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by Andrew Gallix


HATE & WAR 03/30/2003

According to the NME "Ex-Clash guitarist Mick Jones has recorded his first material in ten years -- and it's an anti-war song. The star has teamed up with former Generation X and Sigue Sigue Sputnik member Tony James for the song 'Why Do Men Fight?'. Alan McGee's record label website, has reported that the duo 'ain't a band, they're just good mates'. Jones and James reportedly have an interest in the free streaming of tracks on the Internet, and approached McGee about posting the song on his site." In other news, The Clash who were recently inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame are apparently among the bands providing the soundtrack to the war on Iraq for British soldiers. Ironic or what? On the subject of Tony James, Billy Idol's former sidekick has become the king of mash-up mixes. For more free protest songs go here.
3AM TOP 5 03/30/2003

Young English author (The Love Parade, The House of Whacks, Coast and The Hired Gun)
Matthew Branton kindly gave us his Top 5 as playing in his truck this week:

1. "You Don't Know What It's Like" -- Janis Joplin
2. "Coming Home" -- The Prisoners
3. "I Do" -- Long Tall Shorty
4. "Hog in a Cocoa" -- Skatalites
5. "Red Hot" -- The Milkshakes
PULP ONLINE 03/30/2003

An excellent English web zine called has been launched. The first issue includes Alistair Gentry's literary Top 10, short stories by Simon Lewis (pictured), Romesh Gunesekera and Mark Hinckley as well as a Live Lit page which gives you the lowdown on lit gigs in swinging London. Highly recommended.


Peter Wild interviews Dan Rhodes -- one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists 2003 -- in the truly wonderful Bookmunch: ". . . I spent five and a half years writing the book (his first novel, Timoleon Vieta Come Home, published by Canongate in April) and even though I knew from the start that it had to have that ending for it to work dramatically, it made me sad every time I read it, and since I'm an obsessive redrafter I must have gone over it hundreds and hundreds of times, and I was thoroughly miserable every single time. The same goes for all the other sad things that happen along the way. Most of the time I could hardly bear to read what I'd written because I felt so sorry for all the imaginary people. I was never tempted to tone it down though. I quite often derail my own expectations. I'll be writing an episode and I'll think I know exactly where it's going, then all kinds of other possibilities appear and the story can take a completely different direction.

. . . I've got it into my head that now I'm on the Granta list I should have a pied-à-terre in Bloomsbury. It's terrible, and particularly ridiculous since I'd never even heard of the list until a few weeks before it came out. Ultimately it's just a list, but I'm hoping it'll help the book along. The other people on it seem to be pretty clever compared to me, so I can't help thinking that I'm only on it because of some kind of clerical error.

. . . I'm really loving not writing anything at the moment. Writing Timoleon Vieta Come Home was a pretty joyless experience, and I couldn't see beyond it. It was only during the last year, when it started to resemble the book I was trying to write, that I could feel happy with it -- and that coincided with me finding myself publisherless so it looked for a long time as if Timoleon Vieta Come Home wasn't going to come out, let alone any subsequent books. It was a pretty miserable time, but the darkness of those days helped Timoleon Vieta Come Home become the book it is -- I wasn't tempted to soften it at all in the final stages. Right now I have no imagination or motivation, and it's a fantastic feeling. I wasn't able to switch off for six and a half years, and now I've managed it I'm very reluctant to go back to writing. I wrote obsessively, to the detriment of every other aspect of my life, and I'm not sure I want to go back to that, and I know I wouldn't be prepared to write with less commitment. Maybe I'll write something else one day, but if I do I'm hoping I would be obliged to approach the work from a completely different angle -- not from the perspective of a miserable git. . . ."


