Artwork by Sardax
CUTTING-EDGE LITERARY NEWS FROM AROUND THE GLOBAL VILLAGE
by Andrew Gallix
COPYRIGHT © 2002, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
INTRODUCING MERRY SKULL BITES 01/27/2002
Co-editor Kimberly Nichols announces her new regular column Merry Skull Bites for 3am Magazine. "I want personal essays that show music as an integral part of our lives and how it provides a soundtrack to our memories. I want raw and honest writing that shows the merge between music and moment." The first MSB Latchkey Summer: Dirty Deeds provides us with a look into her deflowering and sets the tone for what she's looking for in future submissions. The second installment "Good Dreams of Bad Things", a look at the October 23, 2001 Butthole Surfers concert by Texan writer Miguel Calbillo, is coming soon. Writers, please send "Merry Skull Bites" submissions to Kimberly.
3A.M. TOP FIVE 01/26/2002
3am chief editor Andrew Gallix (call him Chief) is currently listening to:
1) Adam and the Ants: "Il Duce" (1977 or 1978, MP3)
2) The Strokes : "Someday" (Is This It, 2001)
3) Luke Haines: "Discomania" (Christie Malry's Own Double Entry, 2001)
4) The Avalanches: "Since I Left You" (Since I Left You, 2001)
5) The White Stripes: "Hotel Yorba" (White Blood Cells, 2001)
PENNY LANE: KEEPING THE FLAME ALIVE 01/26/2002
I recently discovered a fascinating webzine called Abisti which I highly recommend. It includes a lengthy interview (conducted by George Berger) with Penny Rimbaud, who used to be the drummer with top anarcho punk band Crass whose influence on radical politics in 80s Britain is all too often forgotten today. Learn about the time when Penny Rimbaud met John Lennon through a TV competition or his devotion to Wally Hope's memory (founder of the Stonehenge Festival).
Penny on punk: "There were very few punk bands I enjoyed listening to. I went to see the Clash and The Slits in Chelmsford. I thought the Clash were very exciting, but when I started looking at what they were doing, I couldn't continue my interest. It was another piece of pantomime. I thought they were taking the piss. I found the Slits more inspiring because the Clash were actually a very talented rock'n'roll band. But the Slits were bloody awful! I thought, well if they can do it…so we did. I used to go down the Roxy a lot as well, because I really liked the atmosphere. I liked the live vibe of it, but the idea of listening to that on a record…. I remember the first time I went to the Roxy, with Eve [Libertine]. We were both pissed put of our brains and she was running along the street with a rose hanging out of her mouth which she'd picked up off the street. I was 33 or 34 then. I remember the youthfulness and the charm and the gorgeousness of it. Rushing down into the Roxy and getting more pissed. There was a band called The Bears on. . . . They were absolutely awful, but it didn't matter. Then we went home and fucked like hyenas. It was all wild. And then it all grew and became an institution and that wasn't wild….you pick out little moments, which actually would have been the same if you were having a holiday in Crete. The whole thing just becomes a big headache -- I suppose in Shibboleth, I wanted to share my headache and confusion and doubt. I think so many people have got such a mythological concept of Crass. . ."
George Berger writes that "Far and away the most inspiring thing from a personal point of view was the house that Crass lived in. It made the all-important diference between talkin' 'bout a revolution and living one. It's what set Crass apart. 'Crass were the best punk band because they lived the lifestyle' remarked ATV's Mark Perry once, hitting the nail on the head. It made their words more than rhetoric, which was the catalyst for a lot of punks disillusioned with the theatrical revolutionary poses of the first wavers. . . . It [the house] is now under threat, however, from property developers who seek to turn Rimbaud's shangri-la into a country theme-park. For the last year, Penny has been tied up wading through mountains of legal documents in an attempt to keep the wolves from the door, almost literally. Thirty years down the line, it would be nothing short of a piece of history disappearing if it went. Penny always was a fighter though: "Maybe like all empires, it's going to crumble into dust. But it's not going to crumble into fucking gold dust. If I'm going to close down thirty years commitment, it's not going to be because some yuppie bastard has decided to make my house into a gold mine. What they'll get is a burned-down ruin. It's been a home to over a hundred people. It's been saving hundreds of lives, not just through what goes out of the place, but also what goes on within it. It would be a total tragedy. It will always be what it is if I've got anything to do with it, which is the open house it always has been. But whether I've got the strength to still be behind the open door, I don't know. . . ." Read the whole interview, it's important and beautifully-written.
