Archive for May, 2011
During an email conversation, my friend Mark told me about this British writer called B. S. Johnson. I’d not heard of him before. Not sure why that is, because he sounds right up my alley. Mark recommended a couple of books, and something he did for the telly in 1973, the year of his death. It’s called Fat Man on a Beach. It’s a wonderful thing.
I dunno if this is technically called a vase or an urn or something else. But anyway, I have my Spanish lessons at the family home of my teacher; she was late arriving home, so while I was waiting I drew her mum’s vase/urn/whatever that sits in the middle of the table. I got most of it done there, and took a photo to finish it off at home. Ta and da.
More finger painting here.
Watching things you loved when you were younger is often interesting. Sometimes things are just as good as you remember; other times, well, they’re not. I’m always amazed at how few episodes of children’s programmes there were, too. There were only 12 episodes of The Flumps, only 13 of Bagpuss. But that’s besides the point. Looking back at things from my late teens/early twenties, some of the things that I was really really into, well, they just don’t do it for me any more. The other night, one such thing popped into my head: a one-off half-hour thing by Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer called The Weekenders. I adored Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out, and I loved The Weekenders, too. Watching it again, though, nearly twenty years later… it’s okay. A few funny moments here and there. But maybe it’s just me that’s changed. I don’t think I find things that are silly-for-the-sake-of-it funny any more. (Although, the bit at Vic’s door near the start did make me chuckle quite a bit.) Anyway, to save you some clicking, it’s worth a watch, so embedded below, here’s The Weekenders (chopped into three parts on YouTube.)
Just a wee Bic pen scribble, photographed, and digitally coloured.
(Created by filleting and re-organising Twitter search results.)
this sucks ass
Paying bills sucks ass
Cleaning sucks ass
SINGLE LIFE SUCKS ASS
Regretting sucks ass.
Chris sucks ass.
lena sucks ass.
FDR sucks ass
My dad sucks ass!
richard’s mother SUCKS ASS
my agent sucks ass
my doctor sucks ass
our waitress sucks ass.
My instructor sucks ass!
Kirk Hammett sucks ass!
my job sucks ass
Work sucks ass!
All work & no play SUCKS ASS
Working with the bosses son sucks ass
Unemployment sucks ass.
Verizon sucks ass
verizon sucks ass
At&t sucks ass
Tmobile Sucks Ass
Tmobile hold music sucks ass
Sprint sucks ass
Sprint sucks ASS
SPRINT SUCKS ASS!
sprint still sucks ass.
damn sprint sucks ass
This camera on my mac sucks ASS!!!!
My iTunes sucks ass.
iTunes sucks so much ass.
iTunes sucks baboon ass
Apple sucks major ass.
This summer sucks ass
rain sucks ass
Humidity sucks ass.
weather sucks ASS!
weather.com sucks ass
This pitcher sucks ass
These refs sucks ass!
LeBron James sucks ass
NBA sucks ass
your kids team sucks ass!
Car shopping sucks ass!
Traffic sucks ass
this drive sucks ass
driving in a car without air conditioning when it’s 41degrees outside fuckin’ sucks ASS!!!!
Sitting in my car crying sucks ass
Training at the gym without my Mp3 Player sucks ass.
My singing voice sucks ass.
My dental insurance sucks ass.
muscular dystrophy sucks major ass.
Fronto-temporal Dementia sucks ass.
Warm liquor sucks ass.
Subway’s breakfast sucks ass.
THE NEW TACO FROM TACO BELL SUCKS ASS
miso soup from whole foods sucks ass
this salad sucks ass… i should have gotten the sandwich
More Twitter search poems.
Lying in bed this morning, my iPod alarm goes off at 8.00 am, switch it off, turn over, roll back over onto my right side, look for my iPod, it’s under the pillow, press the button, look at the time. Two minutes later it’s 9.35 am for some unfathomable reason. Lying there, face in the pillow, I started thinking about the actual feeling of tiredness. Why exactly is my body feeling tired? That’s not the right question, really. What is that feeling. It’s not a pain, not really an ache, but arms, neck, thighs, all feel tired. I’m sure there’s a scientific explanation, but, y’know, I don’t really care. One of those things that pre-Google, I wouldn’t even have considered looking up. Now I feel bad for not being bothered enough.
