What if they'd told a bunch of teen singers "it's you! You have sole control of the soundtrack for the next hunger game movie!" But then when you show up to the studio they make you fight everyone else for it as a thematic link to the story
“Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit, all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It’s the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them.”—
Brian Eno, A Year With Swollen Appendices (via fleurlungs)
Wanna contribute to Working Class Queers #2? Full info via the above link, including examples of the writing some folk have already sent in, or scroll down below for those of you not on Fb. Some inspiring submissions in so far! There is no theme for issue #2, though rage seems to be a predominant theme in the submissions I’ve had so far. Don’t be afraid to vent, queers – anger can be radical, necessary and productive! Some suggested subjects: #poordoors.
♥ Now accepting submissions for #2 of Working Class Queers! ♥
About Working Class Queers:
WCQ is a zine series about being queer and working class, and how those things (and others) intersect. WCQ #1 debuted at Queer Zine Fest London 2013.
You don’t have to be queer or working class to support this project – we welcome allies! – though you have to be both to submit to the zine.
About submitting to WCQ #2:
Submissions from all genders are welcome. The zine is UK centric by circumstance rather than design – submissions are open to w/c queers worldwide.
Max word count per piece is 500 (there may be room for more if you really need it - msg me). If yr a w/c queer of few words, and can say what you need to in one short paragraph/sentence, that’s cool too! Also happy to receive art/illustrations/comic strips (and/or text), be it hand-drawn, computer generated or a scanned in.
There is no theme for issue #2, though working class rage seems to be a predominant theme in the submissions I’ve had so far. Anger and rage can be radical! Don’t be afraid to vent. Also, it may help all you ponderers to know that people who submitted to issue #1 wrote about the following: what it means to be poor, queer, fat, immigrant, crip/disabled, marginalized, struggling, at-risk, policed, punk, intellectual, proud. They wrote about their experiences of class hierarchies in queer/feminist circles; about slang and accents; about the pwning and appropriation of DIY scenes; about queer complicity in gentrification; about the necessity of calling people up on their shit and about how poetry, books and libraries saved them.
If you grew up using slanguage and still use that ish (I did/do), don’t edit it out! Also, don’t worry about grammar etc. This is a comma fucker-free space.
Rough working deadline is Aug 30th 2014 (but this may be extended depending on all the usual life stuff: work, time, resource, schedules etc) so send me yr stuff as soon as you like. Msg me if yr struggling/unsure/new to zineing and I’ll see what I can do to help.
“We eat chips, we do menial work, we hold grudges against our betters. I’m learning about being chippy at the same time as my own class identity is coming into focus. Today I found out that sometimes a sex worker is called a chippy, that makes sense.
Positivity is a word I dislike because it flattens the ambiguity and ambivalence that is central to being human, and guilt-trips those who insist on negativity. Positivity is a Tool of The Man, a means of keeping us in our places, of preventing us from baring our teeth, of making us docile and grateful. The academic Sara Ahmed has been exploring what it is to be a killjoy from the perspective of the feminist, the immigrant, the queer. Killjoys stare blankly at positivity. Chippy is part of this conversation too, a different way of saying similar things, perhaps it brings in class. Chippy is a problem because we should just be nice to each other and pretend that the inequality that is staring us both in the face does not exist. It’s not nice to be chippy, it’s too disruptive and impolite. Things must be kept smooth. Your silence is smooth to me. Be cool. There’s no reason to hold a grudge, it’s all in your mind. Look how kindly I am to you. It’s nothing to do with me. Stay positive! Cheer up! Smile!
These people are lucky that all they get from me is a bad thought, a look across my face, side-eye, a pursed lip, a feeling of distance, distrust. They’re lucky that I don’t burn down their places, trash everything they own and chase them down the street. I try and remember this when I am on the receiving end. All the things I could do! More if I joined together with other chippy people! Remember the guillotine! Even so, they begrudge the chip.”
