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Fri, Mar 12, 2004 1:25 pm)


THE FEBRUARY HITLIST:
25 ALBUMS

FEATURED ALBUM:
LOVEBOX by GROOVE ARMADA

FEATURED WINE:
Domaine Louis Chèze,
"Cuvée Ro-Rée, 1999
Saint Joseph, France,

2002: THE YEAR IN REVIEW
Ten Major Memories and a number of lists

INTERPOL in concert

JOE STRUMMER: A TRIBUTE

THE DECEMBER HITLIST:
5 ALBUMS, EPs, MIX CDS, COMPILATIONS and SONGS

the iJamming! Book Review
WHY TERRORISM WORKS
by Alan Dershowitz

CABERNET FRANC
The 'Other' Cabernet Grape Takes Root In New York
Part 1: The Basics/Regions
Part 2: New York Wines
Part 3: Loire Wines
Part 4: Conclusions

THE NOVEMBER HITLIST
30 Albums 10 Songs

HOW MUCH WILL IT HURT?:
Tips for the marathon virgin.

FEATURED ALBUM

FEATURED WINE

FEATURED MIX CD

From the Jamming! Archives:
THE JAM
Interviewed in 1979

The iJamming! Interview: UNDERWORLD
NOW WITH LIVE PHOTOS

Coming and Going
Chapter 3: THE PALACE

The iJamming! Interview
RICHARD BUTLER Part 2

From the Jamming! Archives:
ADAM ANT
Interviewed in 1978

REMARKS REMADE:
Available Now!
The introduction to the new edition of my R.E.M. biography is here.

A Decade In Dance
BT & BANCO DE GAIA
10 Years (Apiece)

2 MANY TASTINGS:
The iJamming! Wine Round Up October 2002, including:
Sauvignon Blanc
Chardonnay
Pinot Noir
Rhône Rangers
Southern France
Zinfandel

HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT
The whole 1990s catalogue

From the Jamming! Archives:
PAUL WELLER
interviewed in 1978

The iJamming! interview:
CARL COX

GOLDEN SHOT hostess 'Lee Patrick' recalls her time as Keith Moon's amour

HEDONISM:
An intrigue of early 90s New York nightlife.
NEW CHAPTER now online

From the Jamming! Archives:
U2 interviewed in 1984.

iJamming! Wino/Muso:
JOHN ACQUAVIVA

The iJAMMING! interview:
DAVID SYLVIAN

From the Keith Moon archives:
the JEFF BECK interview .

The iJAMMING! chat:
MARK PERRY

TRAVIS.
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song."

From the JAMMING! archives: The Story That Spawned Creation

The iJAMMING! interview:
BOY GEORGE.

The full iJamming! Contents

iJAMMING! is a music and lifestyle web site hosted by
author, journalist and dee jay Tony Fletcher.
Click on the buttons above to access all areas of the site.
For the latest additions, scroll down the index at left.
To find something specific, use the search engine on your left.
Full iJamming! contents here. iJamming! mission statement here.
You are in the right place for Tony's daily musings.

TONY FLETCHER WILL BE GUEST DJ ON THURSDAY FEBRUARY 20 AT LIT, 93 2nd AVENUE (between 5th and 6th St) IN MANHATTAN, AS PART OF THE WEEKLY RESTRICTED NIGHT. ADMISSION IS FREE (OVER 21 ONLY); THE NIGHT STARTS AT 10PM. THIS SET WILL BE ALL 7" SINGLES, BUT OTHERWISE UN-RESTRICTED: EXPECT LOTS OF SOUL, R&B, PUNK, NEW WAVE, INDIE-SCHMINDIE, BRITBEAT AND MANY AN OBSCURITY.

SUNDAY FEBRUARY 16

SNUG PINK FACE or...

MORE WORDS FROM THE WOODS

One of the more rewarding aspects of being secluded away - as I have been for most of the past two weeks - is the opportunity to read during the down time, rather than partake in any of the usual ongoing distractions. I've been catching up on a couple of British magazines, and the fact that they're dated December matters little – as far as I'm concerned, if a story can't be relevant a couple of months after publication, it was never relevant in the first place.

So I enjoyed tucking into the new magazine Snug, "a haven for drinkers and thinkers." The premise sounds perfectly and personally attractive – replicating a 'snug' ("a small room in a pub") and the conversation therein, which as the night wears on and the beers take their course, is usually about anything and everything.

