Keeping abreast of things…

Ooh er. Ok, it’s been a while, I admit. We’re well into 2014 now and I’m only just updating the ol’ blog, but it’s not been for the want of trying! Work at the 606 was pretty manic in the months leading-up to Christmas (which certainly is not a bad thing!) so extra curricula activities were unfortunately put on hold.

I tend not to talk too much about my role at the club, as I’m conscious of maintaining appropriateness and boundaries, but I feel a post on just some of my activities of late in relation to the 606 would be interesting.

So, I’ve recently been given the Events Manager role, which at its height is simultaneously exciting, interesting, physical, administrative and creative all sprinkled with a pinch of stress. But hey, that is life is it not?!

I particularly enjoy arranging daytime hires for filming and recording. The fascinating people one meets, whilst helping fulfill their incredibly personal projects and artistic visions, can be very demanding yet always aesthetically broadening – especially if you’re asked to be involved!

For 60 Minutes Australia we had 606 Club favorite Charlie Watts down to be interviewed with Charles Wooley (who loved the vibe of the club and promised to return when back in the UK). It was a fun, informative interview to help promote the Rolling Stones Australian leg of their 50th Anniversary tour this year. I have embedded the video below with a cool screen shot of Charlie with the house kit (yes, he is a fan of the Yamaha). Charlie’s interview at the club starts around the 3:35 mark.

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In terms of broadening ones tastes, my favorite shoot of last year was for Sinfini music, where we had world renowned Cellist Steven Isserlis with Britain’s leading classical pianist, Sam Haywood. What a treat that was. Its not often pure contemporary classical music is performed at the club, and speaking to the guys afterwards they felt the reverberations of the box-like space worked well acoustically. The Cello melody is certain sonorous in the video below. The music is Waldesruhe (Silent Woods) from The Bohemian Forest by Antonin Dvorak.

Leading critic and journalist, Norman Lebrecht, who writes the influential Slipped Disc music blog, interviewed Steven afterwards in our members bar.

I wasn’t trying to be ironic when I chose my Charlton shirt that morning; I was just trying to bring a touch of class to proceedings.

P1000947A wonderful young filmmaker, Robin Hudson of Del Vecchio Productions, used the club to film some scenes for his “fucked-up Alice in Wonderland,” neo noir short, AnnA. Speaking to Robin after the shoot I mentioned in passing that I was a musician. This eventually led to me lending my pianistic skills to the soundtrack of the film, with Robin layering the vocals of model/actress/vocalist, Iraina Mancini, on top. The film is below, and there is a nice review of it here.

For some wonderful snaps of the club let me direct you to fashion photographer extraordinaire, Alexandra Leese, who utilized the 606 Club space for an ‘old school, basement club, jazz vibe’ effect. It was a fashion shoot for Carbon Copy magazine and I’ve embedded a couple of my favorite snaps (one of them even makes the ceiling look smart, that’s how good she is!) but do have a look at them all on her site here.

Bar Window, best view in the house, minus the smoking unfortunately.

I think that’s enough for now. There’s plenty more I could go into but that gives a brief overview of the type of daytime hires I orchestrate at the 606. We have a filming coming up, plus a very high profile TV show was filmed here recently which is yet to be broadcast so I can’t officially go into detail with that yet, but do stay tuned.

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Aren’t foreigners funny…

Or specifically, in this instance, don’t foreigners eat funny foods?!

Whole television programmes use to be dedicated to highlighting the differences between the British and the rest of the world – Tarrant On TV and Clive James on Television immediately spring to mind. But now, in the multi-cultural hub that is London, such comedic cultural confusions are literally on your doorstop, or rather the local Woolwich Tesco Superstore…

CockTop-shelf soup mix.

ShitoPlenty more out the back, if need be.

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London at night, by bus…

London at night, by busTaken on the Number 11 bus, entering Parliament Square, 2013.

 

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Ritual…

I’ve just finished digesting Graham Masterton’s Ritual, a riotously fun, horror-adventure tale. This outrageous and gripping book tells the story of restaurant critic-come-absent-father, Charlie McLean, who tries to heal the tears of his strained relationship with teenage son, Martin, by inviting him on a road trip around the Connecticut area whilst sampling the eateries of the isolated, rural region. Martin is soon in trouble, lured into an extreme Christian cult called the Celestines, whose central belief is a literal interpretation of the eating of the body and the drinking of the blood of Christ. Apparently, as we’re all created in the image of God, if we cannibalise ourselves to the maxim, until we are nothing more than a skinless head and torso, such a sacrifice would guarantee a spiritual place by God’s side. Martin, seduced by the camaraderie such actions evoke, and the possibility of obtaining the ultimate father figure, soon leaves his hapless dad behind, forcing Charlie to step-up to the plate, track him down, and hopefully de-programme him.  All before Martin gets the knives and forks out. 

