Monday, February 16, 2009

The ties that bind

Well, damn. I come back from Glasgow with exciting tales of the Proclaimers, but I see the EU is on the verge of extending sound copyright to an eye-watering 95 years. I've discussed why this is a bad thing before, and will doubtless do so again, but fortunately rather than read my half-arsed rambling and ranting you can go and find out from the Rambler why this is a Bad Thing. To which I shall append my usual aesthetic argument that dialogue with the recent past is a vital part of the development of any art, and enormously long copyright terms hinder that. Think of J.S. Bach rewriting Vivaldi, or young Mozart rejigging J.C. Bach. Both acts of what we would now consider copyright infringement, but both essential to the development of each composer.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

R.I.P. Lux Interior

As a friend remarked, Lux Interior always looked like he'd died about 30 years ago and crawled out of the grave, so it doesn't seem quite right that he's actually gone. The Cramps remain one of the best bands I ever saw live. Damn shame.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Steal softly thru snow

Originally uploaded by petemaskreplica.

Rarely does a collapse of the transport system feel so welcome. That travel alert sitting in my inbox this morning telling me that there were no trains at all was the sweetest news I'd had in a while. So much so that instead of going straight back to bed, we jump up, rush into the garden and build a splendid effigy.

Later we walk up to the woods and are astounded by the sight that greets us. It's as though Abbey Wood has tuned into a Breughel painting: people everywhere, adults and children alike, running and laughing and sliding down the hill, many on sledges (where have they been for the past eighteen years?) or snowboards or just binbags. No hostility, no depression, no recession, just a whole load of people who live nearby all enjoying themselves. Politicians go on the radio every day and tell us what's wrong with society, all the laws and restrictions they need to impose on us to put it right, to keep us in our place. And it turns out it's all unnecessary. All it really needs is a few inches of snow.

It won't last, of course, it never does - in fact as we head home again the tears and arguments are starting again as reluctant children are dragged home - but for a moment this afternoon we all forgot the fear that drives our lives and lived.

The sight that really amazes, and really shouldn't is this: children, loads of them, outside, playing. How did that become such a rare sight? I wonder how many of them have never really been allowed out to play like this before. I hope when the snow melts they still play.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


The thing is this: I like Rothko. I really like him. Well, his paintings, I mean. It's wonderful to be able to see these enormous, imposing canvases laid out like this, to be able to stand in front of them and let myself be drawn into those huge expanses of space, that seem so blank and flat and forbidding at first, then, as your eyes adjust, reveal ll kinds of shade, and turn out to be filled with eventfulness, dark reflections of whole other worlds.

What I don't like is being surrounded by hoards of people. Of course it's inevitable, especially when you don't get round to going until the last day of the exhibition, and sure the crowds are nothing compared to the Monet show a few years back. But I really don't need to be surrounded by ghastly, vacuous people, plugged into i-Pods rented at great expense to tell them what someone else thinks about the paintings, talking about them, spouting that pseudo-religious bullshit that surrounds Rothko and cheapens him with every word uttered. I don't want any of that stuff. I don't want anything, physical or emotional or conceptual, to get between me and the canvas. I just want to be there, face to face with that thing that requires no words of explanation, that just is.