Regard this entry as a placeholder.
I need to write about my weekend in Los Angeles as a guest of Monsieur Harvey and Dom Perignon. It's just hard to do it without sounding like a wanker/banker.
Somehow I blagged my way to LA on a private jet, stayed at the Mondrian with an unlimited champagne budget and went to a party filled with bad fashion, Hollywood monsters, over-ambitious nibbles and endless vintage Dom Perignon.
'Hello Hollywood!', I gurned, pounding glass after glass of poo with Paris Hilton (skinny), Karl Lagerfeld (whoopsie), Mickey Rourke (face like he's fallen face first in a fire), Pierce Brosnan (twat), Beck (midget), Vincent Gallo (smelly), Courtney Love (smokes), Eva Herzigova (horse in a sack), Jessica Simpson (why?), Devendra Banhart (rocks) etc. I got myself on telly too - fleeting appearances on Access Hollywood
and other early evening dross - staring intently at Miss.Hilton's
Fun was had, sleep was not.
Dom Perignon - it's a denser bubble.
Just back from England's thrill-an-hour opener against Paraguay - a brutal 6am kick off here on the West Coast.
I watched it at 'Frisco's finest English boozer - The Mad Dog In The Fog - with the usual Dad's Army of bellied, pasty Brits. I love watching footy in pubs - but mostly in nice, West London Gastro pubs where less people have spiders tattooed on their faces and I can get a lollo rosso tuna salad at half time. This was much more Bethnal Green than Notting Hill. Two excitable Paraguayan fans left earlier than I think they'd planned....
America is the only country in the world where football is an aspirational, middle-class hobby. For the rest of the world, it's popularity is driven by the working classes. And so the blend of frat boys and tasty English thugs queuing at 5am to watch the Mighty Lions seemed peculiar.
The odd atmosphere prevailed inside- not helped by the truly comical American ABC commentary team (and stats and graphics covering half the screen, most of the time)
"That's a remarkable power-play by the England captain, Michael Beckham....who is married to a pop star called Posh Spice....and woah is he a spicy player!"
"And so His Majesty The Prince William of the UK is here...and he met England strike ace Peter Crouch last night....who said the future king was a nice geezer..... ...geezer?....whatever that means"
"Stephen Gerraaaaaaard, playing between offence and defence"
"Germany on the attack again...I mean, England....erm..."
One of them had clearly decided to base his entire commentary on his awareness of the film 'Bend It Like Beckham'. Every single time 'Michael' touched the ball, we were told how he'd skillfully bent it, or curved it or banana-ed it.....even a two yard pass was a 'short bender', Ashley Cole notwithstanding.
You would have thought that somewhere in America, they could have found someone who knew something about the beautiful game. And of course, without Motty and Hanson, I didn't have a clue what to think. We won, but it looked shit to me.
And after 27 cups of warm Heineken and a James, his brain flares like a neural supernova, his mind now open to the logical truth:
Well, I tell you, the mildly cynical among us thought it might not work.
But $692 dollars, 20 thousand visitors, interviews with every San Francisco newspaper and a feature on the front page of Spin magazine later, we're beginning to nibble our hats.
Good luck, Zach! Although I'm not sure what you see in the filthy little strumpet.
Every morning, without fail, the lucky employees on the 5th floor of GSP can feast their brand-weary eyes on this splendiferous wobbleramous of female fatitude.
The full frontal horror show is between 10.00am and 10.15am, depending on how high a stack of pancakes she has to munch through before nature calls...
We're trying to come up with a slogan for her. Any thoughts?
So I'm back from Coachella - a two day music festival in the desert near Palm Springs. Think of it as the Californian Glastonbury but with sunburnt shoulders in place of muddy trousers. Madonna, Daft Punk, Massive Attack, Kanye West and a hundred other bands sweating blood for 80,000 pilgrims. An intriguing mixture of LA plastic people, goths, frat-boys and famine-tourists. And it was frickin' hot. Hot, hot, hot. My memory has melted it was so hot.
Let's get my completely objective music review out of the way first.
(and yes those brilliant videos are mine)
Head In The Sand: The Scissor Sisters and the absurdly pompous rock-headliners 'Tool' (who, thank rock, never seem to have made it to Blighty). Cocks, the lot of them.
