Hope

This girl/young woman is amazing and a beacon of hope, not least on the day after Trump made his first post-presidential speech in Florida. As things currently stand, the bottom third of Florida is likely to be under water by the end of this century. Here’s what the Climate Crisis means for The Sunshine State.

Few places on the planet are more at risk from the climate crisis than south Florida, where more than 8 million residents are affected by the convergence of almost every modern environmental challenge – from rising seas to contaminated drinking water, more frequent and powerful hurricanes, coastal erosion, flooding and vanishing wildlife and habitat.

The Guardian 21/4/20
I Am Greta

Nathan Grossman’s excellent and moving feature documentary I Am Greta is available now on BBC iPlayer and Hulu.

The Chicago 7/8

Jerry Rubin, founder of the Youth International Party (Yippies), addresses his party members at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago
Abbie Hoffman
Tom Hayden
Rennie Davis (stripes)
David Dellinger (centre)
Lee Weiner & John Froines
Bobby Seale
William Kunstler (left)
(R to L) Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Jean Genet – Democratic Convention, Chicago, 1968

Something new under the sun: Creativity & Connections (quotation)

“Good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”

― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

What’s most of interest in this quote is the two unrelated ideas coming together to make a great new idea. Connection is the beating heart of creativity. It relates directly to the André Breton quotation at the bottom of this very early post from Simple Pleasures Part 4.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (2000)

Openings – first lines of songs

In most creations with a time dimension (film, music, etc.), the opening is very important. This is particularly true of Short Form Video where the drop-off rates in the first minute on almost all platforms is very high (75%+). It’s all about grabbing attention and retaining interest. While it’s critical in this most modern of art forms, it’s pretty much as true of the positively ancient art of song writing.

Here are some favourites from a lively thread on our Facebook account…

God said to Abraham…
God said to Abraham “Kill me a son”
Abe said “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”
[Bob Dylan, Highway 61]
 
I don’t believe in an interventionist god
But I know, darling, that you do
[Nick Cave, Into My Arms]
 
Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine
[Patti Smith, Gloria]
 
I wanted to change the world
But I could not even change my underwear
[Sinead O’Connor, written by John Grant – Queen of Denmark]
 
Some of us live like princes; some of us live like queens;
Some of us live just like you and me and don’t know what it means…
To take our place in one world; to make our peace in one world; to make our love in one world…
[John Martyn, One World]
 
If you kissed the sun right out of the sky for me
If you told me all the lies I might deserve
If you lay right down and you died for me
I could not love you more
[John Martyn, Couldn’t Love You More] perhaps the greatest in his simplicity
 
You curl around me, like a fern in the spring.
[John Martyn, Go Down Easy]
 
I can hear her heart beat for a thousand miles
And the heavens open every time she smiles
And when I come to her that’s where I belong
Yet I’m running to her like a river’s song
[Van Morrison, Crazy Love]
 
I am a street walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm
[Iggy and the Stooges,  Search and Destroy]
 
In the time of chimpanzees I was a monkey
[Beck]
 
Jeremiah was a bullfrog
Was a good friend of mine
[Three Dog Night, Joy to the World]
 
I’ve been working on a cocktail called grounds for divorce.
[Elbow]
 
When me and Pam are hand in hand, we make a lovely pair.
But when we fight her awful spite is more than I can bear.
[Ian Dury, Pam’s Moods]
 
I guess I should’ve known
By the way you parked your car sideways
That it wouldn’t last
[Prince, Little Red Corvette]
 
Tumble out of bed stumble to the kitchen,
Pour myself a cup of ambition
[Dolly Parton, 9 to 5]
 
I may not always love you
But as long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
[Beach Boys, God Only Knows] one of the most beautiful of songs
 
An old man turned 98…He won the lottery and died the next day
[Alanis Morissette, Ironic]
 
Son I am 30
I only went with your mother cos she’s dirty
[Happy Mondays, Kinky Afro]
 