“For Willis, if your revolutionary thinking didn’t accurately reflect reality, it couldn’t change reality. In her version of liberation, sexual revolutionaries aren’t smug, performative hedonists who play out their fantasies in villas on Mustique; they wonder instead how thin the line is between courage and delusion while drinking coffee alone in their apartments or sitting on benches outside the Laundromat. And rock writers don’t turn their prose up to 11 to compete with the bands they’re covering, or get so bound up in the role of gnomic wizard that they can’t just shrug their shoulders and say, as Willis did, well, I was wrong about the Ramones; they admit to communing with what she called “the screaming teenager” inside. To Willis, acknowledging the real meant acknowledging that we are minds connected to bodies, and that what may not seem real at all — the unconscious and the psyche — are very powerful forces. Nearly every piece is a reminder that the culture we live in, even when we don’t profess its prevailing beliefs, has an effect on the psyche; that we internalize expectations even when we think we’re free; that we need to gather in groups to change our minds and the minds of others, because otherwise we stand alone in our pain and confusion, thinking that we’re the problem.”—NYT, on The Essential Ellen Willis (via katherinestasaph)
A friend asked me for Cornwall holiday tips earlier and I got a bit carried away. Figured it might be worth sharing (unexpurgated, because tumblr).
imho the very best town in Cornwall, but I might be biased from all the hours I spent dancing in Shades (RIP)
Beerwolf: amazing pub with a bookshop inside it, lethally cheap books and ales
Picnic: best coffee in town
Dolly’s Tea Room: enjoyably mad place for cocktails/dinner/afternoon tea
The Townhouse: classy, beautifully designed hotel with a great bar
Harbour Lights: best fish and chips in town, go there over Rick Stein’s place even though he’s famous…
Gyllyngvase Beach/Cafe: beautifully clear beach for swimming. warning: these guys are everywhere in cornwall right now! but they don’t sting (though they are terrifying, I got a foot away from one without realising!). You can walk to Swanpool from Gylly, another lovely beach.
the Chain Locker: brilliant old pub, low ceilings, craggy corridors, generally attracts pirate-like old men
Hand: excellent speciality beer pub at the top of the town (nb check the prices before you order as you might accidentally end up with an £8 beer if you don’t check)
Glendugan Garden is a beautiful, huge National Trust garden with a sweet cafe, a maze, and a beautiful little village/beach at the bottom
the Ferryboat Inn is a slightly pricy but great pub with an incredible view - there you’re out on the Helford River, where lots of slebs have their country piles
Flushing: gorgeous little fishing village across the bay from Falmouth, very chi-chi, great beach and pier for jumping off, if you’re into that kind of thing
Ponsanooth: this is where my parents live, it has great woods, inside which there’s an old gunpowder factory
Penryn is very charming but perhaps a bit limited
you can take a car ferry from near Truro across the river (which in itself is beautiful and worth doing) to St Mawes, which is yet another beautiful fishing town, quite fancy
A properly Cornish mining village. Several great beaches, super pubs, great old houses to perve at, stunning cliffs, etc. worth an afternoon’s roaming.
If you’re not there long I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Truro. It’s the main town but it’s mostly quite dull shops and old ladies walking very slowly. Nice cathedral and lovely cinema (where I worked) though.
If bike riding’s your thing the Bissoe bike trail is good, you can hire bikes there
Godrevy: another huge beautiful beach
Porthtowan: ditto, with a quite good bar on the beach, The Blue Bar
Ridiculously beautiful seaside town, very touristy this time of year, but in a good way (not like Newquay, which is gross, would not recommend). strong art history - there’s the Barbara Hepworth house, the Tate St Ives
If you go there, on the way there’s a great restaurant/deli called Scarlett Wines
I wouldn’t recommend Penzance (the biggest town right down the south) - it has some nice architecture but is otherwise pretty limited. but there’s lots of great places nearby:
Perranuthnoe: a lovely little village with a huge beach. you can take long cliff walks to the left or right of the beach, they run for miles. if you go to the left, you get to Prussia Cove, which is insanely gorgeous and where they filmed Ladies In Lavender, that charming if slightly weird film about Judi Dench falling in love with Daniel Bruhl. In the village there are great places to eat - the Peppercorn, the Beach Cabin
Minack Theatre: this is a theatre carved into the side of a cliff. it is stupidly beautiful:
the productions can be pretty hit and miss so maybe don’t bother with those, but you can go during the day when there’s nothing on and climb all over the stage, get your thespian on. nice cafe
Newlyn and Mousehole (pronounced “mOWzul”) are both beautiful little fishing villages. Warning: parking in them at this time of year is a NIGHTMARE. last time I went to Mousehole, on John’s first trip to Cornwall, I was driving us through the village, we hit a traffic jam, a man came and knocked on the window and told us we had to back up because “a lorry’s driven into an ‘ouse”. actually Newlyn has the art school/gallery, lots of nice works and storied artists
Marazion: very similar to Newlyn and Mousehole but it has St Michael’s Mount, a little island close to shore that you can walk to when the tide’s out and take the water ferry when it comes back in. there’s a big stately home there and it was made by a giant called Cormoran, just fyi. There’s a rock that’s said to be his heart…
Trengwainton House: fancy stately home with huge beautiful gardens
The Lizard peninsula is beautiful, there’s a lighthouse, it’s where Gram Parsons went to dry out. Didn’t work, but no slight against its charms.
