Archive for April, 2006
After doing the Special Editions stuff last month, it kinda spurred me on to free myself of other little obsessions; things that I can’t help noticing when I’m walking around.
Today: Things up trees. I began taking some photos in Berlin, but New York was a treasure trove of plastic bags and stuff stuck in trees, so I scrapped the Berlin ones and just stuck to New York’s Things Up Trees.
More health-related crap today. I’d kinda assumed that after all the post-fever sickness and sleep, (which I’ve found out was food poisoning, cos other people I was out with last Saturday all fell ill too, and we ate from the same fancy buffet), I assumed I’d be through the crazy-hours jetlaggy sleep schedule. Nah. I found myself awake at 3 am watching Miami Vice DVDs. But I also had a pain in my chest. It was pretty persistent for a couple of hours, so, considering my family’s history with heart disease, I let my demons get the better of me and decided to go to the hospital. (I’ll point out right now that all is fine, my heart is healthy and beating as it should be doing.)
So I go out onto a nearby main road, hail a cab, and tell the driver where I want to go. He asks if it’s me who needs the A&E; department or am I going to see someone there. I tell him it’s me, yet that still doesn’t alert him to me possibly not wanting to listen to Slayer really loud.
Once at A&E;, I look for the reception. It’s an office with a glass window which allows me to see there’s no light on. I ring the bell. No answer. I walk around, find a nurse who’s dozing in a nearby room and ask him where I need to go. He points me back to the lights-off office. I go back, then notice, right in the back of the office is a dim computer screen. Sat in front of it, a woman. I knock on the window. She saunters over as if she’s listening to the last kick of a penalty shoot out in the World Cup Final and really doesn’t want to be disturbed. She turns on the light, opens the door, and shrugs at me, which I took to mean as, “Wassup, dude?” I tell her: chest pains – family history – bit worried.
She asks for my insurance card and begins one-finger-typing my name and details into her ancient computer, tutting at the screen intermittently. I try to imagine – and this is the shit thing about blogging, you can’t stop imagining how things can be written about – how I can describe her. This is how: a child’s clay sculpture of a horse flattened out into vaguely human-shape. With a dollop of ketchup at the top.
“What’s your address?”
I tell her.
“What was the street?”
I repeat myself.
“And the post code?”
I repeat myself again.
“And your phone number?”
I tell her I don’t have a phone. She looks at me like I’m some sort of alien.
Then when I tell her that, no, I don’t have my ID card cos I’m English and don’t have to have one (yet), and, no, I don’t have my passport, cos rummaging around my bombsite of post-holiday stuff looking for it was the last thing on my mind before I left my flat, thankyouverymuchyoucunt; well, then she almost exploded with he’s-breaking-the-rules rage. She traipses off and summons me behind her to a curtained off bed in a room with two other beds.
I ♥ Berlin.
A doctor sees me, wires me up to the Elektrokardiogramm thingy and a Kraftwerk song loops in my head. Blood is taken, and I lay there for a while. The next three people I see are female nurses and doctors; all of which are, it’s my pleasure to say, like some sort of indie rock/wellness version of a Benny Hill nurse sketch.
I’m already feeling a bit better, cos I’m in a hospital, and that’s a good place to be if you’re a bit paranoid about suddenly keeling over. Then a doctor comes back, tells me the EKG was all good, and the blood tests were all good, but to be sure, they’d like to do more tests in four hours. Okay, that’s cool with me. Thank you.
Then I notice I’m not wearing my watch. This is a bit odd, cos I always wear it. and I’m gonna be here, strapped to this machine measuring my heart beat and other stuff for four hours. How does this work? Awake, nothing to read, watch, listen to? Don’t you know I’m a child of media saturation? So, I rather melodramatically imagine I’m a tough-ass criminal in “the hole” at some super bad prison, doing a 4 hour stretch for murder one.
After examining the mathematical make-up of the ceiling pattern for a good half hour, I start thing about God. (This must be why so many criminals turn to Jay-sus when they’re “inside.”) If we’re all God’s creatures, and there’s a place in Heaven for us, does that include the trees that we kills for pencils and IKEA desks? And if the translation of my Minipops book from English to German isn’t quite what I’d hoped for, what chance is there that the Bible got translated properly from back in the day when it was probably word-of-mouth stories for a while before some chap wrote it down? and in that case, why is it that we look at people who claim to have talked to God nowadays as some kind of loony? I have no answers.
