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DAILY BUZZWORDS

Artwork by Sardax

CUTTING-EDGE LITERARY NEWS FROM AROUND THE GLOBAL VILLAGE

by Andrew Gallix

COPYRIGHT © 2002, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

HELL HATH NO FURY 10/27/2002


Dominique Fury, a former member of the legendary Parisian punk band LUV (Ladies United Violently) who went on to collaborate with art terrorists Bazooka, has an exhibition of her paintings on at the Espace Beaurepaire: 28 Rue Beaurepaire, 75010 Paris. It opens on 29 October and runs until 9 November (2pm-8pm). More about Dominique Fury's artwork here. Great picture of Fury in her Bazooka days with a couple of Banshees. The painter will soon be publishing a retrospective album of her work entitled Fury et les garcons. (Photo: a very rare picture of LUV in 1977, a band that never actually recorded anything! Its main claim to fame was to include Edwige -- she's the tall one with the bleached cropped hair - the queen of Parisian punks. Fury is the second from the left, shades and blonde hair.)


STAYING POWER 10/27/2002


Joy Press has penned an interesting article about authors' "second-novel syndrome" in The Village Voice: "Everyone nurses a soft spot for the wunderkind -- the Jonathan Safran Foer, Alicia Keys, or Harmony Korine who swoops fully formed out of oblivion and into Entertainment Weekly. The publishing industry has become as besotted with these instant prodigies as the music or fashion worlds. Where publishers once allowed a writer's voice to develop over long, wiry careers, now they're impatient for that instant payoff, the debut blockbuster. All this mad love for the first novel could have long-term repercussions, though, dumping unrealistic expectations on the follow-up. The Second-Novel Syndrome has long been an occupational hazard in the world of letters, as authors struggle with writer's block, intense scrutiny, and the self-consciousness induced by sudden celebrity. . . . Jeffrey Eugenides and Donna Tartt have never met, but these literary superstars seem to have synchronized careers: Both debuted with acclaimed novels within six months of each other and then spent the next 10 years struggling with follow-ups amidst swirling rumors of creative paralysis. 'As much as I'd like to deny there's a second-book phenomenon, there probably is,' says Eugenides, whose hosanna'd debut, The Virgin Suicides, came out in 1993. . . . Donna Tartt took even longer to finish her second novel, The Little Friend. 'The way I dealt with this fear of 'second-novel syndrome' was to try and write a completely different book from The Secret History,' she told one interviewer. . . . Tartt started writing her debut as an undergrad at Bennington, and became an instant Gen X literary icon at age 28. Her high-profile image -- a chain-smoking Southern pixie at the center of New York's literary brat pack -- soon mutated into different type of glamour: a Garbo-esque withdrawal which only increased her cult following. Fans speculated about her activities (a project about outsider artist Henry Darger, which was real but never came to be), her mental health (gossip about a nervous breakdown), and her whereabouts (one story maintained that she'd bought her own tropical island, but she insists New York remains her home base).

. . . The biggest difference between writing a first and second novel is not just more money (if you're lucky); it's what British editor Simon Prosser, whose roster includes Zadie Smith and Alain de Botton, deems 'a lost state of bliss.' . . . No one knows this better than Zadie Smith. Before she'd even finished White Teeth, she was engulfed in a blizzard of media buzz. At first Smith seemed to blossom -- as fast as you can say 'multicultural diva,' she'd transformed from a plump, bespectacled nerdette into a glamorous lit star. But Smith soon wilted under the harsh media glare. Then she attended the Santa Maddalena writers' colony in Tuscany. 'When I arrived in Italy, I was all washed up,' she revealed in a letter quoted in Vanity Fair. 'I hadn't written properly for a year, I wasn't writing, I'd stopped thinking. Despite every advantage in terms of money and support, despite some success and a lot of encouragement, I really thought I was all done. . . . At 25, and with only one novel to my credit, I couldn't see myself writing another. Nothing I liked about it -- about the practice of writing -- was the same. What had been a hobby was now a job, what passed for a quiet life had turned all shouty, all busy, all screamy, all the time.' . . ."


TOO HIP FOR WORDS 10/27/2002


The Washington Post brings us a review of the McSweeyneys vs They Might Be Giants gig at Lisner Auditorium a few days ago: "Whatever this was, it was billed as McSweeney's vs. They Might Be Giants, and it was a Friday night of poets and short story writers and one of the most inventive bands in contemporary music. Whatever this was, an enthusiastic Dave Eggers -- in burnt-orange shirt and jeans -- hosted it, and in his never-resting campaign to become a brand name, 'Dave Eggers' proved to be delightful and self-deprecating. . . . He is almost too hip for words. But words are his weapons. Last year he collaborated on an issue of McSweeney's with the Grammy-winning band They Might Be Giants, famous for 'Boss of Me,' which is the theme song of the TV show Malcolm in the Middle, and the James Bond-spoof music from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Together they created this antic roadshow, which is on a multi-city tour. On this night there were a handful of performers, including witty essayist Sarah Vowell and short story writer Arthur Bradford. . . . Whatever this was, it was less than a concert and more than a reading. This was tailor-made for the literocki. There were some home-run moments, when stories were enhanced by songs. As Eggers read a comic middle school French-kissing scene from his new novel, You Shall Know Our Velocity, the two Johns from the Giants occasionally broke into appropriate melody. . . . Writers have tried -- with mixed results -- to integrate music into their work. Beat poet Jack Kerouac read his cool-daddy poetry accompanied by a jazz combo. And writers have acted like rock stars. Stephen King, Amy Tan, Dave Barry and others formed a rock-and-droll band, the Rock Bottom Remainders, a few years ago. Madison Smartt Bell recently recorded several songs to go along with his novel Anything Goes. . . . Around 10:30, the poets and writers retired and the Giants took the stage all by themselves. They soon had the crowd pogo-going in the aisles and singing along to songs every bit as literate as many of the short stories and poems you find these days in avant-garde literary magazines."


3AM TOP 5 10/27/2002


John Petkovic, lead singer with Cobra Verde, is currently listening to:

  1. "Comic Strip" -- Serge Gainsbourg
  2. "Handcream For a Generation" -- Cornershop
  3. "Free So Free" -- J. Mascis
  4. Planet of the Apes soundtrack
  5. "Mix Tape" -- Dirtbombs

See Johnny and Cobra Verde on tour in the U.S. with J. Mascis. Check their website for tour dates.





A LEGEND IN HER OWN LUNCHTIME 10/25/2002


Boyd Tonkin on Donna Tartt in The Independent: ". . . Youthful acclaim can block, rather than boost, creative energies. The author of The Great Gatsby -- which was published when he was 28 -- knew that hard truth more bitterly than most. In 1992, another 28-year-old novelist, Donna Tartt, spellbound an equally affluent, equally troubled generation with her debut, The Secret History. Its succulent, calorific blend of Greek orgies, Gothic romance and artful campus comedy helped dig the grave of literary minimalism. . . . The book sparked a bidding war among publishers, spent 13 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and has sold millions of copies. . . . After this greedily devoured debut came a decade of rumour, and silence, and waiting. . . . But soon the pregnant pause that started when the senior Bush occupied the White House will end. This October, Donna Tartt returns with her second novel, The Little Friend. Ominously, its title as an extended work in progress was 'Tribulation'. . . . At least Tartt has made it to this second hurdle. The story of modern American literature is littered with promising names who fell after the first. . . .

. . . Born in 1963, Donna Tartt is the daughter of a local politician, descended from archetypal Southern stock (her mother's family name is Boushé). . . . Aged 13, she published her first poem: a sonnet in a Mississippi magazine. After leaving school she attended the University of Mississippi - 'Ole Miss' in Oxford, the town where William Faulkner transformed Southern fiction. There the Tartt myth started to take shape. The campus writer in residence saw some work and introduced himself: 'My name is Willie Morris and I think you're a genius'. . . . Acclaimed by Morris and the other writer on campus, Barry Hannah, Tartt moved on to develop her precocious skills at Bennington College in Vermont. It's here, amid the northern woods and snows, that the heady cocktail of high art, low hype and coterie self-promotion that marks the cult of The Secret History really begins to mix. At Bennington she met other apprentice authors: Jonathen Lethem, Jill Eisenstadt, Bret Easton Ellis. She blind-dated the latter after the pair swapped manuscripts: a chunk of The Secret History from her, the first chapter of Less then Zero from him. . . . Green-eyed, petite, smartly but androgynously dressed, Tartt read Nietzsche alone in the refectory and cultivated an air of erudite self-possession. This legend in her own lunchtime, and the plot of her novel, appeared in Ellis's second novel -- The Rules of Attraction -- even before The Secret History had gone to the printers. She graduated in 1986 and hooked up a couple of years later with the ICM agency in New York, better known for its showbiz stars. . . . An initial 75,000 print run (enormous by first-novel standards) propelled Tartt on to a national and international round of teasing interviews and public appearances. On this circuit she dazzled many with her confidence -- and dismayed a few with her conceit. Now living in Greenwich Village, the arch, exotic classicist -- a bona fide smoker and drinker, and a dedicated dog-lover - cut a special dash on a scene increasingly peopled by the sort of new-wave Puritan author who would send back a mineral water if it tasted a tad too rich. Then, almost as fast as she had arrived, Donna Tartt disappeared. Or rather, she chose not to play the media games that keep novelists in the public eye between books. Among the varieties of US literary recluse, Tartt ranks more with the Thomas Pynchons (the type that just gets on with life and stays out of sight) than with the rifle-toting, fence-patrolling, writ-throwing species that is exemplified by JD Salinger. . . ."


THE MISSING LINKS 10/25/2002


There's an in-depth interview with American author Mark Z Danielewski in French magazine Chronic'art. Flak Magazine explains why Fark.com is so damn popular. Ken Loach encourages children to go to see his new film Sweet Sixteen despite its 18 rating. The new edition of The Barcelona Review has gone online. Read an extract from Yann Martel's Booker winning Life of Pi. The new Blur album sounds like The Clash according to Fatboy Slim. It's over now, but still, here's some info on the Orange Word litfest. Alain de Botton in The Times on the new Proust translation. You'll find quite a few new Morrissey MP3s to download here. According to Tangents, Ballboy are "Champions of the Fucking World". Check out Radio 4 (the band's)'s official website. A new Library of Alexandria has been rebuilt on the site of the original which was destroyed by fire in the 4th century AD. Interesting interview with English cult novelist Jeff Noon in Get Underground. Who stole Stan Laurel's birthplace plaque? Excellent article on David Garrick, the first modern actor, by Max Stafford-Clark. Too busy for Cliffs Notes? Read the PowerPoint Anthology of Literature! A new documentary, called True Spies, about police officers who infiltrated British left-wing cirles in the wake of 1968 will soon be broadcast. A review of Interpol's album. Kitta's kinda cute.