What are the other members of Crass up to these days? "Eve Libertine is learning jazz singing and doing stained-glass windows. She's also very involved in the healing arts. Gee Sus is strongly back into painting. Peter Kennard (old CND artist & RCA lecturer) had been showing slides of Gee's work as examples of wonderful collage. He and Gee met two or three years back and he showed him her work. He was absolutely staggered that what he thought was collage was actually painting. She's also a T'ai Chi instructor. Steve Ignorant has got a new band together (Stratford Mercenaries) and is writing a lot and learning piano. From alternative research, I also gather Andy Palmer left the band to attend the Royal College Of Art, and Pete Wright has started a new band called Judas II."
GRRRL POWER 01/26/2002
The expression Girl power was first used by Malcolm Lowry, not the Spice Girls according to John Ezard: "'Girl power' is more venerable than the Spice Girls and was discovered by a man, the full Oxford English Dictionary discloses today. It was first spotted in a less raunchy setting by the novelist Malcolm Lowry almost 50 years ago. Lowry, author of Under the Volcano, described in a letter how he noticed a Roman Catholic church with a notice saying: 'We want girl power for our convent.' The term, added as a new phrase in the English language to the OED website and defined as 'opposed to man power', spread further in the early 1990s thanks to the briefly prominent feminist punk US 'riot girl' movement. Finally, according to the entry, it became identified in the late 1990s 'with the British all-female group the Spice Girls'. Riot girl, often spelt grrrl, also gets into the dictionary for the first time partly because the Guardian Women page wrote of the phenomenon last year. Grrrl has a separate entry as 'a young woman perceived as strong or aggressive, especially in her attitude to men or in her expression of feminine independence and sexuality'. . . ."
The Women's Library is "a new cultural centre [Old Castle Street, London E1, open to the public from February 5], housing the most extensive collection of women's history in the UK. As well as the Reading Room there is a lively exhibition and events programme, and the Wash Houses Café." Katharine Viner reports: "It's been locked away in a dusty vault in an east London basement for many of its 75 years -- underused, undervalued and flooded three times. But, from next month, the Fawcett collection is finally on show, open to all; and it's a revelation. With its mass of books, letters, magazines, banners, posters and memorabilia, the archive tells the story of women's lives: it's a tale which inspires awe, both at the horrors women have faced and their bravery in fighting for freedom. This is what strikes you first when you explore the archive, which is now housed in the magnificent four-storey Women's Library, built in an old London wash-house with a £4.2m lottery grant -- but it's not the whole story. As director Antonia Byatt puts it: 'The library is a social and cultural history, relevant to all; it's not about dogma, it's about debate.' It's the sort of place that has a first edition of Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication Of The Rights Of Woman (1792) along with Gyles Brandreth's The Complete Husband (1978), a book called Superstuds: How They Do It side by side with Intercourse, by Andrea Dworkin, the archive of the Miss Great Britain competition and that of the Women's Institute -- juxtapositions that reflect the breadth of women's experiences, from the 'tyranny of the orgasm' to Barbara Cartland's cooking tips to 'catarrh of the vagina'. . . ." Read the rest of this fascinating article.
Check out the Benefits of Being a Woman and Connoisseurs of Cock, the "thinking woman's guide to schlong in the new millenium": "You see him at a party: quiet, intense and handsome -- he easily stands out from the other guys. You find your eyes travel down his impressive frame toward the package. Is he a growR or a showR? What can you understand about his penis size, based on the less important facet- his personality? Why bother wasting an intelligent conversation and kitty cat sex appeal on what will eventually prove to be a genital dwarf? It's a crying shame that somehow we, as woman, can't tell immediately upon sight if our intended is the type of man we're looking for (i.e. a WELL HUNG one). Might they be enticed to tattoo a number (representing their penis size in inches) on a more visible part of the body -- like the forehead? Since this is unlikely- and knowing men, they'd add to the total anyway -- I've devised a way we can determine cock size based on personality and behavioral traits." Women? Don't you just love 'em!
The striking photo comes from a book on wrestling entitled Exquisite Mayhem.
Just found an interesting page on the French WWII youth cult called les zazous (see picture: two bons Français looking disapprovingly at a couple of zazous).
PIERRE BOURDIEU EST MORT! 01/24/2002
French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu died last night in Paris. After renewing sociology, he started playing an active part in French social and political life by supporting the strikes of 1995, homeless people and the plight of 'illegal' immigrants. Splashed across the covers of newspapers, his death is the most important news item in France today.