Gwithian is a vast, wonderful beach
The Eden Project: the world’s biggest greenhouse. extremely stunning/fun/educational, it’s situated inside an old clay pit. good food options. it’ll be busy this time of year but I think it’s worth it.
Polzeath/Port Isaac/Fowey (pronounced foy) are all nice northern fishing towns. they are all much of a muchness but if you want to mooch, eat fish and chips (and a cream tea! definitely get a cream tea), you can’t go wrong with any of them
Padstow: very touristy posh fishing village, nicknamed Padstein because Rick Stein has over-colonised it a bit with restaurants and crap gift shops
“I didn’t want to have a “Guitar Center experience” in which I had to pretend to know shit about gear and presets and microphones or whatever. I didn’t want to waste time being scared into saying stuff like “oh ya, that X&892 is sounding real WARM.” With Craig I was able to say stuff like “can you bring up the diva in my headphones?” or “So I should play the note that’s so moody it makes me feel like I’m PMS-ing every phrase in the bridge, or every other one?” and we would just go with it.”—what did i tell ya
“For me, I think the record just kind of encompasses my experiences through the year 2011-2012 living in Philadelphia. Part of that was being a small town kid from the west coast (Eugene, OR), moving from my college in the suburbs into a city where people were constantly telling me these horror stories of women getting raped, and feeling really terrified and trapped by that. My aunt, who was basically like a second mother to me, died of colon cancer on Valentine’s Day of that year, which was probably the hugest influence on the record. It is sort of this really cruel joke because she died at the age of 49 without ever having been on a date. She was just kind of above it, I guess. She’d never been in love. At the time, I was very angry at the human body, I think. I think a lot of the lyrical imagery revolves around trying to express this sense of violent femininity. Like, why am I cursed with this body that releases fear in me every time I walk down the street? How did this physical growth take over such a good person?”—I sincerely recommend reading all the Little Big League interviews you can find
Jenn: I read on Rookie that “Snake Jaw” is about body dysmorphia.
Mish: It’s the most common—and vain—thing that women in the first world struggle with. And since we all know better than to struggle with pure vanity, we all hate ourselves for struggling with it. That’s my problem—I will get mad…
From the age of seven, I operated a very strict regimen when it came to fandom. The first step was saving any articles about my favourites and storing them in a cardboard flap folder until The Day. Once every couple of months, always on a Sunday, I’d sit down with the inky bounty and prepare to commit everything to my meticulously organised annals: images and articles would be precisely snipped out, glued onto the blank side of a piece of scrap paper, two sheets of which would be placed back to back in a plastic wallet, and entered into the correct lever-arch folder.
I once made the mistake of leaving the auxiliary folder at a friend’s house. We fell out that weekend. She told me she burned it, though even 16 years later, the image of a nine-year-old girl warming her hands and cackling as she stoked a small pyre of the Spice Girls’ quickly ashing faces seems inconceivable. She had rich parents. She was probably allowed to have bonfires whenever she wanted.
The next level couldn’t be contained by lever-arch folders. My parents mounted two large pinboards on my wall so that I could put up pictures without gumming up the paint with Blutack. Unfortunately, my desire to look at 300 photos of Avril Lavigne, tAtU and Alex Parks at all times – from poster-size to barely visible thumbnails – overrode any concern I might have had about being told off for spotting the walls with grease.
