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Artwork by Sardax


by Andrew Gallix



Grossly underrated English novelist Tim Parks talks about the writer's permanent sense of contradiction in LA Weekly: ". . . Getting away from Earth was perhaps what the writing obsession was all about, the Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran has decided. Relating a sharp increase in the number of would-be creative authors to the decline of religious belief, he concludes, 'No one can do without some semblance of immortality, and even less will they deny themselves the right to seek it out in the form of this or that reputation, starting with the literary . . . Since death has come to be accepted by all as the absolute end, everybody writes!' If Cioran is correct, the hurtfulness of the negative review takes on a new dimension: The vain ego is grappling with the threat of its own extinction. . . . But can it really be that the writers we admire only create out of a yearning for some improbable surrogate of eternal life? Can it be that their abilities to enchant us with words, to evoke youth and beauty, to conjure up drama, are actually enhanced when a reviewer denies them the recognition they were after? Should we thus wish that our favorite writers get panned, in the hope that they will then produce something even more miraculous?

Giacomo Leopardi, perhaps the finest Italian poet after Dante, wrestled long with the question of writing and fame. Forerunner of Schopenhauer, Leopardi had reached the unpopular conclusion that life was short, wretched and meaningless, a 'solid nothing.' The genius of his poetry was to confront this unpalatable 'truth' in verses so seductive that at least for the duration of the reading, the reader could feel enchanted by sad necessity. . . . Poverty-stricken, Leopardi wrote in a letter to his brother, 'If I could not take refuge in posterity, in the certainty that with time my work will find its rightful place (an illusory refuge I know, but it's the only one and absolutely necessary to the serious man of letters), I would have sent literature to the devil a thousand times.' Isn't this a magnificent contradiction? In order to go on with an art that tells an uncompromising truth, the poet has to feel certain of something he simultaneously acknowledges is an illusion: the glory of a posthumous reputation, about which, of course, he will never know anything, being dead. Purposeful action in general, Leopardi thought, and the happiness it brings, could only be carried out under the spell of some illusion. Ball games, for example, he thought particularly admirable for their ability to create a sense of urgency in people around an enterprise that was in the end supremely meaningless. (Imagine caring whether Shaq makes a free throw!) Living meant living an illusion. The writer was no exception. But since art involved telling the truth about the human condition, the artist was obliged to live in a permanent state of contradiction. . . ."


There's a Sniffin' Glue launch night at Alan McGee's Deathdisco at the Notting Hill Arts Club (21 Notting Hill Gate, London W11) on 16 July. Expect a strong 3AM presence! The current cover story in the excellent Cleveland Free Times is an article about Sonic Youth by 3AM's Matthew Wascovich. A fine new arts webzine called Six Billion has been launched. There's an article on Romania by Bruce Benderson. The father and daughter team in charge of the Glastonbury Festival. Two articles on books about music and creativity in Tangents. The original publisher's dream: Dickens. Iggy Pop is now a Knight of the Arts and Letters Order in France! Toby Litt is interviewed in the Independent: "'The term postmodernist may be something that I object to,' he says, 'because I'm hoping that what I do isn't off-putting in the way that postmodern is seen as being. Although I am, in the big sense, after modernism, I've never written anything in the hope that it would be postmodern, because as far as I'm concerned, that's something historical.'" Thousands of rollerskaters take to the streets of Paris every Friday night. Check out the pictures.

3AM TOP 5 06/23/2003

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs' guitar hero Nick Zinner is currently listening to:
  1. "The Backlash Blues" -- Nina Simone
  2. "Bad Mood" -- Helmet
  3. "Reverence" -- Jesus & Mary Chain
  4. "White Wedding" -- Roland S Howard
  5. "Ballad of a Sin Eater" -- Ted Leo
(pic by Daniel Yellen.)

3AM TOP 5 06/21/2003

3am Editor-in-Chief and webmaster Jim Martin has just launched his band's (Johnny Incognito)'s official website. "Big Ugly Jim" is currently moshing to:
  1. "No Tomorrow Girls" -- The Black Halos
  2. "Pariah" -- The Buzzcocks
  3. "Son Of A Bitch To The Core" -- The Headstones
  4. "Against The 70s" -- Mike Watt, Eddie Veder, etc.
  5. "I Wanna Be A Drug Sniffing Dog" -- Lard
  6. "Wonderman" -- Atom and his Package
  7. "He Got Game" -- Public Enemy
  8. "Beer" -- Reel Big Fish
  9. "Gaggle of Friends" -- SNFU
  10. "Better Than You" -- The Nate Pike Band