Brendan O'Neill in Spiked on America and Britain's "cowardly war". O'Neill's "A Hollow War" is also spot-on: "The pro-war lobby claims it is a war to disarm Saddam, because he poses a threat to world peace. . . . Forget weapons inspections -- anyone who believes the world's only superpower is under threat from a failing state in the Middle East needs their head inspecting. The UK Guardian describes the invasion of Iraq as the 'most one-sided war in history'. Where the apparently threatened USA has a defence budget of $364 billion, the apparently threatening Iraq spends $1.5 billion on defence. Allied forces have 600 of the world's best fighter planes in the Gulf -- Iraq has 300 attack aircraft, and apparently only half of them are serviceable, with the rest in dire need of 'spare parts'. In its arsenal of 'world-threatening weapons', Iraq is said to have about 40 Scud missiles (also known as 'flying dustbins'). And it has fired nine of those already, all of which exploded in mid-air or missed their targets. As Bush talks up Saddam's threat to the world, on the ground his commanders admit that this war is a no-contest. 'It's not a fair fight', says US Lieutenant General James T Conway. 'But we didn't intend it to be.' The pro-war lobby also claims the war is to liberate the people of Iraq. But consider the fate of Iraq's Kurdish population, who were apparently liberated by the Gulf War of 1991 when they were granted limited self-rule in northern Iraq. Over the past 12 years, allied forces have turned a blind eye to Turkey's incursions into northern Iraq to combat Kurdish forces. For the USA and the UK, keeping sweet with NATO ally Turkey easily trumped any nonsense notion of Kurdish 'liberation'. And what kind of war of liberation ends in occupation? . . ." Robin Cook, who had the courage to resign from the British government in protest at the war on Iraq, is interviewed in today's Observer. Steve Mitchelmore from Spike writes: "Just seen on BBC News 24. Duncan March, a young former Royal Marines officer providing 'expert' knowledge. He explains the tactics of the US army when fighting opposition is constrained by public opinion. They use blanket bombing of soliders in the open but not in urban area because, and I quote: 'the public tend to dislike blanket bombing of civilians'. Ah, and I thought it was because it was morally repugnant!" Robert Pinsky in Slate on the history of poetry and war. Check out the latest civilian body count, then check out the gruesome pictures. John Le Carre is right: "The United States of America Has Gone Mad"

HAPPY BIRTHDAY 03/17/2003 our favourite Californicator. Have a good one!


Steven Rogers - legendary little drummer boy with extraordinary pulling power -- writes: "More Mumm than Mingus, Reims is gradually bolstering its credentials as an epicentre for collective jazz improvisation, not least through the weekly jam session on Tuesday nights at Excalibur, Rue de la Grue. From 8pm onwards, absolutely anyone playing any instrument can go along and join in with Drew and the lads -- just tell them you'd like to play and you'll be fittingly accommodated.

The direction of the music covers all jazzed territory, scampering from the raucous bravado of the JBs to Mongo Santamariesque latin licks to the smooth dancefloor blue breakbeats of Reuben Wilson, Donald Byrd and Stanley Turrentine. Some standards, from "Fever" to "Isn't she lovely" are chucked in as well for those who want to give it a lungful. Entrance is as free as can be, the beer's cheap and the staff are friendly and, er, excitable, particularly if the music hits the spot. It's certainly not unsual to see people rolling up to play straight off the evening train from Paris, definite proof of the night's growing popularity. For more information e-mail Drew Davies or phone 03.26.50. 81.28." (Photo: Steven Rogers bangs the drums down at Excalibur.)


Sorry for the dearth of Buzzwords updates but my computer crashed (again!) and I was offline for over a week, but enough about me. Kitty Empire writes in The Observer that the White Stripes' new album (Elephant) is "reassuringly loud and rampant": "Meg still drums like early man; Jack still makes his guitar squeal like a stuck pig". France's most famous paperback imprint, Le Livre de Poche, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with an exhibition at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Will Self is interviewed by Robert Birnbaum in Identity Theory. Self talks about coming "from the punk generation", refusing "to put on the airs and graces" of a great novelist, The Talmud as "the model for the English canon" and Aestheticism as an "openly and flamboyantly homosexual movement". The Black Table has published an article on a new magazine (called The Balloonist) Dave Eggers is meant to be working on. Neal Pollack is interviewed in Gawker. The results of the 2003 Bloggies are in: Bookslut tops the "best topical weblog" category. There's an interview with The Kills in Les Inrockuptibles. English Poet Laureate Andrew Motion attacks the school curriculum for not leaving students enough time to read and draws up his list of must-reads. Academics, journalists and authors (including Michael Moorcock) comment upon Motion's controversial list. Christopher Caldwell wonders in Slate why English books are so badly made? Interesting article about Caroline Michel, the queen of Brit publishing, in today's Observer.


