Artwork by Sardax
CUTTING-EDGE LITERARY NEWS FROM AROUND THE GLOBAL VILLAGE
by Andrew Gallix
COPYRIGHT © 2002, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
PINTER AND THE LITTLE GIRL'S HEAD 08/30/2002
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The Guardian has published two new poems by and an interview with Harold Pinter. The great playwright talks about recovering from cancer, cricket and the threat of war: ". . . I think that when you look at a man like our prime minister -- who I gather is a very sincere and serious Christian -- he, we understand at the moment, is considering another bombing of Iraq, which would be an act of premeditated murder because if you bomb Iraq, you're not just going to kill Saddam Hussein. In fact, you won't do that anyway; he has his resources. What you will do, as usual, is kill thousands of totally innocent people. How Tony Blair can work that one out morally himself is actually beyond me. I just wish he would decide if he was a Christian or he wasn't a Christian. If you say, 'I'm going to bomb these damn people and I don't give a shit', then you bomb them, but that's not a Christian attitude as far as I'm concerned. If you take a Christian posture, you cannot say that. So I think that what we're talking about there is an extraordinary, fundamental hypocrisy and a distortion of language altogether which is, in itself, extremely destructive. Because language leads us, doesn't it? Politically it leads us into all sorts of fields. But what I find really dangerous and disgusting is where the kind of language we've recently heard -- 'humanitarian intervention', don't forget 'freedom' and 'democracy' and all the rest of it -- actually is justifying a simply assertive act to control power and maintain power. And the question of destroying human beings while that is happening seems to be irrelevant. There's a little story I must tell you. In the bombing of Serbia two years ago, there was a market place in a country village called Nis. And I am actually reporting an eyewitness to this event. A woman was sitting with her five-year-old daughter on a bench in the marketplace, having a sandwich. And out of the blue, bombs fell, American bombs. The marketplace was chaos. About 40 or 50 people were killed immediately. And this woman looked for her daughter who had been blown out of her arms. She saw the daughter's head in the gutter. Now that head of that little girl would be never recognised by Prime Minister Blair or President Clinton. In fact, the death and the cutting off of the head of the girl would be totally irrelevant to those people. I would contend, and I really believe this to be so, that Clinton and Blair should be arraigned as war criminals. Because not only did they do it illegally, illegitimately -- in my view, immorally -- they justified it by talking about 'humanitarian intervention'. And that kind of crap, I think we've had enough of it. . . ."
HIGH CUL 08/30/2002
3AM Kimberly Nichols, Deborah Staab and Matthew Wascovich have collaborated on a series of great poems which have been posted in the September issue of Jackie Sheeler's Poetz.com. Besides Matthew and Deborah's cadavre exquis exercises, there's a series of twelve haikus written ˆ six mains and an essay by Kimberly on the string theory: "The string theory is something that Matthew Wascovich and I have been discussing in depth for a while now. The idea of working off of personal intuition in order to make connections to web together a whole. . . . We found, and I have found, that the internet literary community is much more free and loose than normal print boundaries. People are more accessible here. Everyone gets their email. We decided to start strings everywhere and to see what became of those strings. We found Deborah Staab when she submitted a poem to me for 3AM Magazine, a global on-line zine where Matt and I maintain editorships. We liked her voice, felt she had common ground and Matt corresponded with her for a while before deciding that we would all work mutually well together. He sent us templates for the haikus and it went from there as he remained the ringmaster and organizer of our words. The thing I like most about collaboration is that you have these separate people, separate entities and voices, and when you merge them a whole new identity is created as a sum of its parts. . . ."
CITY OF SAINTS AND MADMEN 08/30/2002
Look out for 3AM's review of Jeff VanderMeer's City of Saints and Madmen which Michael Moorcock has described in these terms: "Make the most of the tapestry of tales and visions before you. It is a rare treasure, to be tasted with both relish and respect. It is the work of an original. It's what you've been looking for." The deluxe harback edition of VanderMeer's novel has just been published by Ohio-based Prime: it is the result of the combined efforts of seven artists and three designers! Jeff VanderMeer was born in Pennsylvannia in 1968. His work has been published in ten languages.
EGGERS IN NEW YORKER 08/30/2002
You'll find an interesting interview with Dave Eggers in The New Yorker: ". . . I had to travel the same route as the characters do in the book to get the details down. That was how I learned, for example, that when two men travel around together, every cabbie in the world assumes they want to be taken to the closest brothel. And that if you're in a car, no matter where you are, some of the same things will happen: you'll pick up hitchhikers, you'll get flat tires, you'll get pulled over by cops who will ask for bribes. So there's some unavoidable repetition there, and the characters in the book struggle with that, too. That trip provided the skeleton for the book, and then, from there, all the actual plot had to be filled in." Eggers goes on to discuss the difference between a memoir like A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and fiction: "Fiction is less stressful, for one thing. The responsibility you have to real people when you write nonfiction is crippling, if you let yourself really think about it. I ended up with a degree in journalism from Illinois, and that school takes its facts very seriously. The teachers were old school, and unforgiving, and that's why the school produces amazing journalists. And that's why I'm obsessive and conflicted about fact in my own stuff, and why, I guess, I kept qualifying what I was writing in the first book. Everything there was true, but you can't really call it all fact. For example, I didn't want to pretend I could remember entire conversations from 1991, so I made clear that those were reconstructions, as they always are with memoirs or anything written without having actually recorded a conversation. If you haven't recorded it, you're making half of it up, period, and any reader of a newspaper should know that. Over all, it was excruciating to be true to fact while also making a story that had some shape, and being pulled between those two poles was more of a strain than I'd want to deal with again. Fiction, then, was completely liberating. . . ."