Jarvis Cocker: snug as a rug in a pub

But this is an inherently hit-or-miss formula. On the plus side, raconteur, wit and British treasure Jarvis Cocker makes an ideal debut cover star on the eve of his departure for French shores and parenthood, especially given his modest perspective on past and future fame and fortune. Of Pulp's current inactivity, he says no decisions are likely to be made until later in 2003. "I just think it's better like that. Otherwise it gets a bit like Communist Russia, a 5 year plan. And I don’t think life's like that. The good thing about life is that you make it up a bit as you go along."

And he has a healthy sense of humor about moving to France on the potential eve of a world war. "Why d'you think I'm moving like a rat deserting a sinking ship? France never gets involved in a war. Soon as one bullet's fired 'We surrender.'" Funny he should have noticed that; it's been a hot topic in the States of late, too.

On the down side, space is given to people like so-called 'TV celebrity' Lisa Rogers spouting off on the same subjects, but with none of the wit or self-deprecation. "You've got a nation who, until September last year [2001], never experienced any questioning of their lives and how they perceived themselves – which was basically as being more important than anyone else." Nice generalization of 260,000,000 people, Lisa. Would she like those of us who live here to try the same catch-all judgement call on Europe? Or should we consider ourselves "too important" to bother? Fortunately, only a handful of those 260,000,000 Americans will ever have heard of this latest parochial British TV star (have you noticed that all these pin-up TV babes are not just bottle-blonde, but distinctly Caucasian to boot? Anyone want to explain why?), so we can afford to take her world views with a large dose of salt.

Elsewhere, it was fun to read a deliciously dry interview with a proper television legend, Alan Whicker (on his encounter with Haiti dictator Papa Doc, "He was always careful to perform these nice little gestures that one truly appreciates, like not shooting one,") and less so to read a heard-it-all-before round-the-pub-table debate about pornography. All in all though, I found Snug entertaining and, in small doses, educational too. And it's made all the more thirsty for my trip back to my birthplace Beverley, at Easter, and one pub in particular – Nell's – which still has the same snugs it was built with, in the 15th Century.

I found the December issue of the Face fascinating for one reason. (And no, it wasn't the six-page photo spread of New York's supposed next generation of electro-clash stars; check back in six months to see if we've heard again from Morplay or Avenue D.) I don't pay too much attention to the American musical mainstream: I think I prefer seeing and feeling the impact of the latest platinum sensation more than watching them come to fame in the first place. For example, I only found out the other week that Norah Jones was Ravi Shankar's daughter, which was in the same conversation with a musician friend about whether Avril Lavigne is really a streetwise skater chick, or just successfully marketed that way by a major label shrewd enough to know that after several years of Britney fever, American kids were ready to be sold the anti-Britney.

This is a pre-amble to say I didn't know much about Pink, except that she appears to have somehow made herself popular with both the club audience and the anti-Britney kids, with both R&B and hip-hop producers and with punkettes. Sheryl Garrett's superb cover story on the 23-year old reveal why: not only does Pink exude star talent across the revealing photo spread, not only is she way smarter than all the British TV bimbettes put together (I'm serious: many of her quotes display a better understanding of her current superstar status than your average 40-year old has-been could hope for with the benefit of two decades' hindsight), but her rise to fame, or at least her childhood, breathes - bleeds – familiarity.

I've been ensconced upstate editing my novel about kids who came to New York in the early 90s, running away from abusive or simply dysfunctional families, desperately hoping that the apparently glamorous nightlife of the Big Apple would provide them with the friendship, comfort and security they so desperately sought for themselves. Some became flamboyant club kids, some got seriously into the whole industrial-gothic-S&M cult, and a large number jumped on rave as the genuine wave of the future and a movement of their own, only to then let it become instead a front for hardcore drug experimentation way beyond their understanding. Not surprisingly, a number of these kids didn't make it much into their twenties.

Pink, though she never made the move to New York from her native Philly, doesn't just sound like one of these kids, she obviously is one of them. She continually ran away from home, hung on the streets with similarly lost children learning skateboarding and breakdancing, experienced pistol-whippings as well as shootings, immersed herself in a club scene "fuelled by a mixture of ecstasy, ketamine, crystal meth, angel dust and coke" and then watched helplessly as some friends progressed to heroin and died from it. Others were killed in drink-driving accidents. She probably knows a few who were murdered or just disappeared, too.

A typical Face fashion shoot...Except that's platinum star Pink showing why she's popular with the girls...