Right. What else?
Well mostly I remember being very, very hot and very, very thirsty. That's deserts for you. But while Mother Nature can be squarely blamed for my pink, throbbing forehead, it was America's infantile drinking laws that had me gasping for a beer. Oh, and this super hot dancer in her 'Seventies Funk' towelling not-hot-pants...(click the little play button on the bottom and you'll stay on this page)
You see, even in the desert, it seems that a cold beer can bedevil the souls of the under-21s. So first, you have to stand in line and prove with a driving license that you have the moral strength to deal with fizzy, mildly intoxicating amber fluids. Then the fun starts. You CAN buy a beer at Coachella but only in 'designated drinking pens' ...and once you've fought your way through to the bar, you're stuck behind a chicken wire fence until you've finished your 7 dollar cup of warm Heineken. Music festival a la Guantanamo Bay.
Inevitably though, with my testicles hotter than the sun's core, I was keen to knock back a lager or twelve. So I enjoyed most of the acts at an oblique angle, 2.3 miles from the stage. Grandma Madge was a whirling squeaky dot in the distance. Half an hour late too, the bitch.
We had a lot of fun though - especially because we shunned camping in favour of a big house with a pool. But the Pilton Pop Festival wins hands down - rain or shine, bring on 2007.
I'll be back up to blogging speed soon, I hope.
Darned office have put the brakes on for a while. It's contractual, you see. As the face of HP printing, I can't be making jokes. I represent the brand via reliable, flawless, accurate output. I'm strong, silent and paper thrusting.
Things could have been so different. It could have been a Golden Retriever in the ads in place of yours truly. This here is a GENUINE chart created by a former senior marketeer at a huge-printing-company-who's-ads-I'm-in-that-shall-remain-nameless.
Can you believe that? I don't swear on this blog but CAN YOU FUCKING BELIEVE THAT AN ADULT CONCEIVED, CREATED AND PRESENTED THIS 'THINKING'? And got paid handsomely for it.
Marketing is tough to defend at the best of times. And there are moments when I'm embarassed to be any sort of cog in the machine. But it's slides like this that make me want to run screaming to law school. It's when I realise that my four year old niece could pull off a decent days work in my profession.
So the brand's like a golden labrador is it? Shitting and drooling on everything that matters to you, costing a fortune when it breaks down, endlessly repeating the same boring behaviour? Sounds about right.
Here I am again, shamelessly flogging printers with some PAPER IN YOUR FACE!
For all my American readers that want the full collection, you're looking at 179 publications. This week's Business Week has a spectacular double page spread and then I'm ALL OVER the Washington Street Post and New York Times next month...
There's going to be a scrum for HP printers, so you might want to get in early.
Hoping to cross The Pond before too long...
OK - you can rotate your heads back this way now. I hope the video played - I've been having teething troubles.
Sorry to go all 90 degrees on you, but I filmed this surreptiously on the number 5 to work this morning. To set the scene, the old guy sitting next to the 'musician' is your run-of-the-mill 'Frisco conspiracy-theory-loony. He'd just spent 10 minutes publicly positing that The Moonies were using Ipods to broadcast subliminal recruitment messages. And then Mr.Mouth Organ got on and started blowing. It's always fun when a loon gets out-looned. But we all sat wide-eyed in amazement at this guy's impromptu performance - sadly, I didn't capture the best bits, when he was using his fist to bang out an accompanying rhythm on his own face.
Anyway, this was the final straw for me and public transport in Mental-ville, so I finally bought a bike.
Now I know what you're thinking - it looks like KITT. And I must say that I feel a little Michael-Knight-esque when I'm:
(a) going very fast downhill
(b) talking to it
But then I feel far less Hoff-like when I hit the slightest incline, or when the wind blows. And when I hit one of the city's comedy hills, it's all I can do to mutter under my breath 'what's wrong with the bus, Michael, what's wrong with the frickin' bus?'
Anyway, I'm chuffed that I ignored the cycling nazis and bought a hybrid.
Who looks more ridiculous? Me with my straight handlebars (I reiterate - straight, not bent) or the legions of middle-aged-porkers clicking around town in spandex and special shoes....