IS VIC THERE? 08/30/2002
Vic Godard, one of the unsung heroes of British pop, has revived the name of his seminal punk band, Subway Sect, to release a cutting-edge beats-and-samples album on Motion Records. Here's an extract from the lyrics of opening track "Back in a Void Again": "Audience think we're crazy starin' at us so blank / Now they're flingin' bottles they ain't even drank / Any ole fool can do it and pretty soon he does / It's getting so watered down though / Play it back I wanna pretend / I'm in a void again". Don't we all, Vic? Brace yourselves for the revenge of the Surrey people. Out in September.
3AM TOP 5 08/30/2002
Jeff VanderMeer is currently writing a "bizarre family chronicle" entitled Shriek: an Afterword and is "carefully picking" the music he is listening to so that it reflects "the right moods":
- "Don't Let It Get You Down" -- Spoon, Kill the Moonlight
- "The Walt Blues" -- The Tindersticks, The Tindersticks
- "Knives Out" -- Radiohead, Amnesiac
- "Junkie" -- James, Pleased To Meet You
- "Ballad of a Paralyzed Citizen" -- The Faint, Dance Macabre
A GOOD OLD POKE IS WHAT WE NEED 08/30/2002
A collective of British comedy writers has launched The Poke, "the first news-stand, pure humour title to launch for 23 years": "The launch edition has been created by several established writers with credits such as Spitting Image, Have I Got News For You, Dead Ringers and The 11 O'clock Show. However the vast majority of contributors are undiscovered talent and represent The Poke's wider ambitions to champion up-coming British comedy writers. Several well-known journalists from national newspapers, including The Sun and The Guardian, have also contributed to the first edition of The Poke. We believe that Britain's global comedy reputation has stagnated due to lack of investment from British television companies who position comedy writers at the bottom of the creative food chain. We intend to redress the balance. Along with pies and the word 'bollocks', the British invented comedy. Once it was Monty Python and Blackadder. Now it's South Park, Friends and Frasier. Why? Because we've forgotten to focus on what's important -- writing talent. . .
TRAVELLING TO LONDON? 08/30/2002
I recently discovered a great site called Londontownhotels which gives big discounts on hotel booking in London compared to going to the hotels direct. Apparently, it is to its rivals what an indie label is to majors, so what are you waiting for?
STOP THE WAR! 08/23/2002
A petition to stop the war against Iraq has been launched in Britain by the Stop the War Coalition which is backed by CND and stars like Blur's Damon Albarn. If you're a UK resident you can add your signature to the petition here. Demonstration on Saturday 28 September: 1pm, Embankment, march to Hyde Park, London.
LAZY SODS OF THE WORLD UNITE 08/23/2002
It's National Slacker Day here in Britain: ". . . It's a day to bunk off work and do nothing, according to the organisers. Even a spot of premature Bank Holiday Weekend DIY is frowned upon.
'Slacker Day intends to remind people that life does not revolve around the office,' goes the blurb, 'and that a day spent in bed or in front of the telly can make a remarkable improvement to your health and happiness.' . . . Born as a credo in the early 1990s, slacking sits uncomfortably in these meaner and leaner times. Tom Needs, the man behind National Slacker Day, concedes that not everyone will have the luxury of being able to take the day off. 'People will have to use their own discretion. I don't want then to lose their jobs over something like this,' he says. 'We work the longest hours of any country in Europe and we get fewer bank holidays than most. Times are hard at the moment and people are having to work harder. That's even more reason why we should get a day to slack.'
Yet the problem could be that we are slacking too much. After all, while Britons work longer hours than their continental cousins, they are less productive than those in Germany, France and Italy. . . ."
WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? 08/23/2002
Theodore Dalrymple gives Virginia Woolf a good bollocking: ". . . In a demotic age, however, their (the Bloomsbury group's) justification for personal license could not long be confined to socially superior types such as themselves. Before very long, what was permissible for the elite became mandatory for hoi polloi; and when the predictable social disaster occurred, in the form of a growing underclass devoid of moral bearings, the elite that had absorbed (indeed, revelled in) Bloomsbury's influence took the growth of the underclass as evidence that their original grudge against society and its conventions had been justified all along. The philosophy brought about the disaster, and the disaster justified the philosophy. . . . In Three Guineas, Virginia Woolf lets us know without disguise what she really thinks: and what she thinks is by turns grandiose and trivial, resentful and fatuous. The book might be better titled: How to Be Privileged and Yet Feel Extremely Aggrieved. . . . Had Woolf survived to our time, however, she would at least have had the satisfaction of observing that her cast of mind -- shallow, dishonest, resentful, envious, snobbish, self-absorbed, trivial, philistine, and ultimately brutal -- had triumphed among the elites of the western world."