Then, lying there topless, I find some fluff in my belly button. I wonder if the Benny Hill nurses saw it. Could be worse, though, could have some really inappropriate tattoo on my belly, like Pricess Diana straddling one of the World Trade Centers with Al Qaeda flying into the other on the other side of my belly button.
A woman with stomach pains is brought to one of the other beds in the room. I eavesdrop. She’s had six kids and two abortions. Some time later, her mobile phone goes off. And the ring tone is, fuck me, the sound of a baby crying. Please Lord, give me a sitcom, I’ve got the script for one episode right here!
After waiting for four hours wired to this machine, I’m starting to feel claustrophobic. Another nurse comes in, takes more blood, and leaves. An hour later, still wired up, going a bit loco, the doctor comes back in, tells me I’m totally fine, I can go home, and please pay at the office on your way out. Ketchupy Horse woman has gone, thankfully. Her replacement, Eminem’s spoddy brother, is even less polite, but I’m healthy so fuck it. I walk out into the sunshine, light up a fag, and get a cab knowing that I really should give up smoking.
Anyway, I’ve not spell or grammar checked the above stuff, so typos and bad grammar a-plenty, I’m sure.
Have a good weekend, y’all.
I’m back in Berlin now. I spent one more day in Chapel Hill, then went to New York for the weekend: had a few beers, hung out on the Lower East Side (well, walked around the streets, anyway), found a pub showing the Liverpool victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final, went to another Yankees game, and got sick.
Not sick like fiddling-with-dogs sick, or like doing something impressive-on-a-skateboard sick: sick in the not-feeling-good sense. About eighteen hours before I was due on a trans-Atlantic flight, I threw up. About seventeen and a half hours before I was due on a trans-Atlantic flight, I threw up again. I kept doing that for a few hours, retching ’til I felt like a Ren & Stimpy animation of vomiting. Then the diarrhoea began. Just imagine Ren & Stimpy again. It was horrible. Sweaty fits of sleep followed. Dozing, then waking, using the bathroom, dozing, waking to find some myself watching Married… With Children, then eventually dragging my carcus out of my mate’s apartment, getting a cab and going to JFK airport.
I was, as you can probably imagine, dreading flying. Not my favourite activity at the best of times, but when feeling ill: a nightmare. As it happened, the flight from New York to London was okay. I had empty seats next to me, and I managed to get some sleep. But all the other fiddly bits of airport-negotiating were a strain on my already feeble brain and body: The “No, go back to the desk, you need a sticker on your boarding card”; the sat-on-the-runway at Heathrow waiting for another plane to fly off so we could get into our slot; the flight connection zone with four metal detectors and at least 600 or 700 passengers wanting to get through (this is seriously broken. How on earth does Heathrow airport continue to think this is a good way to work?); the half hour delay to Berlin; and the taxi driver who seemed not to know how to get from the airport to my flat. It felt like it would never end. But it did.
And it didn’t, cos I was still ill. And I’m only just starting to feel better now, three days after it all began. I’ve spent the last 48 hours drifting in and out of sweaty sleep with the sound of looped DVD menus distorting in my brain as I half-sleep into strange dreams.
Oh, guess who was on my flight from New York to London! Go on, guess!
Naomi Campbell! Stood right in front of me in the queue to board the plane! Three things: she’s very attractive in real life, too. She’s about the same height as me, which surprised me a little. She was very very polite to the British Airways employee who was helping her with all her Louis Vuitton luggage.
So, what to do now? I’m not sure. I’ve got no work on my plate. I wonder if I can pick up where I left off before New York and continue knocking out FFF stuff. Let’s hope so, eh?
Another pleasant day in North Carolina. Did a tiny bit of exploring of Chapel Hill. The main kinda downtown block-or-two has a good record shop, Schoolkids Records, where I invested in a Roy Orbison compilation. There’s an old style drug store which sold burgers etc. and had 1950s-style booths which looked pretty cool. And there are four shops selling University of North Carolina merchandise.
Four shops. Selling the shirts, mugs, badges, bibs, caps of a university’s baseball, basketball, and American football teams. For an Englishman who watched one football (soccer) game at my university, the University of Derby, this devotion to the sports teams of students is amazing. I watched that football for about 20 minutes. There were a handful of friends of the players, the odd girlfriend and maybe a couple of teachers there, too, but that was all. Here, it’s insanely popular. And of course, they’re very very proud of their most famous ex-UNC player: Michael Jordan.
