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What's new in iJamming!...
(Last updated
Thu, May 8, 2003)
The iJAMMING! interview
(at last)
Featured Mix CD
Grandmaster Flash Essential Mix Classic Edition
30 Albums, 10 Songs, 5 books and a handful of movies.
Eight Days in A Week's Music:
Ed Harcourt, Vines, Candy Butchers, Timo Maas, Ashley Casselle & Adam Freeland, Aerial Love Feed, and enough little club nights to shake several sticks at.
Tony's (lengthy) trip down nostalgia lane from his visit home at the end of April. Stop-offs include Death Disco, old Jamming! Magazines, life-long friendships, road trips to Brighton, Damilola Taylor and political frustration, Morrissey-Marr, Zeitgeist, Oasis, Dexys, Primal Scream, the current British music scene and more.
Jack magazine comes out of the starting gate with the banner headline "best new men's mag in years."
Ternhaven Cellars Claret d'Alvah 1998
'Hard Grind' by LITTLE AXE
Why I re-wrote the book: The introduction to the new edition of my R.E.M. biography, due out this summer through Omnibus.
Chemical Brothers, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Paul Westerberg, Skywalking, Joe Strummer, Radio 4, and Aquatulle.
A weekend with John Mayer, Sugarcult - and Elvis
Michael Greene's Grammy Speech: An Invitation to Download?
Plus: 10 things they forgot to tell you at the Grammys.
What the Hell Is Going On Here?
From the Jamming! Archives:
interviewed in 1978
"A number one single would be a bit scary."
The iJamming! interview:
"'Acid Trax' by Phuture came out and I was just 'Okay, forget all hip hop and all old school rare groove right here, this is it.'"
The Best Of 2001
Tony Fletcher's Top Albums, Concerts, Singles and Books - and comments on the Village Voice Poll
MUSING on The Manhattan 'Edge':
Will the Island Ever Again Be A 'Cultural Ground Zero?'
hostess 'Lee Patrick' recalls her time as Keith Moon's amour
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN: "Flowers is Echo & The Bunnymen's finest hour since Ocean Rain."
An intrigue of early 90s New York nightlife.
NEW CHAPTER now online
From the Jamming! Archives:
U2 interviewed in 1984.
"It's not U2 that's creating this great art. . .There's something that works through us to create in this way."
iJamming! Wino/Muso:
"New world wines are just too techno for me."
Featured wine region 3:
Featured wine region 4:
iJamming! interview:
Jesse Hartman, aka LAPTOP
"Every New York band knows the meaning of failure"
MIX Albums:
Who, what and why you should bother
"I don't think people realize that life can become so exciting and interesting that it can draw you away for long periods of time from creating music - & why not?"
From the Keith Moon archives:
the JEFF BECK interview .
The iJAMMING! chat:

"If I was asked why Sniffin' Glue was so important, it was the way we conducted ourselves, the style of it, just the attitude. It had attitude in abundance didn't it?"
Forgotten Classics:
THE CHILLS: Brave Words
THE iJAMMING! Book Review:
SNIFFIN' GLUE: The Essential Punk Accessory
From the JAMMING! archives: PAUL WELLER ON POP
Featured wine region 2:
From the JAMMING! archives: ALTERNATIVE TV
interviewed in 1978
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song." (And why Liam Gallagher "is going to turn into a really great songwriter.")
Featured Artist Web Site:
From the JAMMING! archives: The Story That Spawned Creation
Featured vine:
Finally, a worthy rival to Chardonnay.
The iJAMMING! interview:
"Once you've had your go, what-ever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it."
Featured wine region 1:
The full iJamming! Contents
What's new in iJAMMING!?

Friday June 21: BLACK FRIDAY

No postings. A day of silence instead, in respect for England (badly) and USA (bravely) getting knocking out of the World Cup. F***!

