Thirty Thousand Streets

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

London Lite

In another day, another age, a paper with the word light in the title may have been alluding to illumination, with it all it's attendant, noble, journalistic associations (bringing truth to light etc).

Not so Lite London, which can't even be bothered to spell light correctly, opting instead for the four letter variant beloved of soft drink marketeers, for this is lite as in light as air, as in air headed.

It's often said that war is if nothing else, a catalyst. Granted mostly for new ways of turning people into catfood, but hell, the Cold War gave rise to the internet, which is why you're reading this, so it can't be all bad. Also bear in mind please that at the minute, opium production in Afghanistan is exceeding that of the country pre the conflict that followed 9/11, so that's more heroin than we could reasonably be expected to consume. The brown's on the Taliban, kids!

We can but hope, therefore, that something good comes from the so called 'free paper wars', though it seems unlikely it'll have anything to do with journalism. indeed, the aphorism "The first causalty of war is the truth" seems far more apt judging from the weedy gauntlet Lite has thrown down into the arena.

For this paper trumpets its own inanity from the rooftops; this paper wears it's own witlessness like a cross-eyed badge of honour on it's sleeve.

Presumably aimed at a post-MTV demographic who judge information's value in terms of screen loading times, Lite delivers lashings of chicken McNugget sized prolefeed, with sick-burp celebrity soundbites and lavender coloured bulleted columns of lifestyle advice that are effervescently anodyne.

This paper doesn't just cater for people with limited attention spans, it wants to bomb attention spans back to the stone age (or further back, when we were all still fish).

I got a copy of all three free papers yesterday for comparison (well alright to read). In a Newsnight style roundup of the front page news here is what the three were saying:

Metro: "Britain's first war criminal"

thelondonpaper: "Shop your children says reid"

and, sigh

London Lite: "Harrow girl 'was killed for kitten'" (note use of inverted commas)

Hey? I'm sorry? Granted this is a very sad story – someone deeply odd kills someone young and much-loved, and female (and pretty), but this claptrap hardly does it any justice. Indeed, the opening paragraph throws this bold statement into immediate doubt, stating:

"The daughter of a Harrow schoolmaster may have been killed after a quarrel over a kitten, an inquest heard today"

So it's not actually clear whether this even was a kitten motivated killing, and even if it was, she wasn't killed for it, was she? Admit it Lite: You just wanted a headline that had the words 'girl', 'kitten' and 'killing' in it, and fortuitously, some handy alliteration in the second two. The only possible better headline would surely have been:

"Harrow girl was killed by kitten"

Though that would have been to good to be true.

Other big newsworthy events were Steve Irwin's funeral, and Kate Moss's £3 Million Top Shop Deal, though if you looked carefully enough, there were token articles on the Pope's recent Islam gaffe and John Reid's recent, um, Islam gaffe, wedged back to back between pictures of Paris Hilton and diarhettically watery lifestyle pieces. It'll be interesting to see if such kindred articles are hounded into similarly content themed half page ghettos in future editions of this rag.

Some of it is just badly concieved. Does anyone really care if the BBC's This Life is set to return? Even allowing for Lite's bubblegum content, this seems curiously irrelevant for today's readership. And I thought the review of the Biba fashion show hilariously innapropriate in format. Why give a fashion show that happened last night a star rating? It's not like it's something we can consume, even retrospectively, so why would we care? I might write in and suggest other things Lite could apply a star rating to, such as countries or major religions.

The most irritating features though are the self congratulatory "I Love Lite" roundels which are strewn amongst the pages, where members of the public offer up quotes as to why they 'love Lite', despite the fact it's only been in print for a fortnight or so.

"It's really colourful with a really vibrant feel about it"

burbles Marco Barbuti from Wanstead.

Even aside from the fact that the point-one-five of a second's worth of fame that having your photo printed in Lite grants is the only reason anyone participated in this, the use of Vox Pops in an attempt to validate a publication is doubly annoying because A: I'm already reading it so can make my own mind up, thanks, and B: heaping self praise on yourself by proxy in this manner is akin to masturbating in public with someone else's face grafted onto your genitals.

About all that Lite really has going for it compared to the Metro is it's claim on the cover that it is:


And I just hope that applies to other areas of the body as well, though I wouldn't say it's even up to task as toilet paper frankly, which is a shame as that would effectively cut out the effort of recycling this utterly superfluous rag into something more useful (Indeed my personal vote would have been for Lite never having changed state from oxygen producing trees in the first place, but there you have it).

There are just too many free papers being printed now. Yesterday on my way back home from Vauhall I practically had to burrow through drifts of the things just to get home, all the while dodging the purple-shirted gimps responsible for shifting their personal paper mountains onto the public. It's starting to get annoying already. Presumably they make their money off advertising revenue, but unlike say, Vice magazine which is reasonably exclusive and distributed through stores whose customer base is the advertiser's target market, it's approach seems as scatter-gun and wasteful as most direct mail (and a lot of it does seem to end up as rubbish, too).

