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My freelance writing can now be found at mikeatkinson.wordpress.com.
Recently: VV Brown, Alabama 3, Just Jack, Phantom Band, Frankmusik, Twilight Sad, Slaid Cleaves, Alesha Dixon, Bellowhead, The Unthanks, Dizzee Rascal.
On Thursday September 17th, I danced on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.
Click here to watch, and here to listen.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Strolling back from the pre-hunt gluhwein-and-sausages do, where I narrowly avoided being interviewed by BBC Radio Derby on my so-called "support for hunting", a subject upon which I have studiously avoided forming a coherent opinion (as I explained, I was just there for the wine and sausage, and anyway, I could have added - but didn't, becuase you only ever think of these things after the fact - this was a legally compliant drag hunt, and who but the most rabidly misanthropic self-styled Class Warrior could possibly object to a chuffing drag hunt?), a exceptionally large and bright rainbow started forming above the hill - closely followed by a fainter double, sadly invisible on this camphone shot.
Unusually for a rainbow, K and I could see where this one ended: on the lane towards the left of our cottage, and slightly uphill of it.
We decided against an undignified scramble for the pot of gold, which we left by the roadside for the poor and needy. Just call us the Brothers Bountiful.
Friday, December 08, 2006
I've been updating the sidebar this week.
Yes, I know that my sidebar is basically one great big pimpfest for the archives, and I know that you stopped looking at it months - if not years - ago, but I still adhere to the principle of keeping as much material as possible just one click away, rather than burying it away on never-visited sub-pages. The theory being that as newer readers scroll down the posts, something or other in the sidebar will catch their eyes, luring them into a bout of speculative clicking. (Judging by my stats, this would seem to happen reasonably often.)
Anyhow, I have added a new section which might be of interest, as it will lead you to EXCLUSIVE NEW SELF-PENNED CONTENT! (of an uncharacteristically "Web 2.0" nature for Little Old Luddite me, but it's the old-school "Spirit of 2002" aspect which hooked me in).
Let's see how long it takes for you to spot it. And once you have spotted it, do feel free to join in...
Thursday, December 07, 2006
ADMIN: An embarrassing oversight regarding e-mail.
I received an e-mail from my hosting company the other day, telling me that I had exceeded my 200mb space limit. To my surprise, 107mb of those 200mb were taken up by my mailbox.
Butbutbut, I didn't know I had a mailbox for this domain! I never asked for one! Nobody ever told me I had one!
After much ferreting around, I finally managed to open my mailbox via webmail. Jeepers! There were over 7,700 unread e-mails waiting for me, all addressed to something-or-other at troubled-diva.com!
What's more, on the very first page of results, there was an incredibly kind and thoughtful e-mail from a reader of this site from over two years ago, and - haha! - an invitation to Belle De Jour's book launch party, would you believe. Who else had I snubbed? What else had I missed? How many BOOK DEALS and MAGAZINE COLUMNS had I unwittingly thumbed my nose at? What GILDED EXISTENCE had my ignorance cost me?
Obviously, I couldn't delete any of these e-mails until I had read them. Every last one. Via a clunking webmail interface. With a strict limit of 25 e-mails per screen. Hey, that's only 308 screens to wade through. Piece of piss.
Two hours and endless spams later - and not having unearthed one other e-mail of any interest whatsoever - I gave up and hit Delete All.
So, if you have ever e-mailed me at troubled-diva.com and wondered why you never received a reply - my sincere apologies.
I have now tweaked my settings such that all future e-mails to the domain will be automatically bounced - and I have moved my real e-mail address up to the top of the sidebar.
(That's the one with the absolutely top-notch, super-duper, ultra-efficient webmail service - honestly, it's brilliant, I haven't touched Outlook in yonks - and the kick-ass spam filter to match. BT/Yahoo, I kiss you.)
Oh dear. They don't teach you this sort of thing at Blog School, do they?
Open Mike #6 - Question 10.
