Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Shit Update

Quite busy so here's a shit update for you.

That (above)'s a picture of a fat girl who lives quite near me. I wrote "We're Jammin'" on her face because I thought it was funny.


Thursday, 24 April 2008

Boring Bastards

I was doing the blog rounds the other morning, when it suddenly occurred to me how soul-splittingly dull and drab and tedious the whole of Ad-Land blogging actually is. Whilst we might all "piss in the same pot" it's surprising to see how small that pot actually is; how many times the same You Tube clips pop-up, how many planners are reading the same (yawn) books, and how everyone (broadly) likes the same things. It seemed our Global Village had become just like any other village: close-knit, small minded and hilariously incestuous.

Then I thought, no -hang on. Maybe it isn't inbreeding at all. Maybe it's just that people talking about bloody work all the time is... Just. Shit. Like being stuck at a policeman's wedding or something -just one tedious, self-regarding anecdote after another; one great big room full of one great big godforsaken clique. Different voices telling the same stories.

I've finally had to stop reading some advertising blogs altogether, just because of the sheer futility of them. Like, I was reading about an obscure Dutch graphic designer one day and suddenly realised -holy shit!- that there were still some Shakespeare plays I hadn't actually read! Like, there I was, pissing my time away on something completely marginal and ephemeral when I could've been doing something truly edifying instead. Jesus! The internet makes it sooo easy -tooooo easy in fact - to just browse; to graze listlessly on information I/we don't need... It was time to get my priorities in order.


Orginally, I'd planned this post to be about the boring work blogs of Ad-Land and was gonna find some equally boring work blogs from other industries. But then 10minutes of Googling my tits-off to find some, I was so bored and frustrated by the whole thing I've decided to write this instead.

We've all been caught up in this silly race to be the first ones to navigate the fog and get to the future. But I'm bored as a fucking brat of all this fog - I want to see something, now!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Corn Mo!

What dya get if you cross Meat Loaf and Ren and Stimpy? Corn Mo, of course! (Or something a lot like him, I imagine.)

Corn Mo. I accidently discovered him about 3 or 4 years ago when I was in London. He was supporting They Might Be Giants (remember them?) at the time, and I've been a mega-geeko sad fan ever since. Evidently he's supporting Ben Folds (boo-hiss rubbish) later this year, but I urge you all to go just to see 'Mo.

Whilst his brilliant, whimsical songs about ice-cream, Gary Busey and wetting yourself at school (sung in the style of a Jim Stein rock-opera) are all well and good, Corn Mo also happens to be an equally brilliant, whimsical and hilarious writer.

Check out The Plausible Frog from his blog.


Happy St. George's Day to you!

Hope you enjoy the simmering racism and incoherent working-class sentimentality of it all. Who knows - maybe you're lucky enough to have had your local decked out like a BNP rally already? With any luck, it'll be filled with tattooed men listening to World Cup anthems later on, and we can all slur along to Nessun Dorma. Brilliant!

Three cheers for Blighty! Hip-hip...

(ABOVE: British Bulldog)

Monday, 21 April 2008

Spooky Vinyl

Here's a fascinating piece of social history for y'all.

If you were a swinging Stalinist hepcat in or around 1950's communist Russia, chances were the Western music you were (illegally) grooving to had been pirated from the original using a wax disk cutter. Unfortunately, most of the wax, vinyl -hell- pretty much everything had been used up during the war. So. What were you gonna use to make a facsimile of your favourite contraband jazz album?

The answer? A-ha! Why, old x-ray films, of course! No, seriously. Aren't these wonderful...

(A Nightmare On) Elmwood

As Thomas Mann might have said, it is with the utmost emphasis I wish to assert that it is not out of any desire to thrust my own person into the foreground that I offer a few words about myself and my circumstances in preface to this account of the life of the (late?) Guiseley based brand design consultants, Elmwood.

What does all that mean? Well, it means that... -Hold on, no. I'll change voice again... -Imagine I'm Edgar Allen Poe now, or H.P Lovecraft. Imagine there's a bit of a Vincent Price thing going on...

...Well dear reader, it means that I speak of nothing less than madness! -Madness, I tell you! For the very fabric of reality lies at our feet in the most diabolical of ribbons, torn asunder by the icey hand of Satan. And now as I flounder through these fragments, I know I must piece together this monstrous puzzle and try to make sense of these unspeakable events.