I'm practically getting misty eyed as I reminisce over the good old days, when a copy of the Metro was a covetable thing on the work run in the morning; when acquisitive commuter eyes would scour carriages for any sign of the familiar blue masthead.*Sigh*

I am aware by the way that The Metro isn't all that good itself, just seemingly better than it's two new rivals without exerting any extra effort. There did seem to be more of these about too (though not as many as Lite) so maybe they're weighing in in response too. I've not really deleved into 'the london paper' vey much, but wheras Lite London is conspicuously bad, the london paper appears unremarkably indifferent, right down to it's all-lower-case-wannabe-the guardian logotype. So I won't bother to comment.

Anyway, if anyone can think of a good use for Lite London, let me know, as I personally can't see any, bar the aforementioned (recycling).

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Faustian Fear

Working back at an ad agency in Soho which is fine but..

I've just been offered six weeks work. Great you might think, and the money is good, but the work sounds fucking shit.

It's an in-house role doing Quark work for estate agents of all people. I'm guessing I'll be the only 'person' there, and there'll be lot's of really boring re-flowing of text on glossy coated stock for the kind of sharks who wear Hackett shirts and bray into mobile phones in expensive but culturally bereft bouroughs of London on the weekend.

Having just slagged off Estate Agents (and I do know one who I like) I'm aware that ad agencies aren't exactly awash with the milk of human kindness, but I'd still far prefer to work in one. It's very possible that someone could ring up in a week and offer me something more interesting, which I wouldn't be able to do due to my chilling up in dicksville.

I also suspect that within a week I'll be bored rigid, and just about willing to commit suicide (after having killed everyone else there, of course).

But the money is good, and I've just got back off holiday, and have also spent a large slice of the summer sitting reading sub-par science fiction in Brunswick park (admittedly with the aim of avoiding bookings like this).

And I probably won't get any work in January, and maybe not December, so maybe I should play the ant of the parable, rather than the grasshopper..

Or would I be better off again waving two fingers at the 'the man', subsisting off my monetary fat deposits, and trying to get some work I actually want to do?

Argh. Decisions.

What do I do.

PS: Celebrity (sort of) sighting update – Nigel Havers talking into a phone and wearing a sport jacket/blazer on St. Anne's court in Soho, yesterday lunchtime. Beat that.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Greek internet

I'm sat in a bar/internet cafe in Loggos on Paxos. Some unbelievably bad pop tune sampling 'Funky Town' by Lipps Inc is burbling away over the radio. In fact, the station itself seems dedicated to the playing of formulaic disco remixes with the same dreary 4:4 beat.

It's quite overcast today though it has been really toasty the rest of the time. I'm quite brown, and my feet are covered with mosquito bites which I'm leaning down to scratch intermittently.

It's been a good holiday, though other than the obvious holiday pursuits of lying around, eating, drinking and swimming, there's (peers around) not actually a right lot to do here, which is rather the point I suppose.

Anyway, I've been nosing around taking photos with my dad's old Nikon SLR, including an old decaying soap factory on the beach this morning, which is full of bits of rusting engines, and looks like a hidden level off The Chaos Engine. I'll get them up on Flickr as soon as I'm home (and have got them developed).

I turn 29 tomorrow. Not sure how I feel about that, but with any luck, Ade's got me the animal posters that came with the Guardian this week, which is something to look forward to at least.

Anyway, some old dude has sat down at the machine next to me and is announcing things aloud to no-one in particular, which is my cue to leave.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I'm in the airport. It's about midnight. I've got a long wait ahead of me before I check in and ultimately, fly.

I thought I'd indulge in a spot of blogging, or surfing, seeing as I've got so much time to kill, but unfortunately, airports being airports, the good ole net is prohibitively expensive, costing a rather steep 10p per minute. So a quid gets you 10 minutes.

This is probably about as much time as some people will waste on the internet in their lifetime, before they retire to organic yurt in the Forest of Dean, but I'm not one of them.

Nor however do I think I'm the kind of person who's going to shovel six quid into the coffers of 'Spectrum Interactive' (who curate this monetary black hole) for an hour's worth of webbery. And plus, the connection's really slow (twenty seconds to load Blogger) which makes something already expensive, blatant daylight robbery. At those kind of prices I want warp factor 10 connection.

There are a load of free sites you can visit, but without actually having ventured there, I expect they'll merely be gleaming nodes of consumerism, extolling the virtues of airport shopping.

So I was going to write a rather long winded bit of proey waffle about holidays I've really enjoyed in the past but instead I'll conclude with the following:

"Eat a dick Spectrum Interactive"


"Why didn't I think of it first?"


After having gone and sat in an uncomfortable chair for a bit, I was eventually driven back when some people sat next to me and started talking loudly about 'integrated agencies'. I returned to the internet, and out of sheer boredom checked out the free bit of the internet service. It was just as I'd predicted. Lots of click through ads for various non-entity type companies. And you only got two and a half minutes at a time before the thing reset (remember: time is money) so to be subversive, I composed a letter by writing a letter in the 'question' field of various corporate website's comments sections, then sent it off to a range of people by copying and pasting it afresh. It cost me nothing, and killed some time, so all in all was an unqualified success.