Thursday June 20: Thirty Years Of Hurt...Stop Me Dreaming

Unlike my namesake Tony Soprano, I don't need to go to Lorraine Bracco to have my dreams interpreted. They're transparently obvious, usually involving everything that's currently going on in my life wrapped up together in a competitive combination of wishful thinking and realistic dread. Last night was such a perfect example - and it concerned so many of my recent postings - that I feel compelled to share it with you. Essentially, a bunch of my friends had turned up unexpected in a city that should have been New York (but didn't feel like it, being a dream). These friends were mainly the ones I wrote about and depicted in my London Musings, with Jeni de Haart most visible - no doubt because it was only yesterday I remembered her birthday is tomorrow, and it's nagging on my conscience that I can't get a snail-mail card to her in time. (She always remembers mine - old friends and all that.) The dream was set today, Thursday, with all of us up and about for a grand day, only to find that FIFA had moved the World Cup Quarter-Finals forward 24 hours and neglected to tell anyone in the States on the assumption that nobody here cared anyway! We all found our way to two televisions regardless, as the games were now being played simultaneously at 7.30 am, and - read into this what you will - I chose to watch the USA-Germany game instead of England-Brazil. The results? Well, the USA had a perfectly good goal against Germany disallowed and ended up losing 1-0 (in a stadium that looked suspiciously like Wembley). And once I got over this disappointment and asked my friends what had happened to England, it turns out I'd missed them beating Brazil 5-0. Remember, it was only a dream. . . I wouldn't dare to actually hope. . . .

. . .Talking about nobody here in the USA caring about football (as I gather is number two topic in the UK sports media right now), well the viewing figures are in for the USA-Mexico game, and again, the question has to be asked: is the cup really half empty, or is it perhaps half-full instead? Between ESPN (sports cable) and the Spanish channel, 4,200,000 households tuned into the second round match which, remember, kicked off at 2.30 on a Sunday night/Monday morning here in the east. As a percentage of the population, sure, that's low. As a quantity of people (I don't know how many viewers there's meant to be per household), that's a pretty high number for a nation that supposedly doesn't care - especially given the truly excruciating hour. And I wouldn't mind knowing what kind of viewing figures,the basketball matches in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, as a good example of an American team sport played on the other side of the world, brought in. (I remember in the last World Cup, football viewing figures were out-drawing Wimbledon, even though you keep hearing hoe 'even tennis' is more popular over here.)

If my in-box is anything to go by, that viewing number is going to double or treble for the game against Germany; it seems like everyone I know who's ever expressed the slightest interest in the game here is trying to find out where they can join a crowd to cheer their country on. Fairweather fans? For sure. But tell me a nation where progress through the rounds doesn't guarantee greater interest. It's the nature of the game. And the USA's played a pretty good one so far; I have fingers crossed for the biggest match in the country's history. (And show me an English fan who wouldn't thank the USA for beating the Germans. . .)

. . .My longest-standing friend in the world is a chap called Jeffries Briginshaw who lived almost next door to me in south London in the sixties when I was a toddler, and, being three years older than me, schooled me in the ways of football (turned me into a Palace nutter), music (turned me onto Bob Marley, Mott the Hoople and the Who, all around 1973) and politics ("Che, the lights shine out of your eyes" was one of his first - and thankfully last - attempts at songwriting).

Jeff recently moved to Rio de Janeiro for work and before England and Brazil won their Second Round games, I asked him what the Brazilians thought of England beating Argentina - whether there was any sympathy for their suddenly poverty-stricken neighbours.

"Brazilians care a lot about Argentina," he began his reply, in a dummy worthy of Don Rogers. "Basically the position is that the worse the disaster afflicting Argentina may be, the more celebration there will be in Brazil. So, for most Brazilians the most important and satisfying things to have happened in Brazil so far this year are (1) Brazil's speedy progress through to the next round of the World Cup (2) Argentina's elimination from the World Cup (3) Argentina's defeat by England in the World Cup (4) Argentina's economic collapse. In that order." But there's more. "In Chile the situation would be different though," he continues. "The four most important and satisfying things to have happened in Chile this year would be (1) Argentina's elimination from the World Cup (2) Argentina's elimination from the World Cup (3) Argentina's defeat by England in the World Cup (4) Argentina's economic collapse."

. . .It's reassuring to know the English aren't the only ones to have it in for the Argies - though Jeff has yet to reply and tell me how he's going to get away with supporting England in Rio tonight. I kind of wish I was there with him. I'll have to make do with the almost unanimously English crowd that occupies The Sporting Club. . .

. . .Talking of old friends, I had lunch yesterday with Mark Petracca, who I knew as a fellow music journalist when I was first in New York. We used to crash fashion parties together when we were seriously hungry, and eat all the free food before the models turned up. (Like they'd eat anything anyway, but believe me, I was hungry back then.) For a while, Mark edited Creem, before the magazine was finally put to rest. He doesn't do so much freelancing now, and, in fact just became a father for the second time. (Congratulations.) But rather than retreat into middle age, he's found a second wind as Dusty Wright, an urban cowboy who performs solo and also fronts the esoteric GIANTfingers. Born out of a commission to write incidental music for an Andy Warhol documentary, GIANTfingers are by invention difficult to pin down: I like the 'East Village Tindersticks' peg from, though as a writer, Mark has done a pretty good job of defining the indefinable on his band's web site. To my absolute shame, I've yet to see the group perform live, but I strongly recommend the new CD (cover depicted), especially for fans of John Cale, Chris Isaak, Brian Eno (there's a great cover of 'Baby's On Fire' on the eponymous new album) and anyone who's heard Hub Moore.