In the afternoon, I visited the North Carolina Museum of Art. Plenty of nice stuff going on in there, especially the above painting by Georgia O’Keeffe. A quick visit to a junk shop in Raleigh later, and I’m on my way with the parents of excited children to Chuck E. Cheese’s. This place is hell on earth. Crappy looking food (we didn’t eat there), and video games and stuff for kids to play with. It’s very much like the man who invented this place actually sold his soul to the Devil in order to tap into the never-ending river of parents’ credit cards being exchanged for game tokens.
A nice thing happened, though, as I was stood outside smoking. A police car pulled up, the officer got out, and as he passed me, acknowledged me with his hand in a laidback wave kinda way, and said hello. It’s a simple thing, but it was nice having a cop acknowledge my presence in a friendly way.
To finish off today: a few more random photos.
People in Chapel Hill are friendly. Really friendly. It’s like The Truman Show. But, for a Berlin dweller like me, it’s heaven to find people being courteous and genuinely happy to help. Right now, I’m sat in a cafe in a slightly weird part of town called Meadowmont. Their website calls it ‘an interconnected community that mirrors history with its narrow, tree-lined streets and old stone walls’. In reality, that seems to mean looking like a suburb in a computer game. My hosts, Derick and Jennifer, call it Pleasantville. There’s absolutely no dirt or litter. Grinding my cigarette butt under my shoe on the street feels like a subverse act of teenage rebellion here.
But then this cafe, with its middle-aged customers, is playing the weirdest music for its crowd, and the mumsy woman behind the counter is humming along to Hewlett’s Daughter by Grandaddy. It’s like how you’d imagine a cafe in The OC, but with the kids replaced by their parents. As I type there’s a guy in sunglasses which are way too trendy for him glancing clandestinely at the arse of another middle-aged woman with too much make-up on; who has, admittedly, a great arse.
The friendliness is infectious. I’m making the most of it, asking directions to toilets that I know the directions to just to experience more friendliness. Last night, I went to yet another baseball game, and on my way to the smoking area, a friendly guy offered me the most detailed directions possible for my journey to the correct zone, which was about 30 seconds away. The woman selling beer called me ‘hon’ multiple times, advised me that the beef jerky she was selling is the best in the country (and it was really tasty; like spare ribs-flavoured toffee). And the accent down here is really lovely too. Not in a ooh-listen-to-the-southerner way, it’s genuinely pleasant to listen to.
Baseball has turned from a happy extra incorporated into my holiday to its central theme. After the two Yankees games I saw last week and the tour of Yankee Stadium, I went to a batting cage yesterday afternoon. Americans know what one of those is, and I’m sure most of you have seen one on an American movie at some point, but this is what it is like: you get a stack of tokens for your five dollars, pop them in the machine, and stand there in an area surrounded by netting while a machine shoots baseballs in your direction for you to hit. It’s not easy. Bearing in mind that Major League pitchers can chuck a ball at 90-odd miles per hour, I found it incredibly difficult to hit balls at 70 mph. I was a bit better at the 55 mph pitchs, and I could imagine with a bit more practice it’d get easier, but I certainly have a lot more appreciation for the players after trying it out. And I’ve now got three blisters on my hand to go with the blisters on my feet from pounding the streets of New York.
In the evening, Derick and I went to see his local Triple-A Minor League team, Durham Bulls. They are the farm team for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and they were playing the Boston Red Sox’s farm team, the Pawtucket Red Sox. Obviously, as a Yankees fan, I wanted the Bulls to beat Boston’s farm team, which they duly did, not without a few jitters in the 9th innings, though. But it was a whole different experience than seeing the Yankees. It was far more a ‘local’ event, with every half innings being punctuated by little competitions for kids. It was one of those ‘fun for all the family’ events. I even got to try my hand at pitching. Not on the field, but they had a fairground-style game in the stadium where you could see how fast you can chuck a baseball. With as much effort as I could muster, I only managed to throw a ball at 41 mph. Yesterday I learnt that I’m not built for baseball.
Finally, for a smoker, this part of the country is perfect: it’s tobacco country. Cigarettes are half the price of those in New York, and even cheaper than in Berlin. Next to the Durham Bulls stadium are these very cool adverts on a water tower and chimney for, graphically, the most beautiful brand of cigarettes.