Pink's background is sadly unexceptional for urban kids in the nineties. (And yes, the movie Kids told it very well.) What makes her story different is that she had the determination, the charisma – and the voice - to escape from it. Much of that rise – her enrollment in girl groups, her selection by LA Reid as his "new superstar", her double-platinum debut club-R&B album – has been well documented. (Less so perhaps the fact that she went back to working at a gas station while waiting for her debut album to be finished, rather than suck up to Reid for more up-front cash and lose even more artistic control.) And certainly her decision to break from the production line and seek out former 4 Non Blondes songwriter Linda Perry to work on her new album M!ssunderstood was an act of gut artistic instinct that's paid off in multi-platinum spades.

But the music, to me, is secondary to the background story of streetwise survival tactics that have enabled her to carve an entirely individual path through the maze of over-produced sensations. The characters who populate Hedonism are so over-the-top I sometimes have to do a reality check to remind myself they really (could have) existed; reading the interview with Pink, I know she could have been one of them. Those who've read earlier Hedonism drafts will appreciate that I can't go without this wonderful response to Garratt's straight-up question as to why Pink appeals to gay girls. (And no, she hasn't gone that way herself, Pink insists.)

"'Let me ask a couple,'" she says, shouting out to her friend and assistant Laura Wilson. 'What's my appeal to gay girls?'
Laughing, she relays the answer down the phone. 'Because I'm strong, assertive, cool, hot. And Laura likes my nipples."

Said nipples are, perhaps uncoincidentally, prominently displayed throughout the Face photo spread.


I'm posting this Saturday night, back in town for little more than 12 hours, basically enough time to have an anniversary dinner with the missus, watch Palace play Leeds in the FA Cup on an 8am Sunday kick-off, and then head off upstate again to clean up the book edit while also hosting my mother on a visit over England and entertaining the kid during his winter week off school! Fortunately, the manuscript's basically done (I'm printing it out as I type), so I look forward to posting a few times over the coming week about the things we all love and which I know you visit this site for. One of those things I love that I keep mostly to myself: my wife Posie, who I met thirteen years ago today (Feb 16). Who'd have thought....? (Oh, and for anyone who thinks I got all mainstream with recommending music and wine for Valentine's Day, you may be relieved to know I spent mine eating ratatouille for the 4th night in a row listening to MP3s because my CD drive broke while working through until 4 in the morning surrounded by sub-zero cold and much snow - and that my sole company through all this was a log fire! Not, I should add, that I'm complaining...)


WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 12

REVIEWS IN REVIEW

The February Playlist is up: 25 new albums given brief reviews and, for the first time, grades. Maybe Campbell's school reports are rubbing off on me. Maybe it's all the fuss over wine scores. Maybe I just want to qualify my statements with a basic thumbs up or down. Anyway, please stop over and take a gander. As is often the case of a new year, there's lots of new acts demanding a chance to be heard – and plenty deserving of it.

And while we're talking recent reviews, don't forget the Featured Album (Groove Armada's Lovebox), and the Featured Wine (the Domaine Cheze Saint Joseph), both suitable for Valentine's Day should you care. And also my 2002: Year In Review if you haven't seen it yet. I believe that the Village Voice annual Pazz & Jop Poll is out today. I'll comment on it when I've had a chance to read it.

I was glad to see, in a recent Newsweek interview, that Norman Mailer is indeed talking sense on the occasion of his 80th birthday. (I was worried for the sanity of our ageing authors after hearing a radio interview with Gore Vidal.) No need to quote from the interview, but a quote from his new book on writing, the Spooky Art, seems applicable while I'm holed up in the snow sucking down grapefruits, making big pots of ratatouille, and focusing on my writing.

"Over the years, I've found one rule…It's a simple rule. If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are asking your unconscious to prepare the material… If you wake up in the morning with a hangover… your unconscious, after a few such failures to appear, will withdraw."


MONDAY FEBRUARY 10

THIS WEEK'S FOR LOVERS

Two new postings before I head back upstate for the week to edit Hedonism. They're both suitable for Valentine's Day should you be in the mood. The featured album review is of the new Groove Armada opus Lovebox. A perfect wine to accompany it is one I discovered on Valentine's Day a few years back and has become a perennial for me: the Domaine Louis Chèze,"Cuvée Ro-Rée, from Saint Joseph in France.

The February playlist is just about laid out and ready to go. I'll post it when I need a break from fiction. Those other interviews and features, though I know I keep promising them, will have to wait until after this week.


