commonpeople1: (Default)
Alligator by Maurice Raymond
Alligator, a photo by Maurice Raymond on Flickr.
I'm reading at the moment Swamplandia! with [livejournal.com profile] verybadhorse. I've read until the end of Chapter 6 and this is what i think so far.

Read more... )
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Dedicated to [livejournal.com profile] naturalbornkaos and [livejournal.com profile] neenaw

Carrots

Jan. 23rd, 2012 07:53 pm
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Commuting

Jan. 10th, 2012 09:31 am
commonpeople1: (Default)
8.29am, Mile End tube station West-bound platform. The Central line arrives and the crowd surges towards its doors. A woman shouts at a man as she tries to get out of the train. He shouts something back at her. She grabs his coat and pulls him; he shoves her back. A minute later she's inside the District line, a carriage away from me, reading a newspaper. Not a hint of disturbance on her face.

9.05am, Albert Embankment. A car and two white vans face each other in the middle of the road, blocking traffic both ways. Men start to come out of the vehicles, screaming at each other. A woman in jeans, carrying a backpack, calls out for one of the van drivers to calm down. The hoard of commuters heading for the buildings lining the Thames stop for a minute to watch the scene.

White poodle spotted on District line by St James station. Black lap dog spotted on Victoria line, sitting on the lap of fairly glamorous middle aged woman.
commonpeople1: (Default)





I refuse to believe this man is behind the current hacker attacks on LJ!!

Xanadu

Oct. 13th, 2011 12:38 pm
commonpeople1: (Default)
The Lost City of ZThe Lost City of Z by David Grann

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first heard about Colonel Percy Fawcett when I read a biography about his life written by brasilian author Hermes Leal. Fawcett was a celebrity explorer in his time, responsible for braving uncharted territory in the Amazon (he was, for example, responsible for defining the boundary between Brasil and Bolivia) and promoting the idea that a large and complex civilization - the City of Z; or El Dorado - had once existed somewhere under its tree tops. Fawcett, amongst other things, inspired Conan Doyle's Lost World and the character of Indiana Jones.

A few years ago, this new book on Fawcett by David Grann was released and secured a nomination for the Samuel Johnson's Best Non-fiction Award and praise in many newspapers. I'd been wanting to suggest to my bookclub a read to do with Brasil and I thought this would be the perfect choice (even though the author and the main subject were not brasilian.) Although it's a compelling story about Fawcett's disappearance in the Amazon alongside his son Jack and his son's best friend, as well as its effect on his family and the world's imagination, the book's strength in my opinion is in exposing the holocaust that occurred to the Amazon's native tribes. Through Fawcett's diaries, we discover the obstacles Fawcett encountered in the Amazon (killer bugs and snakes; famine) but also why this region fascinated him so much, and why he had respect for native tribes and horror for the ways other explorers were quick to kill them. The book throws into relief the history of the Amazon from its discovery in the 1500s to the present day and the importance of preserving and studying it despite its fast destruction.

The final pages finally reveal where the Lost City of Z was located and how, ironically, Fawcett found what he was looking for without realising it.

View all my reviews

Foxy Jones

May. 31st, 2011 08:18 am
commonpeople1: (Default)
Do foxes eat cats? On Saturday night, on the way home from a pub north of Victoria Park, we spotted a ragged fox in a front garden. It stood right behind a fluffy black cat that didn't seem aware of it. Both looked at us with glassy eyes before the fox leapt into the bushes and disappeared. The cat never moved its eyes from us. Was it about to be killed?

Sunday night, our friend T shared with us his memories of living in New York in the late 70s. He remembered seeing Grace Jones play her first gig, before she was known or had her first record out ("Portfolio"). T saw a picture of her in the Village Voice advertising her gig, dressed in a vintage look that reminded him of Billie Holiday. Off he went with a friend to the gig, a train ride to the middle of nowhere followed by a walk across a busy highway before they reached the disco she was performing in.

