Saturday, February 26, 2005

A comparison of the Ists + a nice book


Gothamist is where it all started. I link to it enough, and did so in the previous post, so go there at once and have a browse if you want a read which truly reaches out into the current happenings in New York. There are snippets of arts, entertainment, film. There are restaurant reviews. There are regular recipes. There’s even a weather slot. This is the perfect example of the genuine outreach blog.

Next, I chose to check out Bostonist, which at only two months old is already doing quite a bit of its own outreach. There’s a regular music listing and some selected international news — Pontiff Watch Boston Edition as an example.

Seattlest (hmm, no –ist suffix) is more homely, with sports high on the agenda. It’s as old as Bostonist. There’s an offshoot, also, of the recent Gothamist–esque your–questions–answered feature: where to unleash your dog is the latest appearance. Food and drink are also honoured.

DCist is Washington’s stall in the stable. It’s been around for about 8 months. Its outlook is quite arty, techy and weathery also, but I have to confess that just as DC doesn’t do much for me as an ‘idea city’ — it seems sterile somehow — so DCist doesn’t succeed in making me think that I’d really want to go there. It does link to Club Whirled, what I think is a fictional blog (although maybe not, but it’s certainly a rollercoaster) about three gay men who live within a block of each other in DC, though. So it’s not all bad.

Chicagoist, an 8–month–old cheeky chappie of a blog, has what to my eyes is an ideal mix of film, urban outreach and the odd spot of sex: I loved this entry about a court decision that sperm is a gift, not a loan! They currently have a good entry on The Oscars, too.

Torontoist, born in October 2004, has the usual mix of shopping, food, news and urban outreach, and I like its concentration on arts and media of all kinds. Theatre and magazines get mentioned, including The Walrus which, despite its name, is a respectable arts title.

LA and San Francisco are also offshoots, but I’ll concentrate finally on Londonist which to my mind just doesn’t reach out enough into what’s happening there. Around since October 2004, it’s sadly more of a general blog with a London slant, rather than a London blog with a general embrace. Didn’t even post specifically on a London event, by the looks of things, until 2005. Not enough Londoncentric photos, either. But it’s a promising start and if it wasn’t an Ist, I’d be fond of it as it is.

So, that’s it. But I do want to mention one other thing: I was looking at Poets & Writers yesterday and it had a link to the lovely Vernacular Press, which has a line in lavish production and new writing. Anthropology of an Americal Girl is a book which, judging by the quality of the first chapter, I’d really like to explore further.

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Joy Zipper

Some news. Schism in the Anglican Communion is now on the cards. Apparently those men in robes meeting in Newry have decided that they cannot commune with the American and Canadian churches which continue down a more libertarian path. But only temporarily, you understand, so they can ‘consider their position’. Hmm. Somehow I don’t think they will reconsider. Although different pressures may be brought to bear — a desire to be whole on the one hand and a life in the 21st century on the other — so it’ll be interesting.

And just for future reference, the US may drop a couple of bombs on Iran later this year. May do. Don’t know.

And most importantly since it’s the weekend, I predict that Joy Zipper are going to get quite popular (although not outrageously so) when their forthcoming album adds to their already highly–pleasing output. We’ve had it for a year but they only get it in the US now. Heh. Via Gothamist.

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Friday, February 25, 2005

The Gates may be ephemeral, but...

hot gay sex in Central Park is forever! (NSFW)

The hanky code says orange is ‘anything goes’ after all. Heh. With only a few days to go, I’ll keep checking to see if there are any reports of how much sex actually went on there during the orange period. I bet it was more than usual. ;o)

By the way, the phrase ‘the orange period’ is all mine, because I got there first in defining it as the period during which New York’s Central Park played host to Christo & Jeanne–Claude’s Gates! Ooops, but that Creative Commons License says otherwise. Damn.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Jason Kottke goes all self-sufficient reader-supported

In news that uncomfortably reminds me of the heading–for–meltdown days when I thought “Oh, I’ll just freelance. It’ll be okay” it emerges that Jason Kottke has given up his job to work on his blog fulltime.

Now, the man isn’t rich. He is very well–known… among bloggers., the blog in question, is very well–known… among bloggers. And there lies the problem, because to support himself financially, he’s enlisting the financial support of bloggers to pay his bills.

They just won’t want to pay the $30 per head that he asks as a donation. Still a free, no–ads site, but you pay if you want. It’s a wonderful, ambitious recipe for disaster, in my opinion. And that’s why I hope people won’t pay.