3AM TOP FIVE 01/24/2002
Charles Shaw, 3am co-editor and Editor in Chief at Singles FAQ is currently listening to:
1) Deacon Blue: "Real Gone Kid"
2) A Flock of Seagulls: "Space Age Love Song"
3) The House of Love: "Shine On"
4) Xymox: "Stumble and Fall"
5) Cocteau Twins: "Blue Bell Knoll"
PULLMAN PULLS THROUGH 01/24/2002
Author of children's fiction Philip Pullman has won the Whitbread Book of the Year prize. Fiachra Gibbons writes in The Guardian: "Philip Pullman became the first children's writer to win the Whitbread prize last night with The Amber Spyglass, the final instalment of his magical His Dark Materials trilogy. He has also finally eclipsed his great rival JK Rowling and her Harry Potter stories by writing the first children's book -- albeit an epic, complex and highly sophisticated one -- to take one of the big two literary awards. His victory is a remarkable turnaround for a man who refused to have his first books entered in any book prize. . . ." Check out the following link for more information.
NEVER MIND THE BUZZCOCKS 01/24/2002
They'd been announcing for ages that the Buzzcocks' site would be revamped. Well, they've done it at last! Now there's a section devoted to ShelleyDevoto as well as a separate Howard Devoto page.
A THOUSAND CHORDS 01/24/2002
Music magazine Q has published a special issue devoted to The 100 Greatest Rock'n'Roll Photographs (on sale from 25 January, £5.99). Pete Clark writes in London's Evening Standard: "A photograph is worth a thousand words, so a decent rock 'n' roll photograph should be worth a thousand chords. . . . As natural performers, the great rock stars made ideal photographic models, whether on stage or in the studio. The picture of The Clash's Paul Simonon [see photo] has been chosen as the pick of the bunch and it is easy to see why: here is rock music as epic tantrum, a graphic reminder of the bottled-up emotions which are why it came into being in the first place. . . ."
FROG BASHING II 01/23/2002
The Royal Academy in London is holding an exhibition on Paris: Capital of the Arts 1900-1968. Peter Conrad of The Guardian is not convinced: "Modern art, pledged to innovation, saw itself from the first as a rehearsal for revolution. Painters, poets and musicians eagerly offered their services to movements that were intent on transforming the world. . . . Remembering all those artistic volunteers who eagerly enlisted in radical causes throughout the twentieth century, it's hard to see what good they did, either to the world or themselves. The revolutions they enthused about discarded and destroyed them. Prokofiev and Shostakovich were bullied into composing anthems of praise for Stalin, while China's poets -- during what was laughingly called a cultural revolution -- were forcibly retrained as agricultural labourers. . . . Nevertheless, the illusion persists of an engaged art, an art that storms barricades and performs the work of liberation for us all, and the Royal Academy's new exhibition. Paris: Capital of the Arts 1900-1968, presents a guided tour of revolts and riots that were meant to terminate history and inaugurate Utopia. Soon after 1900, the cabarets of Montmartre set themselves up as the headquarters of licence and festive misbehaviour. Twenty years later, the surrealists terrorised the bourgeoisie with their crazed escapades, instinctual protests against social propriety. In the 1940s Picasso's dove preached the gospel of the Internationale. In 1968 embattled students burned cars around the Sorbonne, experimenting with revolution as a variety of street theatre. After that the exhibition abruptly breaks off, because the absurd dream is discredited. In retrospect, all those decades of agitation and fulmination changed nothing, and events that seemed spontaneously revolutionary at the time -- the first performance of Stravinsky's atavistic Sacre du Printemps in 1913, when affronted concert-goers hurled furniture, or the screening of Buñuel and Dali's blasphemous and obscene L'Age d'Or in 1930, which brought papal threats of excommunication to the filmmakers' aristocratic patrons -- now look like self-regardingly scandalous publicity stunts. . . . 'Be realistic: demand the impossible' ordered one of the graffiti spray-painted on a Quartier Latin wall in May 1968. That fatuous slogan encapsulated the artists' silly, innocent incomprehension of politics, which is best defined as the art of the possible. Artists believed that revolution meant frolicsome irresponsibility, the indefinite prolongation of childhood. The philosopher Jean-François Lyotard, much cited by Daniel Cohn-Bendit's hairy brigades, coined a punning com pound to describe their cause: he called it the 'désirévolution'. Who wouldn't sign on for such a saturnalia, like the San Francisco love-ins of 1967 or the muddy orgy of Woodstock? . . ."
