Jan. 23rd, 2014 06:46 pm
commonpeople1: (Avatar)
I'll be inside a plane exactly 24 hours from now, about to depart London.  I'll try my best not to cry...
commonpeople1: (Default)
The Lonely LondonersThe Lonely Londoners by Samuel Selvon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The main selling point (or interest) of this short novel for me is its representation of immigrants from the West Indies in London during the 1950s. The mood is set from the opening page where we meet Moses on his way to Waterloo to receive a new arrival from Trinidad, the eccentric Galahad (who feels hot during the English winter and cold in the summers). At first it seems like this will be a story of how Galahad experiences culture shock in London while Moses - already a resident for ten years - helps guide him through the city's society.

But "The Lonely Londoners" - narrated in the same accented voice of the characters - is also about a cast of acquaintances to Moses who try to get by in the rapidly hostile English society with varying degrees of success. Tolroy who suddenly has to find space in his small room for a large family descending on London; Lewis, in search of the lost wife he constantly beat until she'd had enough; Cap, who gets by on hustles; and many more.

There are no chapters, just tales on these different immigrants and how they try to stay afloat, gathering in each other's stuffy bedrooms, never a shilling to be found for the radiators during the winter. The scenes in well-known parts of London (such as Galahad hunting for a pigeon to eat in Hyde Park) stand out for me amidst the gray and lugubrious mood.

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Get Real

Sep. 23rd, 2012 06:49 pm
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The Reality Overload: The Modern World's Assault on the Imaginal RealmThe Reality Overload: The Modern World's Assault on the Imaginal Realm by Annie Le Brun

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very academic collection of essays that suffers slightly under the translation from French into English. Nevertheless, it's packed with ideas and polemics on how the dissemination of GMO foods in our world is not unrelated to the information explosion we are going through. In a nutshell, Annie Le Brun's theory is that an attack on our imagination (led by globalisation and French Theory, mostly) has left us incapable of standing up against corporate interests (such as the ones behind the replacement of our food supplies with GMOs.)

I could relate to Brun's views on art: she believes that the excess of information we are under has eroded our courage to stand up and say "this is shit". Our culture wants us to believe everything now has equal weight, everything is subjective. You just have to walk through any museum to see this in the way curators add equal weight to a Picasso and a Damien Hirst. She reserves her final essay for an attack on the French theoreticians from the postmodern school of thinking who opened this door and allowed this disaster to happen. (I imagine Annie Le Brun would get along swimmingly with Camille Paglia). Elsewhere in the book she critics the bodies of Olympic athletes and bodybuilders (non-erotic and only meant for "repetitions"), deforestation, the breakdown of language, and much more.

I couldn't possibly do justice to her book and all the ideas in it. Suffice to say that it's an urgent call to arms for what remains of our world, for us to stand up against changes that are being imposed on us without our consent. If only we could find the strength to disconnect from the reality overload...

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commonpeople1: (Default)
I think I'm gonna have to give up NaNoWriMo: the good ol' RSI in both hands has returned. I need them hands. I need them for applying to jobs and recruitment agencies.

A few months ago I bought a ticket to see Hurts at the Brixton Academy. I was really looking forward to this gig and even penciled the date into my iCalendar. Except that I put down yesterday instead of Friday, the correct date. I found out my mistake yesterday morning.

In the afternoon, I took the No.8 bus downtown to meet [livejournal.com profile] loveinsuburbia for a coffee. The bus now detours around St Paul's Cathedral, giving you a privileged view of the Occupy London campsite. It looks realy well organised and put together, with information and university tents, posters with info on all pillars and small groups of people having conversations every few feet. It also has a lot of tourists snapping pictures and the feel of a prominent tourist attraction if it stays there longer than a year. I'm keen to drop by soon and visit.

This is the time of year when everyone in London starts looking pale and horrible, pulling their dark clothes out of the wardrobe. I'm still in denial that it's winter time: you can find me walking around London with my hands in my light summer jacket's pockets, shivering. During my wander with [livejournal.com profile] loveinsuburbia, we came across the #OLSX crowd again, this time marching down Tottenham Court Road; one of them was my upstairs neighbour, the one who sometimes stands outside Mile End Station handing out socialist flyers. She gave me a searing look because we were walking in the opposite direction.