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One of Masterton’s skills is his ability to tease the reader with horror, sparingly but effectively. He uses graphic depictions to elevate a typical missing-child plotline in to a story brimming with tense, nauseating, literary canapés.  The scene when Charlie is obligated to butcher and consume his own finger for example, when attempting to stealthily infiltrate the Celestine Order, made me feel quite nauseus…

Charlie said his own silent prayer. Then he adjusted his grip on the scalpel and scratched a hesitant line around the base of his ring finger. He scarcely drew any blood; but it stung, badly. Everybody in the room was watching him in silence.

He clenched his teeth together, and cut more deeply into the top of his finger. Surprisingly, he felt no pain at all, but the sensation of sharp steel touching his bare bone made him shiver in his seat… He picked up the small saw… Charlie drew back the saw, and then rasped it forward over his fingerbone. He didn’t know whether he screamed out loud or not… Mechanically, Charlie sawed at his fingerbone again, and then again. The pain was extreme, but the vibration of the saw teeth all the way through the nerves of his hand and up the lower part of his left arm was even worse. He sawed and sawed and then suddenly felt Xavier’s hand on his shoulder. ‘You should stop now. Your finger is off. We don’t want you to damage the table. It’s antique, you know.’

Page 229 – 230

I’m not ashamed to admit that typing the above quote certainly made me sweat. I’m always amazed by the power of the written word to induce a physical reaction, be it a belly laugh or a sickly regurgitation.

Masterton doesn’t just stir gory graphic imagery. The more overtly creepy scenario is also set-up to grasp the reader’s attention, such as this depiction of Charlie’s restaurant-set nightmare, instilling an early mood of looming danger…

He half dozed for a while, and dreamed that he was eating dinner in a strange high-ceilinged restaurant with a long white napkin tucked into his collar. The waiters were all hooded, like monks, and they came and went in silence, carrying plates and wheeling chafing dishes… He turned. A monk-waiter had brought his meal, concealed beneath a shiny dish cover. The monk-waiter’s face was as black as the inside of a clothes closet. ‘Your dinner, sir,’ he whispered seductively, and raised the dish cover with flourish.

Charlie looked down at his plate and screamed.

The plate was brimming with thin, greyish soup, in which Martin’s face was floating, staring up at him in silent desperation.

Page 58 – 59

It’s the simplicity of Masterton’s narrative that struck me, allowing for the atmosphere of the scenario to permeate ones consciousness. Masterton doesn’t over analyse his set pieces, or bog them down with unnecessary rhetoric. Rather, he constructs just the right amount of verbose scaffolding, allowing his ideas to securely stand proud. 

The most striking central theme to the novel is the idea of the community secret and the unspoken truth. With the ever-increasing accusations of sex abuse carried out by high-profile public figures post Jimmy Savile in the UK, the relevancy of such a topic is undeniable.  The rabbit-hole goes far deeper though, as once Savile had died, and the truth was finally reported, the general British public have had to listen to a swarm of celebrities, all eager to get another 5 minutes in the spotlight, acknowledging his crimes were well know in media circles. Yet at the time they all did NOTHING! This is not a tenuous link; it demonstrates the power of literature, no matter how pulpy, to symbolically shine a light on real, dark events…

‘Then the police know about this place? They know what you do? And they haven’t taken any action to stop you?’

‘My dear sir, the whole surrounding community is aware that there is something special about Le Reposoir. Many consider us frightening; at least until they have the opportunity to see for themselves the true significance of our rituals. I suppose you could say that there is a parallel with World War Two, when many German citizens living close to concentration camps were aware that there was something of great drama happening in their district, but preferred on the whole not to investigate too closely. Of all creatures, man is the most incurious, believe me.’

Charlie said, ‘Haxalt knows, doesn’t he? The president of the savings bank?’

M. Musette nodded. ‘Almost all of those with senior civic positions in Allen’s Corners are aware of what we are, and what we do.’

‘Then why –?’

‘Because many of their sons and daughters have joined us. Because many of them have joined us.’

Page 131

A frightening thought yet a too often ignored truth, mans inclination to demonstrate false-ignorance when it benefits them. 

It’s not all dark and foreboding, Masterton finds opportunity to plant some nice comic relief (note Xavier’s finishing line in the finger-chopping quote above), such as the scene when Charlie first realises his son is missing and tries to report this to the local police…

‘You were sleeping with a lady and when you returned to your room you found that your son was no longer there?’