LUDIQUE 10/24/2002


Alistair Fitchett has published a great article about Linder Sterling's post-punk art combo Ludus. Linder designed record covers for The Buzzcocks and Magazine, dated Howard Devoto, befriended a pre-Smiths Morrissey and published the Secret Public fanzine with Jon Savage. Fitchett writes in Tangents: ". . . All obtuse angles and lines flying off at tangents, Ludus is surely the art and architecture of Malevich, Tatlin and Duchamp given voice. Not that many got to realise this back in the early '80s. One strange, fellow Mancunian loner got the picture of course, and went on to write a song about walking through the cemetery gates and among the gravestones with Ludus' singer Linder Sterling, but I'll leave it for others to make more of that. . . ." Browse Ludus's back catalogue.



BLEAK COLLEGE MOVIE 10/23/2002


There's an interview with Bret Easton Ellis in Nerve.com about the film adaptation of The Rules of Attraction: ". . . The book isn't really hardcore, really -- not in the way American Psycho was, or Glamorama. For me, going to this film is not about getting turned on. I don't think it's erotic at all: the sex is very cold and harsh, and the movie is ultimately about romantic rejection. But I actually think, within the conservative constraints that the MPAA places on movies now, it's up there. It's about as far as mainstream moviemaking goes. . . . At first, I was really disappointed when I found out the material had been updated. The book is set in 1985 purposely. It was at that moment when the culture shifted in terms of sexuality, when AIDS reared its head and when drugs were 'no longer fun.' There was a huge difference between the first and second half of that decade, and when I was working on this book, from '84 to '86, I wanted to capture that. Culture was becoming more youth-oriented and conservative at the same time. But it hit me while I was watching the film, and still getting royalty checks from the book: people who were two or three years old when I wrote the book are reading it now and responding to it. The '80s thing didn't have a lot to do with the book's appeal. It has to do with certain elements like being young and lost and in love with someone who doesn't respond to you. . . . What I did respond to in this film, and what I usually respond to, is the aesthetic and the style: the composition, the split screens and the lighting. Also the fact that it's a college movie with a bleak tone. I don't know that it's the greatest college movie ever made, but I do know that it's not Road Trip. . . . The book is my favorite novel. People say to me, 'You write such cold, hard, ironic novels,' but I think Rules is my least read. It's often considered my most mawkish, because I'm dealing with romantic longing. I was expecting elements of that to be in the movie. They weren't, and that was a little disappointing. . . . Now that I'm working on another novel, I've noticed that style does not seem to be as important to me as when I was younger, when style was the message. I don't want to sound like Danielle Steele or whoever writes drippy loves stories and is overly humanistic in their work, but now I'm more interested in character and why people do things they do. I don't know why this has suddenly happened -- I think it has a lot to do with getting older. But stylistically, this book is very plain. I don't know if you can take a paragraph and say, 'That's a Bret Easton Ellis paragraph,' which I think you can do with any of the other books because they're so heavily stylized. . . ."


PI IN THE SKY 10/23/2002


As anticipated, Canadian author Yann Martel has won this year's Booker. I'm glad it's a Canongate author. See the official announcement.



LE BOOKER NOUVEAU EST ARRIVE 10/22/2002


The Man Booker Prize, Britain's most prestigious literary prize, is to be announced tonight live on BBC 2 and Channel 4. A week ago the Booker website inadvertently "carried news of a winner well before next week's announcement. The 'winner' of the 2002 Booker is Yann Martel (pictured) for his novel Life of Pi, which tells the story of the sole human survivor on a lifeboat adrift at sea with a zebra, orangutan and tiger for company: an 'extraordinary achievement', according to the Guardian's reviewer. A Man Booker spokeswoman said the posting must have been an error caused by crossed wires between the prize's development website and the actual site. 'The judges haven't met yet. I can guarantee that this isn't the actual result. There are six draft press releases for each of the shortlisted books and this is one of them.' The announcement on the website also quotes the chair of the judges, Professor Lisa Jardine, speaking an incomprehensible form of Latin. One of the few bits that made sense was 'dolore magna', which translates as 'in great sorrow'. . . ."

Russell Celyn Jones, a Booker judge, writes about the distinction between popular and literary novels: "There has been greater transparency surrounding the 2002 Booker prize panel than in any other year. The judges' meetings that have always been held in camera will be shown on camera tonight. The five of us have been accredited with breaking with traditions and ushering in a new era after it was reported that we complained about having to read too many 'heavy tomes' with 'obvious gravitas' designed to seduce Booker judges, as though there is such a thing as a Booker genre. . . . A populist book is hard to define, but some follow certain rules of genre. Quite a few were submitted for the Booker prize, in fact, and were deemed not of high enough quality to make the long or the short list. But they were not rejected on principle. Crime and romantic novels were not prejudged. Rather, the limitations of genre, such as plot and character conventions, became apparent in the reading process, and only then rejected. . . . But these are not the same creatures as books manufactured to fit a niche in the market, books that can be commissioned by publishers on an agreed synopsis. The distinction between popular and literary is often blurred, but I'll hazard to make one. Unlike popular or genre novels, literary novels cannot be prescribed by publishers. They are what they are, and are usually like nothing else. They create their own enclosed world, are inventive in terms of narrative and character, and have an inimitable voice, the personal signature of the author. Governed by their own rules and procedures these books can make demands on the reader. But then reading itself is demanding now, in our media-frenzied days. Another distinction concerns destiny. Literary novels are put out into the marketplace to survive on their own merits. Within a month nearly all of them will die, returned to the distributor's warehouse and pulped. . . ."


HOUELLEBECQ IS INNOCENT! 10/22/2002


Controversial French author (as they say) Michel Houellebecq was acquitted today of insulting Islam. The Guardian writes: ". . . Michel Houellebecq was today found not guilty of inciting racism by calling Islam 'the stupidest religion'. A panel of three judges, delivering their verdict to a packed Paris courtroom, acquitted Houellebecq, 45, of the charges of provoking racial hatred in remarks made in an interview with the literary magazine Lire last year. The charges had been brought by France's Human Rights League, the Mecca-based World Islamic League and the mosques of Paris and Lyon in a trial reminiscent of Britain's Salman Rushdie affair. The case pitted free speech against religious sensitivities at a time of rising public concern about Islam in the wake of the September 11 attacks and growing sensitivity to radical Islam in France, home to Europe's largest Muslim community. The prosecution claimed that Houellebecq had said that Islam is 'the most stupid religion' and that the 'badly written' Koran made him fall to the ground in despair. His books, particularly his most recent, Platform, were quoted by the prosecution to show that his hatred of Islam was a deep conviction. Houellebecq, a reclusive writer whose eccentric work and lifestyle are the subject of intense literary and social gossip, argued in his defence last month that criticising a religion did not mean he was insulting its followers. He said all three monotheistic religions - Christianity, Judaism and Islam -- were based on scriptures that were 'texts of hate'. Houellebecq told the judges that he had never despised Muslims but felt contempt for Islam. He said he had been misreported, but added: 'There is no point in asking me general questions because I am always changing my mind' . . ."

Today, I overheard a Polish publisher in conversation with her French and English counterparts in a Left Bank café. The Polish woman was in the process of buying the rights to publish Houellebecq's works in Poland. They spoke of Houellebecq's success in Russia and of the novelist's new book which he recently started working on after long months of promotional tours.


ANOTHER BIG UP TO. . . 10/22/2002


. . . The Complete Review's extraordinary literary blog, the Literary Saloon, for announcing the launch of 3AM's Joe Bloggs. Much appreciated.



PAINTBRUSHES OF BRIXTON 10/19/2002


Former Clash bass player Paul Simonon has an exhibition on at Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox (38 Bury Street, London SW1, tel: 0207 930 6422). It's called From Hammersmith To Greenwich. The star-studded opening even made it into Hello Magazine which revealed that the House of Commons is contemplating buying one of the punk's London landscapes. You can admire some of Paul Simonon's paintings here and now.

The foreword to the exhibition catalogue is by Peter Ackroyd: "Paul Simonon works from specific sites beside the Thames, in the area between Greenwich and Battersea, and as a result his painting is filled with the spirit of place. He stands by the river, and lets its world break through upon his canvas. Each small spot of London soil has its own peculiar and particular atmosphere; by going out, at all times and in all weathers, Paul Simonon is invaded by that atmosphere also. He has studied and contemplated art since childhood, but the life of the Thames and its surroundings has released his vision. It is a vision of freedom, and of continuity. Like Turner, he can be described both as a child of the river and a child of the city. Where in recent years the Thames has been marginalised, or treated as a pretty conceit in the purlieus of 'dockside development', Paul Simonon reasserts its majesty and its pre-eminence. His compositions are modulated by its curve and flow, so that the Thames becomes the forming and informing principle of the city itself. It is the principle of life and light. The sea and the sky are intimately connected, so that it becomes a light and open city, a world away from the nineteenth century vision of darkness and labour. . . . Many artists have depicted the modern architecture of the city as brutal or inhumane, but this is to mistake the nature of London; in Paul Simonon's work the buildings seem majestic, touching in their variety. He celebrates the city-ness of the city. And yet he always returns to the Thames. In his work it generates a cool pellucid light. It is like a river of pearl, or a river of white light from some unknown source of power. Paul Simonon is thereby reviving much earlier descriptions of the Thames, in 'the silver-streaming Thames' of Edmund Spenser and the 'silver Thames' of Alexander Pope. He is, in other words, part of a London tradition: a London vision. . . ."


