So on Thursday last, Gridrunner tagged me with a viral question meme, which invites you to volunteer five facts about yourself that are, to quote the man "(less than obvious)". This is actually the second time I've been nominated for this, the first being over Christmas by the chap over at TracknKern. Man's got a dot com, works and plays in Oz. Peace.
So anyway, here goes, five things about ME:
1. My favourite colour used to be yellow, but I think it's green now. Is that allowed? When it comes to design I sometimes wish I had more of a synaesthetic response to colour and could assign straightforward associations to a pallete. It's never that simple though and there's always going to some duality to what emotional response a particular colour evokes, e.g. green can be perceived as relaxing or connote envy. It's all contextual I suppose. The standard colours of retail press advertising also happen to be the red black and white beloved of national socialism. Go figure.
2. The last thing that made me cry (sniff) was the end of 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy, which I really didn't expect. It's a fairly harrowing read, set in the onset of a nuclear winter precipitated by a cataclysmic war he describes simply as: "a long shear of light and then a series of low concussions". It follows a man and his son on their journey south in search of warmth and food, beset by the gangs of marauding cannibals who stalk the blasted roads of America after a fire that has scourged the earth of life; where no plant, beast, bird or fish prospers.
Needless to say, It hasn't got a happy ending, though.. Nah, go read it yourselves.
3. I don't get football. I don't mind it or anything.. I just can't ever get excited about it. One of the questions I get asked a lot upon happening upon a new work environment is "what team do you follow?", to which, with a sub-vocal sigh, I must—almost apologetically—mumble "Er, I don't really follow it to be honest", which pretty much nips in the bud that avenue of banter.
While I wouldn't exactly class this as a handicap, I must admit having no interest in the de facto male opening conversational gambit probably eliminates at least 50% of the conversations I might be having with geezers I don't really know. Football is the lingua franca of the bloke, and even a passing knowledge of some of its trivia seems to function as a kind of masonic handshake, wherever you are in the world.
When backpacking in Hostels across Europe, my friend Andy told me how he would sometimes end up cohabiting with groups of guys who spoke no English, while he himself didn't speak a word of, say, Polish. In situations like this where communication was a problem, all he had to do however was rattle off the names of a few players on the Polish National Squad, and sure enough within minutes he was all but being borne aloft on the shoulders of his cheering, newfound buddies.
When it's not inspiring them to glass each other on the terraces whilst wearing Burberry, football breaks more ice amongst groups of men globally than American industry's carbon footprint does in the Arctic Circle, and by not having a working knowledge of it my 'arsenal' (pun intended) I am already at a social disadvantage. Sometimes, on slow rainy days I even contemplate getting 'into' it.. but nah, fuck that, I'll just apportion more of my energy to my other overwhelmingly male trait: accruing and hoarding crap I don't really need.
This is my favourite footy song.
4. One of my favourite musical genres is disco. No seriously. Back in the days when my mates were raving to acid techno this used to get a few raised eyebrows, but to quote 'Withnail and I' even a stopped clock keeps the right time twice a day, and I harbour grave doubts that anyone will be listening to Routemaster Records in thirty years time (me-yow!).
One of my all time musical heroes, if I'm permitted them, is undoubtedly Vincent Montana, who conducted the orchestral backing for more classic joints on both the Salsoul and Philadelphia labels than man's had hot meals. The march of technological innovation in music these days seems to be towards democratisation, where a bedroom producer can put out records that can all but rival the high end production gloss of the big studios. Against this, the idea of making dance records with a full orchestra seems quaint, unwieldy, fantastic, decadent, and frankly unlikely. But that was how it was done back then. No matter how much I love electronica, I would argue that there is an emotional charge that live instrumentation imparts that no amount of studio wibble can lend, and it's the strings that do it for me; the crying voice of the violins soaring and zigging above a track always makes the hairs on the back of my neck just stand on end.
Heady and escapist, exquisite and seedy in equal measure, diso was the effective precursor to modern day dance music for the clubs. A hybrid form straddling the genres of Latin and soul it was at its best also a profoundly inclusive genre, bridging differences in class, race and sexuality. I suspect I'm just getting nostalgic for scene I never participated in, but I do sometimes fantasize about what it must have been like to be alive and partying in new york in the 70s.. maybe living in Brooklyn?
I must remind myself of course that utopias never persist for long, if they even exist at all, and it did all get quite nauseatingly rank in the dark days of its twilight. As cretinous as as Steve Dahl's 'Disco Sucks' campaign was, the cheesier excesses of the Bee Gees and Abba are enough to induce a gag reflex in anyone, and are rightly reviled.
And even these days, that stigma lingers, though what with everything being so post-modern and everything, it's getting better. And of course, some people understand, with disco having advocates in some very surprising quarters. One of the best disco jocks I ever saw was a dude called Big Rob, who was big, had corn rows, and looked like he should be back-spinning MOP joints, rather than the sublime 70s plastic he was serving up. Special mention must also be made of Stu and the Love The Action crew back up north, who'd be guaranteed to give you a firm nod of approval anytime you fancied cueing up a Quincy Jones track.
OK disco rant over. Any non-believers should track down a copy of Kenny Dope's 'Disco Heat' where he edits together and seamlessly mixes up a range of records that you'll probably recognise from the house tracks that sampled them. Either that or get over to Mixoftheweek.com (not actually that weekly as far as I can see) and get plugged in to 'The Sound Of Philadelphia' trio of mixes.
5. My favourite mode of transport is walking, and I think I'm pretty good at it at a fairly mateur level. One of my favourite wastes of time (and I've a few, believe me) is just walking round town to my favourite places, checking things out en route. It's a fantastic way to explore and see things you wouldn't catch from the tube or even the bus window. Just occasionally I'll suddenly find I've wandered on to a slightly rough looking estate, and start counting bin bags in trees and leashless dogs to try and quantify the danger, but really, what's life without a little excitement? Sorry if that sounded like a broadcast from the Ministry of Walking.
Anyway.. that wasn't so bad. Hope I didn't bore any of you. Now the not-so-hard-part (there aren't that many blogs I read really). I nominate:
Lord Bunty Chunk