Back to the sixth and seventh words of that first paragraph: my iPod. And by extension, my iTunes. It feels weird taking ownership of a piece of hardware and a piece of software. My iTunes is exactly the same as your iTunes. But it’s different, too, of course. My iTunes is full of songs I have chosen to put there. We may have the exact same model of iPod, we may know how to find the things we are looking for (something that can’t always be said when looking through someone else’s record or CD collection), but it still feels a bit weird. Not as weird as using someone else’s computer (particularly if you’re a Mac user having to use a PC or vice versa), but weird nonetheless. One of the good things, though, about someone else’s iTunes/iPod is, because of the ease of “acquiring” songs, you tend to find more embarrassing songs than you likely would in a record collection. It’s so easy to tip tip tap on Google and find a way to download a Black Eyed Peas song that you secretly like. A song that you know you’d never go to a store to buy. And I don’t know about you, but when I’m looking through someone else’s iTunes, I’m not really looking for something as simple as “something good to listen to,” I’m kinda looking for “something I own to listen to.”
My friend Kevin sent me a link to a nice wee Daft Punk mash-up thingy. Listening to it, hearing the bits of their songs, it was nice to hear “Voyager.” Not a song of theirs that I’d pick out as one of my favourites, but always nice to hear it. This time, though, I stopped listening to the mash-up, went to my iTunes, and listened to the whole song. Lovely. But mostly, it took me back. Took me back to Berlin. Memories of foggy mornings cycling to an office by the River Spree. Not that I listen to music when I’m cycling and, in fact, not that I even had an iPod or Walkman in 2001. But this vague feeling of Berlin-ness came to me listening to it. I’ve been thinking about Europe a lot recently. Part of this is, I think, to do with the fact that I’ve started to feel like maybe Mexico is my home. My stupid brain is having a kind of hypnic jerk, making sure I mean it about Mexico. And, of course, when I say or write the words “Mexico” and “home” in the same sentence, I start second guessing myself; looking for reasons that I might actually be wrong; reasons that would allow me to take the easy option and up sticks and move to Brazil or Argentina where this could happen all over again in another six months or so.
Another reason for thinking about Europe (specifically Berlin, London, and Lincoln) is that it’s over a year since I was there. The longest I’d been away before this stint was eight months. And, as human brains are wont to do, we place some sort of importance on the concept of “a year.” It’s a long time. A long time to be away from, whether I like it or not, from what is familiar. And even though familiar isn’t always right or best, it’s still familiar. And so many memories, so many triggers are there. I watch an episode of Twin Peaks, and I’m back in an ex-girlfriend’s lounge in Lincoln; listen to a Cardigans song and I’m back in Volkspark Friedrichshain (a big park in Berlin) for some reason; listen to Superstar’s fantastic “18 Carat” album, and I’m back in a cold apartment above a dance studio in Forest Hill, London. I wish I’d started to realise this before, but nostalgia is a bitch.
Nostalgic feelings are lovely. A lovely, warm, melancholy blanket. A blanket that sometimes ignores what was actually happening, and paints a nice J.M.W. Turner-esque version of events, and ignores the Francis Bacon elements of those events. I’m not talking about being nostalgic for a lovely event in particular, just that general feeling of saudade. I let myself wallow in these feelings too much. I have been awake late at night the last few days, brain whirling. And when I started feeling all warm and fuzzy about the autumn of 2009, I started to question what my brain was doing.
Back then, I was freshly back in Berlin after things didn’t work out so well in the States. I was borrowing a friend’s apartment, living out of my backpack in fifth floor apartment with no Internet connection. My brain was still a howling mess from the American stuff, and all I wanted was a place to call my own, to sit down on my own chair, sleep in my own bed, drink milk from the carton in the middle of the night and feel… and feel that feeling of being at home. And it took three months to get that place. And as every day passed, my brain needed it more and more. The walks to the Internet cafe every morning and every evening got heavier and heavier. I drank more and more, and I spent more and more of my time hating my life. Last night, when I started feeling warm and fuzzy about that time, I knew that my brain really is a fucking dick, and he can fuck off with his fucking nostalgia bullshit. Still, I guess it’s progress to realise that. Finally.