GAP-TOOTHED GRIN 10/19/2002


Bass guitar hero turned painter, Paul Simonon, is interviewed by Neil Spencer in The Guardian: "Snooty St James is not the part of London in which one expects to find Paul Simonon, former Clash bassman, punk icon, Notting Hill skinhead and balladeer of 'The Guns of Brixton'. Times change, though. The mean streets of Ladbroke Grove mythologised by The Clash are now millionaire's rows, and Simonon has long since traded in his Fender bass for canvas, oils and brush. The career shift seems to be working out. 'Another red dot, Paul!' beams the pukka owner of the plush Green Park gallery which is showing -- and selling -- his latest collection, From Hammersmith to Greenwich, a series of London riverscapes (prices start around £4,000). Simonon throws back a trademark, gap-toothed grin. Validation is important to him -- he doesn't want anyone confusing what he's doing with the painterly dabblings of rock stars like Ron Wood and Joni Mitchell. 'For them it's a hobby,' he says, 'just like music is a hobby for me -- one I keep to myself.' At 45, Simonon is a mellower, less brooding figure than in his Clash days, though he still has a dapper, restless presence. He's proud enough of his time as glowering bassist with the self-styled Last Gang In Town, but not especially interested in talking about them. 'The music scene is very remote,' he says, 'I live in another world now.'

Given the long line of British groups spawned at art college, from The Beatles to Blur, it's perhaps surprising that there haven't been more converts from pop to painting. The Clash were the supreme art-school band; guitarist Mick Jones and Simonon met at one and later recruited art-school drop-out Joe Strummer for their frontman. 'The difference was that I went there to become an artist,' says Simonon, 'whereas the others went there to get a group together.' The Clash's visual bravado was an important part of their appeal. Early on, there were Pollock-splattered thriftshop threads and boiler suits stencilled with situationist slogans ('Sten Guns in Knightsbridge') topped off with bog-brush haircuts. Later it was rockabilly revivalism, biker chic and quiffs. In a band of inspired posers, no one had the style down more perfectly than Simonon, whose moody good looks made him punk's premier male pin-up, a walking work of art. 'Clothes were where my aesthetic instincts came out then,' he says. 'They helped make the group accessible.' In The Clash's earliest days, Simonon was still painting -- he contributed a mammoth oil-on-wood mural to the group's rehearsal rooms -- but he didn't resume until the band started to disintegrate in the mid-Eighties. The expiry of his post-Clash outfit, Havana 3am, 10 years ago was the cue to get serious. 'There were a lot of people dying and being born around me, and I got on the path properly, which meant finding a good teacher and spending years in museums, drawing, drawing, drawing.'

Simonon's commitment remains, unfashionably and refreshingly, to the figurative. 'In 1976 The Clash went against the grain, now I'm doing it again,' he shrugs. 'I'm not knocking conceptual art, it's another department, but it doesn't move me like painting.' In conversation his references are to classicists and to the tradition of British landscape painters to which his own work evidently belongs. Mention the musician-painter crossover and he'll talk about Canaletto as well as proto-Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe ('a sort-of musician -- I'm more from that strain, though I did learn to play eventually'). Ask about his influences and he will talk animatedly of Blake's disciple Samuel Palmer, and the twentieth-century London School of David Bomberg, Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff. The films of Jean Renoir and David Lean are another passion ('Robert Newton is so underrated'). Simonon's portraits of London show a city that is both modern and ancient. Huge in scale -- several are 7x5ft giants -- they're geographically precise but lyrical evocations of the capital and its river, full of scudding clouds and brooding skies above an impossibly blue Thames and a city that is always human in scale. His Battersea power station, caught in stark winter sun, might have come from a Festival of Britain exhibition. Even modernism's hulking concrete blocks and towers are tamed by the vast skies through which shards of celestial light are always breaking to be reflected in the river below. Not surprisingly, Constable is a hero. Simonon's perspectives are quite literally elevated -- most of the paintings were done on rooftops, and the physicality of painting outdoors appeals to him. 'Being outside on your own in all weathers is exciting, it clears you out. Being high up you get more options on the sweep of the river. Besides, something that size isn't practical at street level; on a roof you can lash it to the railings. Otherwise the wind will grab it and take it away.' When I ask why he wants to paint London -- five years ago he did a series of bridges -- he looks baffled, as if I had asked why London buses are red. 'Because it's there!' he replies. The only aberration from the collection's Thames theme is a portrait of the painter's Notting Hill home turf where he still lives with his wife and their two boys -- 'I'm one of the few original local yokels,' he jokes in reference to the onward trustafarian march through his old neighbourhood. His painting shows Golborne Road, last outpost of the Notting Hill of the 'White Riot' era. 'Not for much longer, though,' says Simonon, singling out a building on the canvas. 'Stella McCartney just bought that house for her headquarters.' . . ." More on Paul Simonon the painter here as well as over there. (Photo: The Clash's second gig at the ICA in London by Bob Gruen, 1976.)



SHOREDITCH TWAT 10/19/2002


Arwa Haider writes (in The Independent) about a new Channel 4 programme based on the famous Shoreditch Twat fanzine: ". . . Based on a local fanzine, the comedy show takes a pop at trendsetters, whatever their postcode. But it's the painfully cool East End destination that provided the inspiration. Together with a heaving flurry of style bars, designers' studios (Alexander McQueen was one of the first stars to move in), pricey boutiques and the latest clubs, Shoreditch is less about rhyming slang than DJ parlance. Hoxton Square boasts Britart gallery White Cube2, previously accommodated experimental cinema The Lux and legendary mid-Nineties venue, The Blue Note. . . . At the centre of the sprawl, there is 333, Old Street: a three-level club which programmes cutting-edge DJs, but in sweaty essence, couldn't be further removed from a chic 'superclub'. Resembling a boarded-up corner building (there's no logo, just fly posters), its previous incarnations were a notorious gay cruising joint and a Victorian boozer. Countless fashions that have flooded Britain's high streets, from scooters for grown-ups to ironic heavy metal T-shirts, were flaunted here first.

It's arguable, however, that the area's most crucial accessory is A5-sized, and completely free. Club fanzine Shoreditch Twat has charted, and mercilessly satirised, the hypercool scene in black-and-white since 1999, reaching a circulation of 25,000 through club hand-outs and distribution among a few bars and outlets. Unapologetically crass and frequently hilarious, its pithy pastiche is now set to target much broader audiences with a TV version (delicately asterisked), Shoreditch Tw*t. The primary voice of this venture is 27-year-old club entrepreneur and Shoreditch Twat founding editor Neil Boorman, who says that 'producing a fanzine wasn't about joining some glamorous elite. It was about creating something out of nothing, and hopefully giving it some cultural relevance.' Boorman joined 333 when it opened in 1997. He explains how the idea for a fanzine came about: 'After a couple of years, it became frustrating to have a regular audience of 1,000 and not be able to put ideas across, without seeming cheesy. Handing people Greenpeace leaflets as they leave isn't an option. It was a time when all these glossy 'superclubs' were launching, and we looked like a dump in comparison. Broaching political points in a nightclub context hadn't really been done before.' The inaugural issue of Shoreditch Twat combined event listings with Boorman's succinct missive: 'Shoreditch Twat is 333's reply to corporate club culture. Partying should be messy, dangerous and unprofessional, otherwise it's no fun at all. As far as we're concerned, the likes of Home, the likes of Mixmag and the likes of Pete Tong can all fuck off.' Winning friends wasn't high on the agenda, but as an offbeat antidote to high-sheen celebrity fawning, the publication swiftly proved it could influence people. Now in its 24th issue, its contributors have increasingly included writers moonlighting from the glossy style mags. While Boorman admits to an initial wariness of in-crowd expressions, he now describes this as 'getting people in the eye of the storm to tell it how it really is. What's important is that they're not afraid to make fun of themselves.' That quality certainly impressed Channel 4 commissioning editor Iain Morris, who appropriately claims to have discovered the fanzine while browsing in trendy fashion retailer Burro last year. 'I genuinely think that it's got a unique comic perspective,' says Morris. 'It's satirising a world that it's actively involved in. There's that sense of loving the thing you're having a go at and when it's really horrible, it's at its best.' . . . Sketch-based and surreal in best British comedy tradition, Shoreditch Tw*t TV pitches well-aimed shots at fatuous trends, designer living, sexuality and identikit high streets, set to an original funky soundtrack by fanzine contributor Daniel Pemberton. A qualified psychologist analyses guest-list blagging techniques, while Boorman himself auditions So Solid Crew hopefuls (who responded to a real advert), and stars in a multiple-choice test to determine whether he's an al-Qa'ida terrorist. . . ." Shoreditch Tw*t airs on Channel 4 at 11pm on 31 October.


3AM TOP 5 10/19/2002


Underground legend Mark Perry who launched the very first punk fanzine Sniffin' Glue (July 1976-September 1977) and fronted ATV (Alternative TV) is currently working on a new ATV album to be released on Overground next year: "I'm also co-ordinating a number of CD re-releases of my old stuff. On the writing front, I'm working on a sort of Mark P/Sniffin Glue/ATV handbook/biog. Also, a film idea with Danny Baker. So, I'm quite busy!" His current favourite albums are:

  1. In A silent Way -- Miles Davis
  2. I'm Your Man -- Leonard Cohen
  3. The Bearsville Album -- Bobby Charles
  4. Countdown To Ecstasy -- Steely Dan
  5. Farewell, Angelina -- Joan Bez

JERRY SEINFELD, BECK & ASTERISK 10/19/2002


Spike Magazine editor Chris Mitchell writes in Splinters: "The fabulous 3AM Magazine recently published an interview with Asterisk, the anonymous prankster who was tangled up in a bizarre literary affair with Hunter S. Thompson some months ago. As previously blogged here, Hunter sent several apoplectic faxes to his agent because he believed Asterisk was passing off HST's unpublished work as his own. But from the interview, it turns out that the faxes themselves were fake -- Asterisk had perfectly imitated Hunter's idiosyncratic writing style and simultaneously managed to point the finger at none other than Jerry Seinfeld as the possible real identity of the prankster. I for one was completely taken in by the faxes -- and, given the good Doctor's lack of output recently, reckon Asterisk should become his full time ghost writer. . . . Splinters reader Andreas Gursky sent word that there's an interesting coda on Filmoculous.com -- "Sidenote: Beck and Seinfield were both on the Tonight Show some night last week. When Beck came over for his 10 seconds of face-time with Leno after playing, he off-the-cuff asked Seinfeld 'who is Asterisk?' Seinfeld stuttered through saying he knew but didn't know.'"


