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by Andrew Gallix



Stephanie Merritt reports in the Guardian on "a new generation of literary journals with pop culture attitude and high production values" which are reinventing the form. McSweeyney's and The Believer are mentioned, as well as Zembla in Britain which has tried "to combine the appeal of a mainstream magazine with the content of an eclectic journal". The article then turns to a new journal entitled To Hell which is the brainchild of Laurence Johns, Zembla's publisher: "'It's a return to the traditional literary journal,' says Johns. 'Coming out of the Nineties, where everything had to be cool and knowing, I believe there is space for something with some integrity and weight. I'm a bit of cultural snob so it is intending to be highbrow and demanding.' To Hell will be unapologetically elitist, then, but in content and circulation rather than contributors, taking as its model the kind of literary community that grew up around the City Lights bookshop in San Francisco in the Fifties. 'It won't be just well-known writers,' Johns says. 'I'm looking for new voices that have something to say on the big questions.'" * A Confederacy of Dunces: The Film? * There's an excellent interview with newly-married Dan Rhodes in the pilot issue of The London Line, a new free paper. * 3:AM's Matthew Wascovich, who runs the brilliant Slow Toe Publications, has just finished touring with the Bunnybrains: check out the pictures here. * Saul Bellow R.I.P. * Israel's punk scene. * The Decibel Prize. * Carl Barat goes solo. * Bookslut interview Camille Paglia. * The inimitable Steve Aylett introduces Jeff Lint. * Tom Hodgkinson (of Idler fame) argues that gardening is the new punk: "… Leather trousers might have been swapped for corduroy and trainers for brogues, but it seemed as if there was something of the free spirit, a lust for life and a yearning for creative freedom that the two paths shared. Rock'n'roll is about loudly sneering at authority and doing your own thing, and vegetable gardening is about quietly sneering at supermarkets and doing your own thing. Could there be a real social trend starting here?… If you're unfamiliar with the philosophy behind guerrilla gardening, by the way, it's neatly summed up on the movement's website: 'Growing food requires land. Look around you, it's everywhere... railway embankments, back gardens, golf courses, roofs, car parks, overgrown bits, cracks in the pavement. The flower beds in your town centre could be growing your crops, right in the heart of the consumer landscape of burger bars, chain stores and supermarkets. Guerrilla gardeners are out there now. Why not join them in digging for revolution?'… The punk fanzine Sniffin' Glue famously told its readers, all you need is a guitar and these three chords and you can start a band. In gardening, all you need is a spade and a packet of seeds, and you can grow your own. (Bill) Drummond sees further parallels: 'Those old guys on the allotment are a bit like the prog rockers in the 1970s. They mystify their knowledge and make you think that you can't do it. Punk said anyone can do it.'… And digging as a revolutionary gesture goes back even further. On 1 April, 1649, a former cloth merchant named Gerard Winstanley led a group called the Diggers to a patch of common land in Weybridge. They dug it up and started growing their own vegetables. For this they were hounded by the authorities. They also wrote one of the first punk songs. 'The Diggers' Song' features lines such as the following: 'With spades and hoes and plowes, stand up now,/Your freedom to uphold, seeing Cavaliers are bold/To kill you if they could and rights from you to hold/Stand up now, Diggers all.' Substitute 'Cavaliers' with 'New Labour and the supermarkets' and you can see the relevance of the Diggers' project to us today…. By picking up my spade I am more rock 'n'roll than rock'n'roll, more punk than punk. Truly, I am an anarchist. I have christened this revolutionary movement The New Diggers and my local chapter the North Devon Diggers. We plan to make Hells' Angels-style patches for our corduroy jackets. Our symbol will be a spade crossed with a guitar. Will you join us?" I'm thinking about it…

3:AM TOP 5: ANDREW STEVENS 04/27/2005

Our very own own Literary Editor, Andrew Stevens (who got married, had a baby and turned 30 in the past month) is currently listening to:
  1. "Cue The Strings" -- Low "The LP itself could be my favourite LP of 2005 so far. Although..."
  2. "In The Wilderness" -- Mercury Rev "…So could this."
  3. "Don't Save Us From The Flames" -- M83 "And this."
  4. "Feed Me With Kiss" -- My Bloody Valentine "Which was almost certainly overly-influenced by this."
  5. "What Goes On" -- The Velvet Underground "Worth a place in any Top 5 for the guitar and organ solo at the end."


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