...and, yes, I think that the rattle must have rolled underneath the sofa. No, that's fine, I can reach it from here...
Good. Now that the pram has been fully re-furnished with Items of Play, we can bring this popular little series to its conclusion.
Lucie enquired after my holiday reading. Well, since we were only away for five nights, I only completed the one novel - but that in itself is a rare achievement these days. Tell you what: let me list all the books which I have read (and, crucially, completed) this year.
1. Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris.
Lent to me by J, my flatmate in Hangzhou. Loved it. Hysterical. Howled my head off.
2. Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim - David Sedaris.
Bought and consumed immediately upon completion of #1 above. Lunchtimes in the sandwich shops of Canary Wharf wouldn't have been half so much fun without it.
3. A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian - Marina Lewycka.
Nice retro-style cover art, which meant that it kept catching my eye in the tube. (In the early part of the year, it seemed as if all the nice, I-could-imagine-being-your-friend people on the tube were reading this book at the same time. You know, like Captain Corelli before the film, and that Donna Tartt book from the early 1990s.) Terrific stuff. Finished it on our not-a-honeymoon in the Maldives, and then embarked upon:
4. Johnny Come Home - Jake Arnott.
An early 1970s period piece, with references to gay London life and the commercial end of glam rock - but it was also clear that the author was fractionally too young to have had any of the experiences from himself, so everything felt a fraction too stylised and at one remove. Readable, but ultimately slight and forgettable. Also, the biographical details of the fictional glam rock star were based far too closely upon Gary Glitter (with a dash of Alvin Stardust), which betrayed a slight lack of imagination.
5. Girl With A One Track Mind - Abby Lee.
But of course! Haven't we all! I've said it before and I'll say it again: like reading a travel guide to an exotic, far-off destination which you know you'll never visit. In a word: educational.
6. Nul Points - Tim Moore.
In which Tim Moore, a man with no particular prior interest in Eurovision, sets himself a mission: to track down and interview all of the artists who have scored "nul points" in the contest since Jahn Teigen brought it home for Norway in 1978. The results are a good deal more absorbing, illuminating - and sometimes profoundly disturbing - than he could have imagined, and it is interesting to see these darker undercurrents reveal themselves, subverting the originally intended light comedy, and wiping the smile off Moore's face. You don't have to be a Eurovision fan to enjoy this one - and as such, it stands head and shoulders above anything else which has ever been written about the contest.
7. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger.
And this was the one which I actually read on holiday in Marrakech. Not having genned up on it beforehand, I hadn't actually realised that it was about, er, a time traveller and his wife. Whoda thought it? Some very clever plotting towards the beginning (I frequently found myself gasping with wonder at the sheer boldness and complexity of it all) eventually gives way to a more conventional - and, to be honest, rather anti-climactic - love story. Fascinating throughout, but some of the later scenes felt as if they had been written on auto-pilot, and the book could have done with more concentration and concision. It felt as if the author had rather knocked herself out in the first half, and couldn't sustain the required momentum for an equally dazzling second half. But I'm niggling. It was good.
Seven books in one year? Actually, that's not bad going for me these days. I know, shocking...
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Let's play Guess How Many Comments (Excluding Spam) Mike Has Received Today!
It is now 8.45 in the evening.
So go on, hazard a guess.
Bearing in mind that I have made no fewer than SEVEN new posts to this blog today.
Shall I tell you, then?
Shall I tell you how many BASTARD comments I've received since midnight last night, brackets excluding spam brackets?
ONE. That's how many. Bastard ONE bastard comment.
(Thank you, Alan. You're a gent.)
Am I doing something WRONG?
Have you all had a meeting behind my back? Are you all trying to teach me a lesson? Have I been sent to... wait for it... BLOGventry?
Blogland can be a bleak and lonely place at times like this.
And I can pout for England, I'll have you know.
You don't DESERVE me.
Open Mike #6 - Question 9.