AMORPHOUS NOWHERES AND LIMINAL TERRITORIES 10/19/2002


Chris Hall interviews Iain Sinclair in Spike Magazine: "Listeners of Radio 4's Today programme recently voted London's M25 the worst of the "seven horrors of Britain" in a poll. One imagines that this refers to their experience of it as drivers; but perhaps if they'd done what the novelist, poet and 'psychogeographer' Iain Sinclair did and walked around the M25, they'd have thought differently. For this was his unique project -- to walk anti-clockwise around the motorway and the areas that it enclosed from Waltham Abbey, exploring the huge tranches of unknown territory that lay bounded by the M25 outside of the city centre. And in doing so, comprehending the scale of the invasion of commerce in these zones and witnessing, as it were, an invisible landscape disappear. Sinclair describes the journey - taken in the millennial year - in his new book London Orbital. Most people would of course regard the idea of circumnavigating the M25 as a mad one, but was it really that dispiriting? 'Not at all. The experience of doing it was incredibly exhilarating,' says Sinclair. 'You didn't know what you were going to find. Getting up really early in this weird landscape. You might as well have been in some totally remote country.' So what does he think about the housing forecasts for the South East, the recommendations of the Urban Task Force report, and the colossal amount of brownfield renewal that is necessary in and around the capital? 'These seem to be projections made from a very privileged metropolitan standpoint about something that's going to happen 'out there', without true knowledge of just what actually is out there,' he says. 'The notion of decanting swathes of the populace into these amorphous nowheres, these liminal territories at the edge of the city is, I think, a nightmare prospect.' . . ."

Iain Sinclair writes in The Guardian about the London Orbital event at the Barbican in London: ". . . When I began tramping around the ragged edge of the M25, testing the uncertain permissions of the outer suburbs, I thought there might be a book in it; notes and photographs (hundreds of them) brought back to Hackney. Ducking and diving through the empty quarter, in the company of an old friend, the painter Renchi Bicknell, turned up more narrative than a single work could contain: toxic waste, casually cosmeticised MOD properties converted into Legoland housing, Heathrow bullion swag funding Essex rave culture (the happy conjunction of orbital motorway and mobile phone), prophetic texts by 19th-century science-fiction writers, lost hospitals, golf courses fronting landfill scams. As Ballard said (and he's been saying it since the Sixties, long before the M25 was opened): 'The motorway landscape is where the future of England reveals itself -- and that future is boring.' His list of attractions -- off-highway shopping, gated communities, CCTV, mediparcs, Heathrow, low-concept executive housing, marinas -- was a soothing mantra (imagine the voice of an air terminal announcement, after the ding-dong). Ballard's essays and stories reveal themselves as lethally benign answers to questions that nobody has the imagination or the courage to ask. Through repetition, Ballard insisted, boredom becomes transcendence. The M25 works -- if you stay on it long enough. If you allow it to become the gateway to an alternate reality. It soon became obvious - operating with a decent, mid-market independent publisher like Granta - that something as unwieldy as a book about a motorway walk needed to back its claim to shelf-space with a raft of other activities. The Channel 4 film. The readings. And, thanks to Paul Smith and the Barbican, the 'parallelist performance in three-lane theatre'.

. . . The underlying notion, which will be the real point to the M25/London Orbital event this month, is the old avant-garde conceit of bringing interesting operators (hermits) from different (in)disciplines together: so that money-burning moralists like Drummond and Cauty get to meet Ballard, Gilbert works with Petit and his editor, Emma Matthews. Poet and performance artist Brian Catling watches a hero figure of his adolescence (Ballard again). And a moderately large audience, who may never have heard of them before, are exposed to the stunning mimetic skills of Aaron Williamson and the poetry (and Bartók riffing) of the former Hell's Angel and present Anglo-Saxon scholar, Dr Bill Griffiths. . . . The book, as I've discovered, is no longer promoted by a little drinks party and a reading at the local bookshop. Now the book sells the event. Authors and agents, so far as I know, haven't yet come to terms with this new landscape. The book - and there might as well be only one of them - is a sculptural object, a fetish, carried around. To readings, lectures, radio, TV soundbites, and now theatre. Theatre in which quasi-fictional characters step out of the pages to revise inadequate portraits. The characters talk back. The road plays itself on three screens. Sound-snoops are out there sampling the acoustic debris of mobile phones and service station monologues. The critic Kevin Jackson, having posted an account of one section of the walk for a broadsheet, was suckered into the story, made to join the party, to keep on walking. And now by an infinitely reductive process he appears at the Barbican: as himself. A fiction reviewing a fiction, a textual Xerox doing a number on his infamous feet. Ballard has never, before this event, visited the Barbican. In some senses - think of High-Rise - he can be said to have invented it. But he didn't need to see it, the tropical jungle under glass, the labyrinthine walkways, comfortable hermiticism. The Barbican exists to express a classically Ballardian paradox: being in the city but not of the city. With its postwar utopianism, climbing out of the ruins, it belongs to the era of Abercrombie and his County of London Plan, all those benevolent impositions, parkways, garden cities, orbital highways linking inner and outer boroughs. The Barbican and the M25 should have been twins. . . ."


ANARCHY IN CAMDEN 10/19/2002


The annual Anarchist Bookfair takes place today from 10am to 7pm at Camden Centre (Euston Road, London WC1, nearest Tube station: King's Cross). Chumbawamba will be playing a benefit gig (£8, doors open at 8.30pm).



THE RULES OF ATTRACTION 10/14/2002


The film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's The Rules of Attraction, written and directed by Roger Avary, was released in the US a few days ago. The official website is well worth a visit.


ANOMALOUS PRINT OBJECTS 10/14/2002


Jeet Heer in the (Canadian) National Post on Dave Eggers' career so far: 'It's not so easy to sell out if you have anything to sell,' critic Dwight MacDonald noted. 'For ambitious youths my advice is: sell out if you can, since if you can, you don't have anything of value and might as well cash in on it.' And yet some people are willing to go to amazing contortions to avoid being called a sellout. Consider the case of Dave Eggers, the editor and publisher of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, and the best-selling author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Eggers first gained fame in the self-publishing subculture by creating Might, a satirical magazine that defined the ironic humour of the 1990s. As Eggers became more and more popular, he found himself denounced as a 'sellout' by many of his original fans. The problem became acute when he achieved best-selling success with A Heartbreaking Work. . . . Now, with the release of his second book, a novel called You Shall Know Our Velocity, Eggers has made a much-publicized return to self-publishing. This book is untainted by any contact with the world of commercial publishing. Printed in Iceland, the first run of 10,000 or so copies has just been unloaded on the docks of Boston and is clearing U.S. Customs. Distribution will be taken care of by McSweeney's Arm Which Publishes Books, a non-profit division of McSweeney's, Eggers's literary magazine.

Since McSweeney's is a makeshift operation with a homemade aesthetic, none of the usual rules of publishing apply: No review copies will be sent out, the advertising budget is zero, and the print run is deliberately small so the book cannot become a bestseller. In the United States the book will only be distributed through independent bookstores. Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Amazon.com are all out of luck. . . . Many in the literary world are puzzled by this strategy. Self-publishing is often regarded as the last resort of the talent-less or the first resort of wilful self-marginalizers. Eggers doesn't really fit either category. But he's not alone. In recent years, the sniffy disdain publishers have for the 'vanity press' has been challenged by the growing prominence of do-it-yourself zine culture whose denizens like the freedom that comes with self-publishing. One well-known Canadian example is Jim Munroe, who self-published his second novel, Angry Young Spaceman, even though his first novel, Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gas Mask, was brought out by HarperCollins. For writers like Munroe, and perhaps Eggers, self-publishing grows out of a committment to creating alternative networks of distribution and reading that escape the constraints of mainstream publishing. . . . After the success of Eggers's first book, says Sarah Brouillette, a graduate student at the University of Toronto who has written about Eggers as an example of a writer who has gained 'subcultural status' by creating 'anomalous' print objects, 'there was no way he could maintain any integrity without going back to self-publishing. . . . If he had decided, after all the controversies over how much money he made, to go back to mainstream publishing," says Brouillette, "that would have meant the end of his reign. What's important for a writer like Eggers is subcultural authority, which is dependent on things like limited distribution and difficulty of access. He had to do something to maintain a level of interest in being an anomaly'. . ."



HASHISH CLUB 10/13/2002


An extract from Jonathon Green's forthcoming Cannabis: "In 1798 Napoleon invaded Egypt, the first step on his campaign to establish a French kingdom there and, in time, to drive on to India. He was expelled in 1801. Before then, however, his troops had made a new discovery -- hashish -- possession and consumption of which was soon banned. But the ban had no real effect, and when the troops came home, they brought cannabis with them. The upshot was its gradual popularisation in Europe, particularly in France. Regular imports of hashish, the dried leaf form of cannabis, followed and it could soon be bought at any pharmacy. It was not suprising that the medical establishment, particularly Dr Jacques-Joseph Moreau (1804-84), began to take an interest in its properties. In 1840, Moreau swallowed some cannabis, with the intention of reporting on its intoxicating effects. He experienced a mixture of euphoria, hallucination and incoherence, and an extremely rapid flow of ideas. He realised that experimenting on oneself with a drug whose nature was to distort sensations and impressions was not enough. He needed guinea pigs. In 1844 Moreau met the French philosopher, writer and journalist Théophile Gautier (1811-1872), a man at the heart of Romanticism -- the current intellectual movement -- and whose manifestos were among its primary underpinnings, epitomised by the slogan 'art for art's sake'. Gautier was impressed by Moreau's theories, especially perhaps his description of cannabis as 'an intellectual intoxication', preferable to the 'ignoble heavy drunkenness' of alcohol.

Gautier brought with him a number of leading Parisian littérateurs: Alexandre Dumas, Gérard de Nerval, Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, Charles Baudelaire, Eugène Delacroix and many others. The group, calling themselves the Club des Hachichins (Hashish Club), would gather regularly between 1844 and 1849 at the suitably gothic Pimodan House, also known as the Hôtel Lauzun. Here, ritualistically garbed in Arab clothing, they drank strong coffee, liberally laced with hashish, which Moreau called dawamesk, in the Arabic manner. . . . Balzac attended the club but preferred not to indulge, though some time in 1845 the great man cracked and ate some. He told fellow members he had heard celestial voices and seen visions of divine paintings. . . . It was inevitable that Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), author of the 1857 collection of poetry Les Fleurs du Mal, joined the club. He had a reputation for debauchery and a taste for the exotic, which would surely have predisposed him to a new drug, but the truth was that he rarely, if indeed ever, indulged. He wrote on hashish with great acuity, but it was from his studious note-taking, rather than any in-depth personal experience.


