Archive for September, 2011
Same seagull as before, just dressed up as an old American League umpire.
More finger painting here.
Last night I went to see Primal Scream. I’m not a massive fan in general. I loved their third record, liked their second record, and liked parts of their fourth, fifth and sixth records. Not bothered listening to any of their albums since then. But between 1990 and 1992, I loved them. I’ve seen them five times before. First time was around the time Higher Than the Sun came out in the summer of 1991 at the Marcus Garvey Centre, Nottingham. They were supported by The Orb and Andrew Weatherall. It was a magnificent night. Saw them in a big arena (can’t remember which one) with The Orb again. I also saw them at Rock City, Nottingham around the time of Give Out But Don’t Give Up. Saw them at the Hummingbird in Birmingham. Not sure when that was. And I saw them at Victoria Park in Mile End at some point in the late nineties, ’97 maybe.
And last night, I saw them for a sixth time. I was quite excited when I first heard that it was gonna be a “Screamadelica” concert, especially knowing that it was the night before my birthday. Yay. The venue was this big circus-shaped place called Centro De Espectáculos Premier. I guess it holds around 3,000 people. It looked like on any other night, it’d be full of men in suits, wide collars, and a crap-ton of hair gel; kinda like a provincial British night club.
The song I heard when some friends and I walked in was Jesus on the Payroll by Thrashing Doves. A fine tune. It was kinda nice to walk into a venue knowing that I’d be listening to a 20 year old album being played by a band, and hearing contemporaneous music straight away. There was definitely a nice timewarp element for my brain. Danny Rampling was DJing, and it was one of those DJ sets where every new song was like, “fucking hell, I’ve not heard this for aaaaaages!” Stuff like What Time is Love? by The KLF, Love is Contagious by Taja Sevelle, and the absolutely fantastic Driving Away From Home by It’s Immaterial. God, I love that song.
I’d not drank alcohol for three weeks because of my dumb headaches. It’s a slightly depressing thing to note about yourself that you tend to get miserable without drink for just three weeks. Most of that misery, though, is because of the headaches, but still, the fact that I couldn’t drink didn’t help. It really does make me realise that I should never ever allow myself to become an alcoholic. Obviously it’s a horrible thing to be an alcoholic, but for me, I just don’t want to ever have to stop drinking. I enjoy it too much. First drink I had was water. Then I took a tentative sip of a friend’s beer, waited ten minutes: no headache signs. Fuck it. Got myself a beer. Then another. And I was like a thirsty man in a desert all night. Beer, for lack of a better word, is good.
The DJ played Sympathy for the Devil, and then the band came on. Kind of a bold choice to come on after such a good song. As they came on stage, I looked at my watch (one of those habits one picks up, seeing how long a band plays for) and it was ten seconds to midnight, and a few seconds into my birthday they started playing Movin’ On Up. I’m not much of a dancer in general. And when I’ve been at places where dancing occurs in Mexico, people dance all fancy, moving their feet and hips and stuff. Coming from that British shuffly school of dancing, that’s tough to get to grips with. But last night, the shuffles kicked in, and I’m fairly sure I was doing exactly as I was doing twenty years ago. Every now and again, there’d be one of those really clear moments where you are aware of something. This was what I loved twenty years ago. And the birthday made that even clearer. Twenty years ago, I’d have scoffed at someone going to see a band playing twenty-year-old music. But things change, your mind isn’t as certain, and, well, I want to see Primal Scream play a record that reminds me of being young. Most of the people in the crowd seemed to be too young to have been around twenty years ago, but there were some. (And, incidentally, I’m fairly sure there were a smattering of Brits there, too. There’s something about British faces: they’re easy to spot in a crowd of non-Brits.
Like most places in the world, there’s an indoor smoking ban in Mexico. Not really enforced last night, though. Apologies to the non-smokers out there (although, the rabid *cough-cough-cough* type of non-smokers can fuck off), but I broke the rules. Smoking and drinking are fun when watching a band. And, really, sticking to the rules when no-one else is sticking to the rules is pointless. Plus, y’know, it was my birthday. Another thing that enhanced my evening was the green lasers that they had in the venue. Maybe it’s because of the night club experiences I had in my early twenties, but to me, the pinnacle of night club visual entertainment will always be a shitload of dry ice and those lines of green laser beams in the air. Damn, I love that stuff.
