Ingratitude! thou marble-hearted fiend...

“Ingratitude is treason to mankind.” James Thomson

Saturday 27 February 2010

This is an experiment.

Everyone has a blog, right? And there are all those guides to increasing your traffic and 10 easy ways to promote your blog, etc. but, while I find it thrilling that actual total strangers somehow find there way here, I haven't actually told anyone that this blog exists.

(Of course, I have made reference to porn and drinking your own urine, which seems to bring the punters in, so that's nice. You should always have a safety net.)

There are various reasons why I decided to keep the blog largely under my hat. I think I have had some trouble being myself in my everyday life, so I am experimenting with it here. Why try to mix the two? As with all sciency things, it's important to have a control.

And also, in everyday life, it drives me fucking stark-staring bonkers when people don't listen. Here, everyone else can get fucked. I always get to finish my sentences. No one interrupts me or tries to guess what I'm going to say next or shoehorns in their own agenda.

And finally, my mother probably wouldn't like the swearing.

Friday 26 February 2010

New York

If you spent any time in New York City in the 80s or 90s, visit this New York Times slideshow and be transported.

As a suburban teenager, I found New York - Manhattan - irresistibly attractive and $10 was enough for a frugal undertaking. I remember the smell, like wet concrete and tar and and cigarettes and sun and garbage. I remember the feeling that all of life and death and unimaginable things vile and transcendent were stacked up in the honeycombs of apartment buildings that rose up and away, and the odd signs of domestic life in the urbanness of it all - a curtain flicking out against a dirty brick wall, the back of a picture frame on a windowsill. There was a cellar with smoke and poetry and I wanted to be more interested but the idea of it was better than it was so I leaned my head on my knees and fell asleep. Later outside on safari in the bright city darkness, soft voices echoed from broken windows in dark buildings and a rolled carpet under a broken streetlight could actually have a body inside. I was mugged in Thompkins Square and only twigged after the fact that most of the lights had been knocked out to that purpose. I kissed my first boyfriend for hours against the iron railings outside the 9th St PATH station. So much was new.

Just Kids

Oh dear, forgive my laziness (note to self: rebrand as 'spontaneity') but I was moved by the news that Patti Smith will be reading from her memoir Just Kids on Book of the Week starting Monday and just wanted to post these quick few links and not much else.

For years I had an enchanting and haunting photo - torn from some magazine or newspaper - of her and Robert Mapplethorpe stuck on my fridge with a magnet. I don't know why it ended up on the fridge. Framing it didn't seem right, and I found it so much at home there that I never considered moving it. It eventually showed many greasy signs of having lived in a kitchen and I moved house and it got stuck in a file somewhere, but I can recall every detail just thinking about it. Two skinny, beautiful child-genius artists in a sparkling moment on a dirty fire escape in a brutal city.

In this interview in New York Magazine, she burst into insecure tears of gratitude and relief upon hearing that the interviewer enjoyed her new book. And there, on the second page, that lovely photo.

I'm humbled by her genius and relentless authenticity and can't wait to read her book.

Wednesday 17 February 2010


Would you be shocked to hear that an IMF bailout could be on the cards for the UK?

Gosh, I thought, I've really missed something. I know about Greece and everything, but this is the first I've heard of IMF aid for the UK.

So who raised the alarm? Top economists? World leaders? Or, er, just David Cameron,"who's been amongst those saying that another IMF bailout can't be ruled out."

I'm used to the infotainment treatment (Economageddon! Bailoutocalypse!) applied to the news in the US, but the news here in the UK is normally a drier, more factual affair. In what way could this be called news? It was about an event that happened in 1976 and trotted out some wild speculation from the leader of the oppositon about a hypothetical event that "can't be ruled out" sometime in the future (unless the Conservatives are elected one presumes).

But just because I've decided that this item is empty and devoid of relevant fact doesn't mean that it doesn't mean anything. What's the subtext struggling to get out? After desultory Googling careful research, I assume it's not unrelated to today's item from Hudson Institute economist and Irwin Stelzer. Perhaps Cameron wants to use his suggestion about calling in the IMF to rubbish Labour but doesn't want to call attention to the fact that Stelzer has been critical of the Tories' own economic plan? Or maybe the Tories already have enough crazies on their plate?

I tried figuring out what Rupert Murdoch might have to do with it all and my head began to hurt.

What I found particularly distasteful was the exploitation of an interview with an intellectually sharp but frail-looking Dennis Healey who I'm guessing wasn't told he'd be used as a living metaphor for the fragile state of the Labour Party. We heard that the former chancellor was on his way to Downing Street because "the current chancellor was giving him lunch," which I took to mean that Alistair Darling would be tucking a napkin into Healey's collar and spoonfeeding him some puree of something. I'm pretty sure that most powerful people are invited to Number 11 for lunch, probably included in some important meeting or other, photo op and all, but being given your lunch sounds like either your mum or your carer is heating up some tinned spaghetti.

