I’ve launched a new regular email of original writing, for subscribers. It’s called The Border Crossing and it’s running via the Substack platform.
The Border Crossing is a regular email to explore the frayed, radical edges of globalised culture, technology and storytelling. Each edition has a short list of recommends, followed by a longer read, on whatever topic catches my attention. …
You can hear me and Rifa kvel about binge-watching Glastonbury on the BBC live streams, over on our Refigure podcast. During the podcast I mention I’d compiled a full score list, so here it is. I watched 27 full sets live (or on the same day), so here they are roughly in order of how much I enjoyed them:
9.5+ / 10
The Comet Is Coming
Sharon Van Etten
This Is The Kit
Sons Of Kemet
Copenhagen, Denmark. Noma’s former dessert superstar, the Chicago-raised Rosio Sanchez, who also previously did stints at the Fat Duck and with Spanish pastry master Paco Torreblanca, runs her Hija de Sanchez taco shops at two cool central sites, plus a proper restaurant just called Sanchez. This lives on a corner, in a formerly scuzzball (fast gentrifying) sex and heroin district. Wandering up to the restaurant has the same re-skinned art studio and cocktail bar vibe of the most hipster-fried bit of central Manchester.
Friday 15th February saw many thousands of children across Britain walk out of school to ‘strike’ and take part in protests about the climate crisis. It was a very heartening display of peaceful direct action. So it was frustrating that government and public figures (on the right of the political spectrum), rather than taking the opportunity to show support and encouragement of these energised young people, chose to criticise.
The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced, unhappily, that any adult in public life who criticises or mocks an action like the kids’ strike needs to be strongly, stridently challenged (and carefully watched in the future); it’s both a red flag of base ignorance about the nature of learning/education and a failure to comprehend good, civil activism. …
I have not yet tasted grief
So I reach the muddle years
Having never felt the sting
That spikes the stricken
Into brutal excavating
To weave vivid clothe from tears
Drop that work out in the world
collapse into themselves
And retreat into the thickening
Of molten metal
Poured into a hole. Still,
I have not yet tasted grief
So I wait. And I will.
Three years ago we had a go at the KonMari process of decluttering. Our friend Frit made a YouTube series following Marie Kondo’s method, so we joined in. Japanese superstar Kondo blends tips for tidying up your living space and storing possessions with a bit of quasi-spiritual ritual and self-help waffle. It was fun and we did get rid of a few bits. But our attempts were as half-arsed as they were — in truth — unneeded. Twice since I’ve searched up and down for a book, then remembered it went to the charity shop.
Now Kondo shows up on Netflix with a makeover show, Tidying Up, in which she helps real people (you know them, those daytime makeover type ‘real people’, yeah, them) to declutter their towering piles of useless shit that only Americans and wannabe Americans can accrue. There’s a binbag of chatter about this TV series and I’ve read several articles on it now — yet nobody I’ve seen seems to be mentioning just how pure weird it is; juxtaposing elements that should be nowhere near each-other on our telly screens. …
Best Of 2018
As usual, here are my arts and culture favourites of the year.
1. Bruce Springsteen — Springsteen On Broadway
2. Stick In The Wheel — Follow Them True
3. Kathryn Joseph — From When I Wake The Want Is
4. Idles — Joy As An Active Of Resistance
5. Jorja Smith — Lost & Found
6. Brockhampton — Iridescence
7. Lucy Dacus — Historian
8. Deerful — Tell Me I Can Fix This On My Own
9. Jon Hopkins — Singularity
10. Robyn — Honey
11. boygenius — boygenius EP
12. Furrow Collective — Fathoms
13. Sweet Billy Pilgrim — Wapentak
14. Half Man Half Biscuit — No One Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin’ Hedge Cut
15. Ímar — Avalanche
16. Nils Frahm — All Melody
17. Eliza Shaddad — Future
18. Jack Hayter —Abbey Wood
19. Mastersystem — Dance Music
20. Yo La Tengo — There’s A Riot Going On
21. Frank Turner — Be More Kind
22. John Bramwell — Leave Alone The Empty Spaces
23. Low — Double Negative
24. John Parish — Bird Dog Dante
I got a reminder letter from my surgery, telling me I ought to go see them about a check-up of my lungs — and politely telling me off for ignoring the previous letter. I haven’t gone yet but it has triggered a renewed attempt to sort out my health, by regularly walking up a steep hill near my house and quitting some of my worst food habits.
Halfway up the steep hill there’s an old fashioned independent bakery. So I feel an extra sense of achievement when I manage to not only make it a decent distance up the hill and home again but also pass by the warm baking smell (twice!) …
Here’s a fascinating, odd listicle from BBC Culture of ‘100 stories that shaped the world. Chosen by writers, it focuses solely on fiction and poetry — and the most recent inclusion (the only 21st century entry) is J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I don’t know if that’s a sign of the last 20 years being too fresh to unpack yet; or has darker implications about a collapse in importance today of conventionally published written work.
The limitation hobbles the list: that Tunisian Facebook post that launched the Arab Spring surely counts. Or Donald Tr*mp’s Twitter feed. …