Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Monica Canilao. On a completely unrelated venture I stumbled upon this sweetheart and she captured my heart. Her work reminds me of the days when I sat at my sewing machine stitching in to the wee hours, weaving colourful fabrics around wooden structures and throwing globules of paint in to the air – all for the sake of my carefully considered A-level art creations. Visually beautiful, her mixed media pieces are reminiscent of artists’ notebooks with bits and pieces all over the place, ideas and scribbles coming out of every nook and cranny and rainbows and feathers hiding around corners. Not only does she work on paper (her favourite), cardboard, glass, tatty fabrics, all manner of surfaces but she also creates installations which evoke scenes from Alice in Wonderland and old Westerns …only with a lot more wool dotted about the place. Her work reminds me of opening up a dressing-up chest. Playful. Tea-stained.
Monday, 30 March 2009
Despite having barely a centime to my name I have just ordered this.....
"You Are Free" is the 6th album from the American muscian Chan Marshall aka Cat Power. Released in 2003 on Matador records it is arguably one of her best works to date. While some like the smooth soulfullness of "The Greatest" with it's blues band instrumentals and Marshall's voice at it's smokey best or the clever innovativeness of "The Covers Records" reworkings it is "You Are Free" that I always find myself returning too.
From lowly LCF fashion student - to designer - to model – to eco princess; she is undoubtedly one of the most inspiring women of our time. Now staging the fight against unfair trade, she resides in her original homeland working tirelessly to sell the array of colourful woven materials made by her local village people within a fair global fashion market. She works under the slogan ‘Fashion for Development and Positive Bangladesh’.
Sunday, 29 March 2009
Deep in a São Paulo rainforest, Hermeto Pascoal and O Grupa create a dreamy, chirpy melody with nothing but water, a flute and some bottles. This pulpy albino is one of Brasil's most beloved musicians, and once composed a song every day for a year so that everyone would have one for their birthday.
The Eternal Children is a documentary by David Kleijwegt featuring sisters CocoRosie, Antony Hegarty, Devendra Banhart and Vashti Bunyan. It hops about on the thinking clogs of those belonging to the so-called ‘freak-folk’ movement as it explores the inner-workings of these equally weird and wonderful artists.
Highlight - a beautiful rendition of ‘Just another Diamond Day’ by Vashti Bunyan who sits and strums in a breezy field of corn.
Saturday, 28 March 2009
"I love all paint. Old paint, new paint, pretty paint... if I get a pretty colour I like to keep it for the flowers."
Just outside of Slab City, a dried-up and disused army camp in southern California (where a bunch of geriatric gypsies loyally flock every winter), is Salvation Mountain. Rising from the scorched and stark desert like some divine, technicolor mirage is Leonard Knight's eccentric folk-art monument to Jesus Christ. Knight, a sunny old born-again Christian, has dedicated the past twenty years to doddering up and down his Gaudi-esque mountain structure, building it up out of 'real juicy' adobe and decorating it with the paint that people donate to him. He is a classic lone dreamer intent on promoting his vision, yet is self-effacing and reluctant to call himself an artist. Possibly better than his mountain, however, is the truck at the foot of it which someone donated to him and he painted with flowers and birds and verses and converted into his house. Knight has recently had a boat donated to him and is currently working on a Noah's Ark scene.
Leonard and The Mountain - a short documentary (listen out for his little hobo blues song at the end).
Thursday, 26 March 2009
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
After many months harbouring an avid but all too distant curiosity for what lies up and down the Catalan coast, I recently went from half-hearted to full-hearted and put my best foot forward. Perhaps that much needed push in the right (or, just any) direction came from the gathering pace of flocks (of people) to the seashores, propelled along by the rising springtime temperatures.
It was either disorganisation, or a stab at small-scale adventure, but last Saturday I didn’t have any one destination in mind, only the names of lots of towns ending in ‘del mar’ swimming provocatively around in my mind. In the end, the train took me to Arenys Del`Mar. It was (as always) the journey that really got me. In spite of the cool indifference of fellow passengers, I was literally dazzled by the rolling strip of sea that filled the windows on the right side of the carriage, a sort of half sun-filled submarine effect. On the left side, sea-front towns paraded on past, brief rows of sun bleached colonial style buildings and fish restaurants.