MONDAY FEBRUARY 10

FEEL ALRIGHT

The first time I saw Supergrass play live was several years ago, on their debut American tour, at the Mercury Lounge. They were being tagged in with the whole Britpop boom thanks to the breakout hit 'Alright', but there was something that clearly made the trio stand out from any other band of teenage Brits with hits: their musicianship. It was apparent throughout the gig, but I remember being particularly astounded by their cover version of Kenny Rogers ''Condition' in which they made the difficult syncopation of the riff sound like the kind of exercise they'd complete before breakfast.

That musicianship was equally apparent last night, Sunday, at the Bowery Ballroom. It's not always hip to show off your musical chops, but Supergrass indicate clearly how a band that enjoys playing live and delivers to the best of its ability will never suffer for a lack of following. Augmented now by singer/guitarist Gaz Coombes' brother Rob on keyboards, the quartet (which also includes, of course, Mickey Quinn on bass and Danny Goffey on drums) ran through some 20 songs with equal parts ferocity, humor, subtlety and charisma.

Supergrass had opened their American tour at Southpaw on Saturday night (no, I didn't go); their previous show before that was at the 8,000 capacity Wembley Arena in London. Sometimes, this sudden downsizing can have its downfalls: the sound is too big, the group too cocky. Neither was a problem at the Bowery, where the mix was crystalline, the lights dazzling (though the strobes were used to over-effect), Coombes' voice clearer even than on record and the overall energy level quite astounding.

The first five songs were all from the new album Life on Other Planets, a ballsy move given that the record is only out in the States this week, and one that made for an understandably subdued beginning. Then again, it allowed the lighter, more relaxed and more overtly glam-influenced style Supergrass to shine, especially on 'See The Light'.

Having got these niceties out of the way, Coombes and co. spent the rest of the night alternating between the old and the new. My personal highlights were spectacular versions of 'Sun Hits The Sky' and 'Moving' though I was also well taken with the new songs 'Grace' and 'Funniest Thing'. Quinn stepped to the mike for the particularly punky 'Never Done Nothing Like That Before' and Goffey once again put on an astoundingly precise impersonation of Keith Moon, right down to white jeans, body inflections, and a Pearl kit. Gaz Coombes was every bit the casual rock star, peppering his introductions with effusive gratitude and the occasional American buzzword like 'awesome.' He's a natural, is Coombes, and it's to his lasting credit that he doesn’t show off: only on something like the cover of Neil Young's 'The Loner' did he really let go, allowing us to realize just what a great guitar player he really is.

Supergrass came to fame as cheeky chappies, and now that they're in their mid-late twenties, with small familes and, probably, small fortunes, you'd expect them to turn their back on their early material. But while there was no 'Alright' (or 'Going Out'), they dropped 'Sitting Up Straight' into the middle of the set and closed out the night with the ever-hilarious 'Caught By The Fuzz.' We'll call that a tie. Or a draw. The club emptied to the sound of Slade; this is a band unafraid to advertise its influences. And entirely devoted to having a good time. It's always a pleasure.

Supergrass at Bowery Ballroom playing 'Caught By The Fuzz' as their final encore, 11.31pm. Photo posted at 12.25 am. Not trying to prove anything - except that I've learned from taking a digital camera to a gig to just keep snapping away throughout the night: sometimes the best photo is the last one you take.



SATURDAY FEBRUARY 8

WILD(LIFE) RESULTS

So if you're a regular reader, you'll know that I didn't post the last few days as I was ensconced upstate on the last edits for Hedonism. (And will be next week too.) I couldn't help getting distracted by nature – after a solid 25 days and nights of sub-freezing temperatures (which someone told me is the longest coldest snap since 1937) there was a brief thaw on Tuesday, after which it immediately clamped down to freezing weather again. The result, apart from turning everything into an ice rink, was to con some of the wildlife into thinking winter might be over. By the end of the week, I'd seen my first squirrel of the season, heard my first birds in the morning (and what was probably a fox yelping too), and also had the pleasure of seeing a couple of deer grazing out back. When you're used to spending your whole year in the inner city, such evidence of nature's cycle can be quite stirring, so forgive me the occasional 'wide-eyed innocent' post as I continue to marvel at the beauty of our planet in its relatively uncorrupted glory over coming months.