Mark and I managed to discuss half the world's issues - important and trivial - over noodles at Republic in Union Square. We agreed on public education, gentrification (perceived and real), Vanity Fair, red wine, the Strokes, the Hives, and the incredible jump-starts in multi-cultural understanding our children are getting from living in New York City. We disagreed somewhat on the proliferation of downloading off the Internet. Mark suggested that the 'younger generation' are growing up with the misguided belief that everything is available for free - and that by downloading MP3s and burning CDs for their friends without a second thought, they are destroying the notion of art. I responded that if he was talking about the Britneys, N*Synch's and Christinas of this world, or even the Limp Bizkits and Korns, then if the major labels insisted on selling music as so much instantly disposable product, they could hardly complain when the audience treated it the same way. He thought that was a good enough point that I should post it on the web site, and so I have.

. . .Old Dusty, his cowboy cap on the bar, also told me of attending a recent show at the Beacon or some such venue (I forget who), and a kid approaching him, offering a free CD of his own music. "If you like it, there's an address where you can send a few dollars," the kid explained. Mark watched as the kid hand-picked members of the audience and repeated the offering and the mantra. Who knows? This may be the way music goes in the future - and web sites too. It's an adaption of the shareware concept. You like it, send us some money. You don't, don't. And we can't force you either way. I already know of web sites that have Pay-Pal boxes up for those who want to contribute to the host's expenses, and I don't see anything wrong with that. In fact, I wish we could all operate like that. So kudos to those kids who are trying to find a new way to make money - and to the older guys who are still at it for the love of it.

. . .And while we're on the subject of musicians refusing to see the big 4-0 as anything but a number, I've got to give props to Jack Rabid, who I attended a reading by at local gallery Object Image on Friday night. (The reading was for launch of a new literary mag, Si Senor.) Jack and I have similar backgrounds; we were both very young teens when punk hit, each living in the suburbs of the catalyst cities; he in New Jersey, me in the fringes of South London. We both started fanzines to express our enthusiasm: he The Big Takeover and me, well you know that one. There's plenty divergence thereafter - I propelled Jamming! too fast and it went bust. Jack took The Big Takeover steadily and slowly and continues to put out a 300-page issue every six months or so. Number 50 just hit the stands, and it is, truly, the Bible of underground/alternative/independent music in the States, but with a heavy bias towards British acts at that. I don't know how Jack gets to listen to all that music, keep a day job - and drum in several bands. Former sticksman for the under-rated Springhouse, he's now time keeper for Last Burning Embers and is promoting a punk-thrash reunion festival at CBGBs this weekend. Jack's finally turning 40 this year, getting married (congratulations), and moving to Brooklyn after twenty years in a Lower East Side that has changed beyond recognition. He also used to work in the World Trade Center as a mail-boy, which means he knew the layout of the whole buildings, and at the reading Friday night he recounted his experiences from back then, his memories of the fateful day, and how it felt for the rumor mill to gather steam and declare him dead and missing in the wreckage. Fortunately, Jack is very much alive, continually kicking, and I look forward to having another eternal teenager as a borough neighbor.

And now I'm off for an all-night orgy of music and football. Reports when I re-surface.


Finally, a day where I didn't set the alarm for World Cup football. (Result? A headache from a proper night's sleep!) And finally, a chance to talk about music again. Despite being dog-tired from all those dawn-hour matches, I made my way to the Knitting Factory last Saturday night to see Liars. It's been worrying me how there's so much music of note coming out of New York City right now and yet half the touted local bands are playing the UK before I've even got to see them here. Time to start making amends.

Then again it could be argued that Liars are not strictly a local New York band. Watching six-foot-six singer Angus Andrew stalk the stage on Saturday night like a drunken truck driver, barely blinking as rowdy audiences members gleefully threw beer in his face, I was immediately reminded of the chaos of early Birthday Party shows, and of the similarity between the gangling yelping antics of Andrew and a certain Nick Cave of twenty years ago. You'll have to believe me then when I promise you I hadn't read the press kit in advance; it turns out that Angus and Nick both hail from Melbourne in Australia. Must be something in the wine there.