Her voice was flat but it was undeniable she had star quality. She changed costumes after every song (she still does it today), had two Muscle Mary's accompanying her on stage and performed the final song in a bridal dress with S&M gear underneath.


commonpeople1: (Default)
anti-slavery campaign by Herbi Ditl
anti-slavery campaign, a photo by Herbi Ditl on Flickr.
I rode the No.8 beside a sausage dog. I gave him my hand to sniff as I sat down; I wanted to pet him but his owner (young, bearded guy - is there any other sort in the EastEnd?!) didn't seem too keen to share the dog. It made me miss the ones living with my family in Brasil.

The bus went by the circus set up in Mile End Park. During the weekend, I saw families lining up to buy tickets and I was thoughtful of the chavy ones standing side by side with the muslim ones. It seemed like a good family activity to bring together all sorts of people from the community.

Today, though, there were protesters standing outside the circus with signs on animal cruelty. I thought all circuses now were like Cirque du Soleil!? They still use animals? Very sad...
commonpeople1: (Jump)


With the divine powers granted on me I command you, Livejournal, to rise from the dead. Rise, rise and live again!

And you, Russian cyberpunks - I foresake you. I cast you into the wild pigs that roam Siberia. I curse you to roam the land and roll in mud for the next thousand years.  Begone! Out of my sight! Leave our beloved Livejournal alone!

Dog's Life

Mar. 6th, 2011 04:40 pm
commonpeople1: (Glasses)
Paul Auster Timbuktu

Paul Auster, Timbuktu, 1998
This is a really disappointing novel.  It starts off well enough, with its road movie type story told through the eyes of a dog, Mr Bones, who faithfully follows around schizophrenic poet Willie.  They are in Baltimore searching for Willie's English teacher, the only person to ever believe in his writing talents when he was young.  Willie seems to be based on the artist Henry Darger, but that connection is never fully explored.  Mr Bones learned language but can't speak, thanks to the limitations of being a dog.  Mr Bones uses this skill to tell his story like a rambling Beat poet (perhaps from growing up with Willie), but he doesn't have the amphetamine to inject his adventures with excitement or the brains to see beyond the sidewalks and suburbs he ends up in.  Mr Bones can tell, but he can't show.  Mr Bones can name, but he can't describe.  Very quickly this short novel loses its point and, sadly, the reader's attention.  There's nothing to be learned from it, no memorable characters.  A big, ol' "what's the point?"

I'm willing to give Auster another try since this is the first thing I've read by him.  Recommendations welcome!
commonpeople1: (Schiele)
On my train ride to Toulouse I sat beside a girl with a dog on her lap. On my train ride to London yesterday I sat beside a girl with a cat on her lap. The dog was called Diana and was as blond and shaggy as her owner. She got slaps whenever she growled at loud small children wandering past us. Her owner's laptop had Dexter's cast members as its desktop image. I think the cat was called Emel and it was quiet, dignified and gorgeous. Its owner fell asleep often but the cat never tried to jump away. The three children in front of us kept peaking over their seats at it.

We stayed with [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale's sister and her french boyfriend in a modern apartment by the river. Our blinds went up and down with the help of a remote control ("I feel like I'm in L.A.!") Later in the week, Wink's other sister and her husband joined us from London (there was minor drama with this because of all the flights being canceled thanks to the snow). They stayed with Wink's parents, who were in an apartment nearby rented specifically for the holiday.

Our typical day consisted of breakfast followed by walks through Toulouse and its shops. We did most of our Christmas shopping there. The city's centre ville reminded me of a Parisian neighbourhood, perhaps Le Marais sans les pédés. The architecture hinted at medieval but had very modern homes, pretty shops and restaurants. At night, we had dinner back at one of the apartments.