Niall Griffiths' new novel, Stump, is reviewed by Toby Litt in The Guardian: "Addicts, in a brilliant phrase, are those who 'do not welcome themselves'. In one scene, the narrator's best friend, Perry, describes a young man staggering into one of his Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, covered in spew, vomiting blood, completely pissed, and remembers his first thought: 'Yew lucky, fucking, bastard.'" Lost Turners exhibited online. Teachers strip off for calendar. A new interview with Laura Hird. Veteran British left-wing politician Tony Benn records a rap album. US legend Kim Fowley interviewed at length in Chronic'art. Diana Cambridge on how to write a book and work at the same time. The Sex Pistols will tour the US of A this summer. Jamie Reid's exhibition at TomTom (42 New Compton Street, London, Tottenham Court Rd Tube station) is extended until September 21. Moscow's The eXile slates James Frey's novel. Joshua Cohen, editor of the Prague Pill on central Europe's new generation of expat writers in Forward: "outsiders toting backpacks and wielding Platinum Plus cards aren't the right kind of outsiders for literature. They're a Mercedes-length from the edge, and literature needs someone on the precipice. It's dangerous on that precipice, but the danger, well, illuminates the prose. And there's no more of that danger left in this Europe, once again at the edge of Empire." The infamous "I fucked Jack White" T-shirt. The second Creative NonQuiction Contest is open. Mobile asses. James Joyce top 10 for Bloomsday. Monica Ali explains where she comes from. British kids vote for the best new book. Margaret Atwood on George Orwell. Sean O'Hagan discusses Viginia Woolf with Patti Smith. Take the secret service test. Ageism hits generation X. City Lights bookstore at 50.


"Pretty young women were all the same; completely goddamned self-obsessed. He had had to earn the right to be self-obsessed, to slog his guts out in libraries for years and brown-nose the right people, generally assholes who you wouldn't piss upon if they were on fire. Along comes some nineteen-year-old undergrad destined for at best a lower second honours, who thinks that her opinion counts, that she's important, just because she has a sweet face and a god-given ass. The horrible thing, the worst goddamn thing about it, thought Ornstein, was that she was absolutely right. . . . The two philosophers watched her leave the pub.

-One of my brightest undergrads, McGlone smirked.

-Terrific ass, Ornstein nodded. . . ." -- Irvine Welsh, "The Two Philosophers," The Acid House (1994).


Marco Pirroni (former Adam and the Ants) is preparing a compilation called Sex: Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die which will contain many singles that were on the Sex boutique jukebox circa 1975/76. Jordan, who worked at Sex and later sang with/managed the Ants, gave one of the most memorable performances in Derek Jarman's 1978 cult classic Jubilee which has just been released on DVD. There's a review by Todd R. Ramlow in Popmatters: ". . . Criterion's DVD release of Derek Jarman's punk film classic Jubilee is . . . a reminder of just how politically and artistically engaged punk can be. . . . Filmed over the course of the year 1977, the year of Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee (25 years on the throne), Jubilee is also set in a dystopian England of 1977. Thus, the occasion for Criterion's 25th Anniversary Edition of the film; it's a jubilee of a jubilee of a jubilee, as it were. . . . Upon its release, Jubilee was met with criticism from participants in the punk movement, specifically, that it exploited punk for Jarman's own artistic profit, and that as an 'outsider,' he had no authority to represent punk. But punk's ownership and representation -- and its credibility -- have long been up for debate. Despite its investment in the working class, the movement has never shed its avant-garde, art-school associations and stylings. 'Jubilee: A Time Less Golden,' a documentary included in this DVD, gives a lot of consideration to this tension. As John Maybury (assistant production designer for Jubilee and former London punk) observes, British punk was made up almost entirely of 'upper middle class [kids] and aristos pretending to be commoners.' There were also tensions on the set between the 'real' punk kids Jarman hired to fill supporting parts and the 'real' actors playing the major roles. Jordan, who plays Amyl Nitrate, was a 24/7 punk who worked at Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren's famous King's Road shop, 'SEX'; and Toyah Willcox, who plays Mad, was a classically trained actor fresh out of the National Theater. A number of the bands originally slated to appear in the film, like Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Clash, pulled out at the last minute, claiming the film commercialized the movement. But Kenny, drummer for the Banshees, does appear, as do The Slits and Adam Ant, in his pre-New Romantic days. Perhaps most famously, designer Vivienne Westwood despised the movie, calling it 'the most boring and therefore disgusting film' she had ever seen. She even went so far as to produce a t-shirt, silk-screened with her screed against the film, assailing Jarman as 'a gay boy jerk[ing] off through the titillation of his masochistic tremblings.' The Criterion Edition kindly reproduces the text of this t-shirt in one of its many extra features. In one respect, Westwood was right. Jubilee is arty, decidedly pretentious and sometimes conservative. Production designer Christopher Hobbs, in the DVD documentary, suggests that Jarman felt aligned with Queen Elizabeth, looking towards then contemporary England as the exact opposite of her own 'Golden Age,' as emblematized in the punk subculture. . . . Perhaps the suggestion that they could never escape the system is what pissed off punks about the film back in 1978: Jubilee suggests that punk is complicit, even a willing participant, in its own commodification. . . . Afterwards, the film turned prophetic. Dr. Dee's vision came true -- the streets burned in Brixton and Toxteth, Adam [Ant] was on Top of the Pops and signed up with Margaret Thatcher to sing at the Falklands Ball. They all sign up in one way or another. . . ."