I'm not entirely removed from the news up there: I'm tuned into the local NPR station on the radio, and I can run into town to get the NY Times and check my e-mail. (All of which keep me well-informed on war talk.) But I deliberately don't have an internet connection there, and while it allows me to focus on my work (or rest, if it's a family weekend) it means I can't check the football results like I normally would. This past week that didn't really bother me: as a Palace fan, I'm so used to heartbreak that I honestly figured our 0-0 home draw with Liverpool in the FA Cup two weeks ago was as close to Wembley (sorry, Cardiff) as we were going to come this season. Bless my mum then for calling me from England on Wednesday night with the shock news that Palace had actually beaten Liverpool in the Replay – and at Anfield - 2-0.

I've never felt further away from a major Palace game, and couldn't let the night pass without more details; three subsequent phone calls with my New York Palace friend Geoffrey revealed that Palace had been gifted the game by Liverpool's star-studded front line's own incompetence. The two of us did have a good laugh at the fact that, in the words of Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier, "the turning point was Emile Heskey's amazing miss when he ran 70 yards on his own but still failed to beat 'keeper Cedric Bertelin." I said it throughout the World Cup, I said it last week, and I'll say it again: Heskey is a donkey. Anyone who disagrees is welcome to send me a video of him actually scoring goals, and with real skill – not brute force – to prove otherwise.

So next up, the Fifth Round against another Premier League side, Leeds United, who just happen to be managed by Terry Venables. Palace fans and players alike should need no explanation as to why they'll want to stick it to the club's twice former manager - and hopefully get him finally sacked by Leeds in the process. Then again, there is that part of me that already remembers which side Venables was on back in 1976, when as a Third Division side Palace beat Leeds (and Chelsea and Sunderland) on a memorable Cup Run that stopped one game short of the Final. Eleven years old at the time, I had tickets for that game up at Elland Road, but caught the flu a couple of days before: that and the Scarborough Third Round games were the only ones I missed in the whole legendary Cup Run. (Malcolm Allison! Peter Taylor! Alan Whittle! David Swindlehurst! Fiona Richmond!) I see the Palace-Leeds game is to be televised on Sunday the 16th: I'm meant to be out of town and am frantically trying to re-arrange my plans so I can watch it in a bar in NYC at 8 in the morning. As I think the saying goes, you can take the boy out of Crystal Palace, but you can't take Crystal Palace out of the boy. And believe me, when the footie results go right, I'm no longer a grown man: I'm a boy.


Deliberate segue. Still no satisfactory elaboration from the BBC upon their original explanation that they pulled a documentary on Keith Moon because "it featured Pete Townshend." It’s cowardly behavior and it’s seriously affected, in my mind, the Beeb's long-standing claim that they are impartial, neutrality and/or stand above the fray. If you want to remind the BBC that Townshend is not a convicted criminal, and that anyway, the Who guitar player's own legal standing should not cause the British Broadcasting Corporation to postpone a previously-made documentary about a drummer who has been dead for almost 25 years, then this feedback page would be the best place to start.

By snail mail, you might want to write to:
"The Head of Programme Complaints":
Programme Complaints Unit
B.B.C. Broadcasting House
London. W12 7RJ.

Not entirely by coincidence, I was just interviewed for yet another documentary about Keith Moon. It's for Channel 4 – yes, again – and I opted to be included for three reasons.
1) I'm pissed at the BBC.
2) The series is being presented by Sean Rowley, who I know and like and, I suppose, trust to some extent to do a fair job.
3) It's part of a genuinely interesting series entitled Rock Myths, which attempts to unravel the truth behind such stories as, for example, Robert Johnson selling his soul to the Devil; the Rolling Stones police bust at Redlands, involving Marianne Faithfull and the Mars bar (an urban legend if ever there was one); Dennis Wilson's connections to Charles Manson; and Keith Moon's 21st birthday party, focusing on the well-notated incident of his driving a car into the swimming pool.

Car backed into ditch: not mine, I hasten to add...

If you've read Dear Boy/Moon, you'll know that I couldn't find anyone who saw a car go in the swimming pool at that party and I'm not sure the TV Crew has either. There was the later occasion at Tara, in the 1970s, where Keith inadvertently backed his Roller into the pond on his property and left it there long enough for a photo op; along the way, people may well have associated one incident with the other, and believed what they wanted to. For my own part, I must have subconsciously been trying to get back into Moon's character again, because before driving back downstate for the interview and an NYC weekend, I succeeded in reversing my car into a snow-covered ditch - in my own driveway! It was there long enough to take a photo (in fact, it was in deep enough I had to call a tow truck); sadly for you, I didn't have a camera. Why does this stuff only happen to me when I give up all alcohol to focus on work? (I did similarly crazy stuff in the month before the marathon.) I'm off to some mega Italian wine dinner tonight, so presumably all my faculties will be back tomorrow;->


WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 5

A TALE OF THREE ICONS

1) KEITH MOON, PETE TOWNSHEND AND THE BBC

You'll recall my quizzical outburst the other day about the BBC's decision to withdraw its Keith Moon documentary hours before broadcast. Who news hound Brian Cady was one of those who wrote to the BBC for explanation. He tells me he received the following reply (which includes an introductory and outgoing paragraph of politeness):

"I am sorry that you were disappointed that the billed programme featuring Keith Moon was replaced by the Dusty Springfield edition of the programme. This particular programme was postponed because it features Pete Townshend, and in light of recent news stories, it was felt best not to screen the show. The programme will be shown in the future although no transmission date has yet been confirmed."

Townshend and Moon in happier times

Come again? The show was postponed "because it features Pete Townshend"? That's meant to be a legitimate reason to cancel a documentary? As I wrote the other day, Townshend may have had his name dragged through the mud regarding the British child pornography scandal, but he is yet to be charged with a crime. The more information that surfaces about the cautionary steps he took while conducting his research, the less chance there is that the police will waste any more of the public's precious resources by putting him through the courts.

Yet even were Townshend to be charged, he remains innocent until proven guilty. And even were he to be found guilty, it's impossible to see how his appearance on a British TV show (taken from archived sources, incidentally) would conflict with the BBC's charter. More so, this programme, ostensibly about Keith Moon (not Pete Townshend) was a documentary, and documentaries are, by their very nature, intended to offer an independent, newsworthy point of view on a subject.

In summary then, the supposedly impartial BBC allowed itself to become part of a media witch-hunt by which process a treasured and revered national figure becomes persona non grata overnight. Stalin would have been proud of such a compliant national media outlet. (I do trust that controllers at BBC Radio have not proven similarly cowardly and suddenly stopped broadcasting Who songs because they "feature Pete Townshend".) The next time I see the BBC conduct an interview with a convicted murderer, or give valuable air time to known terrorists, I will try and remember their brave words above.

I suggest that everyone who is similarly outraged complain to the BBC, so that a) the show still goes out as vaguely promised, and b) the controllers responsible think twice before taking such pathetically cowardly action again. The BBC Web Site offers many avenues to make contact; I'm currently holed away without fast access to the Net but I will supply an e-mail address as soon as I find one.

2) PHIL SPECTOR

Phil Spector in happier times

After writing my Keith Moon biography, I felt that there was only one other figure from contemporary musical history about whom I was similarly impassioned as to spend so much time and emotional energy researching and writing a book. That person was Phil Spector. I decided against pursuing the project primarily because there had been a relatively good biography published in the 1990s that, not so co-incidentally, I recall Spector's lawyers as managing to have removed from the bookshelves in either the USA or the UK. (I will check when I'm back in New York.) Considering the opposition I would be up against from the subject, and the relatively good job undertaken by author Marc Ribowsky, I left the idea alone.

Perhaps it's just as well. The 62-year old Spector, who has a long history of domestic violence and was known to carry guns into the recording studio, has been charged in the shooting death of a 40-year old woman at his house. Though this is an immense shock to the system – we can forgive our musical idols many things, but murder is not among them – it's still less a surprise than were Townshend to be charged with his crime and found guilty. Sadly, Spector's dark side overshadowed his creativity for most of the last three decades; it may be (allowing, of course, innocence until proven otherwise) that it finally took him over completely.

3) GORE VIDAL

Some of us know him as an author, others as an outspoken critic of contemporary America and the forces that run it. In his latest book, Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta, Vidal has combined the two. No problems there.

Vidal was interviewed on the Leonard Lopate show on WNYC on Monday morning. He was preceded by an interview with Robert Kagan, author of a new essay book Of Paradise And Power: America and Europe in the New World Order, whom Lopate cross-examined quite harshly, which is fine. But Lopez then sat back and let Vidal spout absolute nonsense for the best part of half an hour. Here are three particularly egregious examples I managed to type out as I was listening.

Saddam Hussein, says Vidal, is a "Poor little dictator at the far end of the earth?" Poor? Little? Dictator is something even Vidal agrees on. But "far end of the earth?" Since when was Iraq, the cradle of civilization positioned at the very core of the Middle East, the "far end of the earth"? Is not its globally central position precisely the reason this crisis seems so earth threatening?