Andrew's band mates all hail from elsewhere too: guitarist Aaron Hemphill from LA (where he and Andrew attended art school), and bass/synth player Pat Nature and 40-year old drummer Ron Albertson from Nebraska. That they all moved to New York - to Brooklyn, to be precise - speaks volumes for the musical energy in this city right now. So does the speed of their progress. They made their live debut in January 2001, had toured the country, recorded and released a debut album by October (the abrasive They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top, on Gern Blandsten), toured Europe in the new year of 2002, and around the same time signed to Blast First/Mute, who are re-releasing the album in August. Things might have happened for them as quickly if they'd met/been based in another city; chances, however, are that the self-supporting cluster of bands, labels, 'zines and gig-goers currently populating Brooklyn had a considerable impetus on their progress.

Liars: Vocalist Angus Andrews stalks the stage like a drunken truck driver
The set Saturday night was short, sharp, painful - like being poked in the eye with a pencil - and addictively pleasurable, and if that sounds somewhat masochistic, then like a lot of chaotic rock'n'roll, that's how it felt, too. Jarring funk rhythms juxtaposed with punk fury and occasionally noted lyrics like "You won't escape," "can you hear us" and the words I quoted for my headline, from songs with titles like "Mr your on fire Mr'; Angus banging his head against the overhanging speakers, stroking his mid-riff, and jumping into the audience to sing; Nature pounding an old analogue synth like he was trying to destroy it; and girls alongside me screaming, despite the fact that Liars are brutally ugly. . .That's the kind of excitement Liars are emitting, and it's contagious.

While that energy level invites the Birthday Party comparisons, on album you're more likely to hear other post-punk influences like Gang Of Four and, especially on the space-dub thirty-minute finale 'this dust makes that mud,' PiL. They Threw us all in a Trench. . . also has a song entitled 'Tumbling walls buried in the debris with ESG,' and though Liars are much too macho to match the feminine art-funk of that famed South Bronx trio, the name-checking of ESG says much for where the current New York music scene is coming from. The young DJ between bands at Knitting Factory played A Certain Ratio, Grandmaster Flash, and 'Under Pressure' among other choice electro-funk cuts from the early 80s (probably including ESG themselves), and then stayed on stage to contribute to headlining act !!! (pronounced chik-chik-chik), a transplanted Los Angeles combo who must have figured their infatuation with Pigbag and ACR would be better rewarded in the contemporary Big Apple. But while the nine-piece band, crammed on stage with their percussion, brass, guitars and keys, kept the audience on their toes, and song titles like 'When the going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Cut' rivalled Liars for daft ness, the singer simply didn't cut it when it counted. At least not on this showing. Besides, they should take a lesson from both the group that became Underworld and the bloke that used to be Prince: symbols do not a great band name make.

On the subject of Music, as I do believe we were, I have finally got the Richard Butler interview up, or at least the first half of it. The interview was conducted last summer as background material for the sleeve notes I wrote, to accompany re-issue of the first three Psychedelic Furs album and a newly-recorded live album too. I regret that it took so long to get the transcript up, and hope it proves worth the wait.

Tuesday June 18: WE DON'T PLAY ON PAPER

A stylish haircut? Most certainly. Unfortuantely it didn't save South Korea scoring a Golden Goal and the Italians going home.
Last Sunday George Vecsey, who has been writing intelligently and passionately about football for the New York Times since I first arrived in the States (and probably before), described the Italian team that scraped a draw with Mexico as "eleven stylish haircuts in search of a fashion shoot." They looked much the same earlier today against South Korea, and paid the ultimate price: death by golden goal. The Italians consistently frustrate the viewing public: after Brazil, they are probably the most naturally gifted footballing nation in the world, yet they continually refuse to play to their strengths. As we've seen them do so many times before, they opted to sit on a 1-0 lead, forgetting that South Korea are the Ireland of Asia, with a never say-die stamina - and with possibly the most fanatical support the World Cup has ever witnessed. It didn't help Italy's cause that its players hammed up every tackle, push, shirt-pull and elbow that went against them; Totti may have been unfortunate to get sent off for a supposed dive in the penalty area, but hey, you live by the sword, you die by the sword. Methinks their government-level accusations against the referee for favoritism toward the host nation are so much sour grapes. (On which metaphor, pull the cork on a good Italian tonight: their wines offer far more integrity than their players.)

A stylish haicut? Most certainly, Unfortunately, mohawks don't do well in the rain. David Beckham has flown his hair stylist out to Japan to fix it for Brazil.
. . .Say what you like about Brazil these days - and after the Quarter-Final against England on Friday, we'll be saying plenty - but they live to score goals. Rather than rest on a 1-0 lead against Belgium yesterday, they pushed forward to score a second and cement their victory. Rather than relax in the preceding game against Costa Rica, who would have made much nicer Second Round opponents for Japan than did Turkey, Brazil insisted on sending the Central American team home by scoring five goals.There are times when Italy's play takes your breath away, and there are others when you wish they'd just retreat to the catwalk already. It's going to be a long hot summer for the hair stylists. . .