FROG BASHING I 01/23/2002
Should you trust a Francophile Englishman? More to the point, should Julian Barnes's barnet be shaved off in public for acts of collaboration with the enemy, as a neo-Hydropathe suggested in a recent article? Geoff Dyer, author of Paris Trance writes in The Guardian: "Why is it -- to follow up on something Joanna Trollope says about Julian Barnes -- that while we just admire Ken Loach, the French revere him? Is it because the French are more sympathetic to the idea of politically committed cinema, et cetera? Or is it, more simply, because Britain, in Loach's films, always looks like such a dump? By a similar token, it might be best not to take the suggested French reverence for Barnes at face value, either as evidence of superior Gallic taste and discernment or -- for that matter -- of the auteur 's true worth. It is less obvious from a distance but Paris, these days, is a cultural backwater. In Britain, there is a tendency to assume that French comedies are inherently sophisticated and stylish. Anyone who has lived in Paris, however, will know that the British only taste the icing on a frequently stale cake, that these films are being churned out at the rate of about eight a month, and that nine-tenths of them are every bit as banal as the Hollywood blockbusters they're trying to keep at bay. As with the films, so with the grub: the elevating romance of French cuisine lives on even though, as Barnes rightly observes, 'generally you will eat better in Italy'. As with the stomach, so with the brain: the heady days of Camus and Sartre, Foucault and Barthes may be gone, but the myth of France as a nation of intellectuals limps on regardless. Hence the complaint of a visiting French TV producer of my acquaintance that no one in England discusses ideas. Like many people who want to discuss ideas, she, needless to say, had never had one in her life. In this context Barnes is a natural, almost inevitable export whose domestic reputation has been enhanced by value-adding re-importation. An English writer whose intellectual reference points are largely French, Barnes 'spent the academic year of 1966-7 working as a lecteur d'anglais' (the slightly posher term for assistant) in Rennes; he has remained the leading exponent of what might be called assistantialism. . . ."
FUCKING FROG! 01/23/2002
There's an interesting interview with Julian Barnes @ BBC Online: ". . . We speak in a week in which the younger son of the heir to the throne was barred from a pub not just for vomiting on the wall, but for calling the French chef 'a f**king frog'. 'I don't think he should just have been sent to a drug rehabilitation clinic. I think he should be sent to a meeting of a far-right fascist group somewhere to show where those tendencies end up -- if that's what he thinks now.' But Barnes is not usually so blunt -- his conversational style, like his writing, is discursive, understated, wry -- rather English, in fact. It raises the question as to why his work has been so popular in France and elsewhere in mainland Europe. 'For a long time I thought it was because I was half French, or I was a bit European, but when I put this theory to French people I met, tentatively, they would all say, 'No, no, no. We like you because you're are so English'. Then they give me line of descent which goes Tristram Shandy, Edward Lear, Monty Python, Julian Barnes.' . . . He finds Flaubert endlessly fascinating -- as he does Flaubert's creation, the doomed adulteress Emma Bovary [see photo above]. '. . . I appreciate that fact that Britain is where I have my being, where the language that I exist in lives, and that it's a very easy and comfortable place to live. I'm one of those people who, when they get to the airport after a couple of weeks abroad, the first thing they look for is a British newspaper -- I would want my Guardian.' . . . Metroland was published when Barnes was 34. It was another six years before he became a professional fiction writer. 'The day I turned 40 I finished my fourth novel, resigned my job as Observer TV critic and I bought myself a snooker table -- it was painless, 40. I still write quite a lot of journalism but now it's my fiction that supports my journalism, not the other way round.' . . ."
MANCHESTER. . . SO MUCH TO ANSWER FOR 01/23/2002
The house where Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis hanged himself in 1980 is up for sale: "The two bedroom terrace at 77 Barton Street in Macclesfield near Manchester is described by property website Rightmove as 'ideal for first-time buyers.' . . . The house is on the market at £64,950." Go here for info on all things Mancunian.
WE MEAN IT MAN…CHESTER 01/23/2002
Selected extracts from the press release of Shelley and Devoto's Buzzkunst album: "Pretty much because of their approach -- no big fanfares, no interest in rekindling the spirit of '76 -- Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto, recording together for the first time in twenty five years, have made an album which sounds as new as the twenty first century and has the sure-footed originality which tends to mark out a classic. Musically, as Devoto's timeless vocal style slides as effortlessly as ever between playboy crooner, punk snarler and insidious troubadour, ShelleyDevoto blend edgy electronica with primitive synthesiser beats, saxophone with speed guitars, expressionist drama with minimalist poignancy. You might be reminded of Bowie's instrumentals from the late 1970s, Donna Summer's Four Seasons of Love, Philip Glass, the melancholy pastoralism of Boards of Canada, Can or the early Human League. What makes buzzkunst so infectious, however, is the way it resolves these possible similarities into something entirely its own. Carrying lyrics of baroque intelligence, which tease, trouble and soothe, at times simultaneously, buzzkunst upholds Devoto's reputation as a songwriter who enjoys a considerable literary reputation. Fans will not be surprised to hear that he's checking ideas from Wittgenstein to Mona Hatoum, by way of particle physics. You might call buzzkunst a disco for the mind. . . . With the release of buzzkunst, neither Shelley nor Devoto are remotely concerned with making a return to the past. This is neither a'comeback' album nor a championing of punk history. 'Do us a bloody favour' says Devoto, to both these points. As Pete Shelley continues to tour and record with Buzzcocks, and Devoto works on his own musical and literary projects (writing and recording his autobiography, Insect! for a start) their collaboration on buzzkunst has derived from the sheer enjoyment of working together in Shelley's front room. . . ." See the review of Shelley and Devoto's gig at the ICA published in 3am Magazine in January 2001.
