Archive for October, 2006
Aside from a bit of editing, my Atlas is finished now. Six months worth of work is now on the desk of the publisher, ready for their designy dudes to do the layout. I’m happy about this. Not only because finishing a big project like that is good, but it means I don’t really have to think about it all of the time. And I can get on with some new stuff for Flip Flop Flyin’.
To push myself to do stuff, I’m gonna try and do a drawing every day this week that I’ll put up here, then all together, as a complete work, on FFF next week. This is an idea that’s been sat as a bunch of scribbles in sketchbooks for about five years now. The finished thing will have two versions: one for children, one for adults and parents who think their children are ready for it. But I’ll explain more about that later. It’s probably gonna be called Days of the Rainbow. Or Colours of the Week. I’ve not decided yet. Here’s the first drawing.
The baseball season is over. St Louis Cardinals are world champions. Well done them. Here’s a couple more baseball-related things that I’ve done:
73,080 bases in 2006
Adding together the total number of bases ran by all the players on all the teams throughout the season. Working out how many miles that is (over 1.245 miles), and marking out how big a baseball diamond that would be.
716,083 pitches in 2006
Similarly, adding together all the pitches thrown, and mapping them as one continuous line. From St Louis, Missouri to the outskirts of Mumbai, India.
There are plenty of popular people or things that I don’t like. The Arctic Monkeys for one. The League of Gentlemen for another. Top of my list, though, is Banksy. A sixth-form brain inside the body of a vandal masquerading as an artist.
If you need convincing, here’s ten reasons why Banksy is shit.
2. What, you mean Disney and McDonald’s are the bad guys? Who knew? Zzzzz…
4. Paranoid Pictures. Didn’t ravers cover this type of thing in the early nineties with those Fairy Liquid/Fairly Hip Kid and Hoover/Groover t-shirts?
5. No matter how much you try and justify it, graffiti is still vandalism. Be it a tag or a fancy stencil of a rat. I don’t care how talented you are, if you were to spray paint my car or jacket, it’d be vandalism; why exactly is doing it to a building any different?
6.This piece of his work sold for £50,400 last week. I don’t really care how much it cost, and who was stupid enough to pay that much. What I do find interesting is how anyone who thinks of themselves as an artist can do something so utterly predictable and dull. Ooh, taking someone modern and doing-a-Warhol with them. Yeh, really edgy. I can’t wait to see your art work with Pete Doherty’s face super-imposed on that Che Guevara photo.
7. Dude, get a new typeface for your crappy little tag, huh? I can’t ever remember a time when that typeface said anything other than “cheap electronic item.”
8. The whole Paris Hilton thing. Yeh, well done. You succeeded in doing the exact same thing that makes her so loathsome: shameless self-promotion. Talking of which…
9. The Guantanamo prisoner at Disneyland stunt. What’s the point? You think anyone visiting Disneyland is gonna care? You think the people who run Disneyland are gonna let it stay there? You think it’s gonna do Disneyland any harm? You think it’s gonna change the situation at Guantanamo? No, of course not. So there’s only one reason you did it: self-promotion.
10. The elephant. Aaah, I see what you did there: you took a common phrase, and actually put a REAL LIVE ELEPHANT in a room. Yeh, nice one. What next? A bunch of cooks making some really foul-tasting broth? And guess what, dickhead, it’s so fucking wrong to do that to an elephant, you should be ashamed of yourself, you contemptible cunt.
I feel better now I’ve got that off my chest.
There’s lots of instances of religious pareidolia, but how often do you see Rasputin’s face in spilt paint? This is on the pavement near the park where I walk with Billy:
You may remember that I cobbled together this little film last October. Well, I had a look at the state of the leaves on this 20th day of October last year and compared it with the state of the leaves today.
20 October 2005:
20 October 2006:
The state that the leaves are in today were in that same state ten days earlier last year. Climate change, anyone?
Aside from being quite scary sometimes when he opens his mouth, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is, I think, the most handsome world leader out there. The Afghan fella might dress the best with his cute lil’ hat, but there’s something quite charming about Ahmadinejad’s cheap-looking suits and open collar that I really like. And he’s got those dark eyes that light up when he’s smiling. Plus he’s got a beard, which is always a plus in my book.