After nearly two weekchucuhdxhcdcbcduuhbhuu8hyaa6ynnnnyuay6n (a brief interruption there from Sophia, the two year old daughter of Derick and Jennifer, my hosts in Chapel Hill, North Carolina); after nearly two weeks in New York, I’m now in the South. Today it’s sunny sunny sunny, but yesterday I arrived and it was chucking it down. Torrential rain. Something about me being in the southern US that brings bad weather it seems. First impressions of Chapel Hill is that it seems to be quite a cute little place. Lots of old-by-American-standards pretty houses surrounded by trees. People jogging with dogs, studious looking people and such. I experienced my first American supermarket last night. So much stuff. Miles and miles of chocolate and sweets and crisps. And a crazy but clever self check-out machine.
Four-ish year old daughter: Do we have to go all-all-all-all the way down there?
Mother: All-all-all the way!
Four-ish year old daughter: Threeeeeee alls?
Sorry, I know this must be a bit dull for non-baseball fans. Yesterday afternoon, I went on the Yankee Stadium tour. You get a guide telling you about stuff; you visit Monument Park, you see the bullpen, sit in the dug out, walk around the field, (steal a few blades of grass surreptitiously), go in the clubhouse, and finally, sit in the press box. It was a fun hour.
I’m off to Chapel Hill tomorrow. Looking forward to that, seeing somewhere in the US that isn’t a big city for the first time.
Anyway, some photos of the stadium.
Another glorious afternoon in The Bronx. Beautiful weather and another enjoyable game: home runs by Sheffield, Giambi and Johnny Damon’s first for the Yankees, who won 9-3. I wanna live in New York; give up working; and spend my spring, summer and autumn afternoons and evenings sat here watching baseball.
Today it seems I was sat behind the A-Rod fan club:
And despite getting a bit red yesterday, I forgot to buy sun cream and now my arms are burning like hell.
A great day yesterday as the Yankees beat the Royals 12-5. I had a massive smile on my face when I came out of the subway and the stadium was right in front of me; the last time I was there I knew nothing about baseball and the players were just players. Yesterday, though, I was excited cos there in front of me was Derek Jeter, there in front of me was Gary Sheffield getting a three run home run. It was excellent. Only two innings without Yankees runs, so I really got my money’s worth. Back there again today. Hurrah.
In other news, Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News twat who I can’t help but watch, will, I’m sure, be firing one of his graphics team after this on-screen typo. Especially amusing with Bill banging on about Mexicans coming to the US and not learning the language.
And there I was thinking that UPS just delivered parcels… oh no, they synchronise the word of commerce. Ooooh, fancy that.
I’m enjoying the city. The last three days have been a fine mixture of busy and relaxed stuff. And writing stuff here means I’m not relaxing too much, cos I’ll spend way too much time cropping photos and re-typing sentences that make sense in my head’s own shorthand, but really are full of bad grammar. So, to sum up the last three days, here’s a bunch of notes:
Spent Sunday in Central Park and a couple of other parks on the Lower East Side with friends.
Enjoyed watching the remote control boats on a lake in Central Park; the blackbirds and robins, too.
Saw a cardinal (the bird, not the catholic bloke) for the first time in my life.
A very fat man jogging. Jaunty ponytails on female joggers. Blossom. Tiny dogs.
Women in peach-coloured clothes look lovely.
Being inside the Trump Tower is quite a horrible experience. Hurts the eyes.
I gave a homeless guy (with a beard full of potato crisps/chips crumbs in his beard) a dollar and he shook my hand and asked me, “Are you a guitar player?” I told him that I wasn’t. He said, “You must be, I’m never wrong!”
The train, from Grand Central to Dia:Beacon, has a horn that sounds like an American train in films sounds and that is good.
Oooh, there’s Yankee Stadium; ooh there’s Sing Sing.
Lovely houses in small towns.
Dia:Beacon is great. Well worth the 80-ish minute trip.
Lovely to see a Dan Flavin sculpture that I’ve always enjoyed in books, in real life. Some Sol LeWitt, Richard Serra, Donald Judd. I loved On Kawara’s ‘date paintings’. (No photography allowed, thus the sneaky photos shot from my trouser pocket.)
I asked one of the people working there if they turned off the Dan Flavor Flavin stuff at night. She confirmed that they did: “at night they’re dead sculptures.”