The whole point of the trip was to have a Christmas dinner with the french boyfriend's family. They consisted of the boyfriend's brother, parents and grandparents (a couple in their eighties and a "papi" who was 93) . Real characters - a very boisterous, fun-loving group of people who spoke perhaps 5 words of English between them. Thank god for my previous french courses! They gave us a banquet on Friday that consisted of a whole bunch of sea food I'd never eaten before in my life. I had a go at oysters, bigorneaux huîtres (small snails for you and me), langoustines (just the meat in their claws) and bulots (large snails that look like fuzzy, pinkish snot). And a pie that contained fish brains. It all tasted good, but what a trial! When the plates arrived, I felt like Indiana Jones in that scene from the Temple of Doom. All this food was topped with trays of cheese and dessert - and a lot of great wine and champagne.

The eve ended around 4am. We returned the next morning as soon as we woke up for more sea food, foies gras ("just keep telling yourself it's hummus"), haricots verts, gratin dauphinois (potato bake) and a franken roast that was delicious, composed of duck, pig and a few more animals. It was prepared by the young brother, who is a butcher. Again, followed by cheeses, dessert (ice cream and fruit salad). Plus the usual wine and champagne.

We took loads of pictures but the camera is still with Wink. When he's back in London (on the 3rd) I'll upload the photos and post a link. Tomorrow morning a friend from Brasil arrives to stay with me for a week or so. It's her first visit to Europe. I'm looking forward to seeing London through her eyes.
commonpeople1: (Glasses)


Here's my nephew riding a horse for the first time (which he loved.) He's 14 months old. My mom just told me they have a video too, which they'll send me shortly.

That's his grandfather (from my sister-in-law's side), by the way, who is a pig farmer and owns the horse (before you start wondering who's that crazy man letting a little toddler horseback ride).

My nephew's name in the original Greek means "friend of horses". I wish I lived closer to my family.
commonpeople1: (Glasses)
I found a family of baby rats today.  I was digging the compost heap at the community garden when I noticed something shiny and grey wriggling amidst the rotten egg shells, mud and wood lice.  Soon the viscous thing broke apart into three tiny sets of blind eyes searching for a way back inside the heap.  Everyone stopped what they were doing and gathered around me.  "Baby mice!" I said.  Someone lifted one by its very long tail and corrected me: "baby rats."  "Where's the mother?" someone else asked.  We all stared silently at the heap and shuddered.  There was something trying to poke out of the mud - like that bit in Alien - so I raised my shovel in self defence.  It turned out to be four more baby rats.  We pulled them out and put them in a cardboard box.  Nobody knew what to do with them.  We couldn't exactly rehouse them but nobody had the guts either for drowning the lil cuties.  When I came home, the impasse still stood.

I'm on the third episode of Dynasty's first season.  During a glamourous dinner, Blake Carrington's daughter smokes a spliff in the garden with her cousin while her closeted gay brother reads Emily Dickinson to one of the guests in the library (the guest that just came out of the loony bin.)  I'm loving it.  (I'm quite surprised at the amount of versions for the theme song on Spotify; and the same for Dallas.)

It would be kinda fun to write an 80s style bonkbuster centred around a rich and powerful family (much like the ones I used to write when I was fourteen - inspired by my mom's Sydney Sheldon collection).  Or a reboot script for Dynasty.  I think there's a market out there in these banker bonus times.
commonpeople1: (Paul Simonon)

Blanche Chew
Originally uploaded by olliefern
Yesterday, after arriving home from work and eating dinner, [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale and I went over to our landlady's to check on Blanche. I had these terrible images in my head that we'd find her stiff in some corner (like my brother's hamster when we were kids, who was pushed under the bed in a cage and forgotten about for over a week) but when we opened the front door there she was, at the top of the stairs leading down into the kitchen, curious about us.

She didn't know what to do with herself: run ahead of us? Get entangled in our legs? Climb us like Spider Woman? I topped up her water bowl with some milk and refilled her food bowl, as per landlady's instructions, then sat in the living room with some of her toys. She immediately fell in love with my camera's strap and gave my arms and hands demonstrable love scratches. While Wink entertained her, I tried to get the Wii working and discovered that it's way too complicated for me; maybe I should go back to playing Chess.