I am not a cook. I can just about knock together some guacamole, but when it comes to things that involves the heating of ingredients, I don’t get much further than a can of soup. This morning, though, on my usual tour of RSS feed items, Alex Belth’s excellent New York-based blog Bronx Banter linked to a food site called Smitten Kitchen, (note: I originally wrote Smitten Kitten, and a few days after the post it was pointed out that I’d made a mistake; and, well, it wasn’t a typo, I genuinely read the site name as “kitten” not “kitchen”) and particularly, a recipe for pasta sauce that was so stupidly simple I gave it a go. And damn, even if I do say so myself, it was delicious. All you need is a can of tomatoes, some butter, and an onion.
My name is a name that Mexican Starbucks employees have difficulty with. Soon after the first misheard name, I started keeping a list. I’ve been called 37 different names so far. Several of the people in my local Starbucks do know my name, a couple of them say “Hola Craig,” and know what drink I usually order, but there are still employees who get it wrong.
Here’s the list of 37:
Craick, Craig, Creak, Creel, Creg, Crek, Crey, Crick, Drake, Dreik, Erick, Fred, Grack, Grake, Gray, Greak, Greck, Grek, Greco, Greg, Grei, Greig, Grek, Grev, Grey, Joel, Kreg, Mike, Rag, Ray, Red, Reik, Rich, Trey, Troy, and Wreck.
One day last week, Tuesday I think, I woke up to grey skies. A regular occurrence in pretty much every town I’ve lived in, but here in Ciudad de México, I’ve woken up to blue skies pretty much every morning. Not a bad life, I know, and I’m not complaining, but for someone who grew up in England, it’s a little monotonous.
But then, it’s like missing pork pies or scotch eggs: I eat food here that intrinsically is way better than either of those, but sometimes, I just wanna stand in the kitchen dipping a flaky sausage roll into a small pool of HP sauce.
Last night at the baseball game, I was chatting to my friend. We were having one of those “what do you want from life?” conversations. It’s something I think about fairly abstractly a lot. But it was the first time in a while where I’ve vocalised those thoughts. I’ve moved around a lot over the past three-and-a-half years. That movement has kind of mirrored my mental state: unsettled. But I’m beginning to fully appreciate that I really do like living in the Americas. Particularly Mexico. I feel happier here than in Europe. On a surface level, the food is fantastic, the weather is great, I can turn on the TV and watch English, German, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Brazilian, Argentinian, and Mexican football. I can go to baseball games, I can watch Major League games on telly, and in the winter, there’s a ton of NFL, too. It’s a city that feels like it’s doing its best just to keep up: there are potholes, broken pavements, constant massive amounts of trash, a swelteringly hot subway that has to have separate women-only sections because men behave like dicks, but it’s still awesome. And the people are happy.
Not that people in England or Germany aren’t happy, but from what I see on a daily basis, life is hard for Mexicans. They work hard. And long hours. For money that to you or I would be insulting. My rent is more than a prison guard earns in a month. And it’s still half of what I was paying in Berlin. Still, when prison guards earn so little, it’s no wonder that narco lords mysteriously escape from prison here.
Importantly, though, I feel happier here. The same old brain spume sloshes around being ugly and stinky, but I’m getting better, I think. So I wonder if this is the place. Of course, that brain stink taps on my shoulder at 2am now and again to ask if I will ever be truly happy and settled in a place. But fuck him, I like it here. And I’m getting close to the point where I’m thinking of trying to get resident’s visa (or whatever it is called here).