ARSE OF THE WEEK III 08/23/2002
A couple of days ago, 3AM's Utahna Faith was invited to Joey's birthday: "He works at a bar in the French Quarter called Whirling Dirvish. He was dressed in drag, and he let me take a bootie pic of him. Maybe a possible future 'Arse of the Week'? Or are bare drag queen tushies too much even for 3AM?" As if!
DEBORAH STAAB JOINS 3AM TEAM! 08/23/2002
Deborah Staab is a native New Yorker and a graduate of NYU. She spent two years as a prop master on independent films before trying her hand at being an editor. After two years as Assistant Editor for Mintel International in Chicago she is now an Editorial Assistant at Oxford University Press and co-editor for 3AM Magazine's fiction. Her poetry has been published on 3AM Magazine (where "Meat-Packing District" won our HarperCollins prize), Deep Cleveland and Hodah.net. She is currently collaborating on a series of poems with "two other writers".
THE MISSING LINKS 08/23/2002
The Independent reports on plans to build three Shakespeare-based theme parks in Stratford, of course, but also in China and Russia! Interesting report from the Edinburgh Book Festival in The Guardian. The Evening Standard reports that Doris Lessing "made a thinly-veiled attack on the cult of young, attractive writers who are published at the expense of older authors. Lessing, 83, who has written 50 books, described how she championed the work of a middle-aged farmer whose work of the past 10 years is finally to be published -- in contrast to the instant success enjoyed by the likes of Zadie Smith. Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Lessing revealed that the first novel of David Austen, whom she befriended after he attended one of her lectures and asked for help, had just been bought by Cape, part of the Random House publishing group. 'This week I have achieved the impossible,' she said. . . . 'He's not 20 years old, he does not have boobs, he does not photograph very well, and this week Cape bought his first book.'" Mark Bernstein gives advice on how to write for the living web: "Some . . . sites change every week; many change every day; a few change every few minutes. Daypop's Dan Chan calls this the Living Web, the part of the web that is always changing. Every revision requires new writing, new words that become the essence of the site. Living sites are only as good as today's update. If the words are dull, nobody will read them, and nobody will come back. If the words are wrong, people will be misled, disappointed, infuriated. If the words aren't there, people will shake their heads and lament your untimely demise. Writing for the Living Web is a tremendous challenge." London's annual Notting Hill Carnival kicks off this week end.
BOOKER LONGLIST 08/20/2002
The Booker longlist has been published. John Ezard writes in The Guardian: "Two of Britain's most senior award-winning novelists will vie with a 26-year-old former restaurant dishwasher for this year's £50,000 Booker prize for fiction. Jon McGregor's first novel, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, yesterday catapulted him on to this year's Booker longlist, alongside Anita Brookner, William Trevor, Michael Frayn, Zadie Smith (see picture), and 25 other writers. The field was picked from an original entry of 130 books. From it a shortlist will be chosen next month. The winner of the award, sponsored by the Man investment group, will be announced in October. . . . Zadie Smith's second novel, which her publishers Hamish Hamilton hope will achieve the blockbusting sales of her first, White Teeth, made the list despite arriving in proof form a few days before the judges' deadline. . . . The judges, headed by Lisa Jardine, of London University, are David Baddiel, writer and comedian; Russell Celyn Jones, novelist; Sally Vickers, novelist and psychologist; and Erica Wagner, literary editor of the Times." More information on some of the contenders can be found here.
3AM TOP 5 08/20/2002
Extraordinary swashbuckling duo Puerto Muerto -- whose album Your Bloated Corpse Has Washed Ashore will be released by Fire Records on September 2 -- are currently listening to:
- "Dub Magnificent" -- King Tubby, Explosive Dub
- "Complicated Life" -- The Kinks, Muswell Hillbillies
- "Buck" -- Nina Simone, Blues
- "Cotton" -- Lightnin' Hopkins, Lightnin' Strikes
- "Junco Partner" -- The 101ers, Elgin Avenue Breakdown
ARSE OF THE WEEK II 08/20/2002
Artist Susie Wong and writer/3AM flash editor Utahna Faith at Eroticon fetish and erotic arts event, El Matador club in New Orleans.
PUERTO MUERTO 08/19/2002
"What if Kurt Weill wrote songs for Shane MacGowan? What if Maria Callas covered David Bowie and Brian Wilson produced? What if Leonard Cohen hooked up with the Bulgarian Women's Choir? What if Edith Piaf sang on an Ennio Morricone soundtrack? What if Lydia Mendoza made a record with Tom Waits?" What if you acquired a copy of Your Bloated Corpse Has Washed Ashore by husband and wife duo Puerto Muerto? It's out on September 2 and it's incredibly good.
THE BOY LOOKED AT BERTIE 08/19/2002
Punk and the Pistols, Paul Tickell's famous documentary on the Blank Generation which features 3AM's very own Bertie Marshall, will be screened at the ICA in London on Monday 19 August at 9pm.