Once upon a time in Manchester, Howard Devoto met Pete Shelley at college, they read the first review of a Sex Pistols gig in the NME, went off to London to check them out, were bowled over, came back to Manchester, wrote a handful of power pop classics with brilliant lyrics ("I just came from nowhere and I'm going straight back there"), formed The Buzzcocks who released the first independently produced punk single, Spiral Scratch, Devoto left the band to form Magazine... 25 years later Devoto and Shelley are back together again and an album will be released by Cooking Vinyl on 25 February. More soon, and -- hopefully -- an interview.
CAMILO JOSE CELA 01/22/2002
Spanish author Camilo Jose Cela is no more: ". . . With his first novel, published in 1946, Cela became a leader of a straightforward style of writing, called tremendismo, which clashed with the lyricism that had characterised writers of the previous generation in Spain. His best known novels are The Family of Pascual Duarte and The Hive, both of which were adapted into successful films. . . . When he was awarded his Nobel Prize, the Swedish Academy praised Cela's 'rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man's vulnerability'. . . . A bon viveur who was known in Spain for his flamboyant lifestyle, Cela greeted the news of his Nobel victory with characteristic aplomb. He commented: 'Life is like a game of tennis, and this time I won.'"
TOM PAULIN: 1 FEMALE EUNUCH: 0 01/21/2002
Poet and media personality Tom Paulin caused a minor scandal the other night on BBC2's Newsnight Review. Sean O'Hagan writes that "It is not often that the Late Review, BBC2's well-mannered cultural forum for the arts, provides the TV highlight of the week, but nine days ago, during a discussion of two imminent feature films based on the Bloody Sunday shootings in Derry 30 years ago, the show's carefully observed protocol was ruptured by an explosion of anger from its reigning controversialist, the Northern Irish poet and essayist, Tom Paulin. Incensed by fellow panellist Germaine Greer's intimation of sympathy for the Paratroopers who had killed 13 civilians, Paulin countered by accusing her of talking 'rubbish' and then shouting that 'they [the Paratroopers] were thugs sent in by public school boys to kill innocent Irish people. They were rotten racist bastards!' . . ."
TWELVE BAR BLUES 01/21/2002
You can read the first chapter of Patrick Neate's Twelve Bar Blues, winner of the Whitbread Prize, in The Guardian.
ANNE CARSON 01/21/2002
Canadian poet Anne Carson has won the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry for her collection The Beauty of the Husband: "Ms Carson's poetry describes the death of a marriage through poetry that is 'tart, lyrical, erotic, plain-spoken and highly charged', according to Helen Dunmore, chair of the panel of judges."
FUN FUN FUN 01/21/2002
3am columnist and co-editor HP Tinker sent me this yesterday: take a good look until you see something, that's all I'm saying. Then watch (and listen to) this. As for the photo, gentlemen, it comes from Fitzdisc's well-stacked collection.
ADAM ANT SECTIONED 01/21/2002
David Pilditch writes in The Mirror that "Troubled former pop idol Adam Ant has been admitted to a psychiatric ward. . . Social workers signed an order to detain the 1980s chart star under the Mental Health Act for up to 28 days. It followed the arrest and charge of the 47-year-old singer -- real name Stuart Goddard -- at the weekend after he pulled a fake gun on staff and customers outside a pub. He claimed he was looking for a man who had made threats against his four-year-old daughter. Adam, who had a nervous breakdown last year, phoned The Mirror last night from a psychiatric ward at the Royal Free Hospital in North London, claiming he had been wrongly sectioned. . . ." Mike Sullivan, The Sun's Crime Edito (!), claims that "The fallen superstar, who had a host of monster hits as the hunky frontman of Adam and the Ants, told us: 'They’ve put me in the Alice in Wonderland ward because they think I’m crazy.' In a rambling outburst, he claimed he was the victim of a sinister plot. And he said: 'I’ve been abducted by the police again. They’ve attacked me again. I don’t know why. “They’ve sectioned me -- I’ve been here all night. The whole thing’s a conspiracy and they’re just out to get me. I’m not mad.' Ant, who has a history of heartache, manic depression and breakdowns, put the phone down after 30 seconds, saying: 'I can’t speak any more.' . . ."