Came back home and watched the frankly dreadful X Factor then an episode of The Wire season 4. During the night, I dreamt that Anne Wintour walked down a hallway - probably the most bizarre and pointless dream of my life.

I need to find a job soon, before this boredom and lack of money consumes me.
commonpeople1: (Paul Simonon)
I woke up at 3.30am and couldn't fall back asleep until 6am. Then I had to wake up at 7.30am.

It's going to be one of those days.
commonpeople1: (Jehovah's Witness)

Mandragora, 1997, Dir. Wiktor Grodecki
This must be a favourite of Catholic priests and the Pope Nazi Pedobear who currently sits in the Vatican.  It's the story of a 15-year-old small town boy who runs away from home and gets trapped in a world of prostitution with older men, drug addiction, crime and disease.  It makes Christiane F and My Own Private Idaho look like Disney productions.  Some of the scenes, involving children below the age of 11, are so uncomfortable that I'm sure the version I watched doesn't survive intact in many countries.  It's long - two hours - and unrelenting in its depiction of how boys are tricked into selling their bodies and losing their souls.  It's graphic, it's grim and there's less hope available than in a Cormac McCarthy novel.  It captures Prague's underbelly in all its gray misery and Communist residues, without a single shred of sympathy towards its gay community.
commonpeople1: (Default)
I may have to quit NaNoWriMo this year... because of tendonitis.

I'm going to rest for a few days and see how it goes. If my hands improve, I'll continue even though I won't make the 50.000 finishing line.
commonpeople1: (Lol)
Antony and the Johnson's cover of Beyonce's "Crazy in Love":

Goff Day

May. 22nd, 2009 09:52 am
commonpeople1: (Violet)
BBC 6 Music has decreed today Goth Day. It's also Livejournal's 10th anniversary and Morrissey's 50th. Coincidence?!? (Happy Birthday, Le Moz!)

I'm listening to BBC 6 Music today for purely educational reasons.
commonpeople1: (Tom)
Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, 1985
I wish I could open McCarthy's chest and pour a little light into his heart. No matter how beautiful his writing may be, the lack of hope in there is a soul crushing thing to behold. There's also the question of Hell and the images McCarthy so easily conjures in his books; scenes as depraved, horrifying and poetic as a Hieronymus Bosch painting come alive. As a sinner, I now get an idea where I'll be going to when I die.

McCarthy is, hands down, the great master of the western genre alive today - but a western doused with horror - sublime and nauseating, unlike anything you'd find in actual horror sections of bookshops. Set in the 1840s, Blood Meridian is an epic quest across America's wild west by a group of degenerate, murderous scalp hunters after Apaches (or anyone, really, that gets in their way.) Scalps mean money, whores and whiskey. Scalps are in high demand in a world where "injins" are a constant terror threat. Like the horsemen of the apocalypse, these riders bring with them death and destruction to every corner of the wilderness they pass through, indiscriminately so. Their quest is a senseless, orgiastic descent into extreme violence and terror.

There's a mysterious and unknowable force at the centre of the story in the shape of Judge Holden, a large albino with alopecia who knows various languages, studies the sciences of the time, talks philosophy, and yet is the most cruel and insane man of the lot. Standing against him is a fourteen-year-old boy (The Kid), who shows a tiny fraction of clemency in his heart and is, therefore, a betrayer of God in the judge's eyes.

This is the first book I ever read which I wanted to re-read as soon as I was finished. Most of the sentences in it are so evocative they hint at entire separate stories/novels by themselves. And there's so much beauty between the cruelty that, perhaps, there lies the secret on how to find light in McCarthy.

Discussion at Wyler Nation.
commonpeople1: (Tom)
[Poll #1326298]

Air Canada

Dec. 14th, 2008 02:35 pm
commonpeople1: (Tom)
Kevin flew to Canada a few minutes ago; we won't see each other for a whole month. I wanted to tell him that I loved him this morning but couldn't find it in me. I can't say "i love you" to anyone. I don't say it to family, friends - not even Kevin. I don't know why. There's some superstition attached to it. In the ten years I've been with him, I must have said it a dozen times - tops. I walked with him to the bus stop, we hugged and he climbed onboard. Then he texted me just now to say he was about to board the plane. I texted him back those three little words. He replied with the same.

