askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
Film

I don't think I ever found the time to write about going to Manchester to see No Manifesto: A film about Manic Street Preachers. It was a documentary that was largely recorded 9 years ago and has been stuck in post-production for several years for want of funding to get a cinematic release. This year it finally came together and in January and February this year it had a limited theatrical release. I was interviewed for the documentary in 2006 and suspected I'd made the final cut as I'd been in the theatrical trailer they'd released several months earlier. Sure enough, I appeared in the 'cast photos' the film makers put on Facebook and I can be spotted a couple of times - although if you blink/close your ears you miss me.



On a personal note, I adore No Manifesto. It's all the things I, as a contributor and fan, hoped it would be. It has a light touch, a wry look at the band and the fans that come with it.  I sat with [livejournal.com profile] snapdragon_666 and we laughed and giggled and cringed and had a thoroughly wonderful time watching it - and in our day together either side of it. 

No Manifesto has a wonderful line from Nicky Wire where he says "sometimes the fans hate us, and sometimes we hate them, and that's ok." And it really is.


TV

Yesterday I attended the Manics Cardiff Castle gig which I had been so excited about since it was announced in December.  Unexpectedly, it was broadcast on BBC 2 Wales and, for the non-Welsh, on BBC red button.  It's available for the next 29 days on iPlayer too.

Even more unexpectedly - as I resolved to queue for no more than a couple of hours and decided I'd be quite happy not to be on the barrier - I ended up on the barrier.  And, taking my place on Nicky [Wire]'s side of the stage as I always do, found myself in front of the crowd camera.  I sent my parents a text to let them know they might spot me on tv.  I didn't expect to find myself featured quite so heavily and got home to my hostel last night to a pile of twitter notifications from friends telling me they'd seen me (and our other mutual friends with whom I was standing) on the live feed.

I travelled home from Cardiff today, still feeling the afterglow of a thoroughly massive, energetic, energising gig, and as I was getting the photos off my camera, I watched the first half of the gig on iPlayer.  And yep, there I am! Singing, dancing and generally having the sort of time I only enjoy when I'm crushed against barrier and bodies, screaming at Nicky Wire, without another care in the world.




This was one of the times we didn't hate each other. It was one of the times we bloody loved one another.  Fans and band, running off one another's energy.

A Day Like This a Year

So yes, my last entry was rather melancholy.  But, predictably, that doesn't reflect all of life.

And it's moments like these - laughing until I cry at a documentary in a cinema in Manchester with what felt like a room-full of friends, singing and dancing and cheering amid a mass of 10,000 bodies at a castle in Wales - that really make life.  These are the moments that last.  These are the moments that see me through.  These are the moments - especially the moments yesterday and this morning with friends - that really matter.


askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
 

I got off the bus tonight, and glanced to my right and there, over the regency houses of Brunswick Square, was the sunset.  I didn't think twice, I headed down to the sea.

As I got down to the promenade, the silhouettes of other Brightonians stood against the pink-orange sky.  People making their way home, walking their dogs, watching - as I was - the sunset.

For them as well as me, I wager the scale of the sky and the sunset began to elicit the experience of the sublime.

 
Nature is sublime in those of its appearances whose intuition carries with it the idea of their infinity - Kant

I strolled to the very edge of the promenade and looked down on the beach.  The waves were gently rolling in to shore.  A couple sat huddled together on the pebbles, transfixed by the celestial display to the West.

I stood and let it wash over me.  The pink to purple to orange to yellow to red of the sky.  The flecks of glowing red flecked through the seemingly whipped cloud which lay softly over the sea.  The colours caught, reflected, intensified, moved by the calm sea.

I began to tremble inside.  The power, the scale, the half light, the flow of other people to the promenade to watch the sun set - people who both seemed to be beside me and a hundred miles away.  
 

The feeling of the sublime is pleasure that arises only indirectly: it is produced by the feeling of a momentary inhibition of the vital forces followed immediately by an outpouring of them that is all the stronger. - Kant

My mind took it all in and I suppose Kant would say my imagination made it into something more.  My imagination combined it with every sunset I'd ever seen, every time I'd ever stood and just stared, passively, out to sea, every time I had been moved all compounded and I was moved.  There, in the sky - in me - was the Sublime.
 