‘That’s the nub of it, yes… I’m a restaurant critic, I travel around eating in restaurants and writing reports.’

The lean deputy nodded his head towards the Windsor. ‘What do you think of this place? Stinks, don’t it?’

‘Deputy, I’m interested in finding my son, that’s all.’

Page 96

Without giving too much of the plot away my aim has been to entice you enough to hunt down a copy of the book for yourself. I’ve purposely ignored David, the self-inlficted dwarf, as well as the thunderous ethereal climax and all of the well-paced action sequences, of which there are plenty. But as always, and I hope I’ve demonstrated this, beauty is in the fine detail. 

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Society…

I’ve spent my weekend enjoying the raw thrills of low budget horrors, a homage to my misspent teens shall we say, when I would scour the second-hand shops for rare, preferably pre-cert, VHS tapes. Of course it wasn’t only used videos I was after – I’d say 90% of my Miles Davis CD collection had at least one prior owner – but the genuine buzz of finding an uncut pre-cert Video Nasty, in an era when the BBFC were not shy to get the scissors out on re-releases, could not be beaten – especially for a nerdish sort with a penchant for a bit of the old ultra-violence.

Those book-sized cassette cases resonated with me. I still see them as technological fossils from a recent past, when the home video market literally had NO regulation (hence the phrase ‘pre-cert’, as in pre-certification). Watching such horrors on a re-mastered DVD or Blue Ray just isn’t the same, no matter how nice the print is. Such clean viewing kills the sleazy, illicit vibe of worn tape, and thus the intention of the film in the first place. Video Nasties garnered their following due to their prohibited, and at times outright banned, stature in society. The thought that “I’m not meant to be watching this” made me want to watch it all the more.

EBay is a drain on the funds of any collector of media, and I suspect a few upcoming posts will be a reflection on recent winning bids. However the film I want to briefly comment on in this post is technically not a Video Nasty, and due to its release date (1989) could never have been a pre-cert. Yet unlike most horrors it has left a deeper, darker impression on me than my initial viewing of it, some 12 years ago.

Society, the directorial debut of Brian Yuzna, previously producer of such mid-80’s Americana treats as From Beyond and Re-Animator, is a relative slow-burner. We are invited to follow high-school protagonist Billy Whitney on his paranoid journey to discover the truth behind his socially upstanding peers, family and associates.

Infrequent depictions of gore pepper Billy’s celluloid descent down the rabbit-hole, culminating in a biological orgy of flesh-melting, mass humanoid forming pleasure. The erogenous catalyst for such a display is a horrified, kidnapped, sacrificial serf, whose own plump body gets oozily spread amongst the faces and torsos of the ruling elite. His final demise is called a “Shunting”, when one of the lead antagonists shoves his fist up… well, you can imagine! The most cutting satire is always painful to view.

The rich literally feed off of the poor, slurping the nutrients from some unfortunate schmuck’s body. Anyway, just by chance, this article and photo appeared in the Daily Chimp today…

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Talking of those who drain the poor’s resources, there’s Pippa Middleton, third from left. What a fine bunch of rosy-cheeked, blood thirsty, aristocratic English ladies. Smiling over 50 bird carcasses that were bred purely to be shot. She’s got form this girl. Makes you proud doesn’t it, to salute the flag and bow to the royals? Naïve, jingoistic nationalism does grate on me. I can understand it from the future WI members above, but what extra potato have the royals ever put on my plate?!

Anyway, Society. It’s good. Watch it. And as I mentioned earlier, a little bit of life experience makes the film even more explicitly symbolic.

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What Do I See?

The nature of reality is a subjective interpretation.

 “The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes”

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

The above quote made me think about reality. In fact, it was more of a dwell; what do we actually ‘see’?

Below is essentially a breakdown, and personally interpreted, smorgasbord of highlights from Graham Smetham‘s article in Philosophy Now, Issue 93.

Just over a year ago the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced they had uncovered evidence for the Higgs boson – the God particle. Such a discovery is evidence for the Higgs quantum field, which in theory pervades the entire universe, and is necessary for mass to come in to being.

We ‘see’ mass.

The Higgs boson is a subatomic particle that gives mass to matter.

The Higgs field is made-up of Higgs bosons.

 “Mass is constructed entirely from the energy of interactions involving naturally massless elementary particles… The physicists kept dividing, and in the end found nothing at all.”