I never thought it would happen
With me and the girl from Clapham
[squeeze, Up the Junction] a top rhyme
 
Abra Abra Cadabra
I wanna reach out and grab ya
[Steve Miller Band]
 
A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop, A-lop-bam-boom
[Little Richard, Tutti Frutti]
 
I did you wrong my heart went out to play
But in the game I lost you
What a price to pay, hey I’m crying
[Smokey Robinson, Ooh Ooh Baby]
 
Oh, my land is like a wild goose
Wanders all around everywhere
Trembles and it shakes till every tree’s loose
It rolls the meadows and it rolls the nails
[Gram Parsons, A Song for You]
 
Hey Charlie I’m pregnant and living on 9th Street
Right above a dirty bookstore off Euclid Avenue
And I stopped takin dope and I quit drinkin whiskey
And my old man plays the trombone and works out at the track
[Tom Waits, Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis]
 
It’s four in the morning, the end of December
I’m writing you now just to see if you’re better
New York is cold, but I like where I’m living
There’s music on Clinton Street all through the evening.
I hear that you’re building your little house deep in the desert
You’re living for nothing now, I hope you’re keeping some kind of record.
[Leonard Cohen, Famous Blue Raincoat]
 
No regrets Coyote
We just come from such different sets of circumstance
I’m up all night in the studios
And you’re up early on your ranch
You’ll be brushing out a brood mare’s tail
While the sun is ascending
And I’ll just be getting home with my reel to reel
There’s no comprehending
Just how close to the bone and the skin and the eyes
And the lips you can get
And still feel so alone
And still feel related
Like stations in some relay
You’re not a hit and run driver
No no
Racing away
[Joni Mitchell, Coyote]
 
They’ve paved paradise and put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot
[Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi]
 
I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand
Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain
He was looking for the place called Lee Ho Fook’s
Gonna get a big dish of beef chow mein
[Warren Zevon, Werewolves of London]
 
I met her in a club down in old Soho
Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like Coca Cola
C-O-L-A, Cola
[The Kinks, Lola]
 
I’ve been loving you a long time
Down all the years, down all the days
And I’ve cried for all your troubles
Smiled at your funny little ways.
[The Pogues, a Rainy Night in Soho]
 
In Penny Lane there is a barber showing photographs
Of every head he’s had the pleasure to know
And the people that come and go
Stop and say hello.
[The Beatles, Penny Lane]
 
When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody’s help in any way,
[The Beatles, Help!]
 
I can feel the earth begin to move
I hear my needle hit the groove
And spiral through another day
I hear my song begin to say
Kiss me where the sun don’t shine
The past was yours
But the future’s mine
You’re all out of time.
[The Stone Roses, She Bangs the Drums]
 
Well you tried it just for once, found it alright for kicks.
But now you’ve found out that it’s a habit that sticks.
[Buzzcocks, Orgasm Addict]
 
I’m a glum one, it’s explainable, I met someone unattainable
[Frank Sinatra, I Can’t Get Started]
 
Someone’s got it in for me they’re planting stories in the press.
[Bob Dylan, Idiot Wind]
 
Bless my cotton socks I’m in the news
[Teardrop Explodes, Reward]
 
Look out, mama, there’s a white boat coming up the river
With a big red beacon, and a flag, and a man on the rail
[Neil Young, Powderfinger]
 
Last week I attended a family affair,
and a few remarked upon my recent growth of facial hair
[Loudon Wainright III, Surviving Twin]
 
Pretty women out walking with gorillas down my street
[Joe Jackson, Is she really going out with him?] 
 
Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard
But I say…
Oh Bondage! Up yours!
[X-Ray Spex, Oh Bondage! Up yours!]
 
Some people might say my life is in a rut
But I’m quite happy with what I got
[The Jam, Going Underground]
 
It’s a God-awful small affair
To the girl with the mousy hair
But her mummy is yelling, “No”
And her daddy has told her to go
[David Bowie, Life on Mars?]
 