EXPERIMENTING WITH THE CREASE OF A NECK-CLOTH 10/13/2002


An extract from Frances Wilson's review of George Walden's Who's a Dandy?: "The strangest legacy of Beau Brummell, king of the Regency dandies, is not his influence on sartorial style but his effect on writing. No sooner does an author touch the subject of the Beau's invention of starched neckties, whose height and stiffness 'created a sensation equal to Waterloo', than his hand grows light and sentences of the most nimble and economic elegance curl and drop from his pen. It is as if the Beau's rules about dress -- that supremacy lies in the finest cloth and cut, in the flawless perfection of the finished look, in understatement ('If John Bull turns round to look at you then you are not well dressed') -- were transposed to literary style. Brummell's first biographer, Captain Jesse, failed to reach the required level of sublimity in addressing his subject, and he besmirches the Beau with his lumpen and long-winded prose (Thomas Carlyle later did the same, calling the dandy nothing but a clothes-wearing man). But then came Jules Barbey-d'Aurevilly with his exquisitely tailored essay, 'On Dandyism and George Brummell' -- finely translated in this book by George Walden -- and the dandy was once more untouchable. 'Dandyism is a whole way of being,' Barbey proclaimed, 'entirely composed of nuances'. Dandyism is the last spark of heroism amidst decadence: 'Dandyism is a sunset.'

Baudelaire followed, heralding the dandy as the dangerous product of a society in transition, the figure who, with one flick of his little finger, dispenses with the dry dust of aristocracy and establishes his own peculiar laws of precedence. Virginia Woolf's essay on Brummell is the finest she ever wrote. 'Empires had risen and fallen while he experimented with the crease of a neck-cloth and criticised the cut of a coat.' Camus saw the dandy as romanticism's 'most original creation', exemplifying its concern with 'defying moral and divine law'. All this eloquence for a man who placed himself above society by spending most of the day dressing and the rest of it being dressed, who was left by his titled friends to die in a madhouse in Caen because eventually, when the clothes fell away, George Bryan Brummell was no more than a bourgeois upstart. Walden, a former Tory MP, is aware that in daring to write about Brummell and dandyism he is nudging his way into a select group of sacred and sometimes canonical texts. He comes to the shrine to worship not only Brummell but also Barbey, whose essay he calls 'the most penetrating and original study of dandyism ever written'. The premise of Walden's argument is that the three things that sum up our age are 'science and technology, neo-liberal politics, and an infatutation with fashion and style -- and the importance of the latter can only be properly understood through a reading of Barbey on Brummell'.

Walden goes on to consider the re-emergence of the dandy in modern times and what his eminence might signal about 'the decadence of democracy'. . . . Walden notes literary dandies (Nabokov, Amis), foodie dandies ('who elevate gastronomy from taste into art') and pop dandies (Jarvis Cocker). He is careful to dissociate the austerity of dandyism from the excesses of camp, to distinguish between the fashion-conscious man and the thorough-going dandy. Walden's is a smart and timely essay, introducing a brief masterpiece. One of the pleasures of this beautifully produced book is its invitation to consider the language of style and its reminder that, as Oscar Wilde said: 'It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible and not the invisible.'"


BRATTYSLAVA 10/13/2002


The BBC reports that "The Football Association (FA) has criticised the Slovak authorities for their handling of an outbreak of violence during England's Euro 2004 qualifying match in Bratislava on Saturday. Police carried out a series of baton charges on a section of England supporters who tried to tear down metal fences separating them from Slovak fans. But the FA says the authorities used excessive force in dealing with the fans. It will also be making an official complaint about the racist chanting which Emile Heskey and Ashley Cole were subjected to by the home crowd. England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson said: 'It looked like many years ago when I was in Belgium in the Heysel Stadium. It's crazy that football should still be like that. . . .' FA spokesman Adrian Bevington said: '. . . Throughout the game Emile Heskey and Ashley Cole, in particular, suffered a torrent of racist abuse whenever they got the ball and they deserve credit for the way they conducted themselves throughout that.' Heskey added: 'It wasn't just a few people it was the whole stadium. It was very hard but we just tried to block it out' . . . ."



SEX, BOOKS & ROCK'N'ROLL 10/11/2002


Philadelphia's second annual 215 Festival runs from 17-20 October. It is considered by many as the coolest literary event in America: "Once a year, or possibly a decade, or even a millennium, comes a literary festival so gripping, so original in its conception, so mind-blowingly cool, that it could only take place in Philadelphia. This, then, is that festival: The 215 Festival. Take America's hottest young writers, throw in some rock bands, and top it all off with a They Might Be Giants show. It will be the greatest weekend of your lives. This year's 215 Festival, so named because Philadelphia's area code is, yes, 215, features readings by Zadie Smith (pictured), Sarah Vowell, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Ames and Gabe Hudson at the Free Library of Philadelphia. . . . On Saturday, October 19 at the TLA, They Might Be Giants teams up with best-selling author Dave Eggers and several contributors to McSweeney's literary magazine for an evening of literature and rock 'n' roll that will resonate in your heart forever. When someone other than Edmund Wilson finally writes the literary history of America, there will be a chapter on Twain, a chapter on Melville, and a chapter on Faulkner, to be sure. But there will also be a chapter about the 215 and the history that was made there. You heard it here first, on the 215 Festival website. Come on down, or up, or over. It's gonna be fun." The schedule is here. The festival organisers (among whom ranks Neal Pollack) guarantee the books and rock'n'roll but not the sex!


3AM TOP 5 10/11/2002


The author of Suzy, Led Zeppelin and Me -- Martin Millar -- is busy working on two books: a "werewolf epic" and the latest novel in his Thraxas series (which he publishes under the name Martin Scott). "Due to his continuing fondness for Led Zeppelin" and "recent nostalgic purchases of Cds", Martin Millar is currently listening to:

  1. "When the Levee breaks" -- Led Zeppelin
  2. "Raw Power" -- Iggy Pop and The Stooges
  3. "Ride a White Swan" -- T Rex
  4. "Moonlight on Vermont" -- Captain Beefheart
  5. "Stay with Me" -- The Faces

RULAND RULES AGAIN 10/11/2002


3AM contributor Jim Ruland has two stories in Ducky Magazine and another in Pindeldyboz.


GREATEST TITS 10/11/2002


The Kowalskis seem to have a great bunch of fans: they "have a fine tradition of flashing us. It started one fine evening in New Orleans when one of Kitty's friends pulled her dress over her head in the middle of a show for full frontal nudity and all its shavings! It somehow caught on for the rest of the tour, and since then, it's been a free-for-all". Go here for the evidence.


NINE PLAN FAILED 10/11/2002


You can now rediscover the interview with Adam Ant that Tony Fletcher published in his fanzine, Jamming, back in 1978. The interview is here: ". . . In retrospect, the interview is fascinating for all the wrong reasons: it's a textbook example of a wanna-be pop star, mired in the underground, making all kinds of patronizing promises he really has not intention -- or desire -- of keeping. "We are, and always will be, an underground group." "I don't want the singles to be on the album." "We like doing the small clubs, because we know the kids can see." "You're my bread and butter, all the kids in your class." Ouch, ouch, ouch and ouch again. In 1981, when Adam and the Ants were keeping even the recently murdered John Lennon off the top of the album charts, and Adam was the latest international pop star, refusing fanzine interviews, playing the biggest possible venues, releasing single after single from the same albums, and suing everyone he couldn't control . . . I reprinted a bunch of these quotes in Jamming! 12 accusing him of being a sell-out. . . . Mr Goddard's extraordinarily naïve sentiments don't take away from the sexual tension at the heart of the group's early shows and recordings, nor the dark qualities of the debut album. . . ."


ASTERISK MYSTERY EXPOSED! 10/10/2002


3AM will soon bring you an exclusive interview with Asterisk, the literary prankster who masterminded the great Hunter S Thompson and Jerry Seinfeld swindle which was picked up by The New York Post and The Guardian. Sneak preview: "First, I inadvertently came to realize that die-hard Hunter Thompson fanatics are dementedly protective of his work. They'll dissect a sentence of another writer and piss on it until it drowns if they think you've used a comma in a similar fashion as Thompson. And for a while, all sorts of comparisons were being drawn between him and me. Some of the hate-mail I've received regarding this was filled with so much over-the-top belligerence, it's hilarious. . . . After reading over some of the hate-mail with a few of my friends, I said to them, 'I bet I could really put some of these hate-mail nuzzle-nuts back in their place'. 'What do you have in mind?' they asked. So I joked, 'Instead of responding to each of these letters, I could write one letter and fax it to a few newspapers. But I'll write it as if I were Thompson and I'll accuse myself of plagiarizing him and I bet I can do it without any plagiarism whatsoever, but do it in such a convincing Thompson voice that all his rabid devotees will believe it's actually him'. . . . About a month later, that letter started showing up all over the Internet. The New York Post got a hold of a copy and went mongoose-wild with it. . . ."


DENSE AND THORNY NOBEL 10/10/2002


The Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to Hungarian author Imre Kertesz: ". . .The Swedish Academy, which awards the prize each year, hailed Kertesz for 'exploring how individuals can survive when subjected to "barbaric" social forces." Kertesz, 72, who was born in Budapest, was deported to Auschwitz as a teenager in 1944, and then to Buchenwald, where he was liberated in 1945. 'For him Auschwitz is not an exceptional occurrence,' said the academy. 'It is the ultimate truth about human degradation in modern experience.' Kertesz's experiences were detailed in his first novel, 1975's Sorstalansag (Fateless), the story of a young man who is arrested and taken to a concentration camp but survives. 'The refusal to compromise in Kertesz's stance can be perceived clearly in his style, which is reminiscent of a thickset hawthorn hedge, dense and thorny for unsuspecting visitors,' said the academy. The award, worth 10 million Swedish kronor (£690,000) will be presented to Kertesz by Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf, at a ceremony in Stockholm on 10 December. . . ." See also The Guardian.