3AM TOP 5 06/20/2003

The author of Born Free, Laura Hird, is currently listening to:
  1. "Seven Nation Army" -- The White Stripes: "I have a link to the video on the website and watch it more than is really healthy".
  2. "Personal Jesus" (or anything on the bloody wonderful Man Comes Around cd) -- Johnny Cash
  3. "Baker Street" -- Gerry Rafferty: "'Baker Street' -- one of my all-time favourites. If he got royalties for the number of times I must have listened to this one over the years, he'd be loaded and I'd be homeless".
  4. "Brand New Key" -- Melanie: "My first record in the morning at the moment".
  5. "Helter Skelter" -- Oasis: "Hard to do wrong with a track like that".


An excerpt from Diary, Chuck Palahniuk's new novel which comes out in August. Shakespeare and Company's lit fest entitled Lost Beat and New: Three Generations of Parisian Literary Tradition ended on 16 June. The legendary Undertones have recorded a new John Peel session. Young Brits prefer texting to phone calls. Dance to The Fever. A review of the Granta list in Slate. Twenty rules for writing detective stories. Stewart Home in Metamute on proletarian post-modernism Italian stylee. Alex Garland and Danny Boyle interviewed in the Village Voice. Pete from the Libertines didn't appear on stage in Paris. 3AM contributor Jim Ruland appears in McSweeneys again. The Dave Eggers first-name-only controversy comes to an end. At a time when you can't help bumping into people wearing CBGB T-shirts every five minutes, there are rumours that the club may be on the verge of closing down. Let's hope they're unfounded. Miss Bookslut attends a Book Punk gig. see the pictures here. New Yeah Yeah Yeahs video. A cultural history of the word 'cunt' (link via Fimoculous). Talking of which: Bush falling off a Segway personal transporter. Julienne Davis out of Sophisticated Savage. Jack White's new bird. The origin of Bloomsday. More info on Bloomsday. The Believer's idea share page. Michael Moorcock on science fiction in the Spectator. Rounder characters in next to no time. The Webby Awards 2003. An interview with Whirlwind Heat. R.M. Berry on the avant-garde and the question of literature in the Electronic Book Review. The Daily Telegraph on book titles. The web biscuit buff. Tony White's new novel Foxy-T will be published by Faber on 17 July. Steve Almond appears in nerve and explains how he became a "Dick Lit" author without even trying in Moby Lives. Visiting Somerset Maugham in the latest issue of the Paris Review. David Beckham joins real Madrid. The return of the Anti-Nazi league.

3AM TOP 5 06/17/2003

New York ace face, Audrey from melodynelson, is currently bopping to:
  1. "Jetsetter" - Ed Harcourt
  2. "Bokkie" - Elefant
  3. "Ladyfingers" - The Fever
  4. "My Coco" - Stellastarr*
  5. "Black Tongue" - The Yeah Yeah Yeahs


