Archive | December, 2011

New Yeeah, New No (Puns are as thin on the ground as enthusiasm)

31 Dec

… And so 2012 rolls in, having no alternative. If, like me, you find the prospect of January about as enticing as a pint of piss, click through to this, a highlight from my current Album of the Year™. 

See you next year. Whoopdedoo.

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A Seasonal Customer Service Message

22 Dec

Tesco Inferno has no customer service policy (given that it only has about 3 “customers”), but if it did, it would go out of its way to meet the needs of its readership; there would be no request too lofty, no complaint left ignored, and stone left unturned in the unceasing, meticulous herculean labour that would be our effort to satisfy our clientele.

For the moment, though, you’ll have to placate yourselves with whatever I can be bothered to do. Here, by popular demand, is an attractive photo of my friend John.
Happy Christmas

Slappa al pomodoro

16 Dec

I hate food blogs. I read them all the time, but I hate them. At best, they can be instructively annoying, at worst, simply revolting. They have a use, mind: the average level of condescension in a food blog post means that having read one, I take real enthusiasm in hacking vegetables to shit.

Still, I am a twat of little imagination, which doesn’t do this blog many favours. This week I’ve drawn a real blank thinking of anything interesting to write about.

I woke up this morning feeling like the British economy- depressed and in decline. I went back to sleep and consequently missed my last class of the year and subsequently achieved absolutely nothing. I sat around for a bit and then put a load of washing on. When that was done, I hung it up, and thought about how best to use the hours of daylight left to me.

This took a long time, during which I swept the floor, read about Christopher Hitchens’ death and worried about the implications of the (so far hilarious) trans-Manche slagging match. I have, in the loosest sense of the term, met both Fillon and Baroin, so  the whole disastrous saga is for me a bit like watching the street next to mine getting hit by bubonic plague. Hilarious.

I went into school, and on the way saw a cyclist being crushed by a bus at the Knightsbridge/Sloane Street junction. By the time I got to UCL, it was 5PM, and I’d completely forgotten why I walked up there in the first place.

I got home, watched a laconic Aussie called Ash win Professional Masterchef and decided to write about the cheapest way I know of cooking something nice.

I don’t like eating pre-packaged food, and since nobody ever invites me to dinner, this means I have to think for myself. I don’t eat meat (although I am not a vegetarian) and I think of pasta as a last resort- I associate it with hangovers and impromptu student parties, neither of which is particularly appetising. Natural greed combined with the fact that my weekly budget is largely devoured by my appetite for gin & fags means that I’m constantly seeking out new forms of pound-shop luxury.

This is my favourite. It’s a Tuscan soup that requires only five basic ingredients;

1)   tinned tomatoes

2)   bread- any bread

3)   garlic

4)   Olive Oil

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and tip a chopped up slice of bread into it. The oil will dry up quickly, so turn the heat down before it starts to stick to the pan. When the bread is slightly crispy, add a couple of cloves of crushed garlic (I add a chilli to mine, hence the slappa), then add a can of tomatoes and leave to cook with a lid mostly covering the pan for 15 minutes.

Add water, salt and pepper according to the consistency you want, and leave for a further 10 minutes. After this, add some parmesan if you have some, and season to taste.

It’s the only way I know of making myself deliciously and contentedly full for 12 hours without feeling slightly ill. Best of all, it costs about 25p a serving. I like to add roasted tomatoes, rosemary and anchovies to mine.

If you want, put these in the oven with some oil at Gas Mark 6 for 30 minutes before you start frying the bread, and take them out and add after you put the water into the soup. To be honest, it doesn’t make all that much difference, but I like to gild a lily every now and then.

Best eaten to the sounds of Françoise Hardy’s timeless Occupé. Yum.

POPTONES 2

8 Dec

2011

The Shard

Yeah, yeah, obligatory apology for putting together an end-of-year list, “it’s not space filler like everybody else’s- it’s an experiment in structural categorization!”. Fuck off. Everybody secretly loves a “best of” list, despite the utter ludicrousness at the core of the idea. How can you compare Leonard Cohen’s peerless I’m Your Man to Public Enemy’s masterpiece, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back, or, indeed, to the Pet Shop Boys’ imperial Introspective? All three were not only released in 1988, but also make up a holy trinity in my spectrum of poperation.