READINGS AND STUFF 10/10/2002


The fine webzine dedicated to urban strolling -- Flâneur -- will be celebrating its fall issue at Pioneer, 218 Bowery (between Prince and Spring), New York City on Wednesday 23 October (9-11pm). Tonight, there's a joint reading by The American Journal of Print, Drunken Boat, Eleven Bulls, Failbetter and Pindeldyboz at the Brooklyn Brewery (79 North 11th Street, Brooklyn, admission: $5, doors open at 7PM, reading begins at 7:30). The trAce Online Writing Centre is undertaking a survey on writers, computers and the Internet.


3AM TOP 5 10/10/2002


Budding art critic and full-blown work of art Federica Rossi (who will soon be covering the Liverpool Biennial for us) is currently listening to:

  1. "Ruby Tuesday" -- The Rolling Stones
  2. "World Looking In" -- Moorcheeba
  3. "Love Me Or Leave Me" -- Nina Simone
  4. "More Time" -- Linton Kwesi Johnson
  5. "Common People" -- Pulp

NATIONAL POETRY DAY 10/10/2002


Today is National Poetry Day in England.





NEW DEVELOPMENTS AT 3AM 10/10/2002


At long last, 3AM's message board should be ad-free as of tomorrow. Hopefully, that will encourage people to use the bloody thing. Only 12 people have registered in all the months that it's been up there in spite of the fact that we get 2,000 visitors a day! Go figure. We will soon be launching 3AM's very own weblog. It hasn't been imported to the site yet, and there's nothing much there at present, but you can still take a peek at Joe Bloggs if you feel like it.



TETHERED TO THE FORTUNES OF HIS WRITING 10/07/2002


3AM's ever-delightful Kimberly Nichols will soon publish an interview with Alain de Botton, author of On Love, The Art of Travel, The Consolations of Philosophy and How Proust Can Change Your Life, in her Off the Page column: "Writing imposes itself very much on day to day life. When things go well at the desk, I'm happy. When not, I'm inconsolable or anxious. My mood is totally tethered to the fortunes of my writing."

NO MILK TODAY
10/07/2002


Breakfast will never be the same again now that the Arts & Letters Daily has gone bust. Or so you may think. Dry your tears and head for The Literary Saloon, Splinters, Wood s Lot (no, there's no apostrophe) or Moby Lives. Die-hard Arts & Letters fans should check out Philosophy & Literature. Dustylizard is an excellent site which provides links to "found fiction" - short stories published on the Net. Come on, dry your eyes, there's a whole cyberworld out there! (Pic: 3AM's Susannah Breslin from The Reverse Cowgirl's Blog.)

COMPUTER MELTDOWN AT 3AM
10/07/2002


Due to technical difficulties, we have lost dozens of submissions. If you haven't heard back from us, please resend. 3AM Editor-in-Chief Andrew Gallix has also lost many unanswered e-mails and electronic addresses. Please get in touch with him.



BAAD BOYS 10/06/2002


The ICA in London is holding a Baader-Meinhof season (Red Army Friction) which runs from 11 to 18 October: "Marking 25 years since the deaths of Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe in Stammheim Prison in October 1977, the ICA presents a season of films about the Red Army Faction -- including an extended run of the stunning documentary Black Box Germany -- plus a day of talks and extra screenings exploring questions of art, politics and terrorism. The legacy of Baader-Meinhof retains a fascination for German youth and filmmakers exploring the relationships between resistance, state and biography." For more info go here.


PRADA-MEINHOF 10/06/2002


One of the highlights of the ICA's Red Army Friction season will be the presence of Astrid Proll who used to be one of Europe's most-wanted terrorists. Apparently, she is still very much in demand. Kate Connolly writes in today's Observer: "Thirty years ago she was one of the most feared terrorists in Europe, joining her Red Army Faction (RAF) comrades in bombing raids and murderous attacks on establishment figures, terrorising Germany throughout the Seventies. Her face on 'Wanted' posters throughout Britain, where she was in hiding for years, Astrid Proll would like to think her life has moved on. But now she is engaged in another struggle -- to meet the growing demand for the memories of her generation of activists. 'I haven't put it behind me, it will keep coming up - but it's not me who finds it difficult to forget, it's other people,' she says. 'Of course, I have fond memories, or I couldn't exist. But they're unrecountable. That's not where I'm at because -- thank God -- life goes on.' Not for Andreas Baader, Ulrike Meinhof, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carle Raspe, who are all dead. Many more of Proll's former comrades committed suicide or are still in prison. But others on the periphery of those tumultuous times -- the lawyers who defended them and those who contributed to the cause as street fighters, including the Green Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer -- sit in the German cabinet, while other so-called 68ers form the backbone of the judicial system and the media. Which leaves Proll, 55, feeling isolated. . . . The group she belonged to and for whom she drove the getaway car -- be it an Alfa-Romeo or a Mercedes, all part of the group's fashion appeal -- killed no fewer than 90 people, many of them former Nazi officials. Proll describes the RAF as 'the knife-edge of the general reaction of the young', who were furious at their parents for unquestioningly supporting Hitler. 'Of course it wasn't healthy,' she says. 'The RAF wasn't healthy for anybody -- neither the participants, nor their children, nor the State, but it happened and you have to deal with it. But you have also to remember that it was a group of no more than 30 people, yet it did something unheard-of -- it took up a concept and followed it through in a very German-determined way.' . . . Proll first went to London in 1974 after her trial for robbery and attempted murder was adjourned due to fears for her health. She worked under various guises and in jobs from park attendant to car mechanic before being arrested in 1978. A year in Brixton prison fighting extradition followed before she was returned to Germany, where she agreed to face trial again. 'London was my refuge. It remains very important to me,' she says. . . .

. . . This month is the 25th anniversary of an event that stunned Europe: the discovery on 18 October, 1977, of the bodies of Baader, Ensslin and Raspe in their cells at Stammheim high-security prison in Stuttgart. Meinhof had hanged herself in prison the previous year. . . . Asked what the anniversary means to her, she says: 'I don't know, nothing. It's a media event, really,' she adds over scrambled eggs in a bar in the bourgeois Berlin district of Charlottenburg. '[But] I at least want to get some money out of it, you know what I mean, and it'll help my profile.' Referring to a coffee-table-style book of pictures of the Baader-Meinhof Gang, including a few of herself, called Pictures on the Run '67-'77, which she published two years ago to wide critical acclaim, she says: 'I earn my money from the RAF, so why not keep it up?' The statement seems ironic from a former revolutionary and fervent anti-capitalist. But even more so does her throwaway remark that Germany is in grave need of modernisation -- with its trade unions too strong and civil servants underworked -- and 'could do with a Margaret Thatcher'. It is a comment she later retracts, somewhat embarrassed: 'I don't want to be associated with this woman, but you know what I mean.' Times have changed and so -- evidently -- has Astrid Proll. But the market demand for her and others with her past has increased of late, with an extraordinary revival in Germany of 'Terror Chic'. The catwalks are full of the crushed velvet flares and Ray-Bans favoured by Baader, the red RAF star adorns T-shirts, and one fashion designer has even adopted the provocative slogan 'Prada-Meinhof'. Collectors pay large sums for original RAF 'wanted' posters, sales of Moby Dick, an important novel for those held in Stammheim, are unusually healthy, and a fictionalised account of the Baader-Ensslin romance is a best seller. . . . While at the Independent, Proll was outed by a freebie newspaper, which ran stories on a 'terrorist working in Canary Wharf tower'. 'There was no consideration that I might have changed, that I hadn't held a gun for 30 years,' she says. 'The British tabloids were one of the most terrifying things I have experienced.'"


A TALE OF TWO WEBZINES 10/06/2002


Michel Faber's wondrous publisher Canongate have linked to Peter Wild's Bookmunch interview published in collaboration with us.: "Of all the recent press that Faber has received, the interview below for bookmunch.co.uk and 3AM Magazine, was, we felt, one of the most revealing. For more sharp reviews and coverage from this online literary tour-de force, visit Bookmunch." The first half of the interview (which was published in Bookmunch) is reproduced and then there's a link to the second half in 3AM. Hip young English novelist Matt Thorne reviews Faber's new novel in today's Independent on Sunday.


WASTING ONE'S DAYS TRYING TO PROLONG THEM 10/06/2002


James Bond first hit the screen forty years ago. John Lanchester writes about the republished Bond novels in the London Review of Books: ". . . There's no mystery where the Bond books get their air of dyspepsia, ennui and fatigue. Fleming lived as hard as his hero, one of whose central preoccupations is a determination 'not to waste my days in trying to prolong them'. There is always something depressing about the story of a lifestyle casualty, someone whose boozing and smoking bring about the actuarially predictable consequences. Fleming, who died at 56, was one of those. Andrew Lycett's first-rate biography, published in 1995, almost doesn't need its text, since the photos tell a perfectly clear story of how the (I hadn't realised) strikingly beautiful young Fleming turned into a prematurely knackered roué with an air of not-at-all-suppressed boredom and a cigarette holder. The boredom was partly a generational thing. Evelyn Waugh, b. 1903; Graham Greene, b. 1904; Cyril Connolly, b. 1903; Ian Fleming, b. 1908. These Englishmen came from a similar class background, and had writing careers which, from the outside at least, seemed characterised by brilliant success. They also had parallel lives as spies, soldiers, shaggers and men of action (or in Connolly's case, of inaction so spectacular that it, too, seems like a form of action). But all of them suffered from a desperate, crippling, lifelong fear of boredom. . . . Perhaps the obvious explanation as to why these brilliant men were so bored is the simplest one: life, for them, was boring. Life was changing in ways which made it less boring to be an upper-middle-class man, but the awareness of the fact that life was changing made men more conscious of the burdens they had been carrying. The straitjacket of gender and class identity pinched hardest as it was being shaken off. All the four writers I mention felt that pinch, I would suggest, as boredom: the deep, chronic boredom of roles, of social life, of having to pretend to be something that they knew they weren't, quite. In Fleming's books this is a source of strength. The novels' world-weariness and melancholy is real, and vividly conveyed; and although these might seem like odd ingredients in riotously successful popular fiction, they aren't really, since the emotional palette of thrillers and mysteries is often distinctly dark. From, say, Conan Doyle to, say, Le Carré, the genuineness of the gloom provides a note of authenticity, a convincing bass line, to underpin the various implausibilities of the main plot. Fleming is in that tradition.