And now I'm alone for 9 days until my flight to Brasil.
commonpeople1: (James)
Some of my user icons have disappeared since Livejournal's servers moved. Has this happened to anyone else? I wonder if some old posts have gone down the tube too...

Should I be patient and wait for a while, or should I complain? (Can you see the icon for this post?)
commonpeople1: (Patrick)
I deleted my previous entry because I wasn't happy with it. The more I thought about it, the more I felt sick with myself for dipping into the latest celebrity car crash - especially in such a cynical way. I don't read Heat magazine and I have no intentions of starting now. And to make matters worse, I went to a screening + Q&A last night with Kenneth Anger that was incredibly shambolic, sad... depressing. It left me feeling nauseous. I've been feeling cold for days...

I don't know much about Kenneth Anger except that he is known for some cult films. It seems to me that last night's organisers, Shunt, made him and the paying public a diservice. The whole thing was badly organised, people pushed and shoved as if they were trying to get inside an airplane, I had a seat obstructed by a column (and I was one of the lucky few that found a seat), there were tons of problems with the video and sound, and then an old pile of tosh got applauded because it was Kenneth Anger. To me, we were all there because we wanted something different, something exciting, something beyond Hollywood, TV - something queer - and it just was impossible for those expectations to be met. That's a very depressing realization for this day and age... What we got were video clips that in any other context, by any other person, would have been jeered and thrown out with the garbage. In fact, some people did jeer his found footage of Nazi youths (who reminded me of American summer camps and Guess models). I'm guessing they were the few jews in the audience. But, again, I feel unsure about this judgement because my nausea last night made me feel incapable of trusting my opinion. Kevin says it was a very bad first impression.
commonpeople1: (George O'Brien)
It was an unusually beautiful Sunday in London, the likes we haven't seen this summer. So, of course, Kevin and I filled our thermos with coffee, grabbed some books and a bedsheet, then headed for Victoria Park for a bit of sunshine. Lying on the grass, listening to my new iPod, watching a young boy play football with his father and grandfather, it dawned on me - and I know this is trite - how little time we have for anything: we'll never get to read all the books we want, hear all the great music recorded, watch all the top notch films, attend all parties, dance in all night clubs, kiss all the beautiful boys, swim in all oceans and seas... you get the picture. The New Yorker has a podcast in its arts section where an author, each month, reads a short story by another author. Where am I gonna find the time to listen to these, on top of all the other things I want/need to do? (I still haven't cracked open the two gay mags I bought in Paris, for example.)

This existential drama played in my head as I reflected on my two social engagements yesterday. I had a housewarming party in Walthamstow with friends and, across town, a ticket for some stand-up comedy. I tried to do both - and it worked out fine - but it left me feeling at the end of the night that I didn't get enough of anything.

I brought vodka to [livejournal.com profile] suzi's housewarming (also known as The One Girl And A Whole Lot Of Blokes Party), drank pina coladas and cheap lager, answered the hostess' mobile phone and intercom in my best impression of her, laughed a good deal and was hitting my stride when the clock hit midnight 7.30pm and I had to dash out. (Did any of you witness my near fall when I stumbled down the step?) I'm particularly sad I missed out on the magic cookies...

Suzi has a great terrace just off her studio (which is a charming little lodging that reminds me of a cottage) with plenty of space for BBQs and social interaction. If there were firecrackers, we would have lit them; if there were banners, we would have waved them; if there was a snogging line, [livejournal.com profile] craig would have been first in line since he's the primary one. See... just thinking about the general silliness, the drunken text messages I exchanged with the party goers afterwards, makes me regret missing the rest of the party (and the ones who arrived when I was leaving/gone).