Firstly, I must dispense with my dirty secret; every December since 2001, I have agonized over a list of my favourite albums of the year. Here, with no retrospective bias, I give you my personal winners of the last ten years;

 2001: The Strokes, Is This It

2002: Beck, Sea Change

2003: The Rapture, Echoes

2004: Kanye West: The College Dropout

2005: The Rakes: Capture/Release

2006: The Long Blondes: Someone to Drive You Home

2007: Justice,

2008: Pilooski, Dirty Edits Volume 2

2009: Girls, Album

2010: Holy Fuck, Latin

2011: ?

Hilarious & co. I have to remind you here that had I not been too lazy to trawl through my iTunes, I would have updated the list of songs above to make myself seem like some kind of seer. I didn’t. That’s why I’m writhing in embarrassment now.

 The same goes for my favourite tracks of the year. To begin with, these are pretty uninspired, but I think this is a far more ruthless way of judging the contenders of the past 12 months.

 2001: The White Stripes, Fell in Love with a Girl

2002: The Libertines, The Boy Looked at Johnny

2003: Outkast, GhettoMusick

2004: Gwen Stefani, Bubble Pop Electric/Felix Da Housecat, Ready 2 Wear

2005: Goldfrapp, Satin Chic

2006: Robbie Williams, Rudebox

2007: LCD Soundsystem, Someone Great

2008: Hercules & Love Affair, Time Will

2009: Lindstrom & Christabel, Looking for What

2010: Yeasayer (uhhhh), Ambling Alp/Best Coast,Boyfriend/Lady Gaga, Telephone

2011: ?

I stand by everything. Even Yeasayer- Ambling Alp is a dreadnought of a pop song!- what, you have a problem with Robbie Williams? I firmly believe that the Rudebox LP was the boldest artistic statement of the decade, so please go away.

Anyway, here are my top 10s for this year:

 BEST ALBUMS

 10. Tom the Lion- The Adventures of Tom the Lion

9. Cat’s Eyes- Cat’s Eyes

8. Luke Haines- 9.5 Psychedelic Meditations on British Wrestling of the 1970s and early 1980s

7. Gatto Fritto- Gatto Fritto

6. John Maus- We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves

5. EMA- Past Life Martyred Saints

4. Summer Camp- Welcome to Condale

3. Baxter Dury- Happy Soup

2. The Horrors- Skying

1. Jet Age of Tomorrow- Journey to the 5Th Echelon

 BEST SONGS

(honourable mentions also go to Bloom by Radiohead and Amarillo by Gorillaz- despite having publicly outed myself as a Billie Piper fan, I am still too embarrassed to include them in this list)

10. John Maus- Cop Killer

9. Wild Beasts- Bed of Nails

8. Katy B- Power on Me (no link, YouTube version is rubbish. Make an investment…)

7. EMA- California

6. Footprintz- Utopia 

5. Gabriel Bruce- Zoe Zoe (wait for the release)

4. Arctic Monkeys- Black Treacle

3. Summer Camp- Summer Camp

2. Jet Age of Tomorrow- Lunchbox

1. Cat’s Eyes- Face in the Crowd 

RECORDS I HAVE LISTENED TO MOST REGARDLESS OF THE YEAR THEY WERE MADE IN

 10. John Barry- Space March (Capsule in Space)

9. Gene Pitney- The Man who shot Liberty Valance

8. The Tamperer feat. Maya, If you buy this record your life will be better

7. The Andrew Loog-Oldham Orchestra- Play with Fire (similarly, just buy the CD)

6. Grace JonesI’ve Done it Again

5. Boys Town Gang- Can’t Take my Eyes off You

4. Chic- Will You Cry (When You Hear this Song)?

3. Elastica- Hold Me Now

2. Saint Etienne- B92 

1. Michel Houellebecq- Célibataires 

 

There we are then. Those are my lists. Congratulations to The Jet Age of Tomorrow, Faris out of the Horrors, Rachel Zefira and Michel Houellebecq. Not that they need it or anything. Despite the fact that I spent over half the year dwelling in the pop-cultural desert that is Paris, I think this year turned out some pretty good music.  

I had fun writing that. You probably didn’t have fun reading it.

 Goodnight.

DECEMBER 11th 2011 (Consider this an epilogue of sorts)

This blog has one hitherto unstated, but rigorously applied rule- namely that after 24 hours, the content of anything written here must not be tampered with. This obviously does not apply to syntax, spelling or word order, but in terms of subject matter and bias it must remain as it was the day it was published. The entire blog is a demonstration of my right to contradict myself, and I must publicly be held accountable for any incidence thereof.