I was listening to something on Democracy Now! yesterday which was very interesting. They had an interview with this chap who used to be a UN weapons inspector called Scott Ritter about his new book, “Target Iran: The Truth About the White House’s Plans for Regime Change.” While Ahmadinejad is making it easy for the media to aid Bush’s plans to go in there and bomb the shit out of Iran, they’re ignoring one very important fact: that the big power dude in Iran isn’t really Ahmadinejad; it’s the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. This is what Ritter said:
[Khamenei] is supported by an organization called the Guardian Council. Then there’s another group called the Expediency Council. These are the people that control the military, the police, the nuclear program, all the instruments of power. And not only has the Supreme Leader issued a fatwa that says that nuclear weapons are not compatible with Islamic law, with the Shia belief system that he is responsible, in 2003 he actually reached out to the Bush administration via the Swiss embassy and said, “Look, we would like to normalize relations with the United States. We’d like to initiate a process that leads to a peace treaty between Israel and Iran.” Get this, Israel and Iran. He’s not saying, “We want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.” He is saying, “We want peace with Israel.” And they were willing to put their nuclear program on the table.
Why didn’t the Bush administration embrace this? Because that leads to a process of normalization, where the United States recognizes the legitimacy of the theocracy and is willing to peacefully coexist with the theocracy. That’s not the Bush administration’s position.
That’s an interesting thing that I didn’t know before. Anyway, here’s an mp3 link to the interview.
A new rule in Berlin kicked in yesterday: clean up the dog poo or you get fined 35 euros. I’m all in favour of trying to clean up the streets, because they’re disgusting in places, and mainly because dog owners let their dogs poo on peoples’ doorsteps.
Although, as a good citizen, I clean up Billy’s poo anyway, and now feel a little irked that my moral high groundy snobbishness is less high and snobby; the paranoid “I know what you’re thinking” person inside my brain can see people thinking, “Ha! he’s gotta pick up the poo now!” when I would’ve done it anyway, clever clogs.
Anyway, there’s posters on bus shelters reminding us: Clean up, motherfucker!
(Sorry, the photo’s crap cos I’ve not bought a new camera yet so had to use my telephone.)
But, hold on there Berlin! Don’t we pay thirty euros a year in Dog Tax? What exactly do you spend that on, if not cleaning the streets? Now, I’m not advocating leaving your dog’s poo on the street, but surely this is free money you’re getting? And I just know that the one day I forget to stuff a plastic bag in my pocket is the day the Poo Police are on the prowl.
So, this rule began, and of course, local telly were out wanting reactions from people. It just so happened that a couple of people from the telly saw me and Billy having breakfast with a friend in a local cafe and began blah blah blah-ing in German. Smugness enveloped my brain like it does when I see those sign-up-to-save-the-dolphins skippy, happy, people on the street: Ich sprecher kein Deutsch. To tell them you don’t speak German is such an easy way to sidestep people. Occasionally though, they reply in English, so I have to hold my hands up and accept their monologue.
Yesterday’s TV people were similar, except they realised I spoke a little German, so I got stuck having to give my opinion on the whole matter. Yes, the streets should be cleaner. I showed them I had plastic bags in my pocket, but the best thing my brain would allow me to say in German was “Ich macht sauber…… die, err, poo.”
I took a break from furiously drawing stuff to meet my atlas deadline to have a look at some of the Pictoplasma Character Walk stuff. This is a bunch of small art galleries showing the work of a load of “contemporary character design and art,” to coincide with Pictoplasma’s second conference.
Beginning with their printy PDF – which was supposed to serve as a guide and map – being way too small and illegible when printed out; it was, like Nick has already pointed out, a disappointment. I realise I’m treating a fine line here, what with me being a pot and calling most of the Character Walk stuff black; but honestly, does having a pencil or a marker pen or Photoshop or Illustrator make any old tit an artist these days?