3am Californicator, Kimberly Nichols, joins our editorial staff. She says that she "will focus with a passion on outsider and DIY artists, literary lovechildren, gutter poets, underground visionaries, hundred proof humans and new thought from the States." Kimberly lives in California and is a freelance writer for a variety of alternative periodicals. Her essays and fiction have appeared in Feminista, Alternative Arts and Literature, 24.9, Fin De Siecle and, of course, 3am. Her collection of short stories Mad Anatomy is currently being considered by a publisher.
JAMES KELMAN 01/18/2002
There's an interview with Scottish novelist James Kelman in the latest issue of The Barcelona Review. Kelman claims that "Scotland has existed as a sort of colony of England for the past three hundred years; its ruling class sold the country back in the early 18th century. Scottish children have been educated to recognise not only their own inferiority but the inferiority of their parents, community and wider culture, including language. It is a typical colonial position." After talking about Spanish and Scottish football, he launches a scathing attack on the current Labour government which "is blatantly racist and more right-wing authoritarian than Thatcher’s. Across Europe the movement towards fascism is in place and gaining momentum; it is humiliating to watch government authorities everywhere bowing and scraping before the U.S. and its close allies. There is no question that European society has become far more repressive. . . ." If you order any book from brilliant Scottish indie publisher Canongate, you will get a copy of Kelman's Selected Stories free of charge.
NEW YORK ANGELS 01/18/2002
If you make a donation to the American Red Cross, you can get a free download of New York Angels released by Carvelli Records.
SELF EXPRESSION 01/16/2001
The mighty Will Self is interviewed by Chris Hall in the no less mighty Spike magazine. Self speaks about his journalistic career in general ("I suppose I am in some ways a practitioner of gonzo/new journalism in that I am prepared to inject my own warped sensibilities into a piece") and some interviewees like Margaret Beckett in particular (she "talked such complete bollocks"). He also touches upon Martin Amis and literary prizes ("Martin exists in a perpetual competition of some sort, whereas I'm absolutely convinced that only pets win prizes and I don't think that literary art is a competition of any sort") as well as his introduction to Burroughs' Junky: ". . . it's got a lot of sign posts towards later theories and fictional methods that he then took up and practiced through Naked Lunch, etc, but actually it's a really good book. I make the argument in my essay that it's one of the great existentialist novels, that it's on a par with Nausea or The Fall." All in all it's a fascinating interview. Here are a few more highlights. On cycling and pacifism: "I've now taken to bicycling, so I get cut up on my bicycle and I get absolutely furious because it's so dangerous. I'm a big guy and I'm a very aggressive guy and I feel tempted to rip open cars doors and pull people out and beat them to a bloody pulp but, hey, I don't do it. It seems to me that there comes a point in your life as a moral being in society where you decide that violence is not the solution to car incidents so there can be the same kind of decision at a macro level." On living near the Thames: "I concede that the river may have been why I chose to live in Vauxhall. In fact, I was looking at renting as an office a very unusual house-boaty thing that's down by Cringle Dock waste disposal station in the lea of Battersea Power Station which is this weird thing on two great pontoons built by a load of Finnish architectural students." On addiction: ". . . I've come to view addiction itself as a mimetic illness in that way - it mimics other psychopathologies. People who essentially have addictive personalities are diagnosed as manic depressive or schizophrenic or certainly depressive. What they really are is addicts. The addiction decides, if you think of it as an autonomous thing, to pretends to be another pathology because the addict finds it bizzarely more comfortable to think of themselves as schizophrenic or manic depressive or whatever, rather than confront the fact that they are an addict which of course means that they're going to have to stop doing what they want to do above all." On trendy restaurants: "You're sitting around thinking about adding huge amounts of monetary value to ingredients that would barely keep a starving Somalian alive for a day." On his adaptation of Dorian Gray: "I've transposed Dorian to the gay scene of the 1980s and 90s, into the epicentre of the Aids epidemic and I think it's an interesting treatment of it and it'll make an interesting novella. So that's going to be the next fictional project. The fascinating thing about Dorian is that -- I'll probably get hung, drawn and quartered for this - it's not actually that great a novel. What it is is an incredibly powerful cultural idea."
SPIKE MAGAZINE 01/16/2001
A big thanks to Chris from Spike who wrote in Splinters (Spike's excellent weblog) that "3am Magazine continues to go from strength to strength, featuring some cracking interviews with the likes of Dennis Cooper and Paul Auster -- excellent stuff and very similar in spirit to Spike. If you like us, you'll definitely like them." . . . And vice versa. Cheers mate!