A very interesting interview with Jeff Noon about his new play The Modernists (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, 11 June-21 June) here, here and also here: ". . . I was brought up in the 60s and as a kid I didn't really connect to the music and I didn't know about The Who and stuff like that. But when I came to Brighton there's a bit more history available here because of the town's connection. I learned that Mods actually stands for Modernists. I was astonished by this. What does it mean, why the Modernists? I started to look into that and there's a fascinating hidden history about the genesis of the Mods, as I guess you'd call it. Basically in the late 50s in north London a group of working class or lower middle class men started to dress and act in a certain way. Another name they had for themselves was The Individualists and they were very flamboyant -- working class dandies would be a good way to describe them. You can imagine in the late 50s it would be so dark and grim in Britain then, they would be just like a splash of technicolour. They were very influenced by European culture, by French and Italian films -- that whole style and coolness, the beautiful mask of films by Jean Paul Belmondo and Marcello Mastroiani, people like that. And also by modern jazz they used to listen to, Charlie Parker and bebop and Miles Davies. That's where they got the name The Modernists from. And I was just fascinated by this and I just thought 'Oh right'. So a few years later this becomes a fashion on the streets and a massive story in the press about the riots in Brighton and so on. And I just wanted to have a look at that -- this idea of a group of people creating something that was incredibly personal to them and was about being totally in love with their way of life. And how they would feel when that became just something you could buy in a shop. . . . They'd put extra buttons on and lengthen the vents and they would change this stuff week by week. And slowly over the years this hierarchy came into place, where you would get this local face, the kind of 'King Mod' who would be giving out instructions about how long the vent would have to be this week and so on. So orders are being sent down. . . . And really it goes back to me in my punk days because that was my big teenage thing. It goes back to that idea that we're all individuals, but we're all dressed the same. And that idea of the sadness you feel when it becomes just a story in the paper. . . . If you look at the pictures of them, they look like they're standing in a set and they've been dressed in these costumes. They acknowledged that kind of theatricality of life and it was a great thing to do, to give them that life on the stage.

. . . I set the play in 1962 because I wanted it to be set at that time when they realised that something is being lost. Because once something is being lost, the need for the code is exaggerated. It's a bit like Jane Austen or something, you've got to have this in place. . . . One of the problems you have as a modern writer is this idea of anything goes, you know? . . . It's like when you're writing a novel or a film these days, why shouldn't they sleep together on the first date? That's just an example, but all that game playing falls away. All the games Cary Grant would have to play with a woman back in the 40s and 50s, you don't have them anymore. So it allows you to just go back a bit and find a group of people who had this code of behaviour. It allows you to explore that game-playing. And I really like that because you can weight it with emotion, so that there's an intrigue about what people are saying to people beneath the loaded language. . . . It was walking in this shop called 'Jump the Gun', which is a Mod shop, that started it all off. I think the sign says something like 'fine clothing for the Modernist gentleman'. And I just came out of the shop and I had this vision of 'The Modernists by Jeff Noon'. That's how ideas start, just with mad things like that. I thought it was a novel then, it became a play later. . . ."

The National Film Theatre in London will run a season of Mod films throughout August: The Cool 60s - Towards a Mod Cinema. (Pic: Bar Italia Scooter Club, Soho, London.)

3AM TOP 5 06/09/2003

The author of My Life in Heavy Metal: Stories, Steve Almond, is currently listening to a whole lot of covers after his recent DJ gig devoted to the genre: "They're all suitable for sex. Fuck yes!"
  1. Snoop's "Gin n Juice" covered by The Gourds
  2. The Rolling Stones' "I Just Wanna See His Face" covered by the Blind Boys of Alabama
  3. Sly's "Let Me Have It All" covered by Joe Henry
  4. Jimi's "If 6 Was 9" covered by Bootsy Collins
  5. The Who's "Baba O'Riley" covered by the Waco Brothers


Punk legend Richard Hell on drugs in nerve: "I live underneath a real good poet, architecturally speaking. My building has been home to many poets (and still is). When I moved in in 1975, Allen Ginsberg had already lived here for a few years. He moved out in the mid-nineties when he made a lot of money from selling his archives, less than two years before he died. Rene Ricard, the notorious poet and aesthete lived here in the eighties, drug- and clothes-rich via the art of the painters he'd helped to make glamorous, like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Julian Schnabel and Francesco Clemente. He was smoking a lot of chemicals at the time and had to leave the building after he nearly burned it down twice. Jim Brodey lived here. Larry Fagin lives here and so do Simon Pettet and John Godfrey. . . . John Godfrey is a real good writer, sort of a poet's poet, and he lives in the apartment directly above me. After I gave him a copy of my first big book of poetry back in 1991, he said he could tell what drug I was on when I wrote each poem. This kind of hurt my feelings, but I had to laugh, because the truth was I usually was on something or other when I wrote the things in that book (if for no other reason than that I was usually on something or other all the time). I could also laugh because, by then, I felt pretty secure that the drugs hadn't done the writing any damage, except for in my case reducing its quantity (which, I guess, on second thought, is a serious type of damage . . . ). But I do think there have been a lot of good poems written on drugs, and even more good sex enabled. It's too bad the drugs are so wearing on both one's body and judgment.

