:: Buzzwords Archive: October 2010. Click here for the latest posts.

Untypical Girl (published 21/10/2010)

[pic: Ian Dickson]

This morning I heard it through the online grapevine that Ari Up (née Arianna Forster) had done a runner at the age of 48. News of her death, yesterday — following “a serious illness” — was posted on John Lydon’s website this morning (Lydon was her stepfather). Ari Up was the original Riot Grrl, who, as lead singer with The Slits, influenced countless female artists from Nina Hagen to Madonna. The Slits, which she founded when she was only 14, were a gloriously shambolic all-girl punk band that went on to produce one of the best, most startlingly original albums of the entire post-punk era (Cut, 1979). In a post-feminist nod to Superman, she was given to wearing her pants on the outside, which later inspired John Major’s trademark look. Oh, and on one occasion she also chucked a matchbox in 3:AM contributor Richard Cabut‘s pint.

Everett True: “Fuck. I don’t know what to write. This lady has been such a major influence on my entire adult life. She was younger than me”.

John Robb: “Ari was a true revolutionary and genius and I took as much energy and inspiration from her as any of the blokes in punk”.

Jon Savage: “…As singer and co-writer in the Slits, she completely redefined what a woman in music could do and — in the ethos of the time — opened up possibilities that would be explored by herself and many others in the years to come. The Slits erupted during their appearance at the Harlesden Coliseum in March 1977. Like many groups at that time, they were learning as they went along: the performance was chaotic and violent. But no one had seen young women behave like this on stage: enacting a flagrant parody of sexuality, at the same time seemingly tougher and more disturbing than the other (male) groups on the bill.

I loved seeing them in 1977 and 1978. The shows became more coherent, but there was always this edge of chaos — which added to the excitement. …Up front, Ari howled, screamed, toasted, crooned, skanked, hitched up her clothes, pulled at her bird’s nest hair, and generally behaved in a most un-lady-like fashion. She was confrontational in person and on stage, but her courage went hand-in-hand with a gleeful, teenage desire to shock and outrage that was a major impulse in punk.

…Punk has now become so familiar that people forget its primal, revolutionary drive. For a brief period, everything had to be new. If it hadn’t been done before, do it: why not? What’s to stop you? Ari Up enacted this impulse on stage, on record, and in person into the 21st century. In any language, this was heroic, and I salute her for that: I’m sorry she’s gone”.

Also in 3:AM: Don Letts (2003) / Keith Levene (2004) / Paloma (2005) / Tessa Pollitt (2003)

Further: Ari up gallery / NME / Les Inrockuptibles / LA Weekly

3:AM in the Mix: Blackfeet Revolution (published 20/10/2010)

Blackfeet Revolution are a French duo that play a modern, heavier brand of blues rock with drive and tons of vibes. See the end of this post for a 3:AM exclusive free download from Blackfeet Revolution!

They’re starting to attract attention over here on the strength of their noisy, groovy live performances.

The guitars + drums formula has proved to be a productive and exciting approach to bared-down rock and roll in the past few years, with bands like Japandroids, the Black Keys and of course the White Stripes leading the way. Blackfeet Revolution give themselves no limitations in the studio, where tracks are arranged as if for a more “conventional” four-piece rock band, but it is onstage that they show with panache how less can indeed be more.

We met them at a recent gig and asked them a few questions:
Where does your name come from?

The name comes from a Native American tribe, the Blackfeet. Initially we only wanted to use “Revolution” in our name, to make our “musical revolution” here in France, which is not really a rock’n’roll country. We took a Native American name to give ourselves strength, courage and bravery, like when we were children.


When and how did you realize you wanted to do music for a living?

We always wanted to make music for a living, that’s the only way we want to live. We formed the band together because of this and because we were the only musicians in our group of friends team who really wanted to do this for a living. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

What are some inspirations for your lyrics?

At the beginning I didn’t think too much about the meaning of our lyrics, mainly because it was difficult to write something interesting in a language that was not mine. So I called English writers like Stephen Munson or Roderic Andrews to help me. We wrote texts and I noted that they were all about the duality of our world, what’s good and what’s wrong. All the wonderful, the heinous or painful things man can do and feel. I’m fascinated by the duality of the human mind, which feeds on love and hate or life and death, the only things which really matter. All our songs talk about some human emotion that we have already felt one day.


Who are your major influences ?

We are very eclectic, from the blues to the electronic music. We just love good music but to be more specific we are very influenced by classic rock, hip-hop, grunge, blues and pop music. If you want some names I’ll quote the Beatles, Creedence, AC/DC, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, Jay-Z and Dr. Dre for example but I forget a lot of bands …

Who are your favourite contemporary acts?

The Black Keys, and Blakroc, Jack White, the Chemical Brothers

What made you choose to work as a duo?

We wanted to do something simple, raw, unvarnished, crude rock’n’roll. We discovered that it was easier to create songs as a duo. Things fall into place more quickly, and you can do what you want on stage, you can improvise easily. That’s what we were looking for, an artistic performance, we wanted to be different from the other bands. I’m the melody and Fred is the rhythm. And you can feel this duality in our creative process. When we are in the studio, whbrb3en we record a song, we have no limits. We can use bass, violin, many guitars, pianos… We arrange the song the way we want, without restrictions. And then we have to rebuild the song for the stage, we start from scratch to play the song with two instruments and our voices, and that’s the most interesting moment. We create different versions, different lives to the song. It’s our artistic process and that’s what we love.