THE CRACK GENERATION 08/18/2002
Boyd Tonkin has published an excellent article on Ignacio Padilla, founder of the Mexican Crack generation, in The Independent: "Imagine that a fresh government wins an election in Britain, after far too many years of a stale, sleaze-ridden regime. To mark a break with the past, the new brooms appoint the brightest of the country's younger writers to key diplomatic posts. Their task will be to spread the buzz about a creative and dynamic nation, no longer throttled by hierarchy and tradition. So: Zadie Smith goes to Washington, Philip Hensher to Berlin, Will Self to Moscow ... Improbable? That, more or less, is what happened in Mexico. . . . Affable, fast-talking, formidably fluent, Padilla still seems to have energy to burn. He speaks seven languages (even including Dutch): a boon to Mexican diplomacy, but one which has roots in a voracious reader's passion to devour and savour masterpieces. 'If you read Conrad in Spanish, even if it's a good translation, you'll miss a lot.' Padilla's third novel, Shadow Without a Name, has just become the first of his playful and provocative fictions to appear in English (translated by Peter Bush and Anne McLean; Scribner, £10). Winner of Spain's Premio Primavera award in 2000 (out of 461 entries), it embodies the new Mexican literary wave; both in storytelling virtuosity, and its refusal to stick to home turf. Padilla, who studied in Edinburgh, claims to have written more about Scotland than Mexico. Like his hero, Borges, Padilla fabricates a sinister Europe thronged with spies and impostors. These strangers on a train hurtle through a murky landscape of deceit. His novel features a superbly Mephistophelean evil-doer who takes his surname, Goliadkin, from Dostoyevksy's The Double. It also draws on the ironic yarns spun by the great generation of Mitteleuropa writers -- Robert Musil, Hermann Broch, Joseph Roth -- who pronounced the last literary rites over the senile Austro-Hungarian empire. And, in its slyly comic cloak-and-dagger ploys, it reminded me strongly of GK Chesterton. Padilla, who adores the old Edwardian trickster, is chuffed: 'This is the first time that someone has asked me spontaneously about the influence of Chesterton.' Yet behind Chesterton's literary deceptions lay a rock-solid Catholic faith. Behind Padilla's lies a sort of rock-solid Catholic doubt; what he calls 'my permanent religious crisis'. . . . As a writer, Padilla made his name as a co-founder, in 1996, of the 'Crack' group. This gang of Mexican firebrands aimed to recover the grandeur and ambition of their literary grandparents -- patriarchs such as Garc’a M‡rquez, Vargas Llosa and Fuentes -- and to distance themselves from feeble, folksy imitators. He attended high school in Mexico City with his co-conspirator in Crack, Jorge Volpi (now cultural attachŽ in Paris). . . . The notion of the Crack generation ('strictly speaking, a group of novels by Mexican writers born between 1964 and 1968') mixes serious polemic with the air of a prank among friends. 'It was a game. It was a joke,' Padilla recalls. 'As with many jokes in literature, it had an important element of truth.' Saluting the 'polyphonic, complex novels' of the M‡rquez era, the Crack chums aimed to re-learn 'lessons given to us by the great masters of the Boom'. What they spurned was the whimsical 'banana' fiction of the intervening years: levitating opera houses, flying senoritas, talkative toucans, secret love-potions and grandma's old recipes, rustled up with one eye on the airport bookstall and the other on Hollywood. Naturally, the Crack squad detest the vacuous label of 'magic realism'. Should we bury this toxic clichŽ? 'That would be a very healthy thing to do,' purrs Padilla. 'Magic realism should be buried because it should never have existed. Although it helped -- it helped our fiction to become known worldwide. But it's a very dangerous concept, and a very patronising concept ... Novels that would be realistic in Latin America are considered magical by someone else. Suddenly, Latin Americans started to make this magic. They grew their iguanas to make them look like dinosaurs.' . . ."
THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS 08/16/2002
The Sweet Smell Of Success is the name of a new monthly evening of screenings and spoken word events organised by the Chamber of Pop Culture and Cathi Unsworth at London's Horse Hospital. The Sweet Smell of Success kicks off on September 2 with England's Dreaming featuring David Peace and Jake Arnott (see picture) who will talk about "the secret histories of the UK they have been cataloguing in their books. Police corruption and brutality, gangland murders, football hooliganism, Lord Boothby and the Krays, The Yorkshire Ripper -- it'll all be part of the story." There will also be a panel discussion hosted by Cathi Unsworth. Doors open at 7.30pm and will only be closed very late. Entrance: £2 only. The Horse Hospital: Colonnade, Bloomsbury, London WC1 1HX
WE WERE THE MODS, WE WERE THE MODS, WE WERE, WE WERE, WE WERE THE MODS! 08/16/2002
Alistair Fitchett has published an article on 60s top mods The Action in Tangents: ". . . The renewed interest in groups like The Action and The Creation . . . was right on target, and don't forget that Johnny Rotten spun a Creation track 'Life Is Just Beginning' on that famed Capital Radio show. The Action though were the best. Paul Weller thought so, and rightly championed them, penning the sleevenotes to the early '80s The Ultimate Action collection. Kevin Pearce championed them too, notably in his Something Beginning With O book that Jeff Barrett and Heavenly published. In the book The Action shared space with Kevin's other Holy Trinity of Weller/The Jam, Kevin Rowland/Dexys and Vic Godard/Subway Sect and as Kevin was apt to say, it all fitted. Of course he was right. . . ."