The beach at Arenys Del Mar was enormous, and hazy from rising dust and falling sunlight, stretching far away from the harbour, which had an industrial 1950s feel to it. We sat on a white wall drinking cans of beer and emptying sand from our shoes, and then went and ate calamares and whitebait.
The following week, the compass pointed south, to a place called Garraf, which I get the impression is often overlooked in pursuit of Sitges. The path from the platform led directly down some steps and onto the beach, cutting straight to the point. It was a small cove of trapped sun, with rocky and englisb-looking cliffs clawing at the edges. From one end to the other was a toy-town avenue of beach huts complete with it’s own street sign. All green and white, but mismatched in width and height, verandas and balconies. In a solitary white square building at the end of the beach, with “HOTEL” painted on it in pink, we sat in red plastic Estrella Damm chairs with coke and crisps, and marvelled at the hearty March swimmers.
Sunday, 22 March 2009
Friday, 20 March 2009
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
I am not ashamed to say I love baking. I always have, when I was 3 I even had my own apron (a multi-coloured mickey mouse wipe-friendly number that doubled up as painters overalls too, I really wish it still fitted me). I honestly can't think of many more ways I'd rather spend an afternoon, or morning, or evening or night. The only thing that tops baking is eating your creations afterwards hot out the oven, well that and licking the bowl.
Sunday, 15 March 2009
Picture a cross between a young Brad Pitt and Jesus Christ, wearing lipstick and a crotchless frock, sat in a tree, swinging his legs and singing '30s show-tunes. Now drop acid and you will be close to visualizing Hibiscus, the etherial, messianic founder of notorious drag-and-drugs troupe The Cockettes.
At a time when the hippie San Francisco of the '60s was paving way for the gay San Francisco of the '70s, The Cockettes documentary captures the precise moment when hallucinogenics, gay liberation, hippie communism and transgressive art collided. The Cockette House was just one of the three hundred communes in the city during the late '60s, but whilst most other communes were working together to mutually sustain their utopian vision of life outside the economy, The Cockettes were living at the end of their chemically enhanced imaginations on ATD (Aid to the Totally Disabled) payouts and food stamps. Though most of their money (and time) was largely spent on acid and rummaging through third hand shops, they also used it productively to stage free 'theatre' for the hedonistic Haights-Ashbury community, even though most of them were tone deaf and/or couldn't dance.
Their 'Let's-Put-On-A-Show' attitude lead to freewheeling, improvised performances of LSD fueled fairy tales and '30s style musicals, which were an instant success - as tales of their rascality spread they attracted fans as illustrious as Diana Vreeland, John Lennon and Alan Ginsberg. Though nudity was definitely encouraged, their aesthetic was decadent, slightly spooky thrift-shop couture; a heady combination of satin, velvet or silk robes worn over layers upon layers of lace and chiffon dresses. During the documentary, one of the members explains that they expressed themselves and communicated through their clothes as "they were often so high they were non-verbal". Ribbons, flowers and tinsel were weaved into hair and sequins, beads and pearls were draped everywhere else. Huge elaborate headdresses were made out of cardboard; psychedelic, glitter make-up was applied more than generously and though eyebrows were shaved, beards were always left in tact. But drag wasn't just for the queens, The Cockettes were a motley bunch of both men and women, homosexual and heterosexual, and included a married couple and even an oblivious baby. To watch all of this moving wildly in profusion, can-canning to show-tunes and Mick Jagger, leaves me that deep lament that I have missed out on an enormous party.
There is a dissertation on gender in there somewhere but I shall save that for another day, for this is but a humble blog. I thought the review on the DVD box was being evasive with "Too Good For Words" but I see it is difficult to convey the energy and euphoria of The Cockettes, so here is a link to a one of to one of those montages that obsessive fans make for Youtube.