I wrote this post in a fit of gin-fuelled enthusiasm, and although I stand by most of what I say here, it’s obviously all a bit fucking silly. All three of my 2011 Top 10 lists have changed since last Thursday, and all I can do to update this list is urge you to investigate Soft Rocks’ superb debut The Curse of Soft Rocks and to re-evaluate Wreckless Eric’s timeless 1977 single Whole Wide World.

In the meantime, check my blog more often, will you? Twice-daily, preferably. This time of year is so depressing, I could do with an ego boost. The other day I found myself walking through Soho listening to Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life. Since my own lust for “life” is currently limited to racing from my classroom to Gower Street in order not to miss an hypothetical 14 or 10 back to West London, this was a bit of a downer. Iggy sang and I laughed, bitterly. Very loudly, too.

It took me several minutes to figure out why everyone suddenly took on the traffic to cross to the other side of the street.

Nice Packaging 1

7 Dec

To anyone who actually reads the shite I put up here- I’m sorry. There’s been slightly too much of said shite to digest over the last couple of days. This may be because I have developed what WordPress insists on calling “serious blogging discipline”, or, somewhat more plausibly, because I have been trying to write what my Department equally annoyingly insists on calling “a serious analytical essay” and need things to do in lieu of (or, more realistically, in addition to) getting drunk.

Anyway, to celebrate finishing the essay, I went up to Rough Trade this afternoon (any real celebration would be disastrous), where I clapped eyes on Tom the Lion’s The Adventures of Tom the Lion, possibly the most extravagantly-packaged indie record ever lovingly contrived in the history of Pop. It comes in a box- a box!- and shows a beautiful attention to detail.

I hate it when people complain about packaging gimmicks- they’re great. My favourite album cover of all time is The Return of the Durutti Column, and if that- a sleeve made of sandpaper designed to destroy the records stocked next to it- doesn’t count as a gimmick, I don’t know what does.

Anyway, I had to have it, regardless of its musical merit. This is what it looks like;

Here’s the box

Tom the Lion- Adventures of...

… and here’s its contents

Tom the Lion- Adventures of...

Here it is next to some other CDs and an ashtray and some gin to give both sense of scale and a relatively accurate picture of my questionable tastes…

Tom the Lion- Adventures of...

Happily, the music’s not bad either, homemade without bringing to mind visions of people in London Fields who describe themselves as “quirky”- think early Guillemots without the bombast or the shit songs. I’m going to enjoy this record, I think.

Mauschwitz

6 Dec

Don’t you love it when you hear someone having an entertaining breakdown on the bus? This evening I heard some old sloane shouting at some Bulgarian guy;

(To the man) “I don’t care where you’re from, telling a LADY that you ‘dunno’ IS NOT GOODENOUGH.

(To no-one in particular) No wonder modern society is in the shape it’s in…”

My fellow passengers and I had a great laugh at this. Board a bus (even the almost entirely francophone 74) and you take whatever assertion of ignorance comes your way.

This presented a diversion from my main moral crisis of the day.

This morning we killed the mouse which had for the past two weeks been our very own Bin Laden. It died slowly- its leg got caught in our trap, which it managed to drag halfway across the room before finally realising there wasn’t much point in going on and having a heart attack.

We’d searched every nook, offered a reward to the dustmites. We’d turned the kitchen into a veritable Devil’s garden in order to bring the bastard to justice. Or rather, Hancock had. I’m a vegetarian, you see.

I don’t like mice much, so I got Hancock to set the trap, and when it finally zapped the little fucker, I got him to throw it out the window. What does a vegetarian do with vermin? Does he make like Hitler at the Wannsee conference and because of his non-participation absolve himself of responsibility? Does he choose the path of peaceful coexistence (and adapt to toast with holes in it)? Or does he become a law unto himself?

Ethics, eh? The first hint of moral hypocrisy and you suddenly find you’re comparing yourself to Hitler.

Never mind. No need to dwell. Today has also had its triumphs; not only did I find own-brand gin was on sale at the supermarket, but I also picked up a full packet of cigarettes on the pavement. Disco.

Here is Hancock with the carcass;

Of Hancock and the city

5 Dec

The saga begins…

(to the uninitiated, Hancock is someone I live with. He is an unemployed actor with a penchant for spring rolls and a serious Dusty Springfield habit. I am trying, without much success, to understand his movements)