Adrian Searle explains in The Guardian why he is unimpressed by the Cobra exhibition at the Baltic in Gateshead (until 21 April): "There was a time when artists habitually wore berets, smoked and drank incessantly, lived the bohemian life and painted like there was no tomorrow -- and no yesterday either. They rejected their immediate predecessors, invented movements, wrote splenetic manifestos and believed in such a thing as the avant-garde, a phrase that today sounds almost quaint. They thought art had a primary social function, even if they were not entirely sure what it was or how exactly their art would change the world. Such a time, by and large, seems to have passed (though the beret has lately made of a bit of a comeback). It is, then, perhaps timely and surprising that the first proper British survey of the Cobra group, a movement founded in a Left Bank cafe in 1948 and disbanded in 1951, should take place now at the Baltic in Gateshead.

As a movement, Cobra fulfilled pretty much all the stereotypes of the 20th-century art movement -- in fact, it could be the model for most of them. Cliche has it that, while postwar Paris was in the throes of existentialism, New York was roaring with abstract expressionism and British art was filling up the kitchen sink, examining the forms of the teasel and doing spiky, angular things for the Festival of Britain, the Cobra artists were colluding to overthrow Mondrian, churn up the landscape, embrace the Outsider and reject social realism. The movement was founded in Paris, but its name (properly CoBrA, though rendered otherwise in all the material relating to this exhibition) derives from three other European cities, Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam -- cities of occupation in which the artists involved had lived throughout the war years. Cobra was, in part, an amalgamation of artists disaffected from various national groupings, particularly the Surrealist-Revolutionary Centre in Belgium, the Danish Harvest Group and the Dutch Experimental Group. So many factions. It is hard to imagine such tight-knit, ideologically motivated artist groups today, when movements tend to be little more than journalistic labels (the School of London, the YBAs) or self-promotional packages (the Stuckists, heaven forbid). There was a time when such things mattered and were more than cabals of art-world career lobbyists. The movement's founder and organiser, the Belgian poet Christian Dotremont, famously described Cobra as: 'Like going on a train journey. You fall asleep, you wake up, you don't know whether you've just passed Copenhagen, Brussels or Amsterdam.' If Cobra was an art in transit, it was also a transitional movement, its protagonists somehow moving between a self-conscious, individualist 'primitivism' (if that is not a paradox) and a sense of a universal art that transcended language. In part, Cobra anticipated the truly revolutionary ideals of the Situationist International and the 1970s 'return to painting' of the neo-expressionists. It was also an art in transit from the most appalling war to a world in which things, so the artists believed, had to be done differently. . . . Cobra also attracted some terribly mediocre artists, whose toe-curling works hang alongside the more significant figures -- Asger Jorn, Karel Appel, Constant, Corneille and Pierre Alechinsky -- in the Baltic exhibition. Visitor, brace yourself: prepare to see some utter dreck in the Cobra show. Malpert writes that Cobra works 'are among the most popular and accessible of 20th-century works in the museums that house them, and reproductions serve to brighten up the corridors of hotels and office buildings'. A dreadful apotheosis, this, for an art that aimed for a rather different kind of universality. I would also argue with the idea that Cobra art is 'popular' in any meaningful way. . . ."


Just when I thought Richard Marshall (also known as Dick Marshall in certain insurrectionary quarters) had gone and done a Dylan on us, he resurfaces to let me know that his computer crashed in the wake of his now legendary bike accident. If Richard hasn't got back to you yet, it doesn't necessarily mean he never will.


Laura Thompson, in the Independent, wonders what impact motherhood has on creativity: "In 1941 Nancy Mitford (pictured) wrote a letter to her sister Diana Mosley, in which she responded to the news that their younger sister Deborah (now the Duchess of Devonshire) had given birth to a stillborn baby. 'Poor Debo it must be wretched the worst thing in the world I should think -- except losing a manuscript which I always think must be the worst.' This remark echoes Jane Austen's famous reference to her books as 'her children'. It's also cruelly appropriate, since Nancy's letter was written from a hospital bed, where she was recovering from a hysterectomy. Deborah, 21 at the time, would go on to have three children. Nancy, on the other hand, would go on to produce eight books. From this point onwards, losing a manuscript would indeed be 'the worst thing in the world': from the age of 37 when she had her hysterectomy her life was definitively set on a certain path: that of the professional writer.