I think every drug that has any recreational appeal improves sex, if for no other reason than that they all reduce inhibitions. Even the ones that make you nervous, like speed, also make you aggressive and seductively eloquent and increase your consciousness of your nerve endings, the greatest number of which per square millimeter of course are concentrated in the classic erogenous zones (as opposed to the romantic erogenous zones, like ankles and necks). Furthermore, the very act of two people using drugs together is a demonstration of willingness to surrender to and even transgress in favor of the sensual. Probably the most eccentric acts of sex I had under drugs took place on cocaine. . . . My fondest memory is of a technique I developed in the darkest days of that era, when I'd often find myself crazed in my apartment at 2 or 3 a.m. after many hours of solitary cocaine use, having arrived at a state where I was unable to think of anything but sex. Actually there were two techniques; this is the first one. I didn't just want sex, I wanted it precise and detailed and extended. Cocaine abuse brought out the megalomaniacal scientific erotomane. I wanted sex that was both as dirty and as close to permanent as possible. I hit on the idea of calling up a likely girl and asking her to come over and let me draw her naked crotch. That seemed like a good point of departure. It was effective. She'd come over and take off her pants and underpants in the dead silent 3 a.m. apartment and lie on the bed with her knees up and parted and I'd stretch out on my stomach between them with a drawing pad and pencil until we both came. . . ."


Yay! The British government says no to the euro. They're "lairy, loaded and out on the lash": meet the geezers, Britain's new social group. Are you a geezer?. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs in the Guardian a couple of days ago; in Paris tomorrow. Miss melodynelson attends the Yes New York compilation launch party. Paul Theroux, the Indiana Jones of US lit. Is photography art? Check out Tate Modern's Cruel and Tender exhibition. 3AM's webmaster and Editor in Chief Jim Martin has just launched his band's official website: Johnny Incognito kick serious ass on stage and now online. Anthony Julius revisits TS Eliot's anti-semitism. Pinter's war against Bush. Young People are the kind of band who swap instruments all the time, make music out of kitchen utensils and support The Kills at La Cigale. And jolly good they were too. Michael Bracewell interviews Lisa Marie Presley. Clare Short on Iraq.

3AM SUMMER PARTY 06/06/2003

3am Magazine is throwing a summer party at the Horse Hospital in London (Colonnade, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 1HX / entrance: £5) on 26 July. The line-up remains to be confirmed, but should include readings, live music and performances courtesy of (in alphabetical order) Steve Aylett, Michael Bracewell, Frank Chickens, Billy Childish, Vic Godard, Bertie Marshall, Kerri Sharp, Richard Strange, Mitzi Szereto, Matt Thorne, Paul Tickell, Tommy Udo and Steven Wells. More to be confirmed. Watch this space! (Pic: 3AM's delightful Kimberly Nichols.)


London's legendary Bar Italia has its own website. Liverpool has been named Capital of Culture 2008. A new fanzine called Smoke devoted to London. Is Monica Ali the new Zadie Smith? Scholars who blog. The bloody 80s revival gathers momentum. Iris Murdoch's personal library is up for grabs. Myra Hindley in Space! As 24 Hour Party People goes on general release in France, Chronic'art interview Tony Wilson. This year's Orange Prize for Fiction goes to Valerie Martin, but do we still need a lit prize for birds? An interview with the winner. More Orange Prize coverage here. Val Stevenson interviews Toby Litt in nthposition. Is cunnilingus still taboo? The trouble with girls. Stephen Jones aka Babybird chooses his favourite Americana. Great live pix of the Libertines whose Babyshambles Sessions are online. Find out how they ended up in cyberspace. Wotta band, ladies and gentlemen, wotta band! All hail the micro mini. Salam Pax's first column for The Guardian.


I was delighted to find a scan of an old Generation x article on the excellent, recently-revamped Punk77 site the other day. The article is here. It was published in the music weekly Sounds (which I read religiously along with N.M.E. and Melody Maker -- and even Record Mirror on occasion!) on 16 July 1977. I remember reading this article during a coach trip. My mum was taking me to the seaside (I think we were going to Margate). Like the Banshees, Gen x (pictured) were the last big punk band without a record contract at the time which added to their mystique in the eyes of a 12-year-old who was still too young to go and see them play live. I remember being really happy… Anyway, enough of me. Generation x have been in the news quite a lot lately what with the release of a triple cd and now an article on Sigue Sigue Sputnik (Tony James's post-Gen x venture) in Popmatters. Patrick Schabe writes: "It's one of the greatest unsung stories in rock and roll. The scam of the century. An epic tale of musical hijinks and hijackings that embarrassed an industry and catapulted conceptual art to corporate consumer levels. Oh yeah, and a band, too. . . . James's vision was a band that crossed the ultra-glam and gender-blurred sexuality of the New York Dolls, the synth-rock of Rev and Vega's Suicide, the ultraviolent futurism of A Clockwork Orange, and the style aesthetics of cyberpunk in a mishmash of Bladerunner and Road Warrior. James envisioned Elvis for the 21st century, revamped as a Giorgio Moroder death disco rock band. It was visually arresting, culturally challenging, and, although it seems hard to believe nearly twenty years later, completely in step with the times. Sigue Sigue Sputnik was, or was to be, the future today. Then. . . ."