"The Taliban had nothing to do with 9/11. Why not bomb Denmark? It also had nothing to do with 9/11. You'd get much better pictures." I don't think I can comment on this one.

And then this. Vidal used the term "they" a lot during his discussion. Given Vidal's current book, I will take "they" to mean Bush, Cheney and possibly the rest of the Administration. Earlier, Robert Kagan had justified, in some detail, why Saddam Hussein deserved the comparisons to Adolf Hitler. Vidal, not responding directly to Kagan, but talking about the Administration's obsession with the comparison, said the following:

"They only know three names. They know about Adolf Hitler, they know about Elizabeth Taylor, I assume they know about Michael Jackson."

Is this the reasoning of an intellectual? Are such words meant to contribute to an enlightening debate? By such childish statements, are we meant to avoid a war? His supporters might tell me to lighten up, that Vidal is a novelist and therefore given to fictional rhetoric. But he was not speaking as a novelist; he was speaking as the author of a non-fiction book that claims to have an intelligent and original perspective on our current crisis. By his spoken words on the subject, he's entirely negated any reason for me to follow his written words on the subject. Please tell me Norman Mailer has been making more sense in his current round of interviews…

BEND IT LIKE BOBBY MOORE

And to end on something 100% positive, the New York Times yesterday ran a wonderfully uplifting story by George Vecsey about West Ham United's active participation in the Academy of Football. Purposefully reaching out to the (South) Asian immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India, those who now heavily populate the traditionally white working class East End of London, the West Ham Academy, under tutor Mick King, aims to break down some of the racial barriers that have so far forestalled South Asians from playing professionally in the UK. As if inviting local school kids on to the famed Upton Park pitch for proper training sessions is not good enough, as if classroom sessions about nutrition and exercise, and videos featuring black English players proclaiming 'Show Racism The Red Card' is not even better, the programme also welcomes both sexes. The pictures of the young Asian girls practicing ball skills on an internationally famous field suggests that the movie Bend It Like Beckham may not be complete fiction, and that one day female English players won't need an American college scholarship to make a career in the game a reality. Perhaps because of their colors (claret and blue, same as Palace in the old days), perhaps because of their reputation as a 'family-owned club' (the last in England to be run by its founders, according to the Times), I've always had something of a soft spot for the Hammers. Their employment of the odious Lee Bowyer aside, this is a genuine reason to support them.


MONDAY FEBRUARY 3

BREAKING NEWS...

I't gives me great pleasure to be able to announce that Omnibus Press will be publishing my debut novel, HEDONISM, in the UK this summer. I've put an incredible amount of work into this story over the last few years, and so you can imagine how thrilled I will be to finally see it in print. The work is not yet over though: as of today, I'm putting my head down for a two-week final edit and trimming job. (A 'polish', as I believe they call it in the trade.) That means Daily Musings will be held back to a minimum, not least because I'll be out of town and without regular access to the Internet. Fear not, there will be postings: when I need a distraction from the novel, I'm going to post the bigger features that are sitting on my laptop waiting to be dropped into the newly refined design. (What do you think of the new color scheme and lay out, by the way? Only a subtle difference, but suitably sharper and more attractive, I believe. Thanks to Vince for all his help.)

The first of these longer postings is up now. My 2002: THE YEAR IN REVIEW includes my Ten Major Memories and a Number of Lists. It's a three-pager that's afforded me an important chance to reflect on where I've been going this past year and where I intend to travel over the coming year. On it, you'll find reflections and Best-ofs pertaining to Records, Books, Concerts, More Records, Films, DJing, Politics, football, Icons and New York City – all the usual topics discussed on this site, with the exception of Wine. (It was one Top Ten List too many!) Head on over and have a gander. If it's your first time here, it might give you a good insight into what I write about on this site. If you're a regular, you'll probably be intrigued by some of my round-ups anyway. And in the meantime, I hope to have another feature up on Wednesday.