. . .I note that I predicted Italy's traditional last-minute luck would hold out, after watching them undeservedly make it to that dreadful Final in 1994. I was wrong. I note that I also predicted Senegal would meet their match against Sweden. I was wrong there too. I want to predict that the winners of England-Brazil will ultimately lift the Cup but I'll hold off on that one.

. . .Talking of predictions though, you just have to love the quote from Brooklyn-born USA Coach Bruce Arena about the impending quarter-final against Germany. "On paper, it looks to be no match." he admitted. "However, we don't play this game on paper."

Arena has proven himself a master of the laconic quotation in this tournament. But after beating Mexico, even he had to allow for some plain old chest-beating. "Someone told me we were lucky, but look at the teams we have beaten so far. We are the only team to have held the Koreans, we just beat a team that topped a group including Italy, and we beat the semi-finalists from the European championships. Where's the luck in that? Nobody believes in our team except our team."

I got that quote from the Guardian website, which I've made my primary British source for these few weeks: its World Cup coverage is way better than the Independent or Telegraph, easier to navigate than the BBC, and The Times keeps crashing my browser. For that strange minority who have no TV or radio but permanent online access, The Guardian also offers minute-by-minute online commentary on each and every game, via a hack at his London desk who invites e-Mail participation as he watches the game on television. It's all quite irrelevant, and mostly harmless, which means that the relentless piss-taking of the USA team (way heavier than anything any other nation has been saddled with) has to be laughed off in good spirits.

Which I readily did, after getting back from the bar on Monday morning at 5am, deliriously happy over the USA-Mexico victory, and reading Scott Murray's humorous use of American terminology throughout his quite encouraging minute by-minute report. Now, anybody's who's ever worked for the media on both sides of the Atlantic will be aware that the editing verb "fact-check" is no more in an English journalist's dictionary than the footballing noun "assist," but still, you have to wonder how drunk they are on England's progress that by Monday evening, Gary Lineker was on the BBC reading out Murray's description of the second USA goal and crediting it, unbelievably, to an American web site.

Here are Murray's words, typed into the Guardian page as USA made it 2-0. "Two soccer points to no score! Eddie Lewis makes a cross-pitch play from the left zone, finding Landon Donovan alone in the danger area. He top-bodies the sphere into the score bag, and Mexico have a double-negative stat."

It's an excellent exaggeration. An obvious parody. And you'd have to be a prejudiced idiot to really believe it was written, in all seriousness, by an American sports reporter. England, though, is a nation of . . . well, gullible Gary Linekers. By this morning, Scott Murray's entire minute-by-minute report (complete with a 90th minute rendition of 'Take Me Out To The Ball Game') was winging its way into in-boxes across the globe, credited anonymously to a 'U.S. Site' and providing many cheap laughs at American expense. That's fine; the USA is into the last eight and so currently enjoying the last laugh at Mexican expense. . .

Taking the piss is all well and good - and part of the fun of the World Cup. But showing love is just as important. Thanks to whoever left this at Ground Zero, on behalf of Birmingham, Devon and England.
. . .What I find interesting about this mis-identification is what it says about the English. Rather than congratulate themselves (via Scott Murray) on a hilarious parody of American terminology, confirmation of the brilliant British capacity for merciless humour, they instead prefer to re-invent it as the work of a familiar enemy and assail it for conforming to (their own) negative stereotypes. In comparison to the "Arab street"'s belief - because it said so on the Internet - that 4000 Jews were told not to come into work at the World Trade Center on September 11, thereby allowing them to deny Islamic involvement and blame it on Israel's Mossad instead, this is an old-fashioned storm-in-a-coffee-cup. (Yanks don't make tea well enough for it to be in a tea-cup.) But having seen how quickly the story took off, the following paragraph, leading another Guardian report quoted immediately after the game against Mexico, seems somewhat prescient. "The fan draped in stars and stripes broke away from his post-match celebrations to turn and glare at the directors box. 'Take that, you European snobs,' he bellowed at the bemused FIFA officials. "You wrote us off, but there's a new football order. We have arrived."

Even the Grauniad confessed, "He may have a point."

But let's put the USA's 'arrival' back in perspective. The New York Times reports on its sports page how "The tired Americans...received a pregame phone call of encouragement from President Bush, who said he was now following the World Cup excitedly." And on page 4 of the main paper, in the International Section, there's a report on how Mexico viewed the grudge match against its northern neighbour. President Vicente Fox, says the paper, "had offered to watch the match together with President Bush, at a neutral location on the border, but was told that his American counterpart planned to be asleep."