Of course, when you pledge to answer any question that your readers might throw at you, there is always a danger that some nutter (in this case, basil) will ask you something like this:
so did jimmy saville ever say jingly jangly er uh er uh er uh er uh?
I despair, I really do.
(Incidentally, there's only one "l" in "Savile" actually actually I think you'll find. It's a common enough error. So don't go beating yourself up about it, basil.)
To answer your question: I should have thought it fairly unlikely. Although the catchphrase "Er uh er uh er uh er uh" was often heard to pass his lips, I have no recollection of Savile ever using the phrase "jingly jangly" - which was merely an onomatopoeic description, applied by others, of the legendary disc jockey's ur-bling taste in jewellery.
More interestingly, did you know that Savile has been credited as the first person ever to play records in public using two turntables and a microphone, back in the 1940s? (I gathered this fact from reading one of the best books ever written about popular music: Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton.)
(Slightly less interestingly, K and I used to know someone who appeared on Jim'll Fix It in the mid-1980s. Her particular dream-come-true? To sing backing vocals with Paul Young. As dreams-come-true go, it does rather smack of the cut-price. Maybe that's why they had her on the show.)
Open Mike #6 - Question 8.
Cliff asks: Name your 5 cities INCLUDING songs to go with them.
Working on the assumption that Cliff was looking for a list of my five favourite cities...
Waterloo Sunset - The Kinks.
Need you ask why? Gets me every - and I mean every - time.
Barcelona - D.Kay & Epsilon featuring Stamina MC.
Because it was a hit while I was working there, and it reminds me of some good nights out in the old town. My boss at the time liked this, and he was a nice guy, so it all ties together.
3. New York.
Peace (In The Valley) - Sabrina Johnston.
The Saint at Large Halloween Party at the Roseland Ballroom, October 1991. It was my first ever big night out in New York City, and I had accidentally stumbled across one of the major events of the gay social calendar. Sabrina Johnston sang this on stage at around 3am. One of those sometimes-life-is-just-like-the-movies moments.
Amsterdam - Peter Bjorn & John.
I'm looking forward to a few more visits in 2007, as my good friend Alan @ Reluctant Nomad will be working over there for 12 months, starting in January. I'm going to miss him horribly, of course - but at least there will be compensations along the way.
Once In A Lifetime - Ines.
Fond memories of the Best! Eurovision! Disco! Ever! at the Tip Top club, Spring 2000, the year that "Fly On The Wings Of Love" won. Ee, the tales I could tell about that weekend...
Runners-up: Hanoi, Paris, Berlin, San Francisco, Boston, Marrakech, Riga, Shanghai, Lisbon, Istanbul.
Open Mike #6 - Question 7.
patita asks: Any interest in ressurecting postoftheweek.com?
Now, that takes me back. Remember the lively discussion we all had about this in February? Volunteer judges made themselves known, a working party was set up, a site design was implemented... and then... in early May, it all ran out of steam. Mainly because, for my part, Real Life got in the way, big time.
However, now that Real Life is basically back on an even keel, it would be good to pick up where we left off, and to get the site properly launched. To this end, I have just put out a call to re-convene the working party. If all goes well, then I'll be re-recruiting volunteer judges in the near future - and I'll be contacting last February's volunteers, to see if they're still keen.
It could be a whole heap of fun - it could be a disasterous flop - but unless we give it a bash, we'll never know, will we?
Open Mike #6 - Question 6.
Kate asks: Have you read Birdsong?
No, Kate. No, I haven't. But it's worse than that.
Many Christmasses ago, I bought the debut novel by Sebastian Faulks - The Girl at the Lion D'Or, newly published in hardback - as a present for my mother. She loved it, and duly complimented me on my selection. We don't share many cultural interests, and so she must have been delighted that, for once, we had been able to forge a connection.