Before anyone accuses me of being a heartless bastard, I’m not saying this because “he has the guts to go it alone and I don’t” or psychobabble like that. Let me just point out that the best blogs carry the unmistakable flavour of enthusiasm for a range of personal interests. That enthusiasm is heightened if you turn to your blog after a comparatively lacklustre day’s work.

If your passion becomes your way of earning a crust, it might work. But he needs money. Real big money. And very few people really have that hunger there, and it’s a hunger which is oft tested and proved by time, rather than grand first gestures.

So let’s wait and see, but I wish the man would at least get a part–time job or a few really flexible contracts. Or get wise for his own good. Le sigh.

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Monday, February 21, 2005

Primates in robes. Hmm. How very gay.

Newry, here in Northern Ireland, is the meeting–place this week of the Primates Meeting 2005 — a gathering at which the chief ordained officials of the Anglican Communion will meet to discuss issues regarding homosexuality and the church.

If you’re gay or homophobic you’ll certainly be aware that in 2003, Gene Robinson was ordained as Bishop of New Hampshire by the Episcopal Church in the US. Outcry followed. Here in the UK, Jeffrey John was appointed as Bishop of Reading, but didn’t take up the post due to controversy.

Well, not just controversy. There was so much biblical fucking anger that a massive section of the Church worldwide finally threatened to walk away and take its congregations and clergy with it.

Why the fuss? Both men were gay.

So the Lambeth Commission was set up to report:

on the legal and theological implications flowing from the decisions of the Episcopal Church (USA) to appoint a priest in a committed same sex relationship as one of its bishops, and [...] specifically on [...] the ways in which provinces of the Anglican Communion may relate to one another in situations where the ecclesiastical authorities of one province feel unable to maintain the fullness of communion with another part of the Anglican Communion

After the Commission issued its report, its chairman Robin Eames, Primate of all Ireland, invited all the Primates to Newry to discuss everything. This is therefore big news for 2 reasons: they’re all meeting a few miles away from here, and what they’re talking about there will determine whether there will continue to be a single worldwide Anglican church in future. History in the making…

I think the Church should split over this issue. First, why have a single Communion eternally polluted by strife between 2 factions which can never reconcile with each other when you could have 2 independent happy Churches? Second, being a gay atheist, I have to confess that I see no reason why the future of any church of any kind should be desperately, artificially prolonged.

Now, I’m not crowing, and not jubilant: Christians will undoubtedly be very distressed over this, and for that they have my sympathy. But their institutions that exert their influence over a simply organic planet: as they crumble, let them crumble.

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How very not gay. At all


Via BoingBoing, I’ve encountered one of the strangest gay marriage stories ever:

On Friday, under a romantic drizzle in a muddy clearing in Compostela Valley province in Mindanao, Ka Andres and Ka Jose exchanged vows in a heavily guarded ceremony before local villagers, friends from the city and their comrades in arms.

They are considered the first homosexual couple in the New People's Army (NPA) who were wed by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

During the “wedding,” sponsors draped a sequined CPP flag around the couple’s shoulders. The flag was held in place by a long, beaded cord which also went around the couple and the sponsors — symbolizing that their marriage would be made stronger with the help of comrades and the masses.

Andres held a bullet, as did Jose and each other's hands. The bullets represented their “commitment in the armed struggle.”

So: gay, guerrillas, outcasts, terrorists to some in the world… not that I support brutal murderers or anything, but never let it be said that all gay people are nancy–boy pussies! Sheesh!

And by the way, MetaFilter comments are here. A full day after I got hold of this. Oh yeah!

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Friday, February 18, 2005

A decent America. — What?!

America’s House of Representatives has overwhelmingly voted in favour of a Bill which seeks to curb indecency by introducing massive fines. $500,000 a nipple, no kidding. But only on TV. Hmm. It doesn’t surprise me that they passed this Bill though — who’s going to even try to argue for ‘permissible indecency’ in front of one of the most conservative legislatures of the western world?

Up in Canada, however, they’re about to invoke the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in making same–sex marriage fully legal. Woo! Way to go, mes amis!

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Gates, differently

The Gates composite
Originally uploaded by peripathetic.
Well, overtaken by Gothamist’s superb satellite photo post of The Gates, I looked around on Flickr and made this rough collagey thing. Not that it’s much good itself, but I loved clicking through the photos on flickr and wandering through the park in my head. I caught something online, earlier, along the lines of “To properly appreciate The Gates, one must stroke one’s beard at least three times.” Heh!

Monday, February 14, 2005

So, yeah...