Reader, it begins with a name: Elmwood. Yes, Elmwood. And perhaps it is The Fall of The House of Elmwood I speak of? For doubtless the Elmwood's were indeed a great, great family. From Leeds and London; Caledonia and the Commonwealth, the Elmwood's prospered. And yet...

...And yet as they regaled me Thursday last with tales of their success, no sooner had I shared their joy than the memory did at once evaporate. It vanished, I tell you! Memories came and went like horseless carriages, and solid moments crumbled before my very eyes! Imagine my dismay at such seeming devilry. As I laughed and loved one moment, I sat hollow and homesick the next. What supernatural horror could this have been? What un-nameable evil would toy so wantonly with my perception? How do I explain this ungodly act of prestidigitation?

Basically (this is my normal voice now by the way -ahem-) me and the LOVE cats sat through a brilliant little presentation by Elmwood on Thursday. I can remember lots of nice work and lots of big clients: The RAC, The FA... something to do with the Met Office... erm... (it's getting a bit hazy)... Christ, maybe it was the booze..? No! Hang on! I remember the stuff they did for that tanker company. I saw it on their website before I headed over there... It was... -No! Wait! Shit. It's not there now! Where did I see it then..? What about the FA stuff..? -Eh!? That's not there either. Whatthefuck..? Have I just made all this up? Surely not? I know they say good design should be seemless, but invisible too..? This is weird...

Tell me I didn't make it all up. Tell me I'm not mad. (In the voice of my tiny-head-on-a-fly's-body) Help meeee... Please... help meeeeee....

(I can't even find any of their work on t'internet..!)

Friday, 18 April 2008

Listening To The 20th Century (with a hangover)

The lovely loving LOVE people were kind and cool enough to invite me over to their pad last night for a talk by the smashing chaps at Elmwood (Leeds). And I don't mind telling you it was fucking brilliant. So fucking brilliant in fact, that we all went to the pub and had some nice old booze to celebrate the brilliance of it all. I can't wait to blog about it. No, really. It was ace. So as soon as I sober up I'll spill the beans; right across both carriageways of the internet. But right now, the details are a little hazy. It wouldn't be fair to start mouthing-off just yet. The only (solid) thing I have to show for it at the moment is this book...
... which I picked up in Waterstones on my way over. So, whilst my brain's still in the bathroom, I'll blog about that instead. Everyone ok with that? -Yep? Ok. Cool.

Well, I don't usually blog about music, not least because it's such a devisive subject. But sod it. I don't care this morning. This book is all about 20th century classical music - something I'm dead interested in at the moment and something that more people should be interested in too.

See, most people like to think they've got really broad taste in music; most people like to think they even understand music. But (I spit on you philistines!) they don't. What we think of as modern/pop/contemporary music, the music we listen to every day on the radio, in bars or on TV is actually only as cutting-edge as -say- erm... a wooden hammer. It's blunt, obvious, unsophisticated. Dumb. Yep, the music we listen to is about as innvovative as sausages I'm afraid. And no matter what the NME says, your favourite band aren't ever gonna change the course of music (nope, not even Radiohead). And that's because very, very few musicians are classically trained.

Now, whoa, whoa, whoa - hold your horses; hold your fire. Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying all popular music is rubbish. Some of it's wonderful. But the music we think of as "popular music", as a form, is only 50 years old. And it's a form that is (by it's nature) disposable, light and -well- just a bit of fun. Remember those frothy love-songs from The Beatles first album? Well, that's what popular music is all about. And whilst The Beatles went on to extemporise, galvanise and formalise the possibilities of that form, we've all tended to work within those limits ever since. And if you think dance music's innovative and modern, then the Strauss family might just have something to say to you. Oh, and Haydn, Handel, Mozart...

No, the innovations in comptemporary music were all made in the first half of the 20th century. Whilst Mahler and Stravinsky pushed orchestral music to it's absolute limits, Shoenberg and Messiaen dismantled the very fabric of music; re-built, re-structured, re-designed it. Whose gonna do that these days- Amy Fucking Winehouse? Blood Red Shoes?

Serialism, minimalism; weird electric intruments, disturbing harmonies, shifting, complicated rhymths. The new, the odd, the groundbreaking and the eclectic will never be heard on Jools Holland. John Peel never played Guillaume De Machaut or Gesualdo (16th century death metal, if you're interested). If you're genuinely serious about music, you can't do much better than Radio 3 these days, I'm afraid.