2003 MUSINGS:
JANUARY 27-FEBRUARY 2: Communist Chic, Spiritland, Daddy You're A Hero, Keith Moon, State of the Union, CPFC and more on Iraq
JANUARY 20-26: Divisions of Laura Lee, Burning Brides, Words On War, Child Abuse of a Different Kind, Losing My Edge
JANUARY 13-19: Pete Townshend, Pee Wee Herman, South Park and more Pete Townshend
JANUARY 6-12: Interpol in concert, Tony Fletcher's Top 10 Albums and Singles of 2002, More on Joe Strummer and The Clash, Fever Pitch and Bend It Like Beckham.
DECEMBER 31 2002 -JAN 5 2003: A tribute to Joe Strummer, Radio 4 live on New Year's Eve
2002 MUSINGS:
DECEMBER 25-30: NO POSTINGS: ON VACATION
DECEMBER 16-24: Metro Area, Breakbeat Science, Sting makes Wine, New York Downtown redesigns, Keith Moon anecdotes, Campbell's jokes.
DECEMBER 9-15:
Tiswas, pledge drives, The View from Up North
DECEMBER 2-8 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Weekend Players and Snow Lit Piano Bars)
FOR NOVEMBER 25-29 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Joe Hurley, Thanksgiving, Sven
Väth, Richie Hawtin)
FOR NOVEMBER 16-24 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Longwave, The Pleased, Get Your War On, Powder, Radio 4, Supreme Beings Of Leisure, Ben Neill, Baldwin Brothers, Thievery Corporation)
FOR NOVEMBER 9-15 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes CMJ report including Datsuns, von Bondies and My Favorite, and political Eagles)
FOR NOVEMBER 2-8 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Halloween, the New York Marathon, and British Cuisine)
FOR OCTOBER 26-NOV 1 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes live reviews of The Streets, Mooney Suzuki, Sahara Hotnights, Flaming Sideburns, Stellastarr*; Jam Master Jay; Halloween)
FOR OCTOBER 19-25 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Underworld live, Atlantic Avenue antics, Girls and Boys night)
FOR OCTOBER 12-18 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Bali Bombing and stupid editorials, the Electro-Clash festival, VHS Or Beta, Ballboy, Mindless Self Indulgence, 2 Many DJs, Tom Petty, The Streets, pointless stop-the-war e-mails)
FOR OCTOBER 5-11 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Steve Earle and John Walker's Blues, Dreaming Of Britney, Girls Against Boys and Radio 4)
FOR SEPTEMBER 28-OCT 4 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes White Stripes live, Morel live, My Generation re-issue)
FOR SEPTEMBER 21-27 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes The Creation live, Village Voice, Wine not Whine and more)
FOR SEPTEMBER 14-20 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Firefighter Andre Fletcher, Untamed, Uncut, and more September 11 Musings)
FOR SEPTEMBER 7-13 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Sep 11 memorials, Did Bin Laden Win?, Scissor Sisters and Electro-clash)
FOR AUGUST 31-SEPTEMBER 6 MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes The Strokes live, The Rising, Saint Etienne, Team USA, a.i., Tahiti 80, Dot Allison)
FOR AUGUST 17-30 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes holiday musings, wine reviews, Luna at Southpaw, and more)
FOR AUGUST 10-16 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes lengthy Who live review)
FOR JULY 27-AUG 9 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Area 2, 24 Hour Party People Party, Hootenanny Tour, 2 Many DJs and more.
FOR JULY 20-26 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Wilson Pickett, John Entwistle, rebuilding downtown NYC)
FOR JULY 13-19 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Love Parade, Teany, RenewNYC, Femi Kuti, NRA, Londonisation of New York, Britishification of Global Rock)
FOR JULY 6-12 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes Mike Meyers as Keith Moon, the RAVE Act, John Entwistle, Michael Jackson, Southpaw, Moby Online, Layo & Bushwacka!,
(accidentally deleted)
FOR JUNE 29-JULY 5 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes World Cup Final, John Entwistle's legacy, The Who's decision to carry on, the meaning of July 4)
FOR JUNE 22-28 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes World Cup diary, Dr. John, Doves, Mermaid Parade, John Entwistle's death, Timothy White's death, Clinic Firewater and Radio 4 live, The Who's decision to carry on)
FOR JUNE 15-21 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes World Cup diary, Liars live, GiantFingers, the Big Takeover)
FOR JUNE 8 -14 DAILY MUSINGS CLICK HERE (includes World Cup diary, StellaStarr*, Jose Padilla, Dee Dee Ramone, suicide bombings)
FOR JUNE 1-7 DAILY MUSINGS, CLICK HERE (includes World Cup diary, Southpaw, Six Foot Under, Andrew Sullivan)
FOR LATE MAY DAILY MUSINGS, CLICK HERE
FOR MAY'S EIGHT DAYS IN A WEEK'S MUSINGS, CLICK HERE
FOR LATE APRIL LONDON MUSINGS, CLICK HERE
FOR EARLY APRIL MUSINGS, CLICK HERE


iJamming! Site Copyright Tony Fletcher 2003