. . .Underworld's first single since Darren Emerson departed was broadcast on Pete Tong's radio show last Friday, and Underworld fan site has an MP3 of the broadcast for you to download. The good news? 'Two Months Off' doesn't sound like Emerson's absence has made a difference. The bad news? Only the same. . .


I wasn't planning on posting any more today (I do have paid work lurking somewhere, believe it or not) but was skimming the Sunday paper while watching the Brazil-Belgium game and came across this. No, it's not an April Fool's. And what better legacy could Twilo leave us with?


I would be very surprised if this man Landon Donovan, pictured after scoring the USA's second goal, is not being chased by a number of European clubs right now, And a number of females too, if the American girls shown in the crowd with the word 'Landon' painted on their exposed mid-riffs are any thing to go by. (My wife suspects that they added the word 'Me' to 'Land on' a little lower down. Think about it.)
The last time I felt this good about football on a Monday morning would have been in 1990, after Palace played Man Utd to a 3-3 draw in their only FA Cup Final appearance, at which point it still seemed possible that we could lift the trophy in the replay. We didn't, but I feel the same sense of possibility this morning - and twice over. I still can not quite believe that the USA is in the quarter-finals of the World Cup after beating Mexico 2-0, but confirmation is all over the Internet, and so it obviously wasn't a dream. (Unless I'm still dreaming?) Watched the game at a Brooklyn bar (the Brazen Head, Old Speckled Hen on tap with two dozen other real ales) that was packed - and I mean packed - with people for whom Monday morning work was clearly less important than a dawn-breaking competition. I reiterate the points I made a couple of days ago about how much fun it is to support an underdog team, and I love the mix of people that are showing up at the Brazen Head to cheer on the greatly-maligned but extremely talented USA team.

And so ends the longest sporting weekend of my life - well, at least since May 1990. It started with the USA qualifying for the Second Round on Friday morning, continued through England beating Denmark Saturday morning, and Ireland sadly choking on penalties on Sunday morning, and concluded just now with the USA upsetting Mexico on early Monday morning. (The USA coming good on just two days rest - all the more credit to the,) I can't tell you how sleep deprived I am after all this, and I can't tell you how much it doesn't matter. Next Thursday night/Friday morning is going to be brutal on the body clock, but beautiful on the sporting front. Bring on the Braziliansand bring on the Germans. After this weekend, I don't think England - or the USA - have anything to fear.

I can't sign off without giving credit to Crystal Palace player Gregg Berhalter for an excellent display on his first starting performance. I love that the only Palace player in the World Cup is into the last eight (even if I'm never seen him play in a Palace shirt).

And now I'm off to bed. Normal service may not be resumed any time soon....

Sunday June 16: ONE LOVE

It's Father's Day out here and it's not so much I'm taking the day off from posting as there's no time. Up at crack of dawn and down to Loki to watch the luck of the Irish run out (though scoring but three penalties out of seven suggests that luck is what you make of it). Out in Prospect Park this afternoon checking out the refurbished Boat House (the first urban Audubon Center in the country) and the Caribbean Festival Father's Day Concert. Like a World Cup of its own out there, with every flag of the West Indies raised high in a fantastic carnival atmosphere. Couldn't stick about for the performance by Damien Marley, but grooved extensively to Traffic: not the Steve Winwood version, but an infectious calypso-soca group from Trindad & Tobago. Also went out to a reading on Friday and to see the Liars at the Knitting Factory last night. (Report to follow.) Campbell decided Father's Day meant I get to play with him all day, I still haven't watched the Sweden-Senegal game I taped overnight and I've somehow got to push on through to what, out here, is the crunch game of the Second Round: USA-Mexico, kicking off in the wee hours of Monday morning. It's going to be matchsticks in the eyelids by five a.m. A shame that Ireland go home - yet again - without losing a match in real play, but they can hold their heads high, as they always do. (And so, certainly, can Spain.) The flag-waving is all in good spirits, be it for the World Cup or the Caribbean Festival - acknowledgement of national idendity in (what should be) a world of unity. Or, in the words of the Stone Roses, Bob Marley and many a frosted car window round Brooklyn this afternoon: One Love.


I'll tell you why, son: Because England are in the Quarter-Finals of the World Cup after beating Denmark 3-0. And right now I feel just like you do on Christmas morning. Of course the half bottle of American champagne methode champenoise hasn't harmed my high spirits either.