Beautiful pictures of New York. The London Bloggers Tube Map. The story of Salam Pax, the Baghdad blogger. Tim Parks in LA Weekly on writers, reviews and posterity. After lad mags, here come dad mags like FQ or the aptly-named Dad. Was mead an aphrodisiac? Geoff Dyer on the new old journalism. Couldn't make it to Hay on Wye? Watch Don DeLillo, Hanif Kureishi et al in Windows Media Player. The bonkbuster bites back. Joanna Trollope scoffs at "grim lit"; Jilly Cooper claims "There are two categories of writers. Jeffrey Archer and me who long and long for a kind word in the Guardian and the others who get all the kind words and long to be able to do what Jeffrey and I do." Another review of John Harris's britpop saga, The Last Party. A full report on political theatre. An interesting article about poets and music. You've been good readers: here's your reward.


London's top avant-garde venue, the Horse Hospital, is holding a series of book launches including Iain Aitch (June 2), Mike Jay (June 5), 3AM contributor Travis Jeppesen and Pamela Des Barres (June 12). The Horse Hospital is also about to launch a monthly feature writer/publication section on its website. Please send submissions to James.


The programmable web is upon us and it's trumpeted as the "third era" of the Internet. Weblog Bookwatch is a good illustration of this new phenomenon. Visit the Barbie pole dancing school. Read James Joyce's dirty letters. Lit superstar Dave Eggers gets married. The famous 1886 Proust Questionnaire is sold for $120,000. An interview with the Buzzcocks (in French). 'Lost' PG Wodehouse novella proves the author was "never afraid to plagiarise himself". Martin Jacques in praise of national sovereignty. Philip Larkin's blues lyrics including: "Llandovery / Is responsible for the discovery / That semen / Can be produced without wemen". Can happy books win prizes? Create your very own ransom note. The world's oldest multiple-page book goes on display in Bulgaria. Oi! Where are the fucking weapons of mass destruction then? Brit study shows that the web is bringing people together in the real world. The Iranian poet Abas Amini who sewed up his eyes, ears and mouth is continuing his protest.


There's a review of Preethi Nair's new novel in the Guardian. Launch of a digital Noah's Ark. Andrew Stevens of Culture Wars reviews the early-April Granta reading at the Queen Elizabeth Hall: "As the event drew to a close, it felt somewhat anti-climatic, there no being no bar in which to harangue the authors for a quote to embellish this review." Rebel Inc to open a cannabis coffee shop in Edinburgh. No third series of The Office. Hay-on-Wye bookshops. Art or crap? (link through Fimoculous). Was Britain's Eurovision flop due to anti-war sentiment? Decline and fall of the male of the species. An interview with Justine Frischmann from last year. An excellent new online design magazine called Songs from Sesame Street used to break Iraqi prisoners. "Death," says Zadie Smith, "is sort of an affront to American life. It's so anti-aspirational"! The legendary City Lights bookstore celebrates iths 50th anniversary. I've been meaning to mention Mark R Dye's College and the Art of Partying -- scathing satire masquerading as a guide to…partying at college - for ages: done! Reports of Nancy Bailey's death are grossly exaggerated. Big Bro bimbos. Manchester crowned most bohemian city in the UK. A new study of Sylvia Plath's marriage.


An extract from John Harris's The Last Party: Britpop, Blair and the Death of English Rock. It's in two parts: here and over there: "The first words Brett Anderson spoke to Justine Frischmann were hardly the stuff of romance. 'What's wrong with your mouth?' he asked, thinking she had a speech impediment. The pair met at University College London, in 1988; they were both 21. 'I wasn't sure if he was a girl or a boy,' says Frischmann. . . . Frischmann, Anderson and Anderson's best friend, Mat Osman, moved into a flat in Finsbury Park. . . . The trio soon came to the conclusion that they had the core of a band. . . . In the summer of 1990, Suede were performing a slew of Anderson/Butler songs . . . that represented a genuine watershed. . . . Frischmann and Albarn first met at Brighton's Zap Club in 1990, when Suede were supporting Blur. . . . Albarn's colleagues sensed the arrival of an impressively sophisticated presence. 'We were very impressed with how rich she was,' says Alex James. 'We were all living in squats, eating grass -- and she was wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice. She was a posh bird, man. I mean, Damon's posh -- his dad ran an art department. But they were cash rich .' . . .