The only trouble was: I hadn't read the book, nor indeed anything else by Sebastian Faulks, other than his weekly columns for the Independent On Sunday. It merely had been inspired guesswork on my part. The cover blurb looked promising, the artwork was nice, and I couldn't readily find any sex or swearing in it. It had said "quality middlebrow read" to me, and so I had taken my chances.
Unable to bluff my way through the literary discussion that my mother seemed intent on initiating, I gently fessed up. No problem. She seemed fine about it.
A few years later, as part of my birthday present, my mother gave me a paperback copy of Faulks's third novel, Birdsong. She had read it, loved it, and was keen to share her reading pleasure with me. As I appreciatively scanned the back cover, she offered up a brief introduction to the book, and expressed the hope that I would enjoy it as much as she did.
I got about thirty pages in, before giving up. Not because of any deficiencies in the writing, but simply because I am a lazy reader with a tiny concentration span, and had put the book aside for slightly too long. In other words, the moment had passed. It happens quite often.
The next time we met, a few months later, my mother brightly asked me how I had got on with the novel.
Shit. I had completely forgotten, and was totally unprepared. I mumbled something about not having finished it, and quickly changed the subject.
She concealed her disappointment well.
I still wince when I think about it.
Open Mike #6 - Question 5.
z asks: Mike, honey, what makes you so Good? Not in the saintly sense of course.
Plenty of fresh food in my diet, the love of my man, nice socks, a sunny disposition and an enquiring mind.
A ready smile, a cute bum, a focus on the other person's needs, and a great snogging technique.
Guilt, shame (or the lack of it), displacement activity, a neurotic fear of criticism, a competitive, heirarchical mindset and an ego the size of Leeds.
Peter Pan Syndrome, Olympic levels of denial, Molton Brown moisturiser and a resolute belief in Nirvana through Shallowness.
Let me take you by the hand, and lead you to my previous answer.
I'm warming up now, amn't I?
Open Mike #6 - Question 4.
An Unreliable Witness asks:
Since getting out of medical chokey, I am completely and utterly and dreadfully uninspired by blogging. If I had something better to do with my time, I would do that. But I don't. So help me, O Diva of the Troubled! What's inspiring you in the world of blogging (I refuse to say blogosphere, or I may vomit copiously) these days? What should I be reading? What can I simply not miss?
Alas, alas, this is one of the perils of being Ancien Regime; for the days when I used to be able to spot Hot New Blogs before they Made It Big are long gone. These days, I'm more like the clapped-out old rock star who says things like "I'm getting into this great new band called the Kaiser Chiefs, have you heard of them?"
Consequently, all of my newest reads are the same ones that everyone else has been getting into: that chap who takes photographs of a bathmat, that unemployed lady who posts pictures of simian life-forms, that bloke who gets pissed off a lot... all very Hive Mind, I'm afraid.
(But do any of these "inspire" me? No, that would be the wrong word. Many, many blogs have inspired me over the years - not least because I'm a right old imitative bastard at heart - but currently, the bar for UK personal weblog writing is being raised so high that I'm finding myself rather over-awed by it all.)
(I'll tell you what the above three new-ish blogs do make me feel, though. They make me feel nostalgic. Nostalgic for the days when I was still discovering, on a daily basis, just what I could do with this medium - fired up with energy and enthusiasm, on a roll, breaking rules, taking risks, posting like a madman, and building my audience. There's a particular phase which a lot of blogs go through, somewhere towards the end of their first year of existence or thereabouts, where it all comes together and you can feel the buzz in the air. It's a lovely phase, and I enjoy bearing witness to it.)
On the music front, I've been enjoying the weekly "In The Dock" feature on The Art Of Noise, which is currently deliberating over whether Birmingham has a musical legacy which is worth defending. It's particularly refreshing to read a group of people talking about music without ostentatiously parading their knowledge, and without seeking to score points off one another.
However, if I am to target my recommendations specifically at you, dear Witness, then - having briefly paused to check your links page (and I see that Bathmat Boy, Monkey Lady and Furious Fella are already present and correct) - might I direct your attention to The Overnight Editor? I suspect that this will be Your Sort Of Thing... and indeed, many other people's Sort Of Thing besides.