The band didn’t really stick to the tracklisting of Screamadelica like other bands tend to do when they play an album live. They skipped around a little. This was the set list (and somebody in the crowd put some clips of the show up on YouTube, so should you be interested I’m fairly sure you know how to access those clips):
Movin’ On Up
Slip Inside This House
Don’t Fight It, Feel It
I’m Comin’ Down
Higher Than the Sun (both the regular and dub versions)
Come Together (another clip of the end of the song)
The last three songs sounded fantastic. I especially liked Come Together because it started out like the album version, then went into the original 12″ more singing-y version; a version that when I used to DJ at a night club in Lincoln in 1991-2, I used to play as the last song every night. The band played Country Girl, Jailbird, and Rocks for the encore. The only slight disappointment was not hearing anything off of Vanishing Point in the encore, but that’s a minor quibble.
After the band finished, something else reminded me of that first time seeing the band. Back then, Primal Scream hadn’t really been doing “dancey” music for that long. A lot of the people at the show were skinny jeans, black hair indie kids who buggered off once the band had finished, missing out completely on the wonders of Andrew Weatherall. Last night was kinda similar. I have no idea who the DJ was after the band, but he was playing some great music. I kept on dancing, a wee bit drunk, but doing the Lincolnshire shuffle in my own little world, as the people all around dispersed. I could’ve kept on shuffling for a while, but it was a wee bit sad seeing such an empty dancefloor. Again, a minor quibble, but a wee bit more of a quibble than my previous quibble. I like the word “quibble.”
The exact opposite of a quibble was the prices of the t-shirts. 20 pesos. Twenty pesos. That’s 99.3 British pence. Less than a quid. That’s €1.15. US$1.57. CAN$1.57. For an official t-shirt at a concert. You know this already, but concert merch is a rip-off. Unless you live in México. (Although, my flatmate’s boyfriend said that the 20 peso price is incredibly unusual, and normally it’s more in line with regular concert t-shirt prices.) But I bought one, the Screamadelica t-shirt, the red one. I had one of those back in the day and wore it to its death. This new one has “méxico 11” on it too. There was a time when my whole wardrobe was band t-shirts. Now, though, the only one I own is this one. Hopefully, I’ll be shuffling around, drinking Coronas, and buying a Screamadelica t-shirt at a concert somewhere in the world in 2031, too.
(And I know what you’re thinking: on the venue’s logo above the stage in the photo at the top of this post, the M in Premier is the wrong way around. I know. It was bugging me all night.)
I’ve had headaches for three weeks, which meant three weeks of not drinking. Goddamn, I missed alcohol. And the first night back on the delicious booze: a Primal Scream concert. Yay.
I noticed when I was uploading this drawing from my iPod to my computer that this is the third iPod drawing that I’ve done of a dark cabin in an isolated location.
There was this one that I drew in January 2010 (and subsequently turned into a comic strip earlier this year):
And this one that I drew in March 2010:
One could read all sorts of depressing things into this, I guess.
Some of you may realise this, some of you not, but Flip Flop Flyin’ has existed as a web site since May 1999. That’s twelve-and-a-half years. As with anything that has existed for that long, things have changed. Looking at the home page, there are things in the “Ongoing” section that, really, if I’m completely honest, aren’t ongoing at all. Minipops, for example. Those little buggers are the reason why the site had a certain amount of success in the first place. They are probably the best idea I ever had, even though, and I will always insist on this fact, someone would’ve come up with the idea of drawing famous people really small eventually. I just happened to be the person who did it, and that was pretty cool. I doubt there’ll be a time when I lock the door of Minipops and say definitively that I am not doing any more of them, but I just don’t feel Minipoppy much any more.
I’ve been reflecting on the site a wee bit of late. Mostly because I spend a heck of a lot more of my time working on Flip Flop Fly Ball, the baseball-themed site, these days. Part of that is due to my seemingly never-ending obsession with the game, and also partly because it’s nice to have that thrill of people liking my stuff. And that happens more with the baseball stuff than with the bloggy or arty stuff. I’ve come to realise something, and I came to realise this because I recently looked at an old version of FFF that I have archived on my hard drive, and clicked on some of the links from the FFF links page that existed in 2001. Some of those links contain wonderful work. Wonderful work that I haven’t looked at in many many years. People still keep working, but I have, sadly, stopped looking. And maybe it’s strange that it took that to make me realise that my twelve-year-old site is one of those sites for a lot of people, too.