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
 I'm currently going through a Bowie phase so intense it is only rivalled by a three month period in 2005 in which I ate only beans on toast and ryvita and listened only to Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

I've been scavenging the net, and newly bought 'Starman: David Bowie - The Definitive Biography' for all the ins and outs I need.  I am a big believer in finding the music of an artist before you read up on the mythology and political wrangling that brought them to the fore because it can have such a dramatic impact on your relationship with the music.  This impact isn't always negative (just last year Nailed to History: The Story of the Manic Street Preachers prompted in me a new openness to the Manics commercially disastrous Know Your Enemy) but it can be and I think the immediacy of music in coming through your stereo in a closed room is something that should not be compromised by critical analysis in the first case.

I am struck by the similarity in the story of Bowie's rise to fame with the Manics upward trajectory; from letter writing campaigns, to form coming before substance as they both proclaimed themselves to be - not the next big thing - but the big thing.  I find it fascinating that whilst it takes time - both Bowie and the Manics taking several years from inception to record deal to mainstream recognition - pure, unwavering self belief, self aggrandizement and ruthless ambition is truly the best policy.

As far as my own relationship with Bowie and the Manics goes I think the similarities in their stories are striking; from modest backgrounds, determined to not just transcend those roots but to realise their individual love affairs with rock n roll in it's most idealised form.  Glam rock - 'high glam' as Bowie apparently termed it once, given it was primarily a conceptual statement - of this ilk is borne out of frustration and ambition, and as such is much more seductive than any other music genre I have encountered; perhaps the reason I am only obsessive over these two acts has more than a little to do with that.  Yes, in my youth I donned the uniform of baggy jeans and jumpers for Sterophonics, Coldplay, Travis, Mull Historical Society, Embrace, and Easyworld gigs, but the defining and enduring relationship has and always will be with the glam of the Manics and David Bowie.

Such preening, extroversion, and posturing are at odds with my own natural state.  At my core I am an introvert - and I'm ok with that - but somehow Bowie and, to a greater degree given their continued live presence, the Manics, provide a safe framework within which something in me cuts loose and I am free - eyes blackened with eyeliner, hair glossed and often dyed, short skirts, 'DIY aesthetic', pressed to the front of the stage calling out lyrics with all the simultaneous seriousness and irony required of a good Manics fan.  

Bowie's honest/dishonest declarations on his sexuality and wilful visual confrontation provided me with a much needed touchstone for queer identity when I was a teenager living in a world stripped of any alternative influences or role models.  That his purported bisexuality may have been nothing more than a calculated technique to court publicity is, to me, irrelevant - it provided me an image and a route into a world I inhabit now.

It struck me as ironic when I was watching a late night repeat of Radiohead at Glastonbury in 1997 and the crowd sang to 'Creep', that a song about isolation and alienation could unite so many people without any apparent hypocrisy for them.  That is the remarkable thing about music - it starts off purporting to be about alienation, outsiders and otherness and creates, as it gains momentum, an entire sub culture -membership of which depends on correctly enacting that same 'otherness'.  I do wonder at what point it stops being true - how many of those people repeating the lyrics of Creep like a mantra have any connection to the content? When does belonging obscure identification?

I think that, almost uniquely, glam does have an honesty in its performance because it is founded on artifice.  The whole intention is to create a new reality which stands both in parallel to, and above, the norm.  Followers of glam, recreating themselves to attend gigs, are aping their idols in every respect - stripping it off to go back to work on Monday is in keeping with the artifice.  Many people speak of coming to glam through one defining realisation after a single spectacle - for many with David Bowie I understand it was his 1972 performance of Starman on Top of the Pops that changed their relationship with fashion, sub culture and music.  When that is the case, when one moment draws you in, and you can dress yourself in that moment, I propose that you are recreating the moment of epiphany.  A genre which makes you see the world differently in one move can, therefore, offer you revelation every time you dress.  And you can dress a hundred times, a hundred different ways.