REVENGE COMEDY 08/16/2002
The ICA in London is currently showing Paul Tickell's film adaptation of BS Johnson's masterpiece, Christy Malry's Own Double-Entry (16-23 August): "Freely adapted from the cult Seventies novel by BS Johnson, Paul Tickell's riotous version of anarchy and accountancy is a visually astounding and surprisingly seductive film. Britpack actor Nick Moran plays Christy, a young clerk whose life is radically changed by his discovery of the art of double-entry book keeping. For every slight inflicted on him, Christy finds a means of payback -- from scraping the paint work of a fancy car to poisoning London's water supply. Love unexpectedly blossoms in his life, but still Christy hurtles towards the ultimate conclusion and his own bottom line. With shades of Kubrick and Ken Russell, the film has an extraordinary sensibility, thanks to Tickell's punk heritage and the creative talents of the crew behind much of Peter Greenaway's work. Starring Kate Ashfield, Neil Stuke and Shirley Anne Field, with a killer soundtrack by the great Luke Haines."
3AM TOP 5 08/15/2002
When he's not listening to the voices in his head, 3AM Editor in Chief (call him "Chief") Andrew Gallix is currently dancing to:
- "Come On" -- The Jesus and Mary Chain, 21 Singles (2002)
- "Get Me Off" -- Basement Jaxx (2002)
- "They Glued Your Head On Upside Down" -- The Bellrays, Meet the Bellrays (2002)
- "Wipe Out # 3" -- eX-Girl, Back to the Mono Kero (2001)
- "Emerge" -- Fischerspooner (2002)
NEWLAND ON STAGE 08/15/2002
Mother's Day by Courttia Newland ("Britain's brightest black writer," according to the Evening Standard) is on at the Post Office Theatre from 18-28 September at 8pm; matinees at 4pm on Saturday 21 and 28 September. An interview with Courttia Newland will soon appear in 3AM.
SUCCUMBING TO PREPOSTEROUS DESIRES 08/15/2002
Jason Cowley has reviewed Michel Houellebecq's Platform in The Guardian: "Most contemporary novels are distinctly forgettable. They are as permanent as clouds. But the novels of Michel Houellebecq have an important difference. For a start, they are wilfully obscene. They are also full of provocative, often comic attacks against left-liberal orthodoxies, against Islam, against capitalism and against any idea of progress. . . . Like the great Louis-Ferdinand CŽline, whom he closely resembles, Houellebecq is a grand, scabrous renunciator. The human, he believes, is a fallen creature for whom respite from the meaninglessness of the world can be found only in a kind of intense erotic abandon, in succumbing to what Iago called preposterous desires -- Platform, like much of his work, is distinguished by its very good sex scenes. Yet Houellebecq is a profoundly moral writer. A disaffected former communist, he now believes that all schemes to remake the world for the better are destined to fail; that history has no direction or meaning; that religion is a lie. So, he asks, what does it mean to live in a world without belief or consolation? In this book, he provides a kind of answer: to live in this world is to suffer. . . ."
SHORTBREAD DISNEYLAND 08/13/2002
Irvine Welsh recently claimed that the Edinburgh Festival was turning the Scottish capital city into a "cultural desert" and a "shortbread Disneyland". An alternative, People's Festival will be launched on August 24. There's an interesting interview with Irvine Welsh (by John Walsh) in The Independent: "Poor Irvine Welsh. He can't go anywhere these days without being monstered by his adoring public, even on his adopted turf of north London. 'I was in Waterstone's the other day,' he confesses in his sotto voce mutter, 'and this woman came up to me and said, 'It's great to see you again.' And of course, you meet so many people at readings in bookshops, I just said, 'Hi.' She was being really complimentary about my books, and I was going, 'Yeah, yeah.' Then she said, 'I do think How to Be Good is the best book I've ever read.' I didn't know what to reply. Eventually I said, 'It was a difficult one to write, but I'm glad I persevered.' She said, 'I'm glad you did too.' Irvine Welsh Mistaken For Nick Hornby Shock! . . . It's all due to his becoming a huge literary success, a gob-smackingly global cultural phenomenon, and enjoying the benefits that go with it. Trainspotting was published in 1993. It sold millions, and the movie version, directed by Danny Boyle, became one of the Zeitgeist-defining films of the Nineties. The Leith dialect of Renton, Sick Boy, Spud, Begbie and their wasted, disreputable pals was translated into a score of tongues in countries you wouldn't associate with Scottish junkie culture and pub humour -- Lithuanian, Korean, Hebrew, Arabic. Welsh is constantly surprised by his own fan constituency. Until he went to Bulgaria, he'd no idea he was regarded as a kind of rock star. 'I couldn't believe it. It was like Beatlemania. I got off the plane and the Bulgarian paparazzi were out in force. I was ushered into the party members' special enclosure, then given a limo to the hotel. I got mobbed. I couldn't go anywhere without drawing crowds' . . ."
KILOMETER ZERO VS ASTEROID 08/13/2002
"You can run! You can hide! The asteroid will obliterate all. In its orbit, 800 metre across asteroid 2002 NY40 will come closer to the planet earth than ever before. With our continual inability to properly measure the force of gravity scientists are currently divided on whether it will pass or come crashing into the planet to devastating effect. Either way NY40 will be visible to the naked eye. Either way we are going to celebrate." The guys from English-speaking literary journal in Paris, Kilometer Zero, are throwing a party with interstellar music, visuals etc at the Chateaudun squat on August 17: 51 rue Chateaudun (metro: Trinite). Doors open at 11.30pm. Entrance fees: 3 euros. Password: NY40. The bash will continue "until either the asteroid or the sun comes".