But the main thing I thought about was that over the past five years, there has been a slow decline in the level of joy and silliness that I’ve put on Flip Flop Flyin’. But in truth, I’m probably not as joyful and silly as I was back then. It’s still there, though. And while ideas and the sparks that create ideas are important, working at that joy is something I’ve not devoted any time to of late. I’m kind of in the mood to change that. Partly because I’m going through a period of cluster headaches at the moment, and they make me so damn miserable. They’re painful, they ruin my sleep, I’m tired as hell, and find it tough to do anything other than sit in my room all day long. And the best way for me to start feeling the joy is opening the “Ideas and Sketches” folder on my hard drive and looking at some of the older ideas that never got made, and seeing if there’s something good there that can help kick start some joy on the site again. There’s, even if I do say so myself, quite a lot of good stuff in there. And that folder’s purpose is for times like this, when I feel like doing something but don’t know what to do. Just because they’re old ideas, doesn’t mean they’re sub-par. Some of them are, but some of them were just things I never got around to making.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that I’m not capable of doing that again. It’s difficult to see within yourself, I think. I mean, I’m sure when a band releases a new record and say it’s the best thing they’ve ever done, they do genuinely mean it. But you listen to it a couple of times, try to like it, but really, it’s nowhere near as good as their first, second, and third albums. Maybe I am at that point with the silly stuff. Which is all a very long way of saying that I’ve made a new silly animation. It’s short, it’s childish, but it makes me giggle. Which is pretty much all I want it to be. The first drawing within this particular folder is called “jellydog.psd” and was created at 4:36 am on 11 February 2004. It was just a drawing. So I added a couple of elements, a tiny slither of a story, and here it is: The dog who hates golf. It’s not the best thing I’ve ever done by any stretch of the imagination, but when I was making it, I enjoyed doing so, and I smiled. And that, for now, is enough.
I’ve been having a few of them recently. As I have mentioned before, I get them now and again. Reading forums, some people get them all the time, which would be utterly awful. Thankfully, I only get them for about three weeks every year or so. I’ve been having them for fifteen years or so now. I didn’t used to keep track of them, but I’ve kept a note for the past few years. I had a batch in December 2007, then some more in August 2008. A longer gap the next time, when I had some in February 2010. And now I have them again.
Last time I had them I’d read online that caffeine and “sexual activity” could, if implemented as soon as I felt a headache coming on, could minimise the pain. And it works pretty good. It’s still a headache worse than a regular headache, but it’s way milder than a full-on cluster headache. I hate the taste of Red Bull, but it seems to be the best way to get a lot of caffeine in me as quickly as possible. Sometimes, though, I get the feeling that all they are doing is postponing the headaches. I stay awake til around the normal time I’ll get a headache (this batch seem to come around 3.30-4.00am), I’ll take my “medication,” get rid of the headache, and then be awake and jittery from the Red Bull until daylight. And several of those times, I’ve been woken up mid-morning by a headache.
While there’s no perfect time for a cluster headache, and the loss of sleep, and messing up of the body clock sucks, getting them during the night has one huge benefit: it’s dark. Light and sound make the headaches feel worse, so getting them at 4am makes it easier to avoid both of those things: it’s dark and quiet. I had one last week in the middle of the afternoon. I was on the subway when I first felt it. I was only a couple of stations from my Spanish teacher’s house, so I waited, dashed out of the station to the convenience store which, inconveniently, didn’t have any Red Bull. Nor did the next one. By the time I was at the third store on the same block as my teacher’s place, the headache was beyond repair. I glugged down Red Bull anyway, said hi and goodbye, and got in a cab to go straight back home.
It’s amazing how little things become so much more noticeable when you’re feeling bad. I noticed how bad the roads are. Bumpy bumpy bumpy all the way home. I noticed how much traffic there is. So many traffic lights, too. And time passes so so slowly when I’ve got a headache. The homing instinct really kicks in. I can clearly remember times in London on the train home, head down, eyes closed, just trying to focus on being home. I went to an Arcade Fire concert in 2005 at Magnet Club in Berlin. I got a headache while they were playing. I left immediately, and the walk home from the club is something I can still quite vividly remember. (And, unfairly or not, I still bear a grudge against the band for causing that particular headache. My enjoyment of their music has never been the same since then. Partly, of course, due to the decline in quality of their music. Meow.)