Around a year and a half later, it was time for another change. I carefully peeled off the pictures, preserved the Blutack for reuse and put my old self in the recycling bin. I spent an afternoon meticulously redecorating every surface, reinventing from the small pile of NMEs, copies of Vice, FACT and The Fly that I had amassed and some free posters I was given by the local record shop: The Libertines, Kings Of Leon, Razorlight. I redid the coverings on my school folder and textbooks. After several hours, I called my mum in to show off my handiwork. “Great,” she said bluntly. “From lesbians to drug addicts.” The Libertines poster I’d stuck in my window, facing out onto the street, was removed on pain of grounding.
At the end of this month, it’s 10 years since Razorlight released their debut album, Up All Night. I first discovered them back in the pinboard era, when Daniel Radcliffe (pictured with a bowlcut and a broomstick) said he loved them in an NME interview. I think my logic for seeking them out went something like, “if that Harry Potter guy knows who they are, I should too.”
On Wednesday I went to Camden’s Electric Ballroom to see them – or Johnny Borrell and three hired hands – play the album in full. It’s a record I hadn’t listened to in eight or nine years, so I couldn’t remember a lot of the words, but the lyric I was listening out for was conspicuous in its absence. In “Vice”, the third song of the record, Borrell gives out his phone number and sings, “call that number and I’ll call you right back”. I hadn’t forgotten the phone number: “0h-seven-seven six-one-oh one-oh two three-threeeee”. Maybe the sound was muddy or the line was obscured by his new woodsman’s beard, but he seemed to skim over it at the gig.
After a lot of haggling and establishing of terms, I was allowed to get a mobile phone when I was 15. I used some of my hard-earned credit (I worked weekends in a café cleaning toilets and picking baked beans out of the sink) to call the number and leave a no doubt very breathless message asking when Razorlight would play in Cornwall. Then we went on a family holiday, and the phone had to stay at home. It was the first thing I thought of when we got back; I remember taking it out of my little rainbow-striped bag and calling voicemail. There was a message from Borrell, sounding potentially wasted or maybe just sleepy, promising they’d definitely come and that it’d be cool, man. I played it every day until it expired.
I had forgotten this until I read it again today, but back in 2004 Borrell was pictured on the cover of NME with the phone number from “Vice” scribbled across his chest. A colleague of mine interviewed him a couple of weeks ago and brought this up. After initially claiming that he had never called anyone back, he apparently went on to suggest that it was an early example of social media. Stripping away the unimpeachable Borrellness of that statement, there’s something there: it was certainly the first time that there was any sense of immediate gratification to my fandom.
(It’s interesting to listen to Up All Night with that in mind, too – it’s full of mobile phones. Beyond “Vice”, there’s “Leave Me Alone”, where Borrell can’t get any rest for some girl calling him off the hook. On “Golden Touch”, he’s the one desperately leaving “a thousand” unreturned messages for an in-demand scenester. A message on his phone is “blowing [his] mind” on “Get It And Go”, and “In The City paints a scene of boys figuring out the best way to get high while the girls are desperately “trying to get reception” in search of a different kind of instant high. Up All Night could be one of the first records about how we’re always connected, for better or worse, in the 21st century. Whether it was conceived this way or not, the people in these songs are up all night because they never let each other go to bed; a night never has to die when you can continually communicate to plot your next destination and pester someone until they pick up.)
Razorlight did come to Cornwall: they were the not-so-secret guests at the 2004 Surfers Against Sewage ball, an annual charity party on the cliffs in St Agnes. I lied about my age to get in and got to the front of the stage. Borrell held my hand and sang “Don’t Go Back To Dalston” to me, a song I found particularly moving despite knowing nothing about Dalston and thinking “up the junction” was a euphemism for getting pregnant. It was the most romantic moment of my life to date, and I got a bottle of his half-drunk water as a trophy for my shelf of snapped drumsticks, crumpled setlists, dirty towels and other stage junk.
The following year, they supported the Manic Street Preachers on tour. My parents drove my friend Katy and I to Plymouth to see them. After Razorlight were done, we watched two Manics songs, called my parents to say we were bored and happy to go home now, if they were ready. Later that summer, Katy and I saw them at the Boardmasters festival in Newquay. At this point I had a summer-long work placement with the BBC and had secured an interview with Borrell. I turned up and heard he didn’t want to be interviewed by a kid (I remember it as “some fucking kid”, though that may have been an embellishment of memory), and got drummer Andy Burrows instead, who was very nice. I went home and poured Borrell’s bottle of water in the toilet, a ceremonial purging.