Two English guys were leaving at the same time as me, I heard them wondering when the train back to New York was. I told them, “Seven minutes past every hour.” They thanked me and I wandered slowly to the station. I checked my notebook: the trains were actually at ten minutes to every hour. I felt very very guilty. I would get the train, they’d be 20 minutes late and have to wait another 40 minutes. (An extra note: I have no idea why my brain thought the train was at seven minutes past the hour. Proof, I guess, that my brain is wired a bit wrong in the bits that control memory.)
Women on her mobile phone on the train: “You’re not even listening to what I’m saying! You’re not even listening to what I’m saying NOW! You’re not listening to what I’m saying!”
Every damn time I press the button for the elevator in the hotel I get an electric shock.
Saw more art today at the New Museum by Andrea Zittel, it was okay. Saw a great thing by Tara Donovan at the Pace Wildenstein gallery, a landscape made of plastic cups.
Went around the corner to go to another museum someone had recommended, but for some reason, I had a bit of a freak-out and found myself unable to go in, so went to an art shop and bought some graph paper and a handy pocket-size watercolour set.
A perfectly retro guy: thin, straight black hair; short in the front, long at the back. Silver earring, moustache. Leather jacket over midriff-exposing Motley Crue t-shirt. Skin-tight jeans and Converse. Almost too perfect.
Two women hug and saw goodbye on the street. “Love you!” shouts one, going one way. “Call me!” shouts the other walking a yard or two in front of me. Within ten seconds, she had her mobile phone up to her head and began talking loud and fast, “I just saw Marissa, she was like [loud squawking noise]! Like that!”
The American Folk Art Museum is amazing. If you’re ever in New York: fuck MOMA, go next door instead. It’s far more rewarding. Some truly magnificent work in there.
Another walk in the park, and I saw a couple in their wedding clothes having photos taken by a lake.
That was my last three days. Now it’s bedtime. When I’ve woken up, showered and breakfasted, I’ll be going to Yankee Stadium to watch New York Yankees vs. Kansas City Royals. I can’t wait.
I left the United States yesterday. Just for an hour or so, though. I was in the United Nations headquarters, on international turf. After deciding to spend the rest of the day watching bowling on TV and staying out of the rain, I nipped out to get a coffee and found myself soaking wet. I figured that being wet was being wet, so I had a walk around. I had no plan, I just walked around. Came across this parade (Quicktime, 3.1mb) of loads of Scottish people. I kept walking and ended up outside the UN. Because of the weather there was no queue.
Bought a ticket for the tour and had a good look around. You get to see some of the fancy gifts given to the UN: some gold box thing from Malaysia, an ivory sculpture from China via four elephants, a big mosaic from Nancy Reagan. You get to see the Security Council place where top fiction writer Colin Powell once spoke.
And you see the General Assembly, too. Weird to think that I’ve now been in a room that Bush has been in. I wish I could say I got some sort of shiver, but I didn’t; all I got was a UN snowglobe.
Relaxation has arrived. Thank God for that. I spent the first couple of days wanting to be relaxed right away, but when it didn’t happen, I only got grumpy. Yesterday morning I went to MOMA. After a short while queuing and buying my ticket from someone who looked exactly like my sister, I had a look around. It’s not that it was bad or anything, I just found the whole thing a bit like one of my art history lessons at school. All these greatest hits of the art world in one room was a bit unreal, and the familiarity of them all left me a little unimpressed. Not that those paintings were bad or anything; it’s just, isn’t seeing an Andy Warhol print in a book or on the wall the same thing apart from the size? I did enjoy the Claus Oldenburg stuff, though. I’d forgotten how much I like his stuff. And it’s always good to see some Yves Klein, Alexander Calder and Mark Rothko stuff. There was a room of pencil drawings that was full of great stuff, too. Can’t remember everything in there, but I enjoyed the David Hockney drawings and those by Grayson Perry and Jake & Dinos Chapman.
Here’s my art gallery cliché photo with blurred person in foreground:
I was still not that relaxed by that point; it took an afternoon in the cinema for that to happen. I went to see Thank You For Smoking. Apart from anything else, it has a beautiful title sequence with all the credits on graphics that look like cigarette packs. It’s worth seeing just for Adam Brody’s short performance alone, he’s excellent. God, I’m rubbish at reviewing things… Just go see it, cos it’s good. I came out of the cinema, and there it was: relaxation. I sauntered down Ninth Avenue back to the hotel, a uncharacteristic smile on my face and I felt happy.