Open Mike #6 - Question 3.
Pam asks: What is the most embarrassing story you know about somebody else?
It has to be the one about the secret underwear fetishist who forgot to lock the bathroom door at his party. However, if you think I'm going to wantonly violate the Unwritten But Tacitly Accepted Bloggers' Code in order to peddle a few cheap laughs... well bless my soul, what do you take me for? Away with you, temptress!
(But really, over his head? In front of the mirror? Goodness, how outré.)
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Open Mike #6 - Question 2.
Milady de Winter asks:
Mike, as a gay man well versed in the modern world and this being World AIDS Day and all: what is your opinion on the archaic and, in my opinion, homophobic rule regarding gay men and giving blood? I've been on my soap box about this all day at work as the blood doners are coming round and I'm boycotting them.
Oh, lawks. This was supposed to be a bit of light-hearted fluff for a Friday - and now here I am, mentally knackered at the end of a rather trying Tuesday on the mainframe, and faced with the prospect of knocking out another extended essay on a Major Issue. You've got me confused with a Deep and Knowledgable Authority Figure Slash Spokesman For His Community, with carefully evaluated opinions on stuff that actually, you know, matters! Hay-ulp!
Although I have always rather shied away from making AIDS-related posts on December 1st (a.k.a. World AIDS Day), this doesn't mean to say that the day ever passes unremembered. Far from it. However - and perhaps this is surprising for someone of my generation, who came of Gay Age in 1982 - my direct personal experiences with the full-blown illness have been few and far between - and for the most part, they have occurred at one remove. I have never lost a friend to AIDS, and I have never been to the funeral of someone with AIDS. There have just been the occasional slight acquaintances, and friends of friends - and, OK, there was that one guy I slept with after a New Year's Eve party in the early 1990s, but we only ever met the once, and... you know how it goes, right?
Naturally, I have known (and indeed had sex with) a few HIV+ people over the years - and obviously many more whose positive status has never been made known to me - but (and how can I best put this?) their status has only ever hovered in the background between us: as an abstract piece of information, rather than as a tangible reality which has ever required a more direct personal engagement.
I have always, always practised safer sex, and have never been tempted to lapse. Not that this has been too difficult, given my historic lack of enthusiasm - in either role - for that particular act which is so often held to be virtually synonymous with gay male sexuality.
(In fact, that handy little phrase "Sorry, I don't have any condoms" has saved me from several potentially awkward situations over the years - and so, if anything, the global tragedy has worked very slightly in my favour. Talk about Survivor's Guilt.)
And so, as a mere remote observer, I have never quite liked to claim the disease for my own by dredging up some tangential reminiscences, seasoning them with a few well-meant homilies, offering them up on this site, and standing by for compliments in the comments box. It would feel a little stretched, a little forced - and even slightly exploitative. Such matters are best left to those with stories which are truly worth telling, and memories which should never be forgotten.
However, I do have a vivid memory of the screening interview which I attended about six years ago, at my previous place of employment, with the intention of donating my blood - and of the awkward surprise and embarrassment on the face of the rather ill-briefed young nurse, as she falteringly tried to explain why my blood could not be accepted. And yes, I remember feeling a sharp pang of wounded embarrassment of my own. After all, I prided myself on being clued up in such matters. So how could I not have known that all gay men - or indeed any men who had ever had even one same-sex experience, of any nature, no matter how long ago - were still being barred from donating blood, even though all donations were now being screened for possible infection?
Did I feel unfairly discriminated against? Hell, yeah. Any straight person who had ever had unprotected sex could donate, whereas Lil' Ol' Goody Two-Shoes Me couldn't. Where was the fairness in that?
Was it - indeed, is it still - evidence of institutionalised homophobia? In the light of all the recent legislative changes in this country, it is a viewpoint which has progressively become more and more untenable. Not so much homophobic, as hyper-cautious - maybe excessively cautious.