The next book Nancy wrote, The Pursuit of Love, brought her fame and fortune and the means to acquire an independent new life in Paris. Before this, when she was married and suffered repeated miscarriages, she had published four novels, which earned her about £100 apiece. Enchanting though they are, they have what one can only call an amateurish quality. They feel as if a part of Nancy's head had been elsewhere: fixed upon an image of the life of wife and mother that she had been brought up to view as her destiny. Yet once she knew that this was not her destiny, and that a child would not come along to save her marriage to a glamorous, adulterous wastrel named Peter Rodd, something in Nancy seemed to shift focus, and she produced a succession of masterpieces: The Pursuit of Love (1945), Love in a Cold Climate (1949), two more novels and four historical biographies. Her life had become her own, whether she had wanted it to or not. And she made the most of this gift by becoming an artist. The brutal removal of her ability to have children liberated her into creativity. 'Faute de mieux,' the Duchess of Devonshire said to me, believing as she does that Nancy longed to have a family, and of course this may be right. And it led me to ask the fundamental question: would Nancy ever have written the books that she did had a baby come into her life? Just what is the relationship between these two lives, that of the mother and that of the writer? Can the two be reconciled, or are they always at war? . . . Is it not possible that George Eliot, for example -- 'the female Tolstoy', as Claire Tomalin says -- would have had the honesty to admit that a book like Middlemarch is unlikely to get written between bottlefeeds and bedtime stories? Might she not have accepted the hard necessity of choice? As Bonnie Greer said recently on BBC2's Newsnight Review: 'Art isn't what you do while you're waiting to pick the kids up from school.'. . .

When I was pregnant, I thought a great deal about the fact that creating children was selfless, while creating art was selfish; yet did this make them irreducibly opposed or, perhaps, mysteriously similar? This question seems to me to sit at the heart of Rachel Cusk's meditation on motherhood, A Life's Work, which is infused with Cusk's fear of losing the essential self that makes her a writer. Yet with magical irony that very fear produced a book. And this, like the image of Claire Tomalin breastfeeding her baby while writing about Mary Wollstonecraft - who, poor woman, was planning her next book throughout the pregnancy which killed her - led me to feel that the two types of creativity might be able to feed off each other: that they might even, sometimes, be twin."


This April, 3AM will launch a new column by Matthew Wascovich called Viewing the Hotbox. It will highlight current books, bands, art and film from around the globe with an emphasis on the underground and experimental. For consideration, email Matthew.

ANGRY YOUNG PIG 03/04/2003

A few months ago I sent Steve Aylett one of my short stories. He commented that "The story should have had a berserking pig let loose in it abruptly to make everyone shout and stop being so brittle. But then, that's what most situations demand I reckon" - which all makes sense now that I know that Aylett has authored an animated TV series entitled Rip, the Angriest Pig in the World.


"...I want to run out and buy one of those little printing-stamps. I would stamp it in bright red ink on every page of my filofax and on little yellow sticky notes: I would plaster these notes all over my office and on the screen of my VDU; I would put them on the milk-bottles in my fridge and the remote-control of my telly and all the mirrors in my house; and especially I would stamp it on Sarah's forehead, so that wherever I go, and especially whenever I look at Sarah and find myself not listening to her, or hear myself droning on to her, I will always read:

this is not a rehearsal
this is not a rehearsal
this is not a rehearsal." - James Hawes, Rancid Aluminium (1997).