The weather today seems pretty grim, so I’m watching some old folks bowling on ESPN Classics. Not sure I can be arsed to leave the room in this weather, and having bowling on TV makes it even more tempting to just lie around all day.
So, day three of my trip. Quite a busy one. I met up with a guy via craigslist who sorted me out with some Yankees tickets for a couple of games next week. Hurrah. Turned out that not only was he English, he was also a Liverpool fan. That was nice, chatting about all types of sport on the pavement with a stranger.
I then had my only bit of business during the whole trip, a meeting with a publisher to discuss doing another book. That felt like it went well, but we shall see. Not gonna tell you more in case I jinx it.
Oh, I saw this mad procession of RVs along Sixth Avenue. There was about 40 or 50 of them all travelling uptown. All full of Jews. They were playing music, and advertising something, but I’ve forgotten what that was. Quite a sight, though. It’s not often you see that sort of thing in Berlin. Err, for obvious reasons…
After my meeting I hopped on a train to Queens to got to P.S.1. As ever with group art shows, there was stuff I liked, stuff I disliked, stuff I didn’t care either way about. The best thing there was an exhibition called The Measure Of Every Pause by an Australian woman called Jessica Rankin. She creates what she calls ‘brainmaps’ with needle and thread. They’re really lovely. There’s more about her here.
I’m stilla bit jetlaggy, so after eating I came back to the hotel and watched one of those cops-chasing-drunk-people-along-the-highway shows and again fell asleep before 9.30.
But where oh where did you eat, Craig? Well, I’m glad you ask, cos I ate at White Castle. The Harold and Kumar film had built up my expectations and I… was sadly underwhelmed when I tried their burgers. Imagine a McDonald’s hamburger shoved in the microwave for two minutes too long and you’re close. They do come in nice little cardboard pouches, though.
Yesterday I went to see the Statue of Liberty. There was a bit of rain, so I figured it’d be a bit less busy on the ferry. I was wrong. Loads of people queueing up. So I joined the queue, went through all the security checks, and got on the ferry. Then it began to snow. And the snowflakes got bigger and bigger, and it was like being in a blizzard with the wind making things colder as the ferry crossed to the statue. The impressive view was, err, not so impressive through a curtain of snow.
And this is what Manhattan looked like on the way back.
For some reason, I’m still in a slightly grumpy mood. Not sure why, just not got into the swing of things yet.
Overheard in the queue for the ferry back to Manhattan from the Statue of Liberty:
Teenage boy: Look at those gulls, just floating there in the wind.
Middle-aged woman A: They must be cold.
Middle-aged woman B: They suck.
It’s 5.30am and I’m grumpy. Jetlag put me to sleep around 9.30-ish last night, and I woke up every couple of hours during the night. This hotel room has got a toilet which has water constantly dripping and making a noise. Brain focuses on it; Craig go insane.
The hotel itself, The Hudson Hotel, is all very swanky in the lobby area. It’s really close to Central Park, which is a very nice thing. My room, though, is fairly average. The bed is comfy, but the room’s pretty tiny: there’s virtually no cupboard space, especially when what cupboard space there is is taken up with mini-bar, mini-telly, mini-hifi, enormo-sized hotel directory, and shrink-wrapped CDs of the sort of music only business travellers who never listen to music might open. And – waaaaah! – there’s no YES Network on the TV, so no lying in bed watching Yankees games for me.
See, told you I was grumpy. I’m even grumpier cos connecting to the internet in the room failed. I keep getting errors when I try and use the hotel’s $10-a-day wireless service. (You don’t need me to rant about the price of wireless internet in hotels, do you?) I’ve got a crap view out of the window too.
So, yes, last night, before I fell asleep, I had an aching muscle pain in my upper arm. Nothing serious. Not until I woke up at 1am after dreaming that an upper arm ache was the first sign of rabies.
My brain’s a jumble right now.
The flight was good, though. I wore a Nicorette patch on my arm to keep the cigarette cravings at bay; I read a good Pet Shop Boys interview in The Word magazine; I did some drawing; and I watched Syriana, which I really enjoyed.
Right. I’m gonna shower and go and find somewhere with Internet access and coffee to drink.
So, the above was all written a couple of hours ago. Starbucks makes you pay for Internet it seems, so I’m back in my hotel room after a pleasant rainy walk around the southern edge of Central Park. A very helpful tech support guy connected me to the Internet. I already miss Billy cos I saw a friendly little Cocker just like him in the park.