The editor of Singles FAQ, Charles Shaw, is looking for an editor: "SinglesFAQ is about interesting articles that expand your mind, and humorous articles that ease your mind, and informative articles that help your mind accomplish whatever singles-oriented task is at hand. Find people with similar interests who read the same articles, or perhaps share the same point of view, not just a nice photo or a dirty mouth. If you think you can organize the world-at-large into a singles point of view, you are my man." Please send cover letter and resume to Charles Shaw. And while you're at it check out Jim Martin's Mr Lousy Advice Guy column. Another 3am editor and columnist, HP Tinker (see photo), also has a great article up there: "Being male, I am frequently erect in densely populated places without anybody noticing. In the company of insignificant others, I am often to be found rocketing skywards without anyone being aware of it. Mostly there's some trigger event, a defining moment: an erotic catalyst of sorts. This can be abstract, perfectly arbitrary. Undressed mannequins in a shop window. A large painting by Kandinsky. The aroma of a well-dressed hairdresser. Norman Mailer looking thoughtful on a dust jacket. A billboard of a woman in her underwear -- a beatific vision as impressive as any of the Virgin Mary."
THE AITKEN SISTERS 01/16/2002
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What are the Aitken sisters doing while their father is in the slammer? They're getting their kit off in GQ that's what!
3AM CHAT ON SUNDAY 01/15/2002
The famous English online writing centre, trAce, has invited yours truly to answer questions about 3am Magazine, electronic fiction and the International Conference on Literature & the Internet: New Forms of Electronic Writing to be held at the Sorbonne University in Paris on 15-16 March 2002. Come and chat with me on Sunday 20 January at 9pm if you're in England -- that's 10pm in France, 4pm in New York and 1pm in LA. Check local time here.
WEIRD SOUP 01/15/2002
One of the best young English writers has joined the 3am team as co-editor and columnist. Keep your eyes peeled for HP Tinker' s Weird Soup which he describes as "media fables for broken-hearted nihilists." An in-depth interview with HP Tinker will follow shortly.
RAVE ON 01/15/2002
The ten years of house music is being marked by the release of a series of old skool compilations. Dorian Lynskey reports in The Guardian on the revival of rave music in London: ". . . It's a Moondance night, and DJ Ellis Dee (whose name encapsulates rave-era wit in a nutshell) plays nothing but old rave records, all primary-coloured piano riffs, scampering breakbeats and vertiginous synth rushes. The crowd welcome every track like an old friend, blowing their whistles and waving their lightsticks as if the last 10 years of dance music had never happened. . . . Upstairs, Grant Walker, thirtysomething founder of old skool rave website Epidemik, hosts a stall selling early 1990s paraphernalia including whistles, airhorns and lollipops. 'Old skool was ahead of its time,' he asserts. 'It was a whole new game: new drugs, new rules, everything.' At which point Ellis Dee plays SL2's 1992 hit Way in My Brain to a fanfare of airhorns. Clearly, hardcore wasn't dead after all. It was just taking a breather. . . . Although acid house dates back to 1987, the phenomenon was initially restricted to the trendsetting metropolitan elite. The rave era began during the long hot summer of 1989, with a series of enormous outdoor events -- some licensed, some not -- that attracted a much broader, younger, working-class following. Now that dance music is part of the furniture, you can understand the appeal of a time when ravers would dodge the police to attend events while the anthems routinely gatecrashed the Top 10 with little or no mainstream radio support. 'It wasn't quite anarchy, but if you wanted to put an event on, you could,' says Radio 1's Dave Pearce, who hosted Kiss FM's breakfast show at the time. 'Every weekend, thousands of kids would be whizzing around the M25 trying to find the nearest rave. The music reminds people of a time when there was a great deal of change going on.' . . ."
TATTERED COVER FIGHTS BACK 01/14/2002
Michael Chabon, Dave Eggers and Dorothy Allison were among the authors who attended a benefit in favour of Denver's top independent bookshop Tattered Cover which refuses to tell the police what books were bought by someone who is suspected of running a drug lab. According to the BBC Michael Chabon declared that "One has the right to read what one wants and without interference from the government." Neal Sofman, owner of the shop, argued that independent bookstores like Tattered Cover "are the keepers of the word, the keepers of the flame and we have to stand up and say this is not the right thing to do."
ADAM ANT IN THE NICK 01/14/2002
The day after we ran our news item on Adam Ant, our hero was arrested and "charged with assault and possession of a firearm following an alleged incident at a pub. . . . He is also being charged with criminal damage and one charge of actual bodily harm on a man in his 40s." Read Adam's official statement.