The place where I live is a strangely arranged building. This apartment has two floors which criss-cross with the apartment across the hall: our ground floor is at the front of the building, and our upstairs is at the back of the building. Across the hall, their apartment has that alignment reversed. The people in that apartment moved in after I did, and the very first weekend, they left a note mentioning that their bedroom is above our lounge’s balcony and that if we are talking on the balcony, it disturbs them. The note was signed, “Shakira.” For a nano-second, I got my hopes up. Not sure of her or her fella’s nationality, but the note she left was in English (she’d obviously heard me talking on the balcony), but it wasn’t perfectly written. The sort of mistakes non-native speakers make were visible. (Still, her English is way better than my written Spanish.) The irony is, the couple of times that we’ve been talking on the balcony are eclipsed by the all-day-long yap yap yapping of her dogs. She’s got five of the fuckers. All tiny terrier things. It’s only a couple of them that yap, though. A couple is enough. The other day, I heard a man and woman talking in the corridor, I was near the front door, so spied through the peephole. First thing I noticed: it wasn’t that Shakira. This one had dark hair and even if it was a wig to fool the photographers, I’d recognise Shakira’s ass if it was on the other side of a peephole. And this is the thing I find odd: she spoke to the yapping dogs that greeted her at the door in accented English. “Why are you making so much noise? What the fuck!? What the fuck!? What the fuck!?” Maybe Mr. Shakira is a native English speaker. Or maybe her spidey senses knew I was on the other side of the peep hole and it was all for show.
Some house keeping over at the main site. I’ve not done a huge amount of FFF stuff so far in 2011. Mostly is is because of the Flip Flop Fly Ball stuff. I’ve been doing a fair bit of new stuff over there because, with the book coming out in July, I need to keep up my, ahem, presence. After the sales disasters that were Fun Fun Fun and Atlas, Schmatlas, I’d quite like a successful book, so my free time is spent creating new baseball-themed stuff. But there is new stuff now and again. The iPod and iPad drawings all go up there in the Much Fuck it’s Drawing section.
I have, though, done a wee tinker with the home page, introducing a brief news section near the top of the page, so if you do periodically check in over there, you’ll see what the most recent stuff is. And I’ve updated the G Things section, which is basically filleting some of the better arty little things that I quickly chuck up here on the blog but don’t really command their own page on FFF. I go through the blog maybe once every six months to do the filleting, but it’s been about two years since I last did it, so if that interests you it’s there.
And there’s some other stuff that kind of does deserve to be given a proper home, and is now listed on the main page. First, something from 2008-09, the Public bathroom trilogy. Three videos of me washing my hands in three museum bathrooms. A video of a Squirrel playing last summer in Toronto. A couple of paintings, collectively titled Rooftop parties. Another painting, this time with a Spanish title, Nuestra nada de Guadalupe (Our nothing of Guadalupe). And a wee wee story I wrote from FAQ Magazine, called What are you thinking about? And the recent new Twitter search poem has been added to that growing-at-a-glacial-pace collection of “poetry.”
I’m trying to be a bit more organised with my time, and I have about 40 Post-its on the wall and many of those are non-baseball notes for stuff I’d like to do for FFF soon, so fingers crossed.
Seeing as though this post is becoming a bunch of unconnected blah blah, I’d like to recommend listening to a recent podcast from The Word magazine. If you are outside the UK you may not know the magazine, and this may not be of interest, but for people of around my age, the recent podcast (episode 170) featuring Neil Tennant is excellent. If you grew up with the Ellen/Hepworth/Tennant era of Smash Hits, you’ll love it. Just to hear those three people talking about stuff is brilliant. It wouldn’t be over-estimating things to say that the early to mid eighties era of Smash Hits was a massive influence on my life. Pop music seemed clever, funny, stupid, and important in that magazine and I still thing of certain popstars by their Smash Hits-given nicknames. The Internet is awesome, obviously, but when virtually all of my pop music information came from one radio station (BBC Radio 1), one TV programme (Top of the Pops), and one magazine, I felt like it was my little world. I’d go home at lunchtime because I lived really close to my school, write down the top forty when it was announced and rush back and pass around the piece of paper so we all knew what was going up or down. Obviously, the charts mattered back then. And listening to this podcast reminded me of so many things from that time: the smell of sweets and cigarette smoke at the shop on the corner, the older kid who worked in the newsagent who kept a copy of Smash Hits for me every fortnight, and above all, the big stack of records in the dining room. So many memories lead back to that stack of records. And in particular, Dare by the Human League; a record my father bought, and that I also adored. I still get it out (well, scroll through my iTunes folder) every month or so. And it’s still probably my favourite album of my lifetime.