On TV right now there’s a psychic medium connecting people with their dead loved ones over the phone. It’s quite scary.
Another eighth and final episode of something today following yesterday’s last episode of Pete and Bob. Today, it’s the last episode of Valley of the Cnuties. It began last July with some little creatures setting off on a boat, heading for a new land and a new life. Since then we’ve seen dreams of a loved one, some house building, a reunion of loved ones, some babies born, kids rebelling against their parents’ dancing ways by standing still. We’ve seen a kidnapping, we’ve seen an escape, and the problems trauma like that can create. Now, we’ve reached the end of our story. Will there be a happy ending? Click here to find out.
I’ve received a few emails asking what the songs used in the Cnuties series were, so here’s a list.
Episode 1 featured a song called Pleasure Cruise by George Formby. He was big star in the UK from the thirties until his death in 1961. If you like this song, you’ll like most of his other music cos it’s similarly splendid.
The song in episode 2 is Dream by The Pied Pipers. I’ve not heard any of their other music, sadly, but this song is divine.
Summertime Blues by Eddie Cochran is in episode 3. It still amazes me that he was only 21 years old when he died, and how many great songs he’d already written by that point. I mean, most artists would find it difficult to write four genuine classics in their lifetime, but that Eddie did that (with the aforementioned song, Somethin’ Else, C’mon Everybody and Three Steps To Heaven) at such an early age amazes me. God only knows what he’d have been capable of had he lived longer.
Episode 4 features one of my favourite Beach Boys songs, We’re Together Again. For some reason this song didn’t make it onto their 1968 album Friends, and, I believe, only got officially released for the first time as an extra track on that album’s CD re-issue in 1990. How that happened to one of their most beautiful songs I’ll never know. It’s also on the wonderful compilation Classics selected by Brian Wilson, which should be your first port of call should you want a Beach Boys compilation, cos, as the title suggests, it was selected by the great man himself and focuses on his more sumptuous work rather than the surfin’ ‘n’ cars songs that most Beach Boys collections favour.
Episode 5 uses Die Roboter by Kraftwerk, episode 6 uses Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal, and episode 7 uses …Baby One More Time by Britney Spears and Tourette’s by Nirvana.
And the final episode that you’ve either just watched or are about to watch, uses a gorgeous song by Richard Hawley called You Don’t Miss Your Water (Till Your River Runs Dry) from his 2003 album Lowedges. He seems to have finally begun to get the praise he deserves with his latest album Coles Corner, but I’m not sure it’s as good as Lowedges or its predecessor Late Night Final.
So there you have it, Cnuties is over. It’s always feels weird when I finish something like that or Pete and Bob, something that has been present in my life for such a long time. It’s almost of feeling of numbness. I still expect some kind of joy or relief when I get to the end of something like this, but it never happens.
Anyway, that’s it from me on the creative front for a few weeks. This last month or so has been the most productive time (FFF-wise) I can remember. New stuff a couple of times every week. So I’m off to relax for a bit, clear my head, watch some live baseball, look at some art, see some friends, go to the cinema, and – because I’m intruiged after seeing the fantastic Harold & Kumar film – I’m gonna try some White Castle burgers for myself. Yes, I’m off to the United States. New York, New York and Chapel Hill, North Carolina to be precise. I have virtually no plan of action for my time there, I’m the poetic leaf in the wind; so if there’s anything you think I should see or do, let me know in the comments if you’d be so kind. Thank you.
My grandmother loved owls. Pete and Bob, the owls that have danced on Flip Flop Flyin’ since 2002, began their lives as a card I made for my grandmother on her last birthday before she died. I still miss my Gran a lot. But whenever I look at Pete and Bob I always think of her, and hope she would’ve liked the dancing they did. Now, three and a half years since that first episode, Pete and Bob visit us for the final time. I hope you enjoy it.
Often I’ll rest my elbows on my window ledge and look out of the window, smoke a cigarette, and ponder various things of little importance. As of today, there’s a new cafe open on the ground floor of my building.
Now I can no longer ponder without seeing the top of peoples’ heads jabbering away about nappies and such. Also, it means I can no longer just flick my ash into the void, cos the void’s now got latté machiatos and fancy-flavoured ice creams in it. Worst of all, I can’t have a fag without being advertised at by these rather unsightly umbrellas. Yet another element of my life tainted by crap…