A huge bird shat on my head as I cycled home last night, so I expect nothing but good luck in my bicycling endeavours.
I like the album but this show fell flat. A great venue but there was no performance, just a surly trot through the songs and then they were off. And the lead singer's voice grated live. As did his hat.
Dad style rant: this seems to be what young bands do. Kings Of Leon, The Arctic Monkeys, The Editors... the same onstage sulk. A gig is a visual medium - if we just wanted to listen, we'd be horizontal with our headphones on. Smile lads, you're rockstars.
It seems odd to me. In an age when the live show is more important than ever - a guaranteed money-spinner in the era of pirated downloads - you'd think showmanship would rise to the fore.
Hot Chip, on the other hand, are hot shit live. Even seeing them at a record store in the middle of the afternoon was fun. Lads let loose with synths and loving it. Chancers, perhaps, and certainly less 'muso' than many bands-of-the-moment, but everyone left with a smile on their face...and tingling ear drums.
Right then - it's been a long time. Anyone still out there? Holler y'all.
This is a quickie. I'm still alive. I blog, therefore I am.
The thing is, these days, I'm short of time and I'm short of idle observations. Both are symptomatic of this thing I have called 'a job', whereby I'm contracted to have an interesting point of view on advertising/brands and their role in broader society/culture....which is, apparently, best achieved by sitting in an office squinting at Powerpoint presentations all day...or by shouting at cube-loons via a Polycom.
The other reason I'm not writing so much is that (a) I've been here six months now, so the computer is no longer my only friend and (b) I just can't stop watching this bloke robot dance. Go on, get to a mirror and give it a go - you can get lessons and everything.
And...ooo look....I've segued seamlessly into the intended subject matter of this entry. Namely, the modern dance 'taster' programme that I treated my client to last week. Now, admittedly, the whole thing was planned as a bit of a wind up - I can't pretend I've suddenly gone all 30-something gaymosexual on you. The Texan client in question - let's call him Cultural Void - wanted to go for fried chicken and a game of skittles, so I thought I'd help flex his cultural muscle instead.
It was 'modern dance light'.....4 bite-sized dances of about 15 minutes each...wine and nibbles....all done by 9pm so that we could roam the city in search of a bucket of Gallus Domesticus and a mechanical bull to ride.
So anyway, here are the conclusions Cultural Void and I reached with a few post-prancing pints:
Theme: Some people walking about for a bit.
Verdict: A bit pedestrian.
Theme: Two lovers meet and a hot wind fires their ardour.
Verdict: Loved it. Especially her arse.
Theme: Seven men lumbering about in their underpants.
Verdict: Made me feel a bit sick. Cultural Void seemed quite excited though.
Theme: Some nonsense about a Siren's message that 'came from the sea' and that apparently makes people twirl about for 30 secs before falling over, faces contorted like they're chewing a Curly-Wurly. Actually, the plot for this one was explained to us before the dancing began, which just defeats the point for me. Hmmm - how the Modern Dance World trembles at my critique. But I reckon dance shares much with poetry - it should be experienced rather than defined.....a dance should not mean, but be. Or so I tell myself as I krump on Friday nights.
Verdict: Seven men lumbering about in their underpants.
All in all, I enjoyed it. And that, for now, is all I have to say.
My parents arrive on Tuesday for two weeks - I might get Mum to 'guest blog' for a couple of days...I have no idea what they'll make of this city.
DJ AM, as you can see, has played his fair share of (s)wanky nights.
Imagine my surprise, then, when he chose to play a high-energy dance re-mix of Jimmy Nail's 'Ain't No Doubt' in SF's trendy 'Prive' discoteque.
The 'LA-style-crowd'* was also treated to 'Sweet Dreams', 'Sweet Child Of Mine' and some deadly Poison.
I'm told he was going out with Nicole Ritchie until very recently, so maybe he's not been practising in his bedroom much. Personally, I wouldn't let him DJ a game of infant school musical chairs (at a special school for deaf-and-spakky-infants, obviously)
*SF girls hate 'LA-style' girls because they don't wear Birkenstocks and shave their armpits. Glamourpusses v Hairypusses, I suspect.
All I wanted to do was buy a bicycle.