THE MISSING LINKS 08/10/2002
There's an interesting article by AS Byatt on Madame Bovary in The Guardian. Part Two is here. Nicholas Lezard reviews Subcomandante Marcos' writings. Ian Samson on Michael Bracewell's The Nineties is also worth a look in. The latest issues of Pif, Stirring and Taint have gone online. Julian Evans writes about novel writing in Sweden and Denmark. Brendan O'Neill's article in Spiked on "The New Nostalgia" is well worth reading too. I recently discovered a great English literary / cultural blog called Nitricboy. In one of his entries Robert Hinchcliffe writes that "3AM is an online magazine which covers everything from short fiction to satire to music reviews. It's also where I'll be spending a lot of my time from now on." Thanks Rob, hope you enjoy the stay. In Spike Magazine, Steve Mitchelmore recently described Buzzwords as "3AM Magazine's excellent and enviably substantial blog" and went on to say that it "isn't something I like to keep away from for too long." Cheers mate! Steve probably enjoyed Octavio Paz's article on Henri Michaux's experiments with mescaline in today's Guardian. Former members of anarcho-punk band Crass will be performing at 291 Gallery on August 15: 291 Hackney Road, London E2 8A (starts at 10pm). Crass are the subject of George Berger's latest column. On the subject of punk, you can listen to Tom Robinson's programme Never Mind the Horlicks: Punk at Middle Age (broadcast on BBC Radio 2 in July). Last week, The Observer asked "key players in the arts and media" to list their favourite websites. 3AM did not appear -- worse luck -- but Peter Ayrton, editor of cutting-edge publishing house Serpent's Tail mentioned our friends from The Barcelona Review. Julie Burchill is as entertaining as ever on the subject of fag hags.
3AM'S NIGHT ON THE RAZZ 08/10/2002
|HP Tinker and George Berger painting the town red. |
3AM ARSE OF THE WEEK 08/10/2002
3AM's Andrew Gallix, HP Tinker, George Berger and Bertie Marshall met up the other day for their big night out. At the ICA they met a delightful creature from Barcelona who was immediately nominated Arse of the Week by (who else?) George Berger. George, of course, hopes this will become a regular feature. If you want to be 3AM Arse of the Week then, send a picture of your moneymaker to Andrew. Go on, you know it makes sense.
DRUNKEN BARBARIAN SCUM 08/09/2002
Steven Wells has come up with a great review of the Sex Pistols' reunion gig in NME: "'I can't wait to read the bad review in NME!' sneers the pot-bellied curmudgeon formerly known as Johnny Rotten. Sorry, fat boy, but it's time to kiss your flabby white Malibu-cockney arse. Because all bands formed post-'77 fall into two categories. Those influenced by the Sex Pistols (Nirvana, The Strokes, The Vines, Ikara Colt etc) and the rest. Who are shit. . . . The Sex Pistols were the last band to mean something to everyone. They were the folk devils who changed everything -- art, politics, fashion, music -- everything. . . . It is ugly and beautiful and witty and stupid and bitter and twisted. And magnificently, tragically English. Pig-ignorant genius -- it's all that really stops us just being Americans with bad teeth. Face it -- these dead-donkey flogging, money-grabbing fat fuckers are us. The best of us and the worst of us. The Sex Pistols are the living heart and soul of a nation of drunken barbarian scum. We might as well be proud of them." The Pistols should headline the second annual KROQ & LEVI'S INLAND INVASION festival in California on September 14. Other acts will include the Buzzcocks and the Damned.
3AM TOP 5 08/09/2002
Writer, wanna-be punk rocker, nut, and 3am webmaster and co-editor Jim Martin is unable to count and currently listening to:
- Nirvana: "Rape Me"
- Flogging Molly: "Selfish Man"
- The Pixies: "Is She Weird"
- Tom Waits: "The Ocean Doesn't Want Me"
- MXPX: "Punk Rawk Show"
- Sonic Youth: "Mary-Christ"
- No Use For A Name: "Pre-medicated Murder"
- Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: "The Weeping Song"
- Hedwig and the Angry Inch: "Midnight Radio"
- Blind Melon: "Toes Across The Floor"
3AM TOP 5 08/08/2002
Punk originator, musician, artist, poet and novelist Richard Hell is currently listening to:
- Link Wray: "Rawhide"
- Palace: "Gulf Shores"
- Palace: "(End of) Travelling"
- Guided by Voices: "Choking Tara (Creamy Version)"
- White Stripes: "When I Hear My Name"
CASH FROM CHAOS AT CRYSTAL PALACE 08/05/2002
Unsurprisingly, the Sex Pistols' gig at Crystal Palace on July 27 was slagged off by most critics. Here's an extract from Steve Jelbert's review: ". . . On a wonderful summer's day the Sex Pistols, no longer the teenagers who actually offended the powers that be (and their own manager) by expressing opinions of their own, gave presumably their last ever public appearance. It's a celebration of a certain kind of Britishness. Not so much non-conformity -- there are far too many crop-haired moderately prosperous middle aged dads present for that -- but a chance to revel in nostalgia for the days when a lack of deference actually meant something. . . . Nobody could have imagined the opener, a crude version of Hawkwind's 1972 biker favourite 'Silver Machine', delightfully mutated into 'I've got a silver jubilee'. As well as the obvious classics (a coruscating version of 'Liar', where Lydon