Despite Albarn's rapid declaration of their perfect fit, he expected the relationship to leave room for the odd tryst; the fact that so much of his life was spent on the road apparently made the arrangement inevitable. 'We had quite an unusual relationship,' says Frischmann. 'We saw ourselves as being quite modern, and not affected by the same rules as everyone else. The open thing does nothing for me, but there was no choice. If you're with Damon, you're going to be in an open relationship.' By spring 1991, they were an item, and - after a period of co-habitational purgatory -- Anderson moved out of the flat he and Frischmann then shared in Kensington, whose rent was met by Frischmann's father. . . . By May 1991, following the success of their second single There's No Other Way, Blur were pop stars. They appeared on children's TV and were featured in Smash Hits. They were also recurrently portrayed as the main players in a weekly London ritual that all but defined the newspapers' gossip columns, hanging out at a Thursday night club called Syndrome at the east end of Oxford Street. 'I did like Syndrome,' says Frischmann. 'Damon went through a phase of snogging boys, so it was really exciting. Girls snogging girls and boys snogging boys. It was pathetic rebellion, really -- when you think what Mick [Jagger] and Marianne [Faithfull] were up to at the same age. But they played everyone's records, and everyone was drunk. It was a laugh.' . . ."


A short story by the mighty Alasdair Gray in Prospect Magazine. Great pic of New York duo Mommy and Daddy. David Beckham, the icon. A live review of The Rapture in LA Weekly. There's also a new site devoted to The Rapture which is partly in French. Hanif Kureishi attacks "fascistic, corporate-style McLabour". Reviving the British barbecue.


What's wrong with Pitchfork? They don't like ace punk-dance outfit Whirlwind Heat! Here's my current top 10 websites (in no particular order) for Flame Books. Simon Goddard in The Evening Standard on Morrissey, the original pop geek. Stephanie Merritt chooses Wuthering Heights as her worst read. What's yours? A very interesting in-depth article about the beauty industry in the Economist. Tracey Emin goes back to Margate. Gene Simmons of Kiss (surely the worst band in rock history) attacks certain bands for "giving aid and comfort to the enemy"!


The author of the excellent Timoleon Vieta Come Home, Dan Rhodes, interviewed by Libby Brooks in the Guardian: ". . . The sometime Waterstones warehouseman, who failed his English A-level and turns fidgety at the prospect of discussing his writing, is nobody's notion of a literary young gun. But there are plenty of reasons why, diffidence notwithstanding, you will be hearing more about him. At 30, he is one of the youngest authors to be chosen for Granta's reputedly generation-defining Best Young British Novelists list. His first novel, Timoleon Vieta Come Home, has attracted a flurry of plaudits. . . . And Rhodes himself has thrown some controversy into the mix by declaring that he will never write again. But will this tale be Rhodes' first and last flare across the literary stratosphere? He now seems a little embarrassed by his retirement resolution. 'I've downgraded my plans from 'definitely never' to 'dunno'. I should just have shut my trap,' he admits. 'But I meant it. I really meant it. I wasn't enjoying writing at that point, and it was looking increasingly unlikely that I was going to be able to publish my book. Right now I'm not writing anything and it's just great.' He doesn't miss it, he says. 'I'll have to take up some work soon because I'm running out of cash. I met someone the other day who might have some gardening work.'