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
Sunday, 8 March 2009
Kazim may have to save the world from The Shaggs. Perhaps it's my instant endearment to any failed attempt at seriousness, perhaps it's my recurring support for an underdog but there is something about The Shaggs which I find oddly appealing (though I'm still not entirely sure it's their music). In terms of '60s girl groups, The Shaggs would be the autistic, tortured soul of a sister to The Shangri-Las. Whilst Mary Weiss was out smoking dope, smuggling guns and breaking hearts, Helen, Betty and Dot Wiggin were being home-schooled and performing in their local nursing home. Their grandmother, a fortune telling psychic, told their young father during a palm reading that his future daughters would play in a band. When several other of her predictions came true over the following years, their father withdrew the girls from school, assigned them roles and issued instruments before plunging his life savings into funding his mother's omen. The sisters had no musical aspirations whatsoever but practiced diligently under the reign of their manic father-cum-drill instructor (their regime including an hour of jumping jacks and leg lifts before bed). Their talent is undeniably rudimentary, their songs (about lost cats, Jesus and transistor radios) so offbeat in every sense of the word that they seem unaware of any standard musical or lyrical convention. In fact they were unaware, as Papi Shagg isolated his daughters from outside influences and demanded they practice constantly.
The result is so unusual it is difficult to fully capture in words - some say 'ground-breaking', most would say 'shit'. Yet despite the deadpan vocals, discordant, cheap sounding instruments and the way Helen drums on seemingly unconscious of the music going on around her, there is something unforgettable about their music. Giving them a hasty first listen would probably conjure up a vision of an inept/retarded trio, but upon knowing the family dynamics and background behind the band (the movie rights to which have been already been bought) is what, for me, turns their innocent, hopeful lyrics into something both charming and slightly sinister. Kurt Cobain, amongst others, later advocated The Shaggs as heroines of outsider music but they were clearly uninvolved and uninterested in attaining this label (they disbanded, rather tellingly, as soon as their father died in the '70s). I say listen out of morbid curiosity and consider it the intriguing fruits of borderline child abuse. Having said their music is difficult to aptly capture in words, I think the whole Shaggs saga can be summed up succinctly by Dot herself, who explains 'We did our best'...
Saturday, 7 March 2009
I think that covers all of our dialects, except for mine of course; Salaam Wa'alaikum.
I am a Muslim. I am Hedonic.
I believe all dj's should be hung, well hung. Hanif Kureisha once saved my education, and Zadie Smith my relationship with my father.
I notice that this introduction has taken the tone of 'our 5 favourite things'. I think this is a cliche.
I will contribute never-the-less.
1)Josie + Lucy (but not thogether, together they are too much)
2)Football. I played alot of football as a child but gave it up to endevour on a journey of self discovery fuelled by drugs, music and hedonism. I have recently taken football back up. I am still The man. On the pitch that is.
3)Music. A cliche if there ever was one, however i do sincerely believe music is what feelings sound like.
4)Women. Im a just a sucker, a sucker for a pretty face.
5)Sai Baba. A Man who conned a large section of the India nation to believe he was the Saint Sai Bab reincarnate. This was facilitated because much of India do believe in reincarnation howveer, one cannot take anything away from the level of charisma this entails. He is seriously charismatic, has thousands of followers and has pending charges of fraud and corruption. A Legend never the less.
so there it is. my introduction, i hope you are satisfied.
KKK - Saving The World From Bad Music
Wednesday, 4 March 2009
Circa 1998 I collected rubbers and miniature models of owls. I have since moved forward.
Current Top 5:
-Stitch n’ Bitch
-Devendra Banhart’s Carmencita
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
I don't live on a diet of paella and sangria, but I do wish I was in an Irma Thomas tribute act with Josie.
My (much less succinct than the other two's) top 5 are :
-Traveling (fantasizing about)
-Frida Kahlo's dress sense (and all things Mexicana folk/kitsch)
-Lists and letters