. . . A key fact in Ian and Ann's relationship is that they were both into spanking. This, perhaps, is linked to the boredom, and to a corresponding need to play sexual games with identity and roles. The spanking wouldn't matter to anyone now if it didn't show up in the Bond books, but of course it does. Simon Winder, the editor responsible for republishing all the novels (and for cheekily bringing out three of them as a Penguin Classic) has said simply and robustly that Fleming was a sado-masochist. This is a sensible way of dealing with the profoundly unsensible sexual attitudes in the novels. It is not anachronistic to find the erotic climate of the novels strange and distracting, since plenty of people were distracted by it at the time. Christopher Hitchens, in his lively introduction to the Penguin Classics edition, quotes Fleming's friend and neighbour Noël Coward on the subject of Honeychile Rider's world-famous bottom, 'almost as firm and rounded as a boy's': 'I know we are all becoming progressively more broadminded nowadays but really, old chap, what could you have been thinking of?' In a way, we are now better placed to see the sexual attitudes of the books for what they are, part of the wish fulfilment in which the Bond novels bask, in which KGB agents disguised as English gents expose themselves as impostors by ordering red wine with fish, and tough dykes called Pussy Galore secretly long to be converted from sapphism by our cruelly handsome hero. The contrast between the real woman Fleming loved, complicated and demanding and grown-up as she was, and the wank-fantasies of the novels, must have been deeply embarrassing for Ann Fleming, and it is no wonder that she disliked Bond as much as she did.

. . . So why bother reading the books? The answer to that is the same as it always was: because Fleming wrote so well. Thrillers need their undernotes of authenticity, both in the incidental details and the emotional climate: but they need their topnotes of fantasy and action, too, and Fleming was supremely skilled at these. . . . (I)t now seems about right to say that the books were, in his words, 'fairy tales for grown-ups'. The quibble now would be with the word 'grown-ups'."



SHE LOOKED ALL DUG-UP LATELY 10/05/2002


London-based Fire Records have just released Delicate AWOL's second album, the majestic Heart Drops From the Great Space. According to The Wire, this jazzed-up post-rock outfit from South London are destined to "take atonal weirdness to the masses". Time Out claims that their album is "Like finding a snow-covered stand of pines in the middle of Oxford street".


ARSE OF THE WEEK 10/05/2002


New Orleans' Mistress Genevieve shows off her arse in Pirate's Alley, just across from where William Faulkner used to live. Arse of the Week, no contest.


THERE ARE NO FATHERS IN HEAVEN 10/05/2002


3AM co-editor Matthew Wascovich has just published a series of 9 poems and flash pieces in the latest edition of Unlikely Stories: "With jumping, vibrant images that leave us compelled and enthusiastic, the poems and short stories of Matthew Wascovich energetically run through our triumphs, fears, and dreams. His voice is utterly unique, yet easy to identify with, combining the abstract and the concrete in a world of beauty, gunshots, and three-dimensional eroticism. You'll be thrilled at the world he's delighted to show you." Matthew's collection of poems, Leo in a Garbage Can, will soon be published by Slow Toe Publications.


IN PRAISE OF HOURGLASS FIGURES & OTHER VAGUELY RELATED STUFF 10/05/2002


More bad news. After learning this week that blondes are an endangered species, the Evening Standard reveals that the hourglass figure is a thing of the past: "The sands of time have run out for the classic hourglass figure typified by Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren. Research has shown that curves are out of fashion. . . . Scientists analysing what makes a woman's body attractive found that tastes have changed dramatically since the 1960s. Constant images of slim supermodels combined with greater knowledge about obesity, health and fertility have changed our view of female beauty, according to the study. Men judge svelte screen stars such as Sandra Bullock and Gwyneth Paltrow to be more attractive when it comes to selecting a mate because they have a healthier BMI. 'BMI values which are optimal for health and fertility are also those regarded as the most attractive,' said research leader Dr Martin Tovee of Newcastle University. 'Modern culture plays a role in this. We see incredibly attractive - and thin - supermodels every day in the media and this can change views of what is attractive.' Past research has suggested that men regard a curvaceous woman as highly fertile because such females have optimal stores of fat on the hips for good fertility. But the study found that a healthy BMI is now regarded as much more important. In adults, BMI should be between 20 and 25 for both men and women. Over 30 is classed as obese, under 15 as emaciated. . . ."

Another myth exploded: the BBC reveals that penile length is not linked to the size of a man's feet: "Men with big feet do not necessarily have a large manhood, a study suggests. Researchers at University College London say there is no evidence linking a man's shoe size to the length of his penis. After measuring the vital parts of more than 100 men, they concluded that the theory has no scientific basis. . . . The researchers measured the men's penises when soft and gently stretched. . . ."

Flak Magazine reports on a new trend in the NY subway: "An anonymous e-mail sent three weeks ago urging single New Yorkers to designate the first car of every subway train the 'singles car' has sparked a grassroots movement so large that Metropolitan Transit Authority officials say they're struggling to keep up with the changing face of the agency they're charged with running. 'It's absolute bedlam,' said MTA spokesman Tom Kelly. 'The so-called singles cars are overflowing with people and every sexual niche, fetish or subculture has staked a claim to its own car, creating confusion and chaos.' Kelly said the MTA first began to notice crowding of the front cars on subway trains on Aug. 17, three days after many New Yorkers began receiving an anonymous e-mail from a group calling itself 'Organization for Better Underground Living'. The missive declared, 'As of today, Wednesday, August 14, the first car of every subway train running in New York City's five boroughs is hereby declared THE SINGLES CAR: A free zone for unattached New Yorkers to meet the commuter of their dreams.' . . . Of greater concern to the MTA, though, is that . . . various sexual subcultures have gotten into the game, claiming other cars on the trains. For instance, the third car of every train is better known as the lesbian car, Kelly said. 'The last car of every train, appropriately enough, is the anal sex car,' Kelly added. What's more, Kelly said, some of the cars have been claimed by two groups or more. For instance, the Greater New York Association of Single Parents dubbed the fifth car of each train the "single parents car" on Monday, seemingly unaware that the North American Man-Boy Love Association had already identified the fifth car of every train as the 'man-boy love' car. 'It was awful,' said one single mother who asked not to be identified as she got off the A train at 14th Street. 'My 12-year-old son and I boarded the fifth car of the train hoping to meet a suitable male role model. Instead, I found myself using my pepper spray to fend off four overweight middle-aged men in leather pants who assumed I was Jeffrey's pimp.' . . ."


NO WAVE REVISITED 10/05/2002


One of the most interesting compilation albums of the past year was In the Beginning There Was Rhythm (Soul Jazz) which chronicled post-punk's fruitful flirtation with funky rhythms. The compilation focuses on UK bands but could have included the New York 'No Wave' scene circa 79. Hip Brooklyn combo The Liars are currently spearheading a revival of this musical style with their highly-acclaimed debut album, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top (Mute). You'll find an article on The Liars in Nerve.com. Michael Martin writes: ". . . The band's first album . . . is an unusually complicated punk-dance pileup; creatively, it's miles above every other New York-based pretender to the Strokes' clothing allowance. 'Mr. You're on Fire Mr.' mixes shouty punk, guitar noise and electronic beats like the Cure going disco-hopping with the Clash; 'Nuts on the Velandrome' includes approximately one intelligible phrase -- 'short attention span!' howled by Angus -- but manages to be completely riveting; the record closes with an epic 30-minute track, a concept album in search of a song. . . . If anything, the music is for those who like their meaninglessness served challenging. . . ."


CHATEAUDUN 10/05/2002


Interesting article on the Chateaudun squat home to Kilometer Zero, one of the top English-speaking literary magazines in Paris: ". . . The French squatting laws permit peaceful and artistically productive groups to enter a building that is unoccupied and not planned for immediate use. The judge makes a decision, and the building becomes a creative space for the new occupants -- the owners of the building cannot expulse the squatters unless they can prove that they can use the building. Further, water and electricity must remain on for any inhabited building. Our squat has provided space for living and working on the magazine and our many projects. We've put on several theatre productions, magazine launches, and a series of venue shows in the ground-floor ballroom. . . ." (Photo of Chateaudun squat by Mario Palmieri.)


STIRRED NOT SHAKEN 10/05/2002


Top litzine Stirring is celebrating its third birthday with a special bumper issue including a fascinating report on their publication process. Happy birthday! (Photo: Letitia Trent's "Anniversary" is on the cover of this month's Stirring.)


3AM TOP 5 10/05/2002


3AM will soon bring you a new short story by Tony White, author of Road Rage, Charlieunclenorfolktango, Satan! Satan! Satan!, editor of the Britpulp! anthology and literary editor of The Idler. His forthcoming novel, Foxy-T, will be published by Faber in 2003. Tony is currently listening to:

  1. "Disappointed" -- Morrissey (Bona Drag, HMV/EMI)
  2. "Because of You" -- Tim Buckley (Sefronia, Discreet Records)
  3. "Just a Dream" -- Slim Smith (Just a Dream, Trojan Records)
  4. "Congoman" -- The Congos (Heart of the Congos, Black Art Records)
  5. "Le Moribond" -- Jacques Brel (Jacques Brel 8, Barclay Records)


STOP THE WAR 10/04/2002


Those lovable old anarcho-punks Crass are back in full attack. There's a reading by Penny Rimbaud in Canterbury on Saturday 12 October at 8pm (Canterbury Whole Foods 1-2 Jewry Lane, Canterbury, tel: 01227-464623) and a screening of Gee Vaucher's film, Semi-Detached on Sunday 20 October at the Rio Cinema (107 Kingsland High Street, London, tel: 0207 241-9410). Vaucher's Return to the Killing Fields is on at the Rio from 21 September until 9 November. The most important event is probably a big concert called Voices and Music in Opposition to War which will take place on Friday 8 November at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London (starts 7.30pm).


SLEEPLESS IN PARIS 10/04/2002


Tomorrow night there will be a series of free cultural events throughout Paris. For more info go here. (Photo: cover of this week's Zurban.)


CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 10/04/2002


The 53rd Cheltenham Festival of Literature runs from 11-20 October. Guests include historians Eric Hobsbawm and Antonia Fraser, novelists Alain de Botton (pictured), Doris Lessing, Ian Rankin, Penelope Lively, Ben Okri and Fay Weldon, poets Andrew Motion, James Fenton and Roger McGough, plus politicians like Tony Benn and many, many others.


LIVER BIRD 10/04/2002


Two exclusive pix from Morcheeba's Liverpudlian gig on 20 September: "A sexy girl with a mystical voice" -- and that's just the photographer, Italo-scouse Federica Rossi!



CRIME & PUNISHMENT 10/03/2002


The short story that Secretary is based on -- Mary Gaitskill's Secretary can be read online at Nerve.com: ". . . He stood quietly for a moment. Then he said, 'Come into my office. And bring that letter.' I followed him into his office. 'Put that letter on my desk,' he said. I did. 'Now bend over so that you are looking directly at it. Put your elbows on the desk and your face very close to the letter.' Shaken and puzzled, I did what he said. 'Now read the letter to yourself. Keep reading it over and over again.' I read: 'Dear Mr. Garvy: I am very grateful to you for referring. . .' He began spanking me as I said 'referring.' The funny thing was, I wasn't even surprised. I actually kept reading the letter, although my understanding of it was not very clear. I began crying on it, which blurred the ink. The word 'humiliation' came into my mind with such force that it effectively blocked out all other words. Further, I felt that the concept it stood for had actually been a major force in my life for quite a while. He spanked me for about ten minutes, I think. I read the letter only about five times, partly because it rapidly became too wet to be legible. When he stopped he said, 'Now straighten up and go type it again.' . . ."


ASSUME THE POSITION! 10/03/2002


Michael Martin writes about Steven Shainberg's controversial new film, Secretary, in Nerve: "One of the best and ballsiest songs of the punk era was X-Ray Spex's 'Oh Bondage, Up Yours!,' a feminist screed that was shrink-wrapped in winking SM allusion. In the song, which purports to be something about lost little girls discovering their own voices, lead singer Poly Styrene begs some unnamed something to 'Buy me, tie me, chain me to the wall' in a tone that's almost orgasmically sarcastic: she sounds like she wants to be beaten up. Twenty-five years later, the new film Secretary attempts to make a few similar arch points about finding empowerment in physical submission. . . . Maggie Gyllenhaal is Lee, a mousy twenty-something fond of self-mutilation and bow-tied blouses who has recently been released from a mental institution. When she takes a job as a typist for lawyer Edward Gray (James Spader), Gray's admonishment of Lee's clerical errors evolves into vague SM play: in one scene, Gray spanks her over his desk; in another, he jerks off onto her back. The kicker: Lee likes it. . . ." There's also an insightful interview with the leading actress.


PUSHING THE DOOR WIDE OPEN 10/03/2002


The great Will Self is interviewed by Robert McCrum in The Observer. Will Self explains that his fourth novel, Dorian, is "very much about England. There's also the extraordinary popular delusion and madness of crowds that surrounded the phenomenon of Diana Spencer which is a theme that the book runs with. I read Wilde once through, gutted it, analysed it and then did my best to forget it. . . . Wilde's book was greeted by young gay men in England at the time as a cult novel. It became the standard around which a certain conception of contemporary homosexuality was mobilised, and it became a succès de scandale for that very reason. I don't think that I've done any more in my version than to push the door wide open so that we can clearly see what's going on on the bed. . . ."


FACIAL HAIR AND SHRUNKEN T-SHIRTS 10/03/2002


Shazia Ahmad reviews Dave Eggers and Zadie Smith's recent Manhattan gig in The New York Observer: "When transatlantic friends Zadie Smith and Dave Eggers appeared together for The New Yorker Festival at the New York Quarterly Meeting House in Stuyvesant Square last Friday, the air was buzzing with anticipation. . . . The sold-out event drew a crowd so large that it circled around the Quaker school building in the hot rain. Facial hair and shrunken T-shirts were much in evidence, and -- a pleasant surprise for a Manhattan literary event these days-the crowd was decidedly multi-culti, with young Indian men, trendy African-American couples and several Asians. Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace, who'd read at the Meeting House earlier in the evening, stuck around to support the kids. Mr. Franzen, wearing a white shirt and big hairdo, eagerly directed people to their pews at the front. He later joined Mr. Wallace, who was wearing his signature white bandanna around his head like a bandage. Mr. Eggers kicked off with a short story about a boy named Hollis. 'It's got a surprise ending,' he promised. Five minutes later, something had happened to Hollis, but all you could hear at the back was the indistinct cadence of Mr. Eggers' sing-song voice, which lulled more than one listener to sleep in the sweltering hall. 'It was so hot in there, it was a two-bandanna reading,' Mr. Wallace said later. Next up was Ms. Smith, a head or two taller than her American friend. She bellowed like a schoolmistress in assembly. Her 20-minute reading consisted of a passage from her new novel about Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and their passion for the arts and sciences. She seemed to intend it as a kind of moral fable. By the time she was through, the audience was restless. There was a lot of watch-checking. Then Mr. Eggers came back on, and everyone sat up straighter. He read a long passage from his novel You Shall Know Our Velocity, swaying and reverting to the sing-song voice. Fewer people nodded off this time. Ms. Smith returned next, promising to read only nine more pages. However, hopes of relief were dashed when they turned out be about an old man dying of kidney failure. Asked by an audience member what the most surprising aspect of her success had been, Ms. Smith said, 'I expected it to be this Ivy League world, but they just care about my hair and shoes.' At the book signing after the reading, Ms. Smith was asked what she and Mr. Eggers have in common. 'We both have difficult hair,' she answered as she grimly signed copies of White Teeth and her brand-new novel, The Autograph Man. According to her publicist, now that Ms. Smith is a graduate fellow at Radcliffe, 'she's not doing any additional media.' The publicist turned to a colleague and added in a low voice, 'She should just talk to them; they're going to write about her anyway.'"



3A.M. TOP 5 10/02/2002


3A.M. columnist and shoegazing expert Andrew Stevens is currently bopping to:

  1. "Double Figure" -- Plaid
  2. "Music Has the Right to Children" -- Boards of Canada
  3. "Our Music is Red with Purple Flashes" -- The Creation
  4. "Soul Kiss (Glide Divine)" -- Spectrum
  5. "Incunabula" -- Autechre

MORE THAN MORTAL FLESH COULD STAND 10/02/2002


Interesting interview with Marco Pirroni (who played with The Banshees during their first gig at the 1976 100 Club punk festival, then became a member of The Models and -- more famously -- Adam and the Ants) on The Pistols' website. On the subject of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's shop, Marco says that "It was THE only thing that was exciting in the early 70s. If you were brave enough to cross the threshold, you realised this is where you wanted to be and the people you wanted to be with. Misfits all! I only went in for some brothel creepers and it changed my life forever." On the Pistols' influence: "Well I had been wanting to form a band before. My idea was going to be a cross between Spiders From Mars and Sister Ray, but seeing the Sex Pistols put paid to all that, their power was such that you could never go back to how you thought before. Nobody could ever have imagined Johnny Rotten. They were the evil bits of rock 'n' roll crystallised, and it was real, not Theatre rock." On Sid Vicious: "Sid was the funniest person I had ever met, Sue was in love with him but she was in love with everybody. He moved into her place in Ealing for a while and had to go out and call me, to try and get me to go over, coz he was so bored! I guess I knew him fairly well at that period. Everybody liked Sid, he was very likeable in a violent, childish sort of way. He claimed to hate everyone. In truth I don't think he really hated anything. . . . One night at Club Louise, Sid told me he was rehearsing with the Pistols, but it was 'all hush hush man.' Much as I loved Sid, I knew this was the end of the Sex Pistols." On Nancy Spungen: "I always thought the question wasn't why did he kill her, but why didn't he kill her earlier, she really was more than mortal flesh could stand." He even rounds off the interview by discussing his passion for Thunderbirds. Marco's sidekick Adam Ant "has been placed under a 12 month community rehabilitation order at the Old Bailey following an incident in which he threatened drinkers at a pub". (Pic: Marco with the Banshees at the legendary 100 Club punk festival, September 1976.)


NECRONAUTS OF THE WORLD UNITE 10/02/2002


The International Necronautical Society's recent brilliantly erudite publication Navigation Was Always a Difficult Art will be launched as part of a series of artists' editions at the Austrian Cultural Forum (28 Rutland Gate, London SW7) on Thursday, 10th October from 6-30 pm. Wine etc. All welcome.


GENTLEMEN PREFER RUSSIAN BLONDES 10/02/2002


I love Russian Mail Order Brides' Why Date Or Marry a Russian Woman? page: ". . . American women can have attitudes that are difficult to deal with. They are often demanding and hard to please. Russian women on the other hand are so unspoiled. In many less-developed countries, like countries of the former Soviet Union, women have a much lower social status than men. Russian men are often abusive and disrespectful toward women. This is what Russian women are used to. Compared to that, the life you can give her will make her so happy and grateful. Russian women tend to be devoted adoring wives. . . . According to the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH), just over half of American women are overweight or obese. The findings of a 1998 study are that 25.7% of American women over 20 years of age are overweight and an additional 25% are obese. Russian women in contrast are rarely overweight. They seem more concerned with their appearance. Russians do not have a lot of the high-fat convenience foods we have. They tend to eat more whole foods, whole grain breads and in general lower-fat diets. Most Russians cannot afford cars and must walk most places they go. Very attractive women are common in countries of the Former Soviet Union. . . ." And now, let me introduce you to Svetlana: ". . . I am a happy girl, fully pleased with my life with myself and those who are near me, but I lack a beloved man to crown my happiness. I dream of a reliable, true friend for whom I would be a true and real girl-friend, tender and loving wife. I want to have common children with him and dedicate myself to our happy family." You can have common children with me, love, any time -- I'm common as muck me.


GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES 10/02/2002


Britain's best-selling tabloid, The Sun, has launched a worthy Save Our Blondes campaign: "The world has fought to save the whale and the panda. Today conservationists face a new challenge -- the demise of the blonde. . . . [B]londes are an endangered species. Too few people carry the right hair colour gene for them to survive to 2202. Now we are launching a vital new campaign to Save Our Blondes. It is a sort of World Wildnights Fund to preserve these proud, magnificent creatures. . . . Anna, 21, said: "If they can save the whale, The Sun can save the blonde". . . ."






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