Now I know why I didn't see my old football friends in the bar today: they're all in Japan. Good on you, lads. (And I hate to think that some of them may no longer be with us.)
Being that we'd reached the knockout stage, I had to watch this game in a real crowd. That meant forsaking the front room or the Brooklyn bars, setting the alarm for six am and getting to Nevada Smith's in the East Village before the bar was completely full. Even at 6.45 am, 45 minutes before kick-off, I was pointed towards the downstairs lounge rather than the chocker-full terrace-like atmosphere of the ground floor; the front doors were closed soon after.

Nevada Smiths is one of the handful of New York bars to have been granted a 24 hour license for the World Cup - which means it's been pouring beer without a break for over two weeks now. This morning saw a mixture of those, like me, who were just out of bed and blasting themselves with coffee to get the adrenaline pumping; and those who'd obviously been up through the night and holding their spot in front of a big screen since their regular bars had turfed them out three or four hours earlier. This made for a curious combination of people who could barely see the action through their all-night booze haze and those who could see well enough, but were still half asleep.

As the Danes donated an early goal, and both Owen and Heskey got on the score sheet before half time, it was a strangely subdued atmosphere downstairs, surprise subduing joy. But as the second half wore on and England stubbornly refused Denmark even a consolation goal, the relief was expressed in contagious singalongs and enthusiastic drinking even from those who'd been in bed just an hour or so earlier. I saw the final minutes upstairs, from almost the exact spot where I'd bitterly cursed Argentina's Second Round victory four years ago. That time we'd stayed behind through the evening, drowning our sorrows, drinks on the house. This time a number of us stayed around swapping background stories (I found myself chatting with fans of Birmingham City, Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham and Arsenal among others) though the drinks were most certainly being charged for. Given how long some of those England fans had been boozing, you can hardly blame the bar for wanting to turn the taps off at ten o'clock on a Saturday morning. After all, they'd be going through this all over again in under 24 hours - and for the Irish crowd, no less. The bar takings, presumably, are more than covering the clean-up costs. And at some point, they'll pour us some freebies. I just hope it's for the Ultimate Victory, and not for premature consolation.


American fans are well aware that their team has been carrying an enormous liability. He's a defender who goes by the name of Jeff Agoos, and though he's competent and competitive, and perhaps even a great intellectual, raconteur and lover to boot, he's simply not cut out for this level of the game. Bora Milutinovic recognised as much in '94, leaving him off the USA Squad, and the widely criticized Steve Sampson kept him on the bench throughout the appalling American display of 1998. Current USA boss Bruce Arena coached Agoos at University and at DC United, and through blind loyalty to his protege, has persisted with the pony-tailed defender through every minute of the First Round matches until Agoos came off injured against Poland.

Now, Jeff Agoos has probably longed all his life to get his name on the front page of the New York Times for his contributions in a World Cup. It's most unlikely, however, that he intended his review to read like this, from today's paper: "The United States...cannot expect to prevail...with this kind of insipid defense, especially not with the feckless play of Jeff Agoos, whose deficiency has figured in nearly every goal the Americans have surrendered in this global tournament."

This unkind but honest assessment of Agoos' World Cup contributions (including an own goal, penalty giveaways, atrocious tackling and absent marking) recalls one of the most fascinating sections of Fever Pitch, in which Nick Hornby discussed the equally afflicted Gus Ceasar. Caesar was a young Arsenal player who had similarly risen through the ranks from schoolboy to youth player to small club to big club to reserve player to first team - only to fail miserably at that final hurdle, earning so much derision from impatient and unforgiving Arsenal fans that he was rapidly dropped, to disappear into footballing ignominy. Hornby sympathized with Caesar, and I pity Agoos for the abuse he's suffered, but I have to be relieved that the injury he took against Poland (while lunging for a ball that was about to put Poland 2-0 up) has forced him out for the rest of the World Cup. Coach Arena paid tribute to his chosen boy by stating that "He has made an outstanding contribution to this team." Well, that's one way of putting it.

More footnotes from apparent American disinterest in the World Cup. . .
. . .An American accompanying his English girlfriend to Nevada Smith's this morning. "Look at the rain coming down. They're gonna call the game off, right?"
. . .My next door neighbor, pruning his bushes. "When are they gonna bring this World Cup to the States?"
. . .1010 Wins sports, turned on early this morning to find out the Germany-Paraguay score. "World Cup? What World Cup? We only have baseball and golf scores here." (Paraphrased.)
Cool USA shirt

Uncool USA shirt
. . .And New York sports shops up and down the city when asked if they have the USA first team shirt in stock. (The following quotes paraphrased from several different stores.) "We're sold out, and have been for a month. Our phones don't stop ringing with people like you looking for one. We've only got a handful of that ugly second team blue shirt instead. Nike underestimated the shirt's popularity and can't fulfill demand. They've told us not to expect any more until the end of June."
Either Nike's sweat shops in Asia were given time off to watch the Tournament, or else one of the biggest sports companies in the World has failed its high-profile clients miserably. And you wonder why the game doesn't have a higher profile here?