Today is the final day of the third week of these headaches. I didn’t have one all day Sunday. I got eight hours sleep for the first time in over a week (I was averaging about four hours sleep per 24 hours last week), and there’s not been any shadows all day either (I get a faint feeling of a headache a lot of the time, which hints that I’ll be getting a full-on twat of a headache at some point). Headaches are, apparently, self-perpetuating. And I do wonder if my brain has anything to do with this idea of the three week batches of them. Now that I know I’m at the end of a three week batch, is my brain preparing me for normality again? It’s kinda alarming that my brain allows this shit to happen, but right now, if he is telling me the three week batch is over, well: thanks, brain. And I really do hope that there’s no blog post tomorrow where I call my brain a twat for tricking me into believing the headaches were over. My brain is a twat a lot of the time for many other reasons, but I hope he’s not for this.
On a bleachingly hot Sunday afternoon in July saw a few innings of an Intercounty Baseball League game at Christie Pits in Toronto between the Toronto Maple Leafs and London Majors. It was way way way too hot to sit on the grass in the sun behind home plate for more than ten minutes. So I sat under a tree beyond the left field fence. Here’s a drawing of the Majors’ wonderfully-named left fielder Cleveland Brownlee.
A tiny bit bigger here.
I had a dream last night that there were people dressed in papier-mâché spheres. Each of the spheres had the name of an MLB team on them, and as each team was eliminated from its division race, the people chopped off that sphere with an axe. They kind of looked and behaved like the Pokey character in the Shifting Sand Land level of Super Mario 64. So I did a drawing.
See it bigger here.
Still plodding along with this, keeping a note of my sleep every day. I tell myself every now and again I should just stop doing it. Every day that passes, though, makes it harder to just cut myself off.
Click here for full-size version.
Went to the cinema last night. First time in over a year that I’ve bothered to go and watch a movie in a room full of strangers, which, and I’m just guessing here, must must must be the longest time I’ve gone without going to a cinema. Having said that, it’s nigh on a year since I’ve seen a live band, if we discount Mexican dudes in bow-ties with huge guitars and trumpets. That should be rectified soon too. Anyway, a friend and I went to see Midnight in Paris, the latest Woody Allen film. I’ve enjoyed some of his recent films. I kinda like how he’s getting a little whimsical with his humour. Whatever Works was great, as was Vicky Christina Barcelona. So, we went to the World Trade Center*, to a multiplex called Cinemex.
* Obviously, there is one World Trade Center that everybody thinks of when they hear those words, but there are loads of them. Look: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_world_trade_centers
Medianoche en París was showing in one of the smaller rooms, as you might imagine, but it was quite a fancy small room. Tickets for regular films are about 70 pesos. The tickets for this particular theatre were 129 pesos (€7.44/£6.40/US$10.13). And that is because this particular theatre was in the “Platino” area. The platinum area is a separate part with plush chairs, so you can sit around drinking beer and cocktails, rather than no seats and bright popcorn and hot dog-type vendors. It was like one of the fancy airport lounges. Inside the theatre itself, there’s only about 30 or 40 chairs, and they’re big La-Z-Boy style chairs. Most of them are in pairs, with about two feet separating each pair of seats from the next. Press a button, a foot rest pops up, the chair reclines a bit. Magic. And there’s little tables next to each chair, with a swivelly glass table that means you don’t have to reach far for your snacks. They sold all types of drinks and food. It is possible to have a pasta meal while you watch a movie. Just like at home. Except with a waiter. It was a damn nice way to watch a moving picture. Now I know that this place exists, I’m gonna be searching out loooooong films that I fancy seeing in a cinema.
My film review: I want to own all of Owen Wilson’s clothes. (Even though he dressed pretty much exactly like the Woody Allen character in a Woody Allen film always dresses like, I’m kinda getting to the age where I look at those clothes and think, yep, I can see myself dressing like that.) And the film was enjoyable. Worth seeing. I know what you’re thinking: this Craig guy is like Roger Ebert and Mark Kermode rolled into one with his incisive reviewing techniques.