While I’m on the topic of podcasts: am I alone in feeling a little overwhelmed by the number of them? I subscribe to a few, ditch some, keep others, and I’m kind of at the point now where I really think I’m going to have to ditch podcasts that I actually like listening to. And I only subscribe to fourteen podcasts. I’ve got this perennial backlog of 8-15 hours of stuff. Every day I try and get through some, make some headway, but I never seem to get any where. And I end up feeling the burden of those backed-up hours. And sometimes, and this is insane, I feel guilty listening to music when I “should” be working on my podcasts. That’s not right, is it? Right now, because I’m typing, I’m not listening to a podcast, but part of me is trying to type quickly so I can get back to drawing and listening to men talking about the Houston Astros on the Baseball Prospectus podcast. I am, right now, listening to music. Fine fine musc. The Ronettes. Fuck, Phil Spector was good. And this kinda ties in with something else. Something else which deserves a new paragraph.
I love a whole heap of music written and produced by Phil Spector. He was awesome at his job. Utterly stunning songs. But, as Ronnie Spector’s autobiography described, he seems to be a, for want of a better word, cunt. I, as I assume you do, have differing feelings about people who are famous. I’m not talking about X Factor/Paris Hilton types. I’m talking about people who are famous because of some inherent talent in their chosen field. I’d rather Christian Bale hadn’t have been a dick in that tape, but ultimately it’s not gonna stop me enjoying his work. Similarly with ex-baseball player Barry Bonds. He, rather famously, was often a very rude man, particularly to the press. But somehow, I overlook that because he was a fantastic player. And it’s not his job to be a nice person. And with Phil Spector, I wonder where my morality lies if I can still listen to Baby, I Love You and not give a thought to the poor woman he shot dead, and the physical and mental abuse he heaped on Ronnie Spector. This is because I hate hate hate hearing Gary Glitter’s Rock And Roll Part 2 being played at baseball games. My morality drew a line there. I still like the song. It’s pretty cool in a sludgy, stompy way, and it’s a pretty perfect song to hear at a sports event. But goddam, it irks me so when I see children clapping along and shouting “hey!” at games. It makes me want to write and print a flyer and distribute it to all the parents at the game pointing out exactly who is singing the song that your child is dancing to. Why do I get all Daily Mail about the Gary Glitter song, but not about Phil Spector? It’s not a particularly vociferous “think about the children” thing, cos most of the time, I don’t give a shit. I hate that adults have to put up with things aimed constantly at children. Don’t do that, children might be watching! Fuck off, that’s where parenting comes in (says the childless man). Or is it something a little more depressing to find out about myself: that I don’t want to give up on Spector’s music? But, because I don’t overly care about Glitter’s music, I can live without it, thus my morals push through my desire to stomp my feet and shout “hey!”? I don’t know, but suspect that is probably the case.
Anyway, this post is getting long. One more thing. I got back from the game last night, a little tipsy, baseball in hand, all happy and shit, popped open my laptop, checked Twitter, and saw a tweet from some guy I don’t know that said this: my fiancé and I got your Atlas Schmatlas Larry David tattooed. Hope that’s cool with you. (The Minipop drawing he’s talking about is featured in the Atlas, Schmatlas book. You can see the Minipop about half way down this page. The book, by the way, is still available from Amazon, should you wanna spend some money on a book that has been described as “awesome” by me when talking about it to a friend.) Here’s a photo of their tattoos. This, quite frankly, blows me fucking mind. That someone would like a drawing I did enough to have it tattooed. That’s fucking nuts. In a good way.
Last night was the first time I’ve been to a game with someone who doesn’t really know anything about baseball. My friend and Spanish teacher Gina and I decided to do a bit of two-way learnin’. I could try and speak in Spanish, and teach her some basics about baseball. It was kinda fun. Especially as she seemed to enjoy the game. One of the first things I mentioned about the game was to keep her eye out, because foul balls could come into the stands and it would hurt, but, “I’ve never been near one, so, y’know, it’s not likely.” Several innings and beers later, I excuse myself to go to the bathroom. I trot down the steps towards the exit as a ball is fouled out and flies up over my head, hits a seat, and lands near my feet. I lean down like a Victorian lady picking up a fallen apple from her orchard, and continue my trip to the gents.