for once doesn't sing with his usual 'don't take this too seriously' tone, a fantastic 'Did You No Wrong', surely the best B-side released between the Beatles and Pistols-worshipping Oasis), there are plenty of covers too ('We're going to have a right larf' warns Lydon). A fearsome take on the Monkees' 'Stepping Stone' and a chaotic thrash through the Who's 'Substitute' (dedicated to 'Entwistle -- he's in a better place than us') have appeared on record, but The Creation's pop-psych classic 'Through My Eyes', though beautifully played by Jones, Matlock and Cook, is a melody too far for Lydon. He is quite fantastic by the way. Wearing a shirt with the word "sorry" printed on its front, he cajoles, needles and whines at the crowd throughout, fully aware of his continuing role as a cultural irritant. The old punk maxim 'never trust a hippy' has now mutated into 'never trust a toff', referring to Tony Blair. . . . It's hardly relevant how good the band were. The world's changed in 25 years, but they played their part in that." Another notable exception was Nicholas Lezard who wrote in yesterday's Independent on Sunday that the Pistols' performance was "an almost total pleasure from start to finish": ". . . No group, not even the Stones at their most supposedly outrageous, has ever had their cultural impact; no group ever gave Middle England the screaming abdabs the way the Sex Pistols did. Their songs weren't only great songs, performed by a tight and powerful unit (let us thank posterity for assuring that it was the most dispensable member of the band who died); they were great postures. And for all of Malcolm Mclaren's handily retroactive declarations of situationist intent, they wouldn't have had one-tenth their impact but for Lydon's character, talent, and appalled intelligence. . . ." Mr Lezard (great name) goes on to state that "they make every other rock band on the planet seem servile and insipid by comparison". You'll also find a review and photos by Phil Singleton on the Pistols' site.
MATTHEW WASCOVICH JOINS 3AM TEAM 08/05/2002
Matthew Wascovich, who lives in Cleveland, Ohio, has just joined the 3AM team. He also edits a literary magazine called Flat Bike & Banged Head and a book of his poems, Leo in the Garbage Can, will soon be published by Slow Toe Publications. Along with his brother Steven, Matthew plays in a band called Thee Banged Heads. He describes their music as "a loud, dueling electric bass, experimental, drum sounding mess". Matthew likes to quote D. Boon of The Minutemen who once said: "Punk is whatever we made it to be." Indeed, this sentiment lives on. On 3 AM's futbol squad, you can find him playing the midfield with Berger, Gallix and Tinker.
Some comments on Wascovich's book:
"I'm reading through Matt's poetry. I think to myself 'Damn this is strange poetry' So I fan through the pages looking for cliche quips, or even clever paraphrases. But there are none. None. And I like that"
"Sonorous and awkward, minimalist, astringent and artful. Wascovich's writing is serious as a heart attack"
Matthew's Slow Toe Publications are looking for investors to donate $20 or more to help them grow. Each person who donates $20 will receive a copy of Matthew's Leo in the Garbage Can. Please make checks payable to Slow Toe Publications:
Slow Toe Publications
P.O. Box 6592
3AM TOP 5 08/03/2002
Steven Wells, author of the classic Tits-Out Teenage Terror Totty, of the forthcoming Holy Joe and founder of Attack! Books, is currently listening to:
- The Martini Henry Rifles - Double 'B' side 'Kill/Summer/Shit' and 'Monobasic' on Boobytrap.
"Actually I've never heard this but they've got a great name and they're into guns and wanking on nuns. So it's probably rilly good."
- Oki-Dog - The noise I imagine in my head.
"Actually they haven't put anything out yet. And I've no idea what they sound like. But it's a great name and they hate New Order, so they've got to be good."
- Mika Bomb - 'Contact Tokyo' (Damaged Goods).
"Yeah, yeah, yeah -- vocals by Minnie Mouse, drums by Chad Valley and lyrics via a seance with Joey Ramone -- like what I said in NME."
- Guitar Wolf - 'Jet Generation' (Matador) -- the opening track of the LP of the same name.
"They're called Guitar Wolf -- how could they possibly be anything other than absolutely amazing?"
- The Distillers - 'The World Comes Tumblin' Down' (Hellcat) -- from the eponymous first LP.
"Scary LA scruff-punk. Should be played at Doves fans. Till they die."
An interview with Mr Wells was published a while back in 3AM Magazine.
FETISH ALPHABET 08/03/2002
Susannah Breslin, whose short stories and articles have appeared in Harper's Bazaar, Salon.com, Exquisite Corpse and Nerve, will soon be launching a new weekly column here at 3AM. The first installment of Fetish Alphabet is called "A is For Anthropophagy": "The men that he saw out in the world every day wanted to eat women, and he knew this because he watched them chew at women's faces in big mouthfuls, and grab handfuls of women's buttocks, and as they did it say, Yummm, and, Mmmmm. The women, for their part, he knew they wanted to be eaten because he saw them on his TV-screen longing to be devoured and consumed and taken in every piece of themselves, and it was in their eyes and the hike of their skirts and the way they rolled their tongues around in their mouths. . . ."