I have stopped reading the Sunday papers for similar reasons. They're full of fake scientific studies and scaremongering and infuriating crapA friend in New York told me he was recently watching the local news (Snowpocalypse! Blizzardtastophe!) and there was a teaser for an upcoming breaking news item about a school shooting. It turned out to be in Germany. Not that German shooting fatalities aren't newsworthy, but this was a local news programme, possibly watched by local people who have their kids in local schools. School shooting in Germany = god that's sad and tragic; school shooting in your neighbourhood = fuck panic tears craziness I hope my kid wasn't shot. 

Sigh. Ridiculous, manipulative, alarmist, disrespectful, irresponsible, lazy rubbish.

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Things I really should try not to do anymore.

Making and eating huge quantities of cookies. (Uh, well...too late to start this today. Maybe tomorrow.)

Spending so much time at home that the dogs become very clingy. The boy dog has taken recently to staging dirty protests when I go out.

Bricking myself up in my own little space.

Drinking so much strong tea that my heart races all day.

Adding saved eBay searches.

Buying things, especially anything chair- or footstool-shaped or meant to hang on a wall. There are no more walls left. There is no more floor.

Dwelling on shame and regret when I should be going to sleep. Also, lying in bed at night thinking about death.

Avoiding a haircut for six months at a time.

Expressing myself so baldly at the expense of kindness. This originated as a way to stop lying/misrepresenting myself, but I think now it's safe to take a less hard line on total honesty. (As if there was ever anything such as total honesty anyway.)

Making everything such hard work because I feel guilty.

Taking all the fun out of fun things.

Leaving the telly remote on the sofa where the dogs sleep at night. I awakened early to find the dogs watching HSN. This has happened before, many years ago when I came home to find the girl dog watching Wimbledon at full volume. And she knows how I feel about tennis.

On the other hand, I might make these tomorrow and they're making me pretty happy. Maybe things are turning around.

Thursday 11 February 2010

The one with all the cocks.

Lest it seem that I float ignorantly about in cultural amniotic fluid, yes, I have made a pathetic reference to Friends. (And I know I just wrote that, but stick with me because later there is a link to weird porn.) I am totally, freakishly addicted to Friends. It is comic Demerol to me - soothing, pleasing, comforting and moreish. I am a little embarrassed about this. I know it's not cool, not even in an ironic way, and I am slightly defensive about that. (Seamless ensemble comedy acting! Humorous and heady combination of neurosis and optimism! Bringing a uniquely light touch to subjects - alcoholism, masturbation, gay marriage, suicide - previously not considered comic fodder in mid-90s America!) Friends is my happy place.

And to save you the trouble, I know that Seinfeld did a lot of this stuff first, and very well, but the comedy there was in the solipsistic, neurotic fantasies of the characters and their existential isolation. Where Seinfeld seems to document an actual New York experience, Friends is the LA version of a New York experience. Am I overthinking it? Feel free to disagree; all I can think of right now is cookies, so this maybe isn't a very well thought out argument.

So apropos to nothing, have I mentioned that I'm tired? I mean, really freaking tired, like I could lie down at any given moment (including, disturbingly, while I was driving to Uxbridge yesterday) and sleeeeeeep the day away. Though, on a not unrelated note, I'm not sleeping brilliantly well, so perhaps I would just lie there and ponder the hundred or thousand or so things I should be doing instead of trying to sleep.

Therein lies the problem. I can't relax. This has never been a problem before. I could pursue Olympic-medal-level relaxing status based on my previous ability to let everything fall away. Or was it just that I was tamping it all down like a nice, thick emotional mulch, in which to plant the vigorous flowers of depression and anxiety? Okay, that's a metaphor too far. But still. One wonders. By which I mean, I wonder. So could it be that the stuff I used to tamp down now has to be filtered and filed and catalogued and dealt with daily, and this is costing me in relaxingness? Maybe?

So anyway, my most excellent way of emptying my headchamber is to noodle around online and find assorted weird and/or bad-for-you stuff. I think this site is probably both, for lots of reasons, and before you click that link, you should know it is way nsfw and then some (as in chock full of hapless amateur gay porn so don't say I didn't tell you, but it is super intriguing because behind the erections there are candid interiors which are the real stars of the show and hey, who wouldn't want to see this stuff? Oh, amateur pornographers! You make me feel a little sad, and quite soiled, but also you give me the gift of feeling like the sociologist I always wanted to be.

In all seriousness, I regret that this is a sarky piss-take site, because the photos are so deeply intriguing and disturbing, so mutely animal in their blind pursuit of some kind of sexual interaction, no matter how anonymous, sordid or devoid of basic personal contact. It is their boldness that renders them so vulnerable. The everyman vibe is so strong that I realised later, somewhere in the back of my mind I expected to see someone I knew. The commentary is sometimes amusing but ultimately kind of distracting. I would rather see a silent slideshow of these photos. They are enough. They inspire awe, and not of the awesome! high five! variety, but the openmouthed, speechless, thunderclap kind. Maybe you shouldn't look directly at them.

And Friends is only on three times a day, so I have to fill the hours somehow.