Thirty Thousand Streets

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Cynical food, good food, Stussy, Pan's Labyrinth.

Friday at work was pretty pants, workwise. Didn't really get a lunch break, so when someone suggested getting a take-out pizza from Pizza Hut I elected—In the interests of studio solidarity— to 'chip in' as it were, much against my better judgement.

I don't know what I was thinking. The pizza, when it arrived, was revolting: A flabby base that tasted of damp cardboard, with a thin smear of ersatz tomato sauce and sweet processed cheese. It both tasted and looked like something a child might construct out of play-doh. The biggest piss-take was the toppings however, consisting as it did of a handfull or so of harassed looking ingredients engaged in some kind of end-state diaspora over the wide flat topography of their pizza world.

And these things aren't cheap either (Half a 12" pizza cost me £6.50). One extra piece of needless gymcrackery was the addition of a hollow crust piped full of yet more of the disgusting plastic yellow cheese (it felt like eating the Simpsons), which I surmise was a ploy to distract from the complete lack of value for money that this food represents.

This is essentially food for people who don't like food, and then some. There is something so horribly cynical about this kind of fast food, where they don't even attempt to use the corporate leverage the scale of their enterprise allows to give you a better deal on the ingredients and quality, and charge you more for your meal than would cost in a fantastic Italian restaraunt.

Moreover, much like sandwiches, you do actually have to try quite hard to bugger up something as simple as a pizza, the rule of thumb basically being: great ingredients, fairly apportioned. Especially at this rate.

Anyway. On Saturday headed up to the Truman Brewery on brick lane for the Stussy warehouse sale. There was some alright stuff there, and the t-shirts were a snip at a tenner. I was kind of hoping they'd have some flat caps with a bandanna print they were hawking instore earlier in the year, but no dice. Bought a few shirts and headed out.

Caught the 55 from Old Street up to the top of Oxford Street, and from there walkied down into Soho. Went and checked out Libertys, which I've never ventured into before, and has much more of boutique-y feel than most other department stores. Some nice stuff in the menswear bit, though I was mostly looking for a 'brooch' they had in one of the window displays, which was basically a large pin with some small antique keys on it. Sounds a bit weird but trust me, it'd look great on a jacket.

There's also an exhibition of prints from the Scrawl website, whose curator Rick sold me a Stefan Plaetz t-shirt in the City Tavern in Manchester a few years back, when I was living there and he was up for a Man U game. His business is also, oddly enough, incumbent in the design group I'm working in right now. Anyway, some good stuff.

Also went and looked in the Levis store Cinch off Carnaby Street. They seem to have dispensed with the RED line altogether there, which is a bit of a shame as I thought they did some really nice pieces. Now they seem to focus more on the 'vintage' range and the new twisted series (into which they seem to have diffused some of the design elements from the RED range).

One thing I don't really get are the iPod compatible jeans, which strikes me as the ultimate in cheesy designer excess. Certain brand collaborations really seem to work (Stussy and Levis for example) but I don't think this does, mainly because I fail to see how an extra iPod shaped pocket with a built in plastic spinwheel is in any way superior to a, y'know, traditional pocket.

The beautiful thig about pockets is you can put anything in them (up to a point) iPods included. These jeans mainly seem to be about shouting "LOOK AT ME, I"VE GOT AN iPOD. iPODS ARE COOL, AND NOT ONLY THAT BUT I'VE GOT SOME iPOD JEANS WHICH MEANS I'M COOLER THAN YOU EVEN IF YOU DO HAVE AN iPOD'

After this I was hungry, so went to a falafel place called Maoz on Old Compton Street. Now this is actually quite good fast food. I can't make any particularly bold claims about the nutritional worth of Falafel, as it does seem in the main to be vegetarian stodge, but this is pretty wholesome all the same. The standard meal came with some nice chips, a drink and as much salad and toppings as you like for £4.90, which seemed pretty reasonable. Pizza Hut take heed!

After that went and met up with Will Ade and Helen at the Covent Garden Odeon, to watch Pan's Labyrinth, which I really enjoyed.

Superficially at least it bears some comparison with other stories where the protagist is a female child who finds herself in a otherly realm (Alice in Wonderland, Spirited Away for example) though in this, the tone is much, much darker (and maybe more akin to A Company of Wolves in this respect.

It is set in Spain after the Second World war, and the 'real world' narrative centres around an outpost of Nationalist guardsmen attempting to stamp out a local group of Socialist rebels who live in the forest. The central character Ofelia, moves here with her pregnant mother, who has wed the captain - himself as evil a character as any I have seen in film recently.

Against this backdrop of guerilla warfare, brutality, cruelty and torture Ofelia retreats into a world of her imagining, where she meets a Faun in some local ruins who reveals she is in fact a princess, the daughter of the king of the underworld, and in order to return home, must complete three tasks.

While much of this fantasical element of the film is truly magical, it is also inarguably far more mordant in aspect than I was anticipating. This Faun is no Mr Tumnus, and certain other sequences seem more reminiscent of Clive Barker's Hellraiser than they do the 80's muppet flick Labyrinth.

Nontheless the interplay between these two contrasting strands is handled very well, and the entire thing is tremendously exciting, and I dare say, thought provoking. I can't say it's particularly happy, but I would highly recommend it.

It's Sunday now. I just rang Lucy on her stall in Greenwich Market and will hopefully catch up with her in the week as I don't think I'm going to make it over to see her today. Anyway. Ade should be coming over shortly to pick up his brother's coat, and we might head out somewhere for a pint.

Incidentally, I've been published in a book! Yessir one of my blog entries has found its way into the pages of The Blog Digest 2007, where a throwaway anecdote about my brother and some wasps has been immortalised in print. The tagline reads 'Twelve months of the best writing from the web', so apparently, I'm part of that. Who'd have thought it?


doppelganger said...

I used to work in Pizza Hut - I had a formal disciplinary 'cos I wasn't fast enough on garlic bread supreme....

Wish I'd kept it....

The only thing we were allowed to consume in unlimited quantities was the 7UP - so we spent the whole hot, sweaty kitchen shift bouncing off the waves of great big sugar rushes....

Anonymous said...

Really good to 'hear' (or do I mean see?) the phrase 'no dice' again. Takes me back.

The Eyechild said...


I suppose you've got to have some sort of perks, hey, though they probably only allowed you it in the hope that the collective sugar rush would stimulate garlic bread output.


I've more where that came from, which I'll wheel out ocassionally.

Zeno Cosini said...

Pan's Labyrinth. Bleak. Do you remember that cartoon they used to run in NME called "Have a Laugh with Portishead"? It's equally hard to imagine having a laugh with Pan's Labyrinth.

Fun Fact, though: the faun was played by the American actor Doug Jones, who doesn't speak a word of Spanish and learned all his lines phonetically.

The Eyechild said...

Bleak indeed.

I just read that adulatory review Mark Kermode wrote about it, and I think it's fair to say he's a fan.