THE MISSING LINKS 08/03/2002
Julian Evans takes us on a journey through central european fiction from the Sturm und Drang tradition of Kleist in Germany to latter-day Czechoslovakia: "A dozen years after the velvet revolution, a kind of nostalgia exists for the bad times, the romance of prison. 'Like a movie. Like a very bad movie,' as Jachym Topol, the young author of City Sister Silver, a restless punk epic set in the first years after 1989, notes drily. The biggest adventure of life today is 'to adopt and adapt myself to the west' -- though something special remains in the location of the Czech Republic. 'From Kiev I go to the west. From Paris I go to the east. I enjoy this character very much, the life of a bastard, a coyote.' Which, if he had ever travelled, Kafka, as a Jewish, German-speaking Czech -- another mongrel at a crossroads -- might have agreed with." Julian Evans doesn't forget the great Polish author Witold Gombrowicz: "Before the arrival of its first novelist of stature, Witold Gombrowicz, in the 1930s, its literary essence was stoppered up in the person of Adam Mickiewicz, poet, nationalist, romantic hero; so that in retrospect it now seems natural that, faced with the nationalistic pride of his fellow Poles, Gombrowicz should have retorted: 'Whenever I see some mystique or other, be it virtue or family, faith or fatherland, there I have to commit some indecent act.' There speaks the instigator of Poland's modernity. Gombrowicz's novels, Ferdydurke, Trans-Atlantyk, Pornografia, and Cosmos, all hinge on those moments when situations are revealed as horribly, sometimes hilariously distorted by form, surfaces, conventions." The Austrian Josef Roth who stayed and drank in the cafe Rue de Tournon in Paris (right next to my place) also gets a look in: "Another who understood that not merely a man but a country -- a national attitude -- was being outmanoeuvred by reality was Joseph Roth. In his comŽdie pathŽtique of Austria-Hungary (The Radetzky March, The String of Pearls), Roth the romantic, wanderer and exile, unillusioned observer, holy drinker, worked suspended between upholding the idea of Austria-Hungary -- "my only Fatherland" -- and satirising its downward curve. The clipped rhythms of his prose and handbrake turns of plot make his work seem a 19th-century creation, while his overwhelming sense of men's absurdity stamps him as modern. His greatest contribution was to clear the decks of the hangovers of Europe's imperial era -- and be unfailingly elegant and witty as he took the world down with him."
Steve Mitchelmore has written a very interesting entry in Spike Magazine's weblog in answer to John Pilger's article on Our Writers' Failure "in which he laments the fact that 'not a single English writer commanding the celebrity that provides an extraordinary public platform has written anything incisive and worthy of our memory about the meaning and exploitation of 11 September'. This is very true, with the admitted exception of the magnificent Harold Pinter. However, what Pilger doesn't ask is why we should want a creative writer to comment on these events at all? After all, to write fiction requires a certain letting go of power, a commitment and trust to the bizarre logic of something outside the self. Why should this talent qualify anyone for a necessarily deeper understanding of anything? . . . Thankfully, anyway, the British are admirably indifferent to the pronouncements of artists. We tend to laugh at them for their pretension; remember Jason Donovan on World Peace, or Poet Laureate Andrew Motion's hilariously banal poems commemorating the upper class twits in Buckingham Palace? Perhaps this is why exiled European artists like Frank Auerbach, Lucien Freud and WG Sebald thrive and thrived in this country. They can disappear into their extraordinary work because they are not expected to provide us with their opinions on every issue subject to newspaper excitement. Instead, they let their art do the talking. And that, surely, is enough."
MANGA BARBARELLAS 08/02/2002
All female Japanese space punk combo Ex-Girl supported The Banshees on their two London dates a couple of weeks ago, and headlined at The Spitz the other day. Steven Wells writes in the NME that "It's super-slick art-chick sci-fi B-flick schtick brutally butchered by ga-ga dada Manga Barbarellas, essentially."
POETIC STAND-UP 08/02/2002
Steve Aylett -- who was recently interviewed by 3AM Magazine -- appears in Bookmunch: ". . . It's a shame, sort of a waste, that most people are influenced by what the newspaper supplements tell them is the book they are meant to be seen reading this year. It seems like those people aren't really interested in books. If you're really into books, you havoc all over the place picking up disparate stuff which you devour hungrily, and the 'selection' process is more like a sixth sense hunger, a billion miles away from fashion. People who genuinely enjoy the dead meat of Patricia Cornwell and Tony Parsons, I don't know what's going on there. It's as though they've made a decision to 'stop' and go no further, don't move on beyond certain very obvious observations, beyond the familiar wallpaper. Whether that decision is conscious or unconscious, I don't know. And the stuff that's seen as weird and alternative, and for those wackily different people in our society whom we chidingly tolerate, is just as bland. The worst part of it all is the lowering of the bar to the floor as regards what's 'strange' or 'leading edge'. Terry Pratchett is touted as being weird and innovative. Irvine Welsh is put in place as being for those really edgy people on the fringes. Chuck Palahniuk is held up to be, whoah, as far as you can go. And people believe it. God help us all. Anything genuinely interesting is put too far beyond people's sight-line to be perceived at all. I find people's lack of genuine originality disappointing, because it seems that they're not really present. It's not a deliberate dishonesty, but the fact remains they're constantly expressing other people's ideas. Where's the actual original person in there -- or was it never allowed to develop beyond the infant stage before being swamped by second- and third- and millionth-hand material? It's a walking, talking tragedy."