel him to death with a Wallis Elite Series office chair. And he’s a twat as well. Last classic quote from him was “I couldn’t really give a toss about the war. How does it affect me?”. If I killed him no jury would convict me.

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diskant rewind: Honey Is Funny #7

Posted: August 8th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

(Originally posted February 2003)

Honey Is Funny by Chris Summerlin

Sorry there was no christmas column, I moved house and was left without home internet access for a month or so and my work situation is a little, erm…fragile so I had to give it a miss.

I’d love to say that the month absence means I have extra fine subject material this month but sadly it doesn’t. I’ve been racking my brains with what to write about and have drawn a blank.

So, I’m going to tell you about The Beech.

Like I said, I moved house in December. Its been a while since I’ve had to move anywhere so I’d forgotten exactly how much money you get screwed for if you rent through a letting agent and also how badly you get treated. I’d also overlooked how much crap we’d accumulated in the old house over the two years we lived there. “We” means a variety of people actually…

The house was originally taken on by myself and Matt (who does Gringo Records), Tom (from Hirameka HiFi) and Neil (who I play in Wolves! (of Greece) with). Over the two years we’ve had people living with us for a month at a time or so and then more recently my girlfriend Claire moved in and then when Tom moved out her sister Amelia took his room.

When we all made the decision to move to Nottingham (Neil already lived there but in a 2 bed flat) we wanted a big place so we could have plenty of room (4 people can get a bit overcrowded) and so when bands stayed it was comfortable. We looked at tons of places, all of them pretty grotty or in a shit area.

By luck we found this old place in an area of Nottingham called Forest Fields. It’s pretty rough in terms of crime but at the same time it’s nowhere near as bad as The Meadows, St Anns or Sneinton. It was on Beech Avenue and therefore became known as The Beech. The house was huge and in a bit of a state (i.e. huge wasp nest above bathroom) but the landlord seemed quite relaxed so we took it on and ended up living there for 2 years.

Towards the end it was a bit of a nightmare as each of us got more settled into the timetable of our jobs and found that even though the house was huge it was impossible to get any quiet time and quite often the house was noisy for about 20 hours a day because people worked evenings and other people worked early mornings.

We started having landlord problems a few months in. The benefit of the old landlord was that he was never about. He didn’t live locally and so he never bothered us. We were free to do what we wanted to the house and he was cool about rent being late etc. However, if something broke we were fucked. The peak of this occurred one morning when I was washing my face in the bathroom on the way to running out of the door to work. I heard a strange creaking noise from the roof just as I walked out onto the landing. I got about 2 steps out of the room and the ceiling collapsed behind me, just missing me. The entire back of my person was white with dust.

We stepped over that pile of rubble every day for about a month.

The landlord’s phone was never on and so the messages went from “Hi, the ceiling has fallen in, this is urgent can you send someone to fix it?” to “Hi. I’m standing on the ceiling. How is this possible? BECAUSE THE CEILING IS ON THE FLOOR”.

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diskant rewind: Honey Is Funny #6

Posted: August 5th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

(Originally posted November 2002)

Honey Is Funny by Chris Summerlin

I’m late with my column again. Knackers. So I’m covertly doing it at work which adds to the excitement of my working day if nothing else. The reason I am late with it is because after 2 years of sharing a house with people we all decided to move out, taking each item we own with us. I don’t own the phone extension cord so my home internet access is gone. I also don’t own a sofa so my ass hurts.

Marceline has informed me that my column is for the ART issue of Diskant so I best make it about ART.

Which is awkward.

Let me explain.

I hate ART.

Well, maybe not all art but certainly ART and DESIGN.

In fact, hate is the wrong word. Let’s settle for absolutely fucking loathe with a passion.

I am a qualified Graphic Designer. In fact, I still work as a designer. I just did the Econoline album and a compilation CD with Cat on Form on it (among others). I design and sell posters in Nottingham for gigs we put on here. In fact, if I negotiate home internet access again in the near future I’ll put some of them up here for you to see. I work hard at design (part time) and I never charge much more than my costs to clients I work for because I want to keep it fun. This is one of the reasons I couldn’t do it as a job. The other is that most graphic designers I have ever met are scumbags and the profession is morally wrong and bordering on evil.

MENTALIST

you’re thinking.

You’re probably right. But I blame design for my mentalism. That and Salvador fucking Dali.

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