Later on, Wink and I laid on the couches and got Blanche tired by making her run back and forth after a toy on a string. When she started panting, we knew our jobs were done. She curled up near my legs and we both took a nap.

I spent today at the community garden and wandering around Bow taking photos. In a while we'll drop by to visit her and play.

Blanche Sleep

// More Blanche

Blanche

Jun. 24th, 2010 07:32 am
commonpeople1: (Glasses)

Fluffy white kitten
Originally uploaded by Winchester SPCA
This weekend, [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale and I will be babysitting our landlady's tiny fluffy white kitten Blanche. My landlady has to go to Spain for the weekend and asked if we could stay over her place and make sure Blanche doesn't misbehave.

My journal entries during the weekend, therefore, shall be known as The Blanche Diaries.

The landlady's Wii also apparently needs a lot of attention so I grudgingly agreed to make sure it stays happy and out of trouble.
commonpeople1: (TV)
1) [livejournal.com profile] idioticpoet mentioned on Facebook how his town's library had created a "quiet room". It struck me as a very Borgean notion: add a quiet room within a space that's already meant to be quiet. Then imagine that quiet room needing a quiet room once all the noisy and affronted left outside decide to go in (because we know they'll be the first ones through that door.) The same noisy people I see when I visit Tower Hamlet's Idea Stores (the Borough's version of libraries) in search of a book: mothers that let their children run riot and think libraries are daycare centres, teenagers giving lip to security guards, adults chatting to each other over coffee. The quiet rooms within the quiet rooms' quiet rooms can only go downwards, eventually - chambers and alcoves underneath East London.

2) The Saturday papers carried news of the search for a heir to Hackney's "mole man" William Lyttle. He died this month and left behind a Victorian home worth £1million. The catch: he was known as the "mole man" because of the tunnels and rooms he built underneath his home, prompting a battle with Hackney Council to evict him when they discovered everything with the help of ultrasound scanners. I like how he cheekily claimed to have just a big basement.

3) The papers have also recently carried stories on the explosion of the mole population due to a ban on poisons used before to kill them. Perhaps this was the inspiration for Big Brother's producers when they randomly selected a contestant to go inside the house dressed as a mole (an outfit he wouldn't be able to remove until he completed certain secret tasks in behalf of Big Brother) and sleep in a mole hill in the garden. Some of the tasks involved him scurrying around tunnels inside the Big Brother house which the other contestants were not aware of.

4) While I was writing this post, I went to my bookcase and grabbed one of Wink's books, Creators on Creating. It's a collection of essays by various writers, thinkers and artists. I flicked it open and landed on Michel Foucault's The Order of Things. The first paragraph goes like this:
This book first arose out of a passage in Borges, out of the laughter that shattered, as I read the passage, all the familiar landmarks of my thoughts - our thought, the thought that bears the stamp of our age and our geography - breaking up all the ordered surfaces and all the planes with which we are accustomed to tame the wild profusion of existing things, and continuing long afterwards to disturb and threaten with collapse our age-old distinction between the Same and the Other. This passage quotes a "certain Chinese encyclopaedia" in which it is written that "animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (l) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies."
commonpeople1: (Icecream)


Michael Connelly, The Last Coyote, 1995
The fourth book in Connelly's series about L.A. detective and loose cannon Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch is an ode to crime writer supremo James Ellroy. Like Ellroy's "Black Dahlia", Bosch has a mother whose brutal unsolved murder in 1961 shapes his later life and depressive personality. Suspended from work after attacking his commanding officer and evicted from his condemned home after an earthquake, Bosch goes solo - like the straggly coyote he occasionally spots on the Hollywood hills - in an investigation into what happened to his mother and why her murder was covered up by the police and local politicians. It's a cleverly constructed, slow-burning plot with the right dose of action and mood, though genre aficionados may spot the final twist a mile away.
commonpeople1: (Default)
The Magnetic Fields played a mellow and folksy gig last night at the Barbican, very much in spirit with their latest album "Realism". The place was drowned in a sea of bookish gay men and girls looking for tattooed boys from Birkenhead. Everyone wanted to really really open their eyes. There was also a four-month old baby that curiously stared at proceedings until the second half, when it was past its bed time; and there was a teenager who arrived with his parents then watched the show by himself. He didn't look like your typical Magnetic Fields fan.