There was a boy
A very strange enchanted boy
[Nature Boy]
 
There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold, and she’s buying a stairway to Heaven. 
[Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven]
 
If you are the dealer
I’m out of the game
If you are the healer it means
I’m broken and lame
[Leonard Cohen, You Want it Darker]
 
Me and Mrs. Jones
We got a thing, goin’ on
[Billy Paul, Me & Mrs Jones]
 
The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves.
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays.
[Bruce Springsteen, Thunder Road]
 
I’ve got six things on my mind, you’re no longer one of them.
[Paddy McAloon, Desire As]
 
I wish I knew how it would feel to be free
[Nina Simone, I wish I knew how it would feel to be free]
 
Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m a man of wealth and taste.
[Rolling Stones, Sympathy for the Devil]
 
I am an antichrist
[Sex Pistols, Anarchy in the UK]
 
It’s been 7 hours and 15 days
Since you took your love away
[Nothing Compares 2U]
 
Hey ho, let’s go.
[Ramones, Blitzkrieg Bop]
 
It’s been 7 hours and 15 days
Since you took your love away

The hidden beauty of the world

“Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry and Other Essays

The same is true of street photography and Instagram at its best. And of Art in general.

Shot on my phone on exiting the BBC – both men have ciggie in hand

More Favourite Social Media Accounts

Toyah Willcox & Robert Fripp in their kitchen

(1) Toyah & Fripp’s Sunday Lunch Film (YouTube)

It being Sunday lunch time I have just watched Toyah & Fripp’s latest Sunday Lunch Film (their fun-filled take on Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze). As I look out my window at a farm in Barnet (it may be a sheep farm for all I know about things agricultural) I think back to the young punk of Derek Jarman’s Jubilee and that debut EP Sheep Farming in Barnet

The only Toyah record in my collection

What interest she had in Barnet (as a Brummie) or sheep I have no idea – she has had a very particular success as a singer and actress (my favourite of her performances is in Quadrophenia). Now, every Sunday at noon she and her husband, King Crimson guitarist Ropert Fripp, release a short video of them performing a song in their kitchen. She is 62 and he is 74. They are on a mission to have fun in Lockdown.

(2) Tim’s Twitter Listening Parties (Twitter)

Another of the great things to come out of Lockdown is Tim Burgess of The Charlatan’s group LP listening sessions connected via Twitter. Tim picks a record. We all hit Play at the same time. And chat. Simple as that. Among the best Tim’s Twitter Listening Parties I’ve joined were a series of Sunday night ones spotlighting Bowie’s LPs with input from Mike Garson (Bowie’s pianist) and others from his band; Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ neglected classic Don’t Stand Me Down; a couple of The Cure ones such as Pornography (which is one of the few of their albums I didn’t know that well so this was a great way to discover it communally) and a brilliant The The one (Infected) with Matt Johnson.

The format grew so popular that after a while musicians started to join in in this way and give anecdotes and explanations around their songs. This has meant I’ve had direct contacts with musicians from Dexy’s guitarist to Bowie’s to The Cure’s, for example. The communal music experience is the beating heart of the thing, but the closeness to the creators is cherry on the cake. Really one of the very best things to come out of Lockdown.

Dexy’s fiddle player and guitarist in dialogue with the fans (i.e. me)
[back L-R] Kevin Rowland, Nick Gatfield [front] Billy (Kev) Adams, Helen O’Hara

(3) Chop Daily (Instagram)

Chop Daily is an energetic minute of dance to your phone every day of life from the account’s followers. Simples.

The definition of Success

A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.

Bob Dylan

Favourite Social Media Accounts

Jasonmudlark on Instagram – a leading mudlark on the banks of the River Thames 

I met Jason Sandy through Instagram and organised a speaking event featuring him at the Worshipful Company of Cutlers in January 2020 just before the Plague hit, an evening centred on the finds of him and a couple of fellow mudlarks, Nick Stevens and Monika Buttling-Smith. This led to the kind donation of a collection of hundreds of knives, dating back to the 13th century, recovered from the river by Graeme duHeaume, a leading Thames mudlark in the 70s and former Head of Technical Services at the Natural History Museum. Jason and Nick have just released a book called ‘Thames Mudlarking: Searching for London’s Lost Treasures’ published by Bloomsbury/Shire.