What is iJAMMING!?

Back in the heady punk rock heyday of 1977, I started a fanzine at school, following the famous encouragement of (what I had thought was) Sniffin' Glue founder Mark Perry that "it was easy, it was cheap, go and do it." Truth is, it wasn't always easy and the printing bills certainly weren't cheap, but I did it anyway. And I had fun. For many years. Until eventually the business realities of running a monthly magazine got in the way of the creative energies, it stopped being fun, the bean counters took over and so finally, almost a decade after it was launched, the magazine - Jamming! - folded.
Continue reading the Mission Statement

Even before penning the Keith Moon biography, I had the desire to write a story, or series of stories, about New York nightlife as I knew it and experienced it in the early 1990s - a time that the city was, on the surface, being decimated by AIDS, crack, the spiraling crime rate and a recession, and yet was unbelievably vibrant and exciting for those who dared to live in it. Because of my involvement in that scene, there was no way I could approach this project as non-fiction and be subjective. But then I didn’t really want to be. The various characters that populated club land, some of the incidents that took place, and the city itself all screamed out to be exaggerated, caricatured and turned into fiction: theydeserved a novel.

And so began Hedonism.
Chapter 1 now up with audio and video
With QuickTime videos (For fast connections)
Without (Slower connections)

New! Chapter 15
(the following Saturday night)
The Music Section allows me to post full manuscripts of interviews I've conducted, to write about new releases of interest that I'm not covering for magazines and to post some morning-after observations about shows I attend. Also, it allows me just to gather my thoughts now and then, as time and energy allows. New features include an interview with Richard Butler, the first of what I hope will be monthly hitlists (June 2002), a conversation with Carl Cox, my Best of 2001 (Albums, Songs, Concerts and Books) the latest return of Echo & The Bunnymen; DJ, wine buff and Finalscratch ambassador John Acquaviva; ironica pioneer Laptop; and a U2 interview from the archives. There are live reviews of The Creation, of Brian Wilson, and of R.E.M. The first half of 2001 and the second half of 2000 saw me post interviews with Boy George, David Sylvian, Fran Healy from Travis, Mark Perry of Alternative TV and Sniffin' Glue fame (there's also a review of the recent Sniffin' Glue compendium), and Sally Taylor of Carly Simon/James Taylor lineage. There's also a look at the Doves' debut in New York and what it means for British rock in America, a fond reminiscence of the Chills debut album Brave Words, a thumbs-up for Lloyd Cole's web site, a review-cum-essay on Superdrag, a look back at the first Ride album, links to my online reviews, and more ongoing reviews. than you could shake a big stick at, as well as mix CDs and albums that sound different since September 11. Some of these come with wine recommendations, which begs the question. . .

The easy answer to that would be: this is my personal lifestyle site and I don't need to justify anything. But truth is, wine and music are a match made in heaven. Go to the Wine Section, find out What wine fans and music devotees have in common, read in detail about that treasure trove of inexpensive gems, the Côtes du Rhône, the next step up the pyramid, Côtes du Rhône Villages , and the whites and rosés of the southern Rhone valley, get some ideas for what party music should accompany that party bottle of Côtes d'Oakley, discover the wonderful Viognier grape (assuming you don't already know it), visit Honig Wine's humorous and occasionally hippyesque web site, read a whole bunch of disaparate wine reviews, get music recommendations with them, read an interview with DJ John Acquaviva about his love of Spanish wine, and find out what DJ/producer Timo Maas figures you should be drinking while listening to his new CD, Music for the Maases. You think I'm joking?

Some of this is answered in the first question: What is iJamming!? I'm excited that the Internet in general, this web site in particular, provides the opportunity to archive some of the magazine that I published and edited for ten years in my youth. Uploading the material will will be a slow process though: we didn't have word processors, let alone computers, back then, so everything will have to be retyped. (Volunteers?) But given that I still have the complete manuscripts for evey single interview I conducted, along with what must be the only complete collection of the magazine in existence, the potential for future postings is enormous. As of March, all 36 Jamming! covers are up in three sections (1-12 13-24 25-36). So is a lenghty interview with U2 from 1984, The Story That Spawned Creation, Paul Weller on Pop, and, as a contrast to the interview from this January