Do you remember the last time you did that? If you're a British bloke, you were probably a flop-haired 14 year old - and that two wheeler probably served you through school (sideways skid to impress the girls), University (attempted wheelies and 'endo's while as drunk as a Lord) and is now locked in your parents shed, ready to play at the first squirt of WD40.
There was only one thing that mattered when you - with your parents money - bought that bike. Not the brand, not the colour, not even the number of gears (although 24 was a bare minimum for the half mile freewheel to school). No, the only thing that really mattered was that it wasn't 'unisex'. The end of the 80's brought recession and poverty to many. But one kid at our school had it worse than most. One day he started cycling to school on his mum's brown Raleigh Shopper, complete with basket and panniers. We felt sorry for the kid. But not sorry enough not to take the piss - and so Mark became 'Mumsy' for the next four years. The stupid, mumsy, gay, povvy, basket weaving git.
Anyway, I digress.
San Francisco is surrounded by the best cycling country in the world - Marin, the home of the mountain bike and Lance Armstrong's training ground.
So welcome to Cycling-Nazi-Central.
See, the mountain bikers don't like the road-bikers who don't like the recumbents. And everyone hates the hybrid which is the bicycle equivalent of bisexuality - not ideal on slicks or knobblies, suited to neither speed nor pain.
I just wanted to buy a bike. A blue one. But then I got rocket-pedalled into a world of complicated technological decisions. Aluminium or steel? Drops or uprights? Disk brakes, sir? Suspension fork and thumb shifters? Bouncy stem and inbred derailleur? And when, today, I found myself co-erced into 'test-riding' a thousand dollar razor-blade-on-wheels, I decided not to bother at all. They don't seem safe to me and I feel like a helmet while in the saddle.
I'm now on the look out for a mule.
So Damien Marley at the SF Warfield wasn't as irie as I'd hoped.
The warm up act warmed me up all right, a trio of hyperactive rappers in romper suits shouting out The Hip Hop Dictionary - "A hip, a hop, a hipperty hipperty hip hop...hip hop like you don't stop!' they suggested, struggling to stay upright in their enormous sneakers. And even when coerced to 'wave my hands in the air like I just don't care', there was no shutting this bunch of tits up.
It wasn't Damien's fault that I left early. He was chugging along nicely but the crowd was unbearable. I like reggae - most people do - but when buying the tickets, I forgot that the genre has been co-opted by every student subculture the world over.
The night as a whole wasn't awful, it was dreadful. Full of dreads. Mostly attached to 17 year old white Californian surfers who think Haile Selassie is code for being spangled - 'Dude, I'm HIGHLY selassie...WOAH!'. These dudes dig reggae, dude. Dude, they dig it because they can whoop dude-aciously, drag on rasta cigarettes and do weird up-and-down dude dancing. And sing along to dude Damien's Dad's songs, like 'War' and 'Exodus'. Or, at least, mumble along with a puzzled expression when the lyric is...
And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes
that hold our brothers in Angola,
Have been toppled,
Utterly destroyed -
Well, everywhere is war -
Me say war.
.....before bouncing up and down and punching the air when the chorus (and words they understand) skanks back in.
I was surprised that Damien played so much of his Dad's stuff. I was also surprised that his threads were so preppy, all blazer and expensive jeans (with a supersized topping of dreadlocks). It was like watching a genetic tribute band - he did it really well but it was bizarre all the same. And I might have been slightly 'woah-duded' by the cloud of ganja smoke inside, but I swear I spotted Bunny Wailer bopping up and down at the side of the stage.
Best of all was Damien's decision to find his own Bez whose talent (pictured above) extended to stalking the stage looking wild-eyed and waving the Ethiopian flag. I'm not being flippant - he was compelling to watch.
Rastafarianism perplexes me, especially after talking to a few Ethiopians about it . Apparently, the first time Haile Selassie went to Jamaica in the 1960s, 200,000 Rastas (who believed he was God incarnate) turned up to greet him and he refused to get off the plane. Some God. They could have picked P.Diddy. But maybe Haile heard some 'WHOOPING' and a 'HIPPIDY HIPPIDY HIP HOP!' and decided he wanted to go home. Don't blame him.