English novelist Toby Litt on short short stories: "Earlier this month the Guatemalan author Augusto Monterroso (pictured), whom I admit I had never heard of before, died. He was the author, the news articles said, of the shortest recorded short story. . . . During the afternoon, the day news of Monterroso's death broke, I was called by the BBC programme Front Row, and asked if I'd come in to their studio and chat with the presenter for a little while about how short a short story could be. Despite the fact I'd just returned from Oxford Street, and would now have to go back again, I said yes. On the tube, I wrote down a few notes. I remembered an English teacher at school who told me that a poem had to ask a question, and that the shortest poem in the English language was therefore: I -- Why? I also remembered Norman Mailer reciting Muhammed Ali's equally short (in number of letters) poem:

. . . What I tend to tell students in creative writing classes, if they ask, is that a short story usually deals either with a moment of chance or of change. Nothing need happen (it can be a moment of chance of change, failed), but there is always the drama of it not happening. More generally, I noted as I sat on the tube on the way to the BBC, short stories have been getting shorter for most of the twentieth century. Henry James thought little of including 'The Turn of the Screw' or 'In the Cage' in collections of short stories, rather than publishing them separately as novellas -- despite their coming in around a hundred pages long.

I think time-starved contemporary readers, despite their greater addiction to the novel, still beam a certain amount of gratitude towards writers who keep it short. Authors like Philip Larkin, Jane Austen, Bruce Chatwin, all of whose outputs were small, seem very endearing -- we can get to know them, properly. Voltaire famously ended a letter with the words: 'I'm sorry to write at such length, I didn't have time to write less.' . . .


Literary pugilist Neal Pollack (who was interviewed in 3AM back in May) writes about his Wonder Woman fetish in "I remember going to someone's house with my parents when I was six. Wonder Woman was on. We walked in just as Diana Prince, Wonder Woman's dowdy alter ego, whipped off her hat and glasses, glanced around nervously and spun. Her hair bun loosened just slightly on the first twirl, leaving a little wisp above her brow. On the second go-round, it bloomed a little more. With the third rotation, a wavy, silken corona surrounded her head. I stood there, agape, as a ball of light bloomed in Diana's chest and gradually enveloped her. She emerged from the haze as Wonder Woman. At that moment, something inside of me awoke -- something dark, raw and primal. 'Um,' I said. 'Why does her hair change first?' No one had an answer, and the moment passed. But I've never forgotten that flash, that ritual dance of transformation. Whether I want it to or not, it forms the core of my sexual being. . . . I'm certain that I'm not the only English-speaking man in his thirties whose first crush was on Lynda Carter, one of the most beautiful women of all time. On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart joked that she inspired his 'lifelong commitment to masturbation.'Yes', I said to myself sadly when I heard that line. It's true. Her tits look great when she's running or jumping, and so do her legs. I admit it's kind of sexy when she's tied up or chloroformed. But my Wonder Woman fixation had little to do with Lynda Carter's physical gifts. If I were turned on merely by the sight of jiggly boobs in a spangled bra, I would have gotten over the fetish years ago. Instead, nothing, and I mean nothing, gets me hotter than when a so-called 'ordinary' woman changes into a superheroine. Other crushes have passed me by, but this one's stuck. I used to swipe Wonder Woman comics from the barbershop if they contained a transformation I liked. When I dreamt, I would often imagine catching Diana Prince mid-transformation and making her do it over again, just for me. Sometimes, I still have those dreams. I had my first orgasm stomach-down on the floor of my bedroom, watching Diana Prince transform on a thirteen-inch portable TV. . . . I never liked Batgirl and Supergirl much, because all they had to do was take off their clothes and reveal the uniform underneath; there was no explosion, no drama. . . . Maybe it's the same reason that conservative-looking women appeal to me: by hiding their sexuality, they highlight it. . . ."


An interview with Dave Eggers in The Daily Telegraph. John Dower on the BBC's website about his Britpop epic Live Forever: "'There's a lot of bad things about this country, but I was struck by the fact that we're good at eccentricity,' he said. 'We do throw up these great cultural figures. You can't imagine the Gallaghers coming from Germany or a Swiss Jarvis Cocker.'" Die Welt on BS Johnson, "the anti-Franzen". Foyles, the legendary London bookshop is a hundred years old. William Crain on Jim Carroll in Tangents. Nadine Gordimer on Joseph Roth in the Threepenny Review. The Libertines interviewed on the Top of the Pops website -- of all places.