This is costing me big time though..

Anyway, here's what a bunch of IT companies and Web Developers will be finding in their inboxes real soon. (Frustratingly, Loan and finance companies were only contactable by phone. Boo.)

Hi, whoever you are

I'm writing to you because I'm sat in a terminal in Gatwick Airport, waiting for to check in in a couple of hours.

It's two thirty right now, and I'm trying to find ways to fend off the spectre of excruciating boredom boredom which I suspect is, even now, hunting me down through spotlit corridors like a beast from the Doom series of first person shoot 'em ups (Do you know of them? ah, this a website, of course you do!

Anyway, the internet would be an ideal way to while away the hours, if the hourly rate charged by the incumbent internet cafe were not so eye gougingly prohibitive. (An ideal metaphorical nail gun to fend off the aforementioned spectre of boredom in this tortuos analogy).

In fact, in order for me to spend any time 'surfing the web' here, I'd have to sell that sizeable chunk of prime Tokyo real estate I simply do not posess, so you can see my problem.

Instead, I've opted to traipse through the 'free' section, which links to such catatonia inducing, mediocre corporate web presences as your own.

I presume you are, in some way, paying for this advertisement, which is unfortunate, as you only get a couple of minutes 'free time' anyway, and given that the loading speed on this portal moves at a pace which molluscs would snigger at (if they could) there's hardly any time to form an opinion of your no doubt excellent service, before you're sent crashing back out of cyberspace.

I've managed to get around these time constraints by typing in the 'Question' fields of comment forms, then copying and pasting the message as the time expires. Cunning eh? Also exceedingly wierd, granted but as my options are appreciably limited, by my not being heir to the Hilton millions (billions?) I hope you'll understand why I've chosen to contact you, the person responsible for checking the email of a mundane corporate web portal I couldn't give two solid farts about.

Anyway, all the best, and if it's Monday in your world, my commiserations. I'll probably be sat on a 'real beach' as my post modern 'e-message-in-a-bottle' washes up on the shores of your inbox. Fancy that eh?

Not that I'm gloating or anything, I'll be back where you're sat (so to speak) before too long.

All the best.


ps: A delicious irony about all this is that this proprietary browser won't actually let me view my blog as it's offensive. Ha!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Greece is The Word

In my world.

I'm been working back at M&C this week. Good to see all the people who I worked with so much last year, and handy as the booking took me up to my holidays. One of the good things about that place is that getting a decent cup of coffee is never a problem thanks to the Gaggia machine in the foyer, whose frothing roar as milk is steamed is a veritable siren song for caffeine fiends such as myself.

Was slow off the blocks yesterday morning as I was busy lying in bed, and kept intermittently hitting snooze on my alarm clock. The clock itself is on my desk on the other side of the room, which is a setup I engineered to make me get out of bed in the mornings, but it rarely works. Instead I lope back to my nest like a cave bound bear with a tranquiliser dart embedded in it's neck.

Part of the reason for the morning's sloth was that I was awoken at about two fourty-seven AM by someone stumping round the kitchen below my room and eating cereal loudly. Dink dink dink chimed the spoon against their bowl. Slam went the cupboard doors. GO TO FUCKING BED thought I. Thankfully it didn't last long and I drifted off again shortly after.

Wednesday morning's hike to work was vaguely notable for a few things:

1: Getting a smile off a pretty girl through the window of the Jungle Cafe Grill on Camberwell Church Street. Cheered me up no end.

2: Seeing (I think) Jonathan Ross, in a brown suit and shades striding across Golden Square

3. 6 Japanese hipsters camped outside the Bathing Ape 'busy workshop' just off Golden Square, presumably for the privilege of spending £200 on a limited t-shirt. Three of them were wearing identical BAPE camo tops and didn't look as cool as they thought they did.

On my way out for lunch I also glimpsed the big man himself, Maurice S, rocking trademark huge glasses in the foyer. I'm sure he must be the inspiration behind the 'Ad Nauseum' character in Private Eye.

That evening, hooked up with Ed who's working at 'The World's Most Famous Bookshop', Foyle's on Charing Cross Road. There's a pirannha tank in the kid's section, and I stared at it's grimacing residents while he finished stocking up. Then we went for drinks in Soho (French bar, nice cider) then The Hermit's Cave in Camberwell.

It's now Thursday, and, Lord Willing, I'm off to Paxos in Greece tomorrow, though, me being me, I've still got various things to do. (pack, for instance). Can't wait though.

I'll try and get at t'internet while I'm out there, but I'm not sure if it's going to happen. Toodle pip.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Does anyone know of any decent podcasts? I quite got into the Ricky Gervaise one for a bit, then stopped when they started charging and it invevitably, so I'm told, became not as good as it used to be.

Subsequent attempts to get into it have so far merely confirmed Sturgeon's Law that '90% of everything is crap', but I'm sure this can't be the whole story.

So c'mon kids, hook me up with the good stuff and show me where that 10% is hiding.