Percypissing on Instagram – a wee dog helps capture the life of the city (Manchester)

I came across Edward Barton, Percy’s owner, through a mutual friend, street photographer extraordinaire Alan Burles. Edward is also an outstanding street photographer, using his living (& beloved) prop, white Highland Terrier Percy, to render everyday (and night) scenes in Manchester absurd. Alan has a new book out entitled ‘Gee, my life’s a funny thing‘.

Georgie Boy on TikTok – a monkey who opens packages and tests out the contents

Georgie is smarter than many people I come across and reminds us that we are just bald apes. His obvious intelligence also helps highlight why we should respect animals.

The Casting Game No. 228

Matthew Broderick

AS

Rami Malek in ‘The Little Things’

Coincidence No. 541 – J’accuse

Raquel Welch & Ringo Starr in ‘The Magic Christian’ (1969)

When I look at Facebook this morning the first thing I see is a post from the past (2015) on its anniversary. It was a reminder that today’s the day (13th January in 1898) that Émile Zola accused the French government/establishment of anti-semitism in the letter J’Accuse. Yesterday was the day (in 2015) the French government sent armed troops in to guard Jewish schools. I also published a second post on the subject that same day 5 years ago (the Charlie Hebdo shooting had been the previous week on 7th January 2015): Today’s the day (in 1898) Émile Zola published the letter J’Accuse in a French newspaper. He was convicted of libel. Then took refuge in London. #jesuischarlie

I am watching the 1969 British film The Magic Christian this evening. It contains a Who’s Who of the 60s of swinging London including Peter Sellers, Ringo Starr, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Spike Milligan, Christopher Lee, Roman Polanski and Raquel Welch. Raquel plays a bikinied Amazon (echoes of her fur bikini in One Million Years BC, 1966) in a scene parodying the slave galley scene in Spartacus). Among the first words out of her mouth are “J’accuse!”.

Priestess of the Whip (Raquel Welch):

In, out.
[Groaning]

In, out!
[Groaning continues]

In, out. In…

During my reign as Priestess of the Whip, I’ve never seen such unmitigated sloth.

Passenger: My god! What’s going on here?

Priestess of the Whip:

J’accuse!

How dare this intrusion? Who are these people?

Youngman Grand (Ringo Starr): Oh, these are me mates.

Priestess of the Whip: Out! Out!

[Groans]

Passenger: Oh, I say! Do that again.

Priestess of the Whip: Out! Out! Out of my galley!

I was watching the film because tomorrow night Entertainment Attorney and Executive Producer Vinca Jarrett, who I met last year in Duluth, Minnesota when I was doing a speech on diversity in TV entitled Not The Usual Suspects, is putting on an online film discussion group which I’m really looking forward to. These kinds of online communal activity, like Tim’s Twitter Listening Parties, at their best are one of the silver linings of Covid Lockdown, generating a genuine sense of shared experience and contact. 

While I was at it I made an edit to the Magic Christian entry on Wikipedia, noting the fleeting appearance of John & Yoko in the movie. My first ever article published on Wikipedia was the one on User-Generated Content. And here we are some two decades later with WordPress and its over-refined self-publishing service with these difficult to manipulate Blocks and generally over-boiled interface. In two days’ time it is the 20th anniversary of Wikipedia – launched 15th January 2001. The scale, accuracy and relative lack of conflict around this pooling of the world’s knowledge online is a testimony to what people can do together for no money. In contrast to the theme explored by The Magic Christian, which is that everyone has their price.

Front page of the newspaper ‘L’Aurore’ Jeudi 13 Janvier 1898
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