It seems like balls here have the Liga Mexicana logo rubber-stamped rather than properly printed.
It was my first ever foul ball. But foul balls are something I’ve thought a lot about. Especially here where the stands are often sparsely populated and I’m often sat in an area where a left-handed batter could ping one. I’m not a person who likes attention. When I get a haircut or a new shirt, I’m happiest when people don’t mention it at all. And I worry a lot about what I would do if a foul ball were to come near me. I’ve made a promise to myself that I won’t ever run for a ball. I’d walk if it were close. I’d never get into a situation where I am in battle with someone else for the ball: you can have it, dude, my dignity is more important than a second-hand baseball. I worry about the mocking jeers I’d get if a ball came right at me and I dropped it. And I always make a note of kids in the section to whom I could give the ball. (Unless the kid looks like a spoilt brat then fuck ‘em.) At a recent game sat in prime territory, there was a teenage with Down’s Syndrome nearby. I spent way way way too long debating with myself if it would be good or patronising to give a potential foul ball to him as there were no other children around. I think too much.
The orange mark on the ball is paint that came off of the seat on its way into my pocket.
As it happens, there were no kids near me when I got back to my seat last night. But there had already been some jeering. The worst possible thing happened. I got the ball, but I got a mild smattering of jeers for something completely out of my control. As I leant down to pick up the ball, a beer vendor on the steps behind me must’ve lunged to try and get it, but slipped and fell over. Not my fault. God’s honest truth, not my fault. And all that accumulated worry about what to do when I acquire a foul ball, well, I did nothing wrong but still had to listen to jeers. Maybe they were jeering at him for his dumb lunge, though. But my bladder didn’t know that.
I stood at the trough, back pocket bulging with its new leather and yarn goiter, legs shaking because of the nervous energy, and my bladder decided that he was not gonna comply with my wishes. I have a shy bladder in public bathrooms at the best of times. There’s no reason for it, just over time it’s become a mental block. At the Champions League final between Liverpool and AC Milan in Istanbul in 2005, I was busting for a slash at half time, but the bathrooms were really busy. I queued, waited my turn, then an opening appeared, got it out, and… nothing. C’mon Craig, you’ve been drinking all day, your bladder is the size of a Space Hopper: just go! Nothing. I spent the second half of the game, and the 30 minutes of extra time, and the penalty shoot out dying for a leak. But lately, I’ve noticed that thinking about defensive plays helps. “6-4-3,” I’ll mutter to myself. Wahey! If it needs more than a simple double play to get me going, I replay Jeter’s flip in the 2001 ALDS and that works a treat. But last night, nothing.
When I finally calmed down, I returned to the stands. The first person I saw was the lunging beer vendor. He smiled a big friendly smile. He shook my hand. We had a brief laugh. The nervy leg shakes disappeared. Sadly, the Diablos lost 8-7 despite a valiant effort, coming back from 7-1 down. So close to a fantastic comeback. But more importantly, Gina now knows that runners have to tag up.
More finger painting here.
More finger painting here.
El esclavo trabajaba en el jardín del rey. El trabajaba y trabajaba todo los días. El fué a fabricar un camino y la princesa estaba molesta. Ella vió al esclavo y fué encantada. El rey estaba enojado con la princesa. Porque era racista. Fué con el doctor y lo hizo venir al castillo. El doctor tranquilizó a la princesa y le dió un cambio de sexo. El rey fué feliz. La princesa no. Pero el esclavo era gay. Así que se enamoró del nuevo principe. Y ellos se casaron y el nuevo principe trabajó como payaso de circo.
(Created by filleting and re-organising Twitter search results.)
I’m sick to death of seeing all the same faces.
I’m sick to death of bitchy girls and sly people.
I’m sick to death of the words “Social media”.
I’m sick to death of these arguments that have occurred since I was 7 years old.
I’m sick to death of psycho individuals
im sick to death of men.
I’m sick to death of their half-arsed relationship!
I’m sick to death of love…
I’m sick to death of jargon & techno-babble.
I’m sick to death of pretending to enjoy my job.