Nobody is really commemorating the 10th anniversary of Up All Night, and there’s probably not a great case for it as a classic of the canon. But Wednesday’s gig reminded me of how strong some of those songs are, and how they must have lubricated my listening brain to receive Blondie, Patti Smith (“In The City” is just “Gloria” with different, worse words, the audacity!) and Television with ease when I discovered them later on. Borrell played it pretty straight– not topless, preening or self-aggrandising, a small, pleased smile occasionally peeking through his facial thatch. Without projecting too much, it seems like he’s made peace with himself, even while journalists still do their utmost to prime the best-value mouth in music for pull-quotes.
There is a case to be made for him as one of the last entertaining figures in British indie, even if he was essentially a cleaner Pete Doherty that teenage girls could take home to mammy. That early quote about Dylan, chips and champagne is pretty excellent, though perhaps the attendant outrage (a rock star with an ego?) is one of the reasons that a lot of young British indie bands have become so mealy mouthed and keen to avoid causing offence. But saying that, Razorlight are a band I think of a lot when I’m at work, doing a job that they and the rest of the class of ’03 – ’04 made me want to do. When faced with a slightly daft but essentially harmless band of boys playing derivative songs, my first impulse is to roll my eyes. Then I remember that they’re all someone’s Razorlight, a gateway drug to other things - or even the be-all-and-end-all of their relationship with music - and try and suspend my cynicism.
To have that sense of one’s intrinsic worth which constitutes self-respect is potentially to have everything: the ability to discriminate, to love and to remain indifferent. To lack it is to be locked within oneself, paradoxically incapable of either love or indifference. If we do not respect ourselves, we are on the one hand forced to despise those who have so few resources as to consort with us, so little perception as to remain blind to our fatal weaknesses. On the other, we are peculiarly in thrall to everyone we see, curiously determined to live out — since our self-image is untenable — their false notion of us. We flatter ourselves by thinking this compulsion to please others an attractive trait: a gist for imaginative empathy, evidence of our willingness to give. Of course I will play Francesca to your Paolo, Helen Keller to anyone’s Annie Sullivan; no expectation is too misplaced, no role too ludicrous. At the mercy of those we cannot but hold in contempt, we play roles doomed to failure before they are begun, each defeat generating fresh despair at the urgency of divining and meting the next demand made upon us.
It is the phenomenon sometimes called ‘alienation from self.’ In its advanced stages, we no longer answer the telephone, because someone might want something; that we could say no without drowning in self-reproach is an idea alien to this game. Every encounter demands too much, tears the nerves, drains the will, and the specter of something as small as an unanswered letter arouses such disproportionate guilt that answering it becomes out of the question. To assign unanswered letters their proper weight, to free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves — there lies the great, the singular power of self-respect. Without it, one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home.
”—Probably written this out in at least three different notebooks, but I still forget it all the time.
So I’m only now hearing about this book Twee, written by Marc Spitz. In addition to Zooey Deschanel (eh, okay?), Portlandia (what?), Disney (???????), Spitz lists Rookie as a point of reference for the apparent rise of Twee. His definition of “Twees” (ugh) BTW, is:
“It breaks my heart that men are still so quick to reinforce the male dominance of the music industry and lambast any dissenting voice. I have spent almost all of my time in bands unsure of whether this was ‘the place’ for me, and when incidents like this happen all I can think of is how many other young women and girls will be discouraged by what they see. I will not have my own and so so many other women’s experiences invalidated, reduced and washed away by men who are all too comfortable with the kyriarchy. I want every girl reading this to know that you are so much bigger than what you are told to be. Nobody is allowed to make you feel small and nobody is allowed to invalidate you or your experiences.”—Alanna McArdle, Joanna Gruesome
Dear reader, I could really do with a hand. Bad Machinery book 2 needs a little promotional push, and the best way you can help out - at no cost to yourself - is with a review on your local Amazon site, or Goodreads. If you’re reading this, you’ve almost certainly read The Case Of The Good Boy…