ADAM ANT'S PUNK DIARIES 01/12/2002
Top underground punk turned 80s pop idol Adam Ant is back in the news again. Caroline Sullivan writes in The Guardian: "Last January, a tabloid ran a sad story about one of the great pop icons of the 1980s. Adam Ant, it reported, had been hospitalised after a nervous breakdown triggered by 'losing his fame'. . . . Twelve months later, an irascible but unscathed Ant is holding court in a West End bar. Officially, he's here to discuss Here & Now 2002, a 1980s nostalgia tour set to plough through the nation's arenas in April. He heads a bill of some of the most extravagant haircuts of the era, including Howard Jones and Toyah, and it's likely to be a bittersweet experience as he revisits venues he once headlined in his own right. . . . His voice, still Bromley to the core despite a decade in California (he recently moved back to London), carries, and people glance over, wondering who the flamboyant middle-aged gent is. There was a time when everyone under 30 would have recognised him, the most theatrical star of the camp early 1980s, but 20 years on he's essentially anonymous. Or he would be if not for his still-unique dress sense. . . . Born Stuart Goddard in south London, he was midway through art school in the late 1970s when he dreamed up a fantasy character called Adam Ant. Ant became an outlet for Goddard's interest in eroticism, and early gigs saw him performing bondage routines on stage, which chimed with the punk era's fascination with subversive sex. But Adam was prettier than most punks, and wrote catchier songs; in 1981, he became the first teen idol of that decade. . . . 'I got fucked by record labels. I've been told I sold 110m albums and singles. If that's the case, I should've come here in a space rocket,' he says belligerently. He now lives alone in a small flat in Primrose Hill, north London. By 1985 he had passed his peak. After a lacklustre performance at Live Aid (so lacklustre that a single released the same week only reached number 50 in the chart), he repaired to Los Angeles and an acting career. . . . By the mid-1990s, he was almost forgotten. At that point, still in LA, he was coping with the attentions of a tenacious stalker who claimed she was his wife. She allegedly poisoned his koi carp, threw razorblade-laced meat to his dogs, and spray-painted a friend's car. It was then, in 1994, he had his first brush with clinical depression. 'She got three months' jail, but she turned up straight after she got out, this time with her brother, who was an LA gangbanger. The situation drove me round the twist.' His abruptly shoves away his plate and lights a cigarette. 'I ended up in Cedars Sinai hospital for six weeks. They diagnosed me with depression and had me on Prozac, which just numbs you. Creative people are more prone to depression. Bless Heather. She visited me every day.' Last year, now back in London, he relapsed. He denies that 'losing his fame' set it off, blaming instead the pressures of first-time fatherhood - daughter Lily will be four in March - and marital problems. 'What with having a new baby and watching my marriage dissolve and not knowing where I'd get the dough to enjoy time with the baby, I felt like I was going to snuff it. I literally couldn't move. And after 21 years in the music business, the record company couldn't give a fuck and dropped me. I have two very wonderful psychologists, and they very kindly took me in [to hospital] for a few weeks.' He takes a morose drag on his Lucky Strike. . . " Adam Ant is apparently writing a book, The Punk Diaries, based on the journal he kept between 1976 and 1980: "He promises it will tell tales about acquaintances such as Malcolm McLaren and John Lydon."
MORE COCK 01/12/2002
Cult English novelist Michael Moorcock, author of Mother London, recently answered Guardian readers' questions online. He explained, for instance, why he steered clear of the bitchy literary world: "In my experience, excellence is generally acknowledged in the popular arts as it is in sports and jealousy is rarer than you'd think. It seems to be mostly in poetry circles that people are particularly venomous about one another. The literary world seems full of politics and back-biting and I keep away from it as much as possible. I heard Martin Amis on American radio saying he wasn't properly understood or appreciated in the UK and I was a bit open-mouthed! Wasn't this the most successful literary novelist in Britain?" Moorcock, a self-styled "sucker for the European moral tradition and the philosophical novel", also spoke of his favourite authors: "The moment I get a bit of time to put my feet up and read a good book, it tends to be the English modernists!"
WHITBREAD PRIZE 01/12/2002
The winners of the British Whitbread Prize have been announced. They include Sid Smith's Something Like a House (first novel category) and Patrick Neate's Twelve Bar Blues (novel category, see picture).
THE FACE OF 2002? 01/09/2002
London-born Hari Kunzru is hotly touted as the rising star of Brit lit. The author of The Impressionist (which will be published in April) has already appeared on the cover of The Independent Magazine (5 January) and is described in The Observer as "the next Zadie Smith": "[In 2002] One novel stands apart from the crowd. The most eagerly awaited British debut promises to blend romantic storytelling with historical sweep. Hari Kunzru is the music editor at Wallpaper, and his beautifully designed novel The Impressionist (Hamish Hamilton, April) will undoubtedly ornament the most elegant coffee tables. Set in turn-of-the-century India, the novel traces the fortunes of Pran Nath, product of an unlikely encounter between an English civil servant and a reluctant Hindu bride during a cataclysmic rainstorm. Pran Nath is born white, becomes an outcast, and grows up into Pretty Bobby, prince of the red light district."