I’m sick to death of feeling like I’m not good enough.
i’m sick to death of walking into door handles.
I’m sick to death of not being able to forget and move on
I’m sick to death of all the vitriol spewed on both sides.
i’m sick to death of everything all ready,god it’s tedious!!!!
I’m sick to death of hearing everyones shit for the day already.
i’m sick to death of family drama.
I’m sick to death of arguing.
i’m sick to death of bloody role plays.
I’m sick to death of being responsible adult & having nothing to show for it.
I’m sick to death of people who take advantage of other people.
I’m so sick to death of the absolute BORING bullshit that has been my last two & a half weeks.
i’m sick to death of worrying
I’m just sick to death of it!
More Twitter search poems.
Yesterday, I was listening to an old episode of This American Life. It was the podcast episode that popped into my iTunes a few weeks ago. It was a re-broadcast of episode 402 that was on the radio (and I assume, on the podcast) in March 2010. Yes, Craig? So what? Sat in my rented room in Mexico City, sat here in t-shirt and shorts with the balcony door open because it’s hot, as soon as the story began, I was back in Berlin. Music, I kinda understand taking you back to a different time. I really can’t listen to certain records without thinking of certain places, certain people. I am, obviously, not alone in this.* But I’m surprised that I can remember very specifically what I was doing when I listened to that episode last year in Berlin. I was walking around, specifically looking for things I could take photographs of for a collage I was planning to put in the book. (I did use photos from that day, and you can see the result in “Flip Flop Fly Ball,” published July 5th, available for pre-order from the usual places.) It was weird to hear sentences spoken by the various story-telling people, that I really really associated strongly with specific bits of streets that I walked that day. Maybe I should’ve marked out the route on Google Maps or something, but I didn’t really want to double-up the remembrances. So here’s a few of the photos I took that day, walking around cold, grey, Berlin last April (yep, it’s a March episode, but I listened to it in April, because I tend to go through phases with This American Life: I’ll let about five or six build up, then demolish them all within a few days).
And a complete coincidences: it’s a year today since I left Berlin. That second brief stint in Berlin was a strange period. But, really, no point in examining that now, cos the roots of that tree spread under many, many paving slabs of my life that I don’t fully understand myself.
* I recently downloaded the Mighty Lemon Drops album, World Without End. I’ve not listened to that album for over twenty years. I saw their name somewhere on the Internet, remembered the record, wondered if it sounded as good as I remember it, tap tap tap, downloaded. And, I still like it. It sounds of its time, but damn, eighties indie music was fucking good.** But, more than anything, it reminded me of something I’d forgotten about: that I’d borrowed it from a girl I briefly saw back them. I’d borrowed her cassette. And by remembering that, I remembered lots of other things I’d not thought about for a very long time. Meeting that girl in Ritzy night club in Lincoln. Dancing to Erasure. This was back during the ridiculous Acid House panic that meant smiley t-shirts were banned in Ritzy. And, really, we never called it Ritzy; it was always Ritzy’s. Just like the night club where I later DJ-ed for two years was actually called Vienna, but we all called it Vienna’s.
** I imagine my elders may feel the same about other eras, and my youngers will, in time, feel the same about their eras, but it really, really annoys me when the eighties are dismissed as a shit music decade. People point and giggle at over-produced pop music, at slick comeback albums by older Live Aid artists, and with a flick of the ironic-username dismiss a whole decade. Well, fuck you. That was my decade. I grew up in the eighties, that’s where music became special for me, and a lot of it was fucking awesome. Just look at this list. It’s from Pitchfork, a site I’m not a massive fan of in particular, but it’s a pretty good reason why my eighties can’t be dismissed so quickly. This is what they chose as the top ten albums of the eighties: Closer, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Rain Dogs, Surfer Rosa, The Queen is Dead, Murmur, Doolittle, Paul’s Boutique, Remain in Light, Daydream Nation. There really is nothing you can fault in that list. Would exactly be my top ten, but everything on there is pretty magic. Here’s the link to their top hundred.
Anyway, blah blah blah, here’s some Mighty Lemon Drops to clunkily finish up this post, rather than thinking of some sort of conclusion.