Now I feel like a right fucking pensioner. But at least I've sobered-up...

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Where Art Students Go to Die

This post is for those comrades who fell in the name of the E4 ident, and for those who perished in the March 2000 M&S rebrand. This is for those who bravely gave their lives to account management or a minor public relations position, and to all those who simply vanished - the ones we lost to crap bands, vegetarianism or Marlboro Lights, graffiti or Charles Frith, fashion photography and dance music. This is for the tragic few we lost to further education and teaching overseas.

This is for the thousands who die at MTV every year, and for the cruelty suffered at the hands of the Channel 4 graphics department. This is for smoke blown up our arses by planning departments, and the barbaric futility of Creative Review.

The media kills hundreds and thousands of art students every year.

ArrĂȘtez le massacre.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

New Critical Approaches to Lenny Henry: Conclusion

How do you choke a dinosaur? I don't know. But if we fed Lenny Henry to his fucking wife we might just find out..? How about we wait until she yawns and we can toss him into her maw like a herring?

Whadya say?

Monday, 7 April 2008

New Critical Approaches to Lenny Henry

This module offers fresh insight into the latest critcal approaches to the work and life of the British comedian, Lenny Henry.

Indeed, how should we - a modern audience- approach Henry's (often diffcult) work? With a rope or some rocks? Perhaps with a claw-hammer, or a sliver of broken mirror?

(To be continued...)

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Folk Art

Ahh, Cornwall. Land of clotted-cream and pasties; piskeys and knockers; home of our precarious fishing industry, an egregious trans-London surfing boom, and of course... art. Yes, art. It's bloody everywhere in Cornwall. Like shit in a field, as we say in bleak and bleary Lancs.

Cornwall has a long and lovely history of art, not least because of it's geography. It's spectacular land and seascapes have been inpiring it's indigenous population for hundreds of years, whilst the last century or so saw artists from further afield making their way there because of the way the sea and the sky amplifies the light. But, because of it's geography - it's relative isolation - Cornish art has always been informed by the rustic; by the naive and the spontaneous. And because the lifestyle of a naive, untutored artist is attractive to certain kinds of people, you can't buy a cup of tea in Cornwall nowadays without some batik-shod, middle-class lesbian pretentiously trying to sketch you in charcoal before you've even got your wallet out. And this is a shame, because I fucking love folk art - I mean REAL folk art. Not the knowing, pseudish cult-of-the-amateur stuff that makes up most of contempory Cornish art. But the un-selfconscious stuff; stuff that isn't meant for a gallery. Stuff that's dumb or just plain weird; stuff that only makes sense to the artist or makes no sense at all. Everything from garden gnomes to Christmas lights; plastic windmills and hideous ornaments. These things are the unrefined sugar of civilisation. Which is why I was like a kid in sweet-shop last week when I got to go in the church at Zennor, in Cornwall.

Zennor is a tiny Cornish village just up the coast from St. Ives. It's got one fantastic pub and a Norman church. Zennor is famous for only one thing: a story about a Mermaid. And here's where the folk art comes in.

Basically, because the story of the Zennor mermaid was so ingrained in the mind of the village, the Church had to appropriate it, effectively Christianising their pagan folklore by associating the mermaid's tail with Christ, and her body with Mary. So they turned the mermaid into a symbol of fertility and prosperity. Here's a picture of the famous Mermaid Chair in the church.

Lovely, isn't it. Now, I also happen to know that the Zennor mermaid is mentioned in a song that the villagers sing The Wicker Man.

So. I'm looking at this chair thinking and I'm thinking about pagans and rural isolation and stuff like that. Suddenly, I turn around to face the back of the church and find the weirdest, most incredible collection of church cushions you've ever seen.

Aren't they brilliant!? The stag and the eclipse are just ace. Each one is an individual piece of devotional artwork; praising, thanking or just being enamoured with something, whether it's a cow ("Osmunda") or the snow or even just a tractor.

Anyway, having made my mind up that the people of Zennor were definately pagans, just as I was leaving I saw this poking up from the corner of the church.

It's what appears to be a giant, papier-mache Christ. Which -pagan or not- has to be one of the coolest and tackiest things I've ever seen.