Do you expect to tour outside France soon?

We are going to play in Europe very soon, in the UK, Spain and Germany and I hope one day in the US. Book us ! We want to play as much as we can, it’s what we like the most.

Visit the Blackfeet Revolution on Myspace.

3:AM exclusive:

Blackfeet Revolution – Little Suzie by 3ammagazine

Sick City NY (published )

Tonight in New York, Tony O’Neill reads with Arthur Nersesian. More details here.

Soho Days, Soho Nights (published 19/10/2010)


Bethnal Green Library, London E2
Friday 19th November 6.30pm
With Paul Willetts and Martin Knight.
Organised by Richard Bolt.

Writing about London’s most colourful district including readings from Members Only: The Life and Times of Paul Raymond, Soho’s Billionaire King of Burlesque and Gerald Kersh’s Night and the City.

The Missing Links (published 17/10/2010)


Christiana Spens (pictured above) has revived her blog. * William Burroughs film trailer. * On re-editing Burroughs‘s first trilogy. * Burroughs on infra-sound and stuff. * Burroughs shoots Shakespeare. * Richard Hell on Ted Berrigan. * Television in Terry Ork’s loft, 1974 (includes video clip). * An unpublished story by David Foster Wallace. * Ben Myers (whose soaraway new novel was reviewed in The Sun and Mirror this week) interviewed. * A history of typefaces. * Mr Rotten’s scrapbook. * Elvis Costello on domestic bliss, his troubadour lineage and forthcoming memoir. * An interview with Nikesh Shukla. See pictures from the Coconut Unlimited launch party here. * Nina Power on the 20th anniversary of The Sexual Politics of Meat. * Tao Lin‘s Richard Yates reviewed in the London Review of Books. * Wild Child. * Lee Rourke on the poetry of canals: “Strange things, dreams and nightmares, just a whisper away from the teeming city streets, can happen: commuters, the homeless, cyclists, teenagers, anglers, cuckolds, loners and psychopaths all mix together by the murky water, feeding from the towpath as if it’s a main artery pumping life into their very being, while the swans, coots, moorhens and Canada geese nonchalantly drift by, watching each drama unfold. It’s why the motif of the canal continues to reappear in literary fiction: there’s something magical to be found by its stagnant water”. Plus a review of The Canal. Oh, and another one here. * Owen Hatherley in the Guardian. * Twin Peaks UK Festival (27 November, London). * Banging it out like a bunch of old tarts. * A guide to video nasties. * Ben Hamilton reviews Josipovici‘s What Ever Happened to Modernism? * Marilyn Monroe‘s bookshelf. * Can books be compared with works of art? * Ben Greenman and tabloid literature. * Banksy and The Simpsons. * Ten famous unfinished novels. * Launch of Teller Magazine. * Donald Barthelme and capitalism. * Schoolgirl Hitchhikers (trailer). * Stieg Larsson trained female guerilla fighters in Eritrea. * Philip Roth in Esquire. * Neuroscience and free will. * Why pop-ups are popping up everywhere. * Authors who wrote in the buff. * The original Don Draper. * Why do people hate hipsters?: ‘”What is meaningful about the hipster moment, 1999 and after,” says Greif from his office in New York, “is that it seems to be an effort to live a life that retains the coolness in believing that you belong to a counter-culture, where the substance of the rebellion has become pro-commerce.” Instead of “doing art” the cool kids were now, in Greif’s words “doing products”. “In the 50s and 60s, there are five people at the centre working very hard, miserably trying to write a book and around them there are 95 people more or less having fun,” Greif explains. “In the hipster culture the people at that centre aren’t necessarily producing art, they’re actually working in advertising, marketing and product placement. These were once embarrassing jobs. Now it’s meaningful in this world to say that you sell sneakers, at a high level”‘.

3:AM Reloaded (published )


What you (may have) missed on 3:AM this week:

Fiction: ‘Obsequy’ by K.L. Gillespie; an exclusive extract from Ewan Morrison‘s forthcoming Tales From the Mall

Flash fiction: ‘A Straight Line Shaped Like a Knot’ by Ari Feld

Poetry: In the 31st of the Maintenant series, SJ Fowler interviews the Norwegian poet Paal Bjelke Andersen; ‘Five Poems’ by Paal Bjelke Andersen; ‘Six Poems’ by Beezle Bloom; ‘Four Poems’ by David E. Oprava; ‘Three Poems’ by Jennifer Hollie Bowles

Reviewed: John Houghton on the reissued half-memoirs of regional treasure Ray Gosling:

The police aren’t the only ones who should be prosecuting Ray Gosling for wasting their time. Personal Copy, his memoir of the 1960s, will leave many readers equally confused and frustrated about the story he is trying to tell and his inspiration for doing so.

While Gosling’s age may explain his unfortunate recent behaviour, Personal Copy was published in 1980, when the author was 41 and building the career in documentary making for which he is widely respected. The book is the last full volume he published before focusing his career on radio and television.


In between the distractions, there is another meditation on the Northern cultural resurgence of the 1960s, when “regionalism was just coming into fashion” and “provinciality began to be proud”. Bands with their roots in skiffle were changing the musical landscape. Writers for the theatre and cinema began to portray the dramatic and the mundane of working class life, challenging the dominance of genteel comedies and jingoistic war movies.

There are some interesting reflections on how these cultural statements formed an important part of a wider attempt to challenge the political assumptions of the immediate post-war year. But it was only later in his career that Gosling was able to properly explore this theme through the documentary.