The 99 Club, temporarily housed in a pub just off Tottenham Court Road, hosted routines by Holly Walsh and Paul Foot. My experience with stand-up comedy (years and years ago) has been that there's usually one or two good performances, and a whole load of mistakes and deadly silence from the audience. Last night was generally great, with both acts delivering really good routines (they lucked out with the crowd). I didn't know this until afterwards but Paul Foot is a bit of a celebrity (he was even on an American TV show, Last Comic Standing.) There was a group of teenage boys right at the front who got teased mercilessly by him (they loved it). Afterwards, Paul joined us (he knows Sissy Jen and her fiancee) for some late drinks and food; we ran into the teenage boys and they fawned all over Paul as if he was the Second Coming. He suggested we go for omelettes at the Laguna Cafe, a dive just across the street from the Astoria, after he dispatched his fans but, oh boy, he must have really regretted that suggestion! He ran away from our belligerent selves as soon as he'd scoffed that omelette and downed his Coke.

The Party Dance )
commonpeople1: (Default)
I am returning to my tower block after the gym - groceries in my backpack and one plastic bag - when a guy comes out of the reception door. He sees me, does a double-take at the door swinging shut, then rushes to grab it for me. I am halfway up the concrete steps that lead to the entrance. My brain hits a glitch because suddenly I'm trying to sprint towards the door, I'm tripping, I'm hitting the edge of the stairs with my right knee (my right hand going straight into a puddle of pigeon shit), my face bouncing on the toilet paper rolls (lucky landing) that also hit the ground, my glasses going crooked on my face.

The guy asks if I'm OK, but doesn't let go of the door. I pick myself up and giggle nervously. I tell him I'm OK. I've got pigeon shit on my hands and on my right knee. He holds the door open for me, his eyes never leaving my hands. I make more noise about how OK I am. My knee hurts like a bitch.

Clothes are now in the washing machine, and I've had a much enjoyed shower. Send kisses to my knee's bubu.

I'm so glad that wasn't [livejournal.com profile] iejw. I'd have died of embarrassment.
commonpeople1: (Morrissey)
What Was Lost

Catherine O'Flynn, What Was Lost, 2007
I never knew ghosts stories could be this depressing. Either they scare you, make you laugh or leave you indifferent, right? Catherine O'Flynn breaks new haunting ground with this novel, winner of the Costa Fist Novel Award 2007, by exploring the sadness generated in a community after the construction of a glossy shopping centre in the 80s and the ghost that inhabits it. The novel centres around little Kate, who wishes to escape her reality by playing detective and following strangers in the mall; Lisa, who is going nowhere as deputy manager of the mall's mega music store; Kurt, a security guard recovering from a personal tragedy, who prefers the solitary night shifts; and Teresa, who would rather get abuse at school then stay at home with her violent father.

O'Flynn captures perfectly Britain's particular take on empty consumerism, lives going nowhere, relationships founded on killing time together rather than learning or enjoying anything. We all know people like these characters, and maybe we recognize parts of ourselves in their struggle to make sense of life.
commonpeople1: (Default)
* Kevin got a viral infection at the start of the week and now, just as he got better, a cold settled in his chest. It's freezin' and 'orrible outside and we have no money. The apartment is a tip and there's no getting away from the fact I'll have to clean it today, by myself. I very much expect this guy to show up Monday night.

* I got all tarted up for the gym this morning, only to arrive and discover they are shut down for a training day. So I went to Woolworths instead.

* I've worked for the last five weeks in a prestigious university's press office. It was one of my best working experiences: everyone was kind and friendly, the work was interesting and yesterday's goodbyes were genuinely full of good wishes. I have a job interview in the new year for a job I really, really want, with a small charity that works with gays, lesbians and transexuals. And they pay good. And I have a few days off during the week which I can use for my writing or temp work. Fingers crossed I don't fuck up.

* Russell Brand is going to be in Morrissey's next music video. I hope Morrissey gets his thugs band to hold him down and shave that awful hair of his.

* I love crazy cults, in particular American ones. They always seem to twist the Bible into something a lot worse than it is. Don't you just love their brain-washed stares? The old leaders who sleep with pre-pubescent virgins in the name of the Lord? Channel 4's documentary The End of World Cult was an unmissable, terrifying and sad story of people with no education, in the middle of nowhere, who make me all the more thankful I'm not a religious person.

* My last meal in death row will consist of freshly-baked bread, salty butter and a cup of coffee with milk and two sugars.
commonpeople1: (Nerdy)
The first day of winter is whichever day you hear "Do They Know It's Christmas" for the first time.

Winter came early for you this year.

April 2017



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