It made me think, why is it we like certain characters? Disney stuff, Pixar stuff, Hello Kitty, etc. Personality and stories, I imagine. Being cute and/or funny-looking just isn’t enough. Yes, well done Mac-boy, you’ve done a few circles and it looks cute [insert self-made-in-one-minute example of the type of thing I'm talking about]:
The walk highlighted the problem with this character-based art: it’s as unsatisfying as using Amazon to listen to snippets of an album instead of listening to the whole album. Yes, you get the cutesy highlights, but where’s the middle eight, where’s the solo? Where’s the heart? It all seems way too clever clever. And so fucking easy. I’ve made a ring tone: I am a musician! No you’re not, you make jingles, fool!
I didn’t see everything on the walk (I wish I’d see the David Shrigley film and the Friends With You thingy); some stuff I just looked at through the window; most of what I did see was toss (step up 2F, especially as it’s at a gallery across the street from my flat so I’ve seen his crap every day for the last week); and a few bits were great (Ian Stevenson, Derrick Hodgson, and especially Shoboshobo).
On the whole, I wanna cleanse myself by watching some Ren & Stimpy or Tex Avery cartoons to remind myself that characters are more than just lifeless drawings done by wankers like me.
Here’s the third of my monthly mixes for you, cunningly called
October Mix (47-ish MB, mp3):
Peter Sellers ‘She Loves You’
New Order ‘Love Vigilantes’
Ultrasound ‘I’ll Show You Mine’
Some Girls ‘Necessito’
T Rex ‘Hot Love’
Tommy James & the Shondells ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’
The Unicorns ‘Sea Ghost’
Tiger ‘Where’s the Love?’
Morrissey ‘The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get’
Sugarcubes ‘Fucking in Rhythm and Sorrow’
Super Furry Animals ‘For Now and Ever’
You know when someone makes you a tape and they put a bit of comedy or something wacky on there, you kinda think to yourself, ‘what a dick’?; well today, I am that dick – I put a comedy version of a Beatles song on there. But it’s Peter Sellers and he’s a comedy god, so his talent exempts me from being a dick.
As for the rest of it: A great New Order song; Ultrasound’s best song; a song by Juliana Hatfield’s band; a song by that German band that did ‘Da Da Da’ who are actually a fucking superb band and the one hit wonder-ness of ‘Da Da Da’ does them no justice; my favourite T Rex song; an earlier version of song most of you will know the Tiffany version of; the wonderful Unicorns; Tiger – a forgotten English band; Morrissey – a well-known English man; a jaunty lil’ Sugarcubes song; and a Super Furry Animals song which is my favourite last-song-on-an-album ever, which I think might be the theme of the November Mix, as finishing an album well and appropriately is an underrated aspect of the album as a concept.
Hope you enjoy. It’ll stay online for a week so grab it if you want it.
The Russian woman who comes every fortnight to clean my flat is here at the moment. She’s cleaning my bedroom at the moment. I’ve previously mentioned that I’m not entirely comfortable with this, but fuck it, I’m too lazy to clean up and she gets paid: everyone’s happy.
But I’ve noticed that I don’t always listen to the music I want to listen to when she’s in the flat cleaning. Right now, I’m listening to Earth Wind & Fire. I wonder if she thinks I’m a groovy soul fiend? I stop myself listening to heavy metal or hip hop when she’s around. I wish I could just ignore that she’s there, and listen to Metallica if I feel like it. Perhaps I should do it now.
As I mentioned at the end of July, I’ve finished the writing part of the FFF Pictorial Atlas stuff I’ve been doing. I’m about two thirds of the way through doing the 100-ish illustrations now. It was a little bit strange last night when I was looking at the website and realised that I’d not actually put any atlas stuff online since May. So I rectified that today by adding eleven countries: Cape Verde, Cayman Is., Côte d’Ivoire, Guatemala, Macau, New Caledonia, Slovenia, Sudan, Svalbard, Tajikistan, and Tunisia.
And, for your information, the atlas will be pubished by an American publisher in autumn 2007. It’s likely to have a new, less boring name when it’s published, but what that new name will be, I have no idea yet.
Oh, and vaguely related to the idea of an atlas, you should check out Juliana’s wonderful website, Pocket Films for Travelers.