A message

…I got this message today (and I consider posting it here fair use, especially since I’m naming the insanely talented Bryon Fear as the graphical artist and providing a link to the site, OUT, which it comes from). As you can see, it’s an anonymous card sent by an admirer. I’m all intrigued.

Anyone want to own up? ;o)

Saturday, February 12, 2005

What a shit name

When I’m older my name is going to be seriously unappealing!

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Friday, February 11, 2005

Golden rivers in the trees

photo of new york central park

I’m relieved that, apart from coffee, my first proper post about the city of New York will be about its citizens and visitors looking at it in a new way by means of beauty. For tomorrow, the 12th of February, will see rivers of gold flow through the lower branches of the trees in Central Park.

Relief aside, it’s an amazing project. Created by Christo and Jeanne–Claude, the people who most famously wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin, The Gates in Central Park (which I’ve read a lot about on Gothamist) will span 23 miles of the park’s footpaths. Golden material will hang from the top of each ‘gate’, making it look like there’s shimmering warmth hovering in the branches of the trees. Quite something on a freezing winter day in a brown and grey park at the heart of one of the world’s great cities!

Aside from the obvious visual effects, what I like to call the ‘Christmas Decoration effect’ will happen: old places will be made rich and strange for a while, and when it’s all taken away, those places will be new and old at the same time. Hmm... the presence of an effect through its absence.

While it’s present, though, check out its blog, The Gates @ Central Park.

Update, 12th Feb: They’re unfurled.

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Saturday, February 05, 2005

To amplify?


Or not? The question, posed by James Fenton in this week’s Guardian Review (a books magazine, and one of the best ‘free’ offerings around) interests me. Do we want our actors to appear unassisted? I’d say yes. When I go to the theatre, I want the human–sized, attention–sized, attention–filled, intimate atmosphere of a theatre — hence no speakers needed. If I want amplified drama (and I often do) I turn to my DVD collection, or the cinema. It’s the same with music. However well–recorded your CD, however good your HiFi, you are listening to a layer of machinery between your ears and the musician and room (or hall, church, wherever). Classical music: I nearly always prefer a live performance. ‘Popular’ music: I nearly always prefer a CD.

If reading a gentle, readable, cultured poet (heh, and that’s not me, it’s James Fenton!) who’s writing about a subject dear to him isn’t enough for you, what about a Thing? Inspired by the Review’s photo of an amphitheatre, I remembered looking at the Third Reich in Ruins site (filled with photos of, and info about, the remaining architecture of Nazi Germany). Thingstätte (Thing arenas) were open–air arenas modelled on Roman amphitheatres.

In 1934 the Nazi Propaganda Ministry under Joseph Goebbels began a movement based on the “Blut und Boden” (Blood and Soil) ideology — the so–called “Thing” movement. A Thing was an ancient Nordic/Germanic gathering of the people, in an outdoor setting. The Nazi Thing gatherings were to be held in specially–constructed outdoor amphitheaters, called (in the singular) Thingplatz or Thingstätte. Here, the people would gather for Völkisch meetings and to view theater and propaganda presentations written especially for the Thing style. The Thing sites were to be built as much as possible in a natural setting, incorporating rocks, trees, water bodies, ruins, and hills of some historical or mythical significance.

Leaving the hateful ideology which led to these places completely aside, I think they are a superb marriage of landscape and architecture, although I react to them with the same sense of the sinister which this blogger (superb photos of the Heidelberg site) senses. Had any other country built them, they would be justly popular to this day and ideal for theatre, music or poetry. Hmm.

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Yum. Except, in this case, these delicious treats cost $900 to the girls who made them. It happened like this: two teenage girls in Durango, Colorado decided that, instead of going to ‘a dance’ (how quaint) where there might be ‘drunkenness and cursing’ (again, how quaint) they’d rather stay at home. And after completing their chores, mucking out the livestock or whatever it was, they asked their dad if it was OK to make some cookes as a surprise for neighbours. They left them on doorsteps — and then got sued for $900. It gets better worse:

Inside one of the nine scattered rural homes south of Durango that got cookies that night, a 49–year–old woman became so terrified by the knocks on her door around 10:30 p.m. that she called the sheriff’s department. Deputies determined that no crime had been committed.

But Wanita Renea Young ended up in the hospital emergency room the next day after suffering a severe anxiety attack she thought might be a heart attack.

A Durango judge Thursday awarded Young almost $900 to recoup her medical bills. She received nothing for pain and suffering.

“The victory wasn’t sweet,” Young said Thursday afternoon. “I’m not gloating about it. I just hope the girls learned a lesson.”