There were some unusual choices from their back catalogue, some from the new album, one from the Gothic Archies and two from The 6ths. Lovely surprise of the night came in the form of Amelia Fletcher from 80s indie band Heavenly joining them on stage to sing "Looking for Love (In the Hall of Mirrors)" from The 6ths first album. It's about gay bars, apparently - where Stephen Merritt can admittedly be found when seeking inspiration.

Earlier, I popped inside the Curve gallery to see Céleste Boursier-Mougenot's exhibition. There are zebra finches loose in the desert-like space... and musical instruments. I won't tell you more because you need to see it for yourself. Let's just say that it's beautiful, hypnotic, free and will leave you with a smile on your face.
commonpeople1: (Default)

The Haggerston
Originally uploaded by olliefern
I really needed some alcohol yesterday. And I got it, in the form of a delicious pint of Guiness at the Haggerston (previously Sam's Bar) on Kingsland Road, followed by bottled lager in Passing Clouds, where friends joined me for an evening of films and conversation. I needed all the distraction I could get from this data entry temp job I landed in March. It's not the end of the world, but it sure is boring me already.

Do you know what is permaculture? I didn't until last night, and now I'm  glad I attended Naturewise's Permaculture Picture House, where two films were shown on the topic of growing food and forests. One of them is a fairly recent production - The Agro Rebel - focusing on an Austrian farmer and the sustainable farming practice he introduced into his community; and the other was a British-Canadian animation from the 80s about a French man who loved to plant trees and eventually helped create a national park. I thought this last one was based on a true story but, alas, I was wrong.

I love Passing Clouds and was happy that [livejournal.com profile] blu_bear , [livejournal.com profile] denalyia , [livejournal.com profile] woodsrule and her boyfriend T also enjoyed the place. Plans were made for a future weekend excursion, when the ground floor has live music, and [livejournal.com profile] blu_bear and I came to the conclusion that it would be worthwhile following up on one of the courses on offer, and definitely going back for the next Picture House in April.

Claptrap

Feb. 7th, 2010 05:24 pm
commonpeople1: (Cormac)

the delightful "Severed Limb"
Originally uploaded by Panja
I just finished reading an excellent novel set on the waters of the Mississippi in 1857, filled with steamships, drawls, gamblers, whores, slaves and - believe it or not - vampires. I sometimes like to listen to music that enhances the mood of a book; it dawned on me last night at the Victoria pub that The Severed Limb go perfectly with this novel, Fevre Dream. Their self-described skiffle sound has that rockabilly mood of the south, even in their Johnny Cash covers. And they have skinny boys in black dancing to their tunes.

They were a great, little surprise, and I'm sure that their song "The Girl from Bethnal Green Road" only promises more chances to see them locally in the near future.



Afterwards, there was a burlesque performance and by that stage it dawned on my drunk mind that it was my first one too. Dance, tits, then a quick run to the ladies to put the clothes back on. The pub never got full - most people there seemed to be mates with the band or the staff - but there was a general air of friendliness that only encourages returns. (Yesterday was the first time I sat through a whole show at the Victoria.) Somebody must twist Zombina and the Skeletones arms until they agree to play there.

I also saw [livejournal.com profile] desayuno_ingles yesterday, who was in the neighbourhood to pick up her sowing maching at Sew Amazing. We took her to Broadway Market for some lunch and had a brief look at the new shop/gallery that opened on Mare Street: The Last Tuesday Society. One of the staff was one of those people that proclaim outloud "I wonder how I'll die. Probably from an overdose" and there was a gray parrot observing everyone quietly by the front door - not to be confused with the various stuffed animals about the place.

I spoke to my mom on the phone and it looks very likely we'll move to Brasil for six months at the end of the summer.

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