3AM TOP 5 03/03/2003

3am Chief Editor Andrew Gallix is currently listening to:
  1. "Up the Bracket", Up the Bracket -- The Libertines
  2. "Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down", Turn On the Bright Lights -- Interpol
  3. "The Pop Song", Out of the Races and Onto the Tracks -- The Rapture
  4. "Get Loose", The New Rock Revolution -- The D4
  5. "Dance to the Underground, Gotham! -- Radio 4

MORE 3AM CLOBBER! 03/03/2003

The 3AM Store has only just been launched and we're already unveiling our second design: a blurred-effect beaut for those who are always pissed as a newt. Watch this space.

WHAT'S A MAN GONNA DO? 03/01/2003

Just found out that Jessica Alba was born, like me, on 28 April. That's all we share for the time being, but hope springs eternal…

3AM TOP 5 03/01/2003

Excellent English author Matt Thorne (whose new novel Child Star will be published in April) is currently listening to:
  1. "Lessons From What's Poor" -- Bonnie 'Prince' Billy: "From Master and Everyone, album of the year and it's only March!"
  2. "Xenophobia" -- Prince: "The stand-out track on his fantastic live 3-CD set."
  3. "Ride A Black Swan" -- Zwan: "Billy Corgan's slightly disappointing comeback, I preferred him when he was bald and goth and weird, but David Pajo (ex-Royal Trux) makes the album."
  4. "L.M.L.Y.P" -- Ween: "From the reissued God Ween Satan album."
  5. "She's Your Cocaine" -- Tori Amos: "How did this happen?"


British playwrights Arnold Wesker and Harold Pinter (pictured) slug it out over Iraq on the BBC's website. Wesker is in favour of war; Pinter against: "The US and the United Kingdom are trying to make a moral case for this war. It is to be waged for the sake of the Iraqi people, apparently. But in fact they couldn't care less about the Iraqi people. They've been killing them for years, through sustained bombing and brutal sanctions which have deprived hundreds of thousands of children of essential medicines. Many of them are dying or are dead from the effects of depleted uranium used in the Gulf War. The West has shown total indifference to these facts. What is now on the cards is total mass murder. To say we will rescue the Iraqi people from their dictator by killing them and by destroying the threadbare infrastructure of their country is an insult to the intelligence. We have no moral position in this matter whatsoever. The impending war is about testing new weapons of mass destruction -- ours -- and control of oil. The arms manufacturers and the oil companies will be the beneficiaries. The United States will be making a giant stride towards controlling the world's resources. The whole thing is about 'full spectrum dominance' -- a term coined by the United States, not me." (Someone should inform the BBC that Pinter isn't the author of The French Lieutenant's Woman!)

Gore Vidal ("We have one political party - the party of corporate America"), Arundhati Roy and Siva Choy explain how the US influences their work.

SPACE VIXENS 03/01/2003

The House of Domination's annual tribute to Bettie Page will be held on Saturday 22 March at New York's CBGB Gallery (10.30pm-4am).


Here is Henry's Girl, another painting in Kimberly Nichols' Girls of the Hundred Proof Bordello Define Desire series: "That piece is inspired by Henry Miller's Rosy Crucifixion, the character of Mara who represents the ever-elusive ripe woman that men run after, the difficult girl behind a veil of mystery that both haunts and titillates a man, the Daphne archetype running from Apollo who would rather turn into a tree than be captured and contained."


3AM products ranging from T-shirts to mousepads are now available at the 3AM store. Click on the picture and have a proper gander at the 3AM propaganda. Many more designs to come care of digital-age Renaissance man Jonathan Carr.


Our friend at Parisiana, Einar Moos, has interviewed Sylvia Beach Whitman, the 21-year-old daughter of 89-year-old George Whitman who runs Shakespeare & Co -- arguably the most famous bookshop in the world. She explains that she recently moved from London to Paris "just to get to know my father, and to find out about his life. You know I hadn't seen him for 13 years before then? So I wanted to kind of start a relationship with him. And to know about the bookshop and everything he had done." A Shakespeare & Company-Paris Literary and Arts Festival will take place from 9-16 June. The theme is Lost, Beat and New: Generations of Parisian Literary Tradition. Jung Chang, Allan Sillitoe, Claire Messud, John Baxter, Ulick O'Connor, Mark Ford and Noel Riley Fitch have already been confirmed.


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