WHAT THE FUCK?!??!?!??!?

The girls wrote letters of apology to Young. Taylor's letter, written a few days after the episode, said in part: “I didn’t realize this would cause trouble for you. … I just wanted you to know that someone cared about you and your family.”

The families had offered to pay Young’s medical bills if she would agree to indemnify the families against future claims.

Young wouldn’t sign the agreement. She said the families’ apologies rang false and weren’t delivered in person. The matter went to court.

Young said she believes that the girls should not have been running from door to door late at night.

“Something bad could have happened to them,” she said.

What a fucking bitch. She’s obviously either the product of a very backward and punitive locale, or mentally ill. Or both. I feel sure karma will take its due, as MetaFilter predicts. Oh yeah, and the judge in the case should be punished too — by having to deliver late–night cookies to Wanita Young.

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Thursday, February 03, 2005


In more senses than one! When I started Opera the other day and it started harvesting RSS feeds, it grabbed another few Moleskinerie posts (always nice) — and there was a recent post of mine featured on its front page! The ensuing discussion has been animated. Not at all sure whether I like being featured for being controversial, but I love having been featured by one of my favourite blogs!

Now for some more goodness, although not necessarily of the surprising kind. Last night, I set up a new blog for my friend Giles. It’s currently blank but when he makes the first post, it’ll go on the blogroll. Expect incendiary eloquence. Notebooks get a second airing on these pages with Ciak - I hadn’t heard of them before, but they look like colourful… you–know–whats.

Books, of the already–written variety, have seen quite a bit of riffling at my hands lately. I’ve been reading the Christmas presents for the first time, even reading some books which have remained virgin for months on end. And one in particular that I didn’t rate too highly has been getting what I’ll euphemistically call ‘some attention’ recently. The Da Vinci Code. A documentary about the supposed code itself was on TV here earlier, which just goes to show how a bestseller can influence what you see on the box. And here’s the Opus Dei website — there don’t seem to be too many flagellants there to me. But maybe it’s all just a civilised front. Heh! ;o)

I know. Flaying yourself with a whip isn’t goodness, and I said I’d bring you goodness. Alright then. Delighted to. Now I’m going to wind down before bedtime. Night!

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Plenty of curves

image of CD cover

This album makes me think of plenty of curvy furniture, mohair sweaters, big wooden clogs with shiny red leather, glass tables and little fires in bijou little fireplaces. Not that it’s wintry. No — it’s anything but seasonal in any season. It pulls away from the sides of your glass — typical Jelly.

As far as my reviewing skills for this kind of music go, I really can’t do a good job. Other than to say that as a musical, satisfying example of the form, I’d give it 4//5, with perfection level at 4/5 and technical mastery at 5/5. I bow to the Guardian, Amazon, and the promo material, which actually is spot on as a realistic idea of what you’ll get if you listen.

The resurgence of rock in most aspects of popular music has certainly not gone unnoticed by Lemon Jelly’s Fred Deakin and Nick Franglen as ’64–’95 is littered with epic guitars and explosive refrains nestling amongst the downbeat soul for which they are best known. Opener “Come Down on Me” is tense, fiery, and for the most part dominated by the partnership of crashing power–chords and a lead synth that, while not big–beat, wouldn’t sound out of place on an old Lo–Fi’s or Chemical Brothers’ album. … Fast–forward to 2005 and a new album is here, ’64–’95, out January 31st. Based upon unlikely samples, it’s very much a Lemon Jelly record but not as you know it. It is also their first album to come with an accompanying DVD that has been lovingly created by their design cohorts, Airside. … Each of ’64–’95’s nine tracks samples a deeply unfashionable record from a year within the title’s timeframe. 1988 is represented not by acid house, but by Masters of Reality’s metal; 1976 offers fruity Oxbridge vocal group the King’s Singers instead of the Sex Pistols; 1993 is depicted not as grunge’s zenith, but the year that gave us Atlantic Ocean’s pop–trance smash Waterfall.

Lemon Jelly so often gets bastardised as function–music — not only in the sense that it’s played as background–music at various ‘functions’ but that it is used as wakeup music, workout music (erm, how exactly does one work out to this music? I want to know), filler music while you sit in a coffeeshop and stare blankly at your ersatz beverage.

While it is the fate of all modern music to be aural wallpaper, in many cases such a fate is unfortunate, and, at worst, unjust. I’m really looking forward to waking up with The Shouty Track tomorrow morning in a dark bus. But it’s excellent when you’re fully awake, doing nothing but listening, and looking around your room, feeling good. More–ish and recommended.

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