Bowie recognised that - that's why he was able to reinvent himself so many times and why the Manics duplicated so many of his statements (from replicating a certain image in You Love Us (Heavenly Version) from Bowie's Boys Keep Swinging amongst many, many other visual statements).  It's a vocabulary of outrage, confrontation, statement and, above all, freedom.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
Tomorrow, at 3:30, it is The Holidays.  School breaks up for an unfathomably luxurious 2 and a half weeks and I don't intend to go in for a single days work (my contract requires me to work two floating weeks during school holidays, I pick when). In preparation for this vast expanse of time I have been ordering books! Books!

Today the first one arrived (Ray Bradbury's The October Country) and I pressed my nose into its pages to inhale the heady scent of a book as old as me (this copy even being published in the same year as me!) and made my way to my book shelf.  Not with any clear design on what I was looking for I started thumbing through books at random. Flicking yellowed pages open and reading snatches of hundred of different stories which all have unique and specific connections to different times and places in my life.

I called to my Mum to read to her from The Wrestling Princess, a staple of my youth being a story about a girl like me - who didn't want to wear dresses or do what the other [girls] Princesses did.  In the end she marries a tiny little man who likes extreme sports, and she drives herself to her wedding in her forklift truck.  I call that 'the Masterplan'.

I caught myself, in the end, just caressing the books.  Running my hands along broken spines and dog eared corners.  Softened covers and torn dust covers.  The [first of the three volumes of The] Chronicles of Narnia lost its spine many years ago.  Frankenstein is held together with good will and possibly the amount of ink which adorns the margins and bottoms of pages. Roald Dahl's are pressed together in a space just a fraction too small for them, Shakespeare and the Romantics luxuriate on a bottom shelf - the higher ones being too prone to bending to hold such weighty tomes.  Lee Edelman sits contentiously against Tess Coslett's collaborative Women, Power and Resistance.

Eventually I tore myself away - although not unburdened - carrying an armful of books to deposit on the bedroom floor I scuttled back across the landing.  Alas, the bedroom floor is already covered in books, zines and cds so the books are now joyfully strewn across the bed....I anticipate I will simply wriggle between them to sleep and awake coughing up bits of Hardy.

As much as I dread the inevitable destruction of society as we know it and living in a failed-utopia/dystopian nightmare I also can't wait for the day I wander into wasteland outside the government approved settlement to find the 'book people' and be asked "what have you to offer [Montag]?"


* Fahrenheit 451

askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
In Nottingham, there is a spectacular building. For reasons I can't fathom, I never knew it was there. [personal profile] harleyrose and I visited Nottingham last month and, as we sat eating curry in Wagamama, became transfixed (or at least I did, I can't speak for [personal profile] harleyrose ) by a building opposite us.

After some googling (and google street view-ing) I discovered the building is called the Newton Building and has recently been restored after multi million pound investment by it's owners, Nottingham Trent University. It is a grade II listed building, those of you who understand architecture speak can click on that link. The rest of you can look at this photo (google images 'Newton Building Nottingham' for more) to begin to appreciate (perhaps) why I had such a strong reaction to this building;

The architect who created the Newton Building did so in 1956, (which shocked me; it seemed like classic 1930s architecture to this dabbling afficinado) was Thomas Cecil Howitt. When I looked him up (on wikipedia, naturally) I discovered he was a Nottingham boy; which pleased me. I have an immutable belief that the very best (for a value of 'best' I doubt is widely shared) architecture comes from local people; there is something perfectly organic about glorious buildings being designed for a city by those the city itself has produced; a self sustaining, self creating metropolis.

More googling. And I discover that the majority of Thomas Cecil Howitt's buildings were designed and built in the 1930's. Was this stunning building out dated and unfashionable when it was built? I've found so little about him and his buildings as yet I simply don't know.

A look at some of his cinemas (a personal favourite of mine, T.C. Howitt is fast becoming one of my favourite architects!) suggest how committed he was to this distinctive, art deco style;
Odeon Cinema, Bristol - with some fabulous history including a murder!
Odeon Cinema, Bridgwater, Somerset - included in this recent(ish) article about lost cinemas.
Odeon Cinema, Western-super-Mare - Described in that link as 'arguably one of the finest buildings constructed for the Odeon cinema chain'

According to Wikipedia, he retired to a house he designed in Orston, which is all of 5 minutes away from my village so I might have to go for saunter.  Finally found something in my surroundings to appreciate that you can't get in Brighton.


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askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
a sky gone on fire

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