Jim Baggott, Higgs: The Invention and Discovery of the God Particle

These elementary particles are the smallest building blocks of mass. Yet they divide into nothing. This is the quantum level of physics.

At the quantum level, classical materialist physics is redundant.

In 1931 the instigator of quantum theory, Max Planck, proclaimed “consciousness as fundamental, I regard matter derivative from consciousness.”

 “Mind has erected the objective outside world… out of its own stuff.”

Erwin Schrodinger, What Is Life? 1944

At the quantum level, there is no classical materiality.

Matter needs your mind.

Some scientists and philosophical thinkers still cling on to the idea that Matter makes the mind. This is Materialism.

Materialism states that there is a realm of stuff which has no mental qualities and which exists independently of mind, and that this is the material world. This mindless material stuff somehow manages to produce minds: yet the material stuff is still somehow the only stuff that exists.

 “An impersonal, unreflective, robotic, mindless little scrap of molecular machinery is the ultimate basis of all the agency, and hence meaning, and hence consciousness, in the universe.”

Daniel Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, 1996, p.27

FALSE

At the quantum level there is no “molecular machinery”: there is a quantum field of material potentiality that also has the potential for forming an experiencing mind. “Molecular machinery” is too large a concept for the quantum level – so it is not the basis for anything.

Imagine you experience seeing a yellow wall

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This experience is generated through neuronal activity in your brain…

It follows then brain matter is the kind of stuff that has the potentiality to produce experience…

This means matter is defined as stuff which has the capacity to produce mind, in the right circumstance.

 

All material structures and processes, including the brain, are emergent from insubstantial quantum “dream stuff”, physicist Wojciech Zurek’s description.

So, quantum theory tells us that even the existence of a brain is a result of mental acts upon a deep quantum ground of potentiality. This means material of the brain is ultimately immaterial.

The idea that we have to think about the physical existence of our own brain, using our brain, which is made up of subatomic particles that only exist through us having to consciously determine them… well, does that mean my consciousness is removed from the realm of physicality? Or does it mean the soup of subatomic particles that potentially creates my mind is a self-generating wonder? But, surely consciousness would have needed to exist before the creation of anything physical, anything with mass, for the mass to come into existence in the first place. It would have needed an observer.

What came first; the chicken or the egg?

Matter needs mind.

What do I see? My consciousness’ subjective interpretation…

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Genuineness, that’s what I go for…

Perusing around Fopp, just off Charring Cross Road, I noted Hugh Laurie has a new “blues” album out. Each to their own I suppose, but such efforts always remind me of this wonderfully cutting comedic caveat from the much-missed George Carlin. Replace his use of the word “white” with “Hugh Laurie” and it’s nigh-on a perfect fit.

Genuineness, that’s what I go for. Do white people have a right to play the blues? Obviously. Can white people even play the blues? A resounding YES! Keith Jarrett’s encore on the solo Paris album is just one example of laying that bullshit to rest, although I do prefer his rawer earlier improvised lines than his post-classical expedition output, circa the eighties. Does anyone have a right to play whatever type of music they wish? Of course. Do I have to listen to it? Celebrate it? Or even just stay silent over my contempt? No. An Eton and Cambridge educated, multi-millionaire thespian singing a song which happens to have a 12-bar blues chord structure is naturally dismissible to my ears as a BLUES, even if Graham Norton does plug it. If you were to forward to 6’19” in the Norton clip (from 2011, when Hugh was plugging his last effort), you’d hear Laurie sing this line…

“She won’t cook my dinner, won’t wash my clothes, won’t do nothing but walk the road…”

I assume he’s talking about his house-keeper?

Genuineness, that’s what I go for. Hugh Laurie’s sound/intonation/delivery is weak. He wouldn’t get a record deal if his names wasn’t Hugh Laurie. I’d even go as far to say it’s all a bit of a joke. If he really dug football, for as long and with as much passion as his love for the blues, and he fancied himself as a bit of a player, would he have channeled his efforts/money/personnel/connections into trying to break into a professional side? I’m sure QPR would have taken him on, but still?! His attempt to earn a crust as a blues performer is both egocentric and undermining to his musical heroes.

Genuineness, that’s what I go for. Talking of shit voices, here’s an example of how an experience of social-struggle, unrestrained artistic belief, uber confidence, and a genuine witty bravado can heighten even the most grating/nasally/whiney of tones…

John Lydon knows he should be on that stage, Hugh Laurie obviously doesn’t (you can tell he’s not 100% comfortable), and quite frankly he shouldn’t. But if you really have to put yourself in the spotlight, entertain for fuck’s sake, don’t just feed the sixth-from, dormitory ego.

 

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