But is this caution truly excessive? Reading the explanatory document "Why we ask gay men not to give blood", as produced by the UK Blood Transfusion Service, I cannot help but feel that their case is, by and large, a sound one. Yes, all donated blood is screened - but this is not a perfect process, and infected blood can still slip through the net. It's a tiny risk, but a real one - and so, arguably, any measures which can significantly reduce that risk should be followed, regardless of the feelings of unjustified exclusion which they might cause. After all, what's more important here: sparing hurt feelings, or saving lives?
Of course, I could always choose to treat this exclusion as evidence of my continued status as a member of an Oppressed Minority - but in this case, I have actively chosen not to do this. In my experience - and counter-assimilationists amongst My People may commence hissing here - the less that we gay men consider ourselves to be marginalised victims, and the more that our social interactions spring from the assumption that we are already fully integrated and equal members of society, then the less that straight society will marginalise and victimise us.
I might be missing some important facts here, and my lurking inner Peter Tatchell would actually quite like to be proved wrong - so, if you know of any compelling counter-arguments which I might have missed, then (ahum) please deposit them in my box. (Now, that's an invitation you won't ever hear me issue lightly.)
Monday, December 04, 2006
Open Mike #6 - Question 1.
Dearie dearie me, I really do seem to be losing the power of written expression altogether. Evidence: I spent over an hour and half yesterday evening, penning a mere 120 word blurb on one of my favourite singles of the year, for the forthcoming "Best Singles of 2006" round-up on Stylus. And that's not counting the time I spent doing the research, either.
So, yeah: the plan was to answer all ten of your questions over the weekend in a fairly quick-and-dirty, rapid-fire manner - but the aforementioned Failing Powers got in the way of doing this. This wasn't helped by the gargantuan nature of Question Number One, either - in which jo asked:
Has the proliferation of alternative sources for finding and hearing new music such as music blogs, YouTube, Myspace, etc., helped or hindered the populace in the quest to find new music?
Do you think these alternative sources are allowing smaller acts who might not have caught the attention of music scouts or writers previously to promote without the backing of giant label conglomerates - and if so, do you think this has led to a dearth or a surplus of quality music?
Is it simply nostalgia for previous decades that causes us to feel that music from *then* was, in general, better than whatever is *current* - or is it that we simply manage to blot out all the crap that was around *then*, and create a rosy post-image?
Blimey, jo! And, er, Naughty jo! Not only did I say "one question per person only", but I even said it in bold type, so that no-one could miss it!
OK, so let's try and answer this one without turning in a 5000 word dissertation on The General State Of Popular Music In 2006. Yeah, fat chance. Brevity has never been my forte.
I'm not sure that I can speak for the general populace, but YouTube and Myspace in particular have certainly made it easier than ever before for people like me to access new music with a minimum of effort. For instance: the last time that I posted a list of my favourite tunes, I was able to add helpful illustrative YouTube and/or Myspace links for all of them - and in 11 cases out of 20, I was able to supply both. This wouldn't have happened 12 months ago, and I most certainly welcome it.
These days, I regularly use both sites in order to decide which gigs and albums I should review, or whether it's worth turning up early to catch the support act. If I read of a new song or act on a website, or a message board, or in the print media, I can be listening to that song in seconds - and because the content is being streamed rather than downloaded to my hard drive, nobody seems to mind. This makes for a more reliable - and more ethically defensible - alternative to peer-to-peer file-sharing sites, which I only access in cases of dire need. (Compare and contrast with the trigger-happy days of Napster and Audiogalaxy.)
All of this has to be set against my declining interest in old media - both print and broadcast - as reliable sources of information. Radio One is a hyper-active, unlistenable racket; I'm still (just) too hip for Radio Two; and as I don't own a digital radio and can't stream live audio at work, 6 Music has yet to become a regular listen - even though it is clearly the station which most closely matches my needs. In fact - and in a highly unexpected reversal of roles - it's now K who relies on the radio for most of his new CD purchases, as he is a long-standing fan of Radio 3's Late Junction, and he frequently uses the "Listen Again" service in tandem with the archived playlists on the show's website.