What might at first come across as a terrible pose, is probably more indicative of his own unsettled relationship with the creative process. He deadpans that he chose to be a writer because he is lazy and doesn't like alarm clocks, but has produced three books in practically as many years. One senses he is clearer about what he wants out of life than what he wants out of his work. Rhodes writes about love, but gives the impression that he would far rather be in love. Throughout his 20s, cash-strapped circumstance dictated that he scribble in the lonely margins of life. 'Being a terminal romantic failure helped because I didn't have to spend all my time stroking someone's face. I was working to get by and any other time I'd frantically write, after dark, on lager, whatever was on special offer at the off-licence.' . . . 'I'm not the person to ask about romance,' says Rhodes, 'because I write books about how I don't even begin to understand it.' . . . But most of Rhodes' conversation ricochets between an unequivocally serious approach to writing and a terror of sounding as though he takes himself seriously. 'When it's going well, it's the best thing in the world. It's hard to talk about without sounding like a pretentious git. It's a bizarre, almost physical experience. I feel it in my bones. That probably happens about 5% of the time, so the other 95% can be pretty frustrating. Something has to be a bit wrong with your life if you're driven to write,' he declares. 'If I do it again that would mean my life was deeply unsatisfactory in some way. I've had to approach my writing so single- mindedly that I've become a bit of a recluse, and I don't really want to be one in the future.' He tangles up, forehead rumpling. 'Maybe only a bit of one, but then doesn't that mean my books will be half-arsed? And I'd rather write nothing than something half-arsed. There are far too many half-arsed books in the world, written by writers who write because that's what writers do.' . . . He is nervous about publication, he says. 'I thought just having it in the shops would be enough to keep me happy, since it didn't look for a long time like it would come out. But I've got swept up in it all, reviews and sales, busily touching wood.' He rattles his forefingers on the table. . . . Rhodes insists that he hadn't heard of the Granta list until he was being touted as a possible inclusion. 'It was a very pleasant surprise, but I think all those lists and awards are to be taken with a pinch of salt. Obviously it's massively given me a leg-up in terms of coverage, but you'd be daft to chase after them.' He is acting a little bruised after failing to rally his fellow Granta listees to make a stand against the war in Iraq. 'Only nine of the 20 responded,' he says. 'I agree it's easy to mock as egomaniacal when suddenly everyone thinks they're political, but it would have got a few column inches and that's surely worthwhile.' Of course, it would have been hugely mockable if the Granta's young novelists had declared their solidarity with the Iraqi people, which is doubtless why most of them didn't reply. It's a gesture that rather encapsulates Rhodes' current state -- desperately noble but blinking too quickly to take in the whole view. For all his bravado and newly hatched ego, he's still fresh to centre-stage. Finding your level, like finding the love of your life, takes longer."


Playwright David Edgar on political theatre. Jean Rhys, darling of the demi-monde. The Angry Young Men revisited. A celebration of youth theatre. Why do some British authors travel so well?. Can you taste your words?. The Modern Word's first imaginary review contest. The Libertines interviewed in Popmatters. According to the Boston Review, French literature is out of touch with social realities. Heidi Julavits reviews critic-cum-novelist James Wood. Female writers' male muses. Britain's forthcoming summer festivals. Steve Lamacq on turf wars between moshers and scallies in Manchester. Minister for Europe Denis MacShane on Euro lit in translation. Julian Barnes on a war that wasn't worth a child's finger.

FLASH REVIEW 05/24/2003

3am co-editor Andrew Stevens is currently reading:
  1. The Last Party: Britpop, Blair and the Death of English Rock -- John Harris (4th Estate).
  2. Labyrinth: Corruption and Vice in the LAPD -- Randall Sullivan (Canongate).
  3. Pinochet in Piccadilly: Britain and Chile's Secret History -- Andy Beckett (Faber and Faber).
  4. The Making of a Terrorist: Abd Samad Moussaoui -- Zacarias Moussaoui (Serpent's Tail).
  5. Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia: The Bizarre Life of Julian Mclaren-Ross -- Paul Willetts (Dewi Lewis).

GOBSMACKED! 05/23/2003

The White Stripes played the Olympia in Paris last night and I'm still high on the buzz. I'd forgotten a band could be that good live! I really enjoyed Whirlwind Heat's jerky, angular drum/bass sound as well as the epileptic retard shapes their singer throws all over the shop. Definitely one to follow! They're signed to Jack White's label and their debut album will be released in Europe in June. It came out last month in the US. Spotted at the gig: legendary rock critic Nick Kent.


The Barcelona Review's sixth anniversary issue includes two pieces by Iain Bahlaj. J. Peder Zane in The News Observer on senior citizen fiction: "Juska is giving us a first hint of how a generation that redefined youth and middle age plans on gilding the golden years. As they take the wisdom of their poet laureate, Bob Dylan, to heart - 'he not busy being born is busy dying' -- senior moments of passion will become the norm, and not just between the covers of books." Tony Fletcher's first novel, Hedonism, set in NY clubland, will be published shortly. Jonathan Lethem praises James Berger's work in the Village Voice Literary Supplement. Lou Reed acting like a prick, but John Cale is in fine form. Check out the winners in Nerve's Bad Erotica Contest. The Hay-On-Wye Festival of Literature starts today and runs until 1 June. Steve Almond's advice on the how to write good sex scenes. Attila the Stockbroker's verdict on the Queen's poem: "It may have been written by the Queen, but it's hardly Bohemian Rhapsody!" Take a gander at the new inflatable sculptures on London's South Bank. Priceless prof quotes. Pictures of Penetration's gig at Punkaid in April. Milan Kundera argues that "every joke is a sacrilege". Paul Theroux reviews Hunter S Thompson. One of the many joys of summer: topless beach bunnies.


Manchester's best kept secret, HP Tinker, is one year older. Have a good one mate!


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