Meanwhile, Top of the Pops and CD:UK have vanished, Popworld is as nothing without Simon Amstell at the helm, and I can never get it together to set the Sky box for all those late-late-night Channel 4 music shows. Which just leaves Jools Holland's Later, which will occasionally - very occasionally - throw something new in my direction.
As for the music press: Uncut and the NME are shadows of their former selves, Q and Mixmag are comics for people who don't really like music, Mojo is overly heavy on the retro, The Wire is impenetrably "difficult" for a shallow soul like me, Straight No Chaser is indiscriminately nice about everybody and everything, which makes it an untrustworthy guide... which leaves Plan B (excellent in its way, but mostly far too indie for my personal tastes), The Word (trendy vicar stuff for the most part, but I have long since learnt to live with my inner Mark Ellen), The Guardian on a Friday (but please don't get me started on the questionable merits of Alexis "Man at C&A" Petridis) and the Observer Music Magazine once a month (probably my favourite read of the lot, despite having its own fair share of horrors: that "Record Doctor" of theirs should be struck off the register forthwith, for instance). Oh, and there's always fRoots and Songlines - both excellent in their way, but somehow they have never become essential purchases.
All of this means that, thanks to the likes of the ILM message board, webzines like Stylus and MP3 blogs like the ever-reliable Fluxblog, the web is now by far and away my main source of information regarding new music - and I should imagine that applies to many thousands of others. Do I think that's a healthy, democratising, liberating shift of emphasis, which enables people to make a freer set of personal choices? Absolutely. Much as I regret the passing of the Top 40 as a mass-consensus barometer of popular taste, I'd rather have things this way round. Maybe that's partly why my tolerance for music radio has diminished; why should I endure five consecutive crap songs in order to discover one good song, when I could be assembling my own playlists instead?
Has all of this helped smaller acts to flourish? Absolutely. I cannot recall a time when live music in this country was in such a healthy state - or maybe it's just a local upswing, and I'm just lucky enough to have access to six excellent venues, catering for all sizes of audience, and all within 15 minutes walk from my front door.
Has this led to a dearth or a surplus of quality music? A moot point. It has been a particularly rubbish year for the singles and album charts, with the intelligent and innovative new pop and R&B of the first half of the decade increasingly giving way to identikit faux-rebellious "corporate indie" bands, dreary singer-songwriters, and a iredeemably fossiled slurry of creatively bankrupt commercial dance tunes. So, in order to get to the good stuff, you really do have to make a bit of an effort - but once you do (and really, it's not that great an effort) - there's as much good stuff out there as ever.
As for jo's "are we just giving in to rose-tinted nostalgia, or was music really better in the old days" question: it's problematic, as...
a) The popular music of our formative years will generally cut deeper than anything we will ever experience in adult life, for reasons which shouldn't need spelling out.
b) Old music tends to feel more "significant" than new music, as it accumulates depth and weight over time.
c) I genuinely do believe that the singles charts were objectively at their best between 1964 and 1984, with "golden ages" from 1964 to 1966, and again from 1979 to 1982. But that's just the singles charts. Once you look beyond the commercially popular, the seemingly "good" years and "crap" years even themselves out to a much greater degree.
Extended ramble over, or else we'll be here all night.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Interview with K on American radio.
My partner K gave an interview yesterday on KDKA Newsradio ("The Voice of Pittsburgh"), which was broadcast on the station's weekly Animal General show. To listen to it, click the Play button in the "Hope for Dogs with Cancer" section on the show's home page. (Registration might be required, but it's a brief and painless process.)
This was K's debut on US radio, and we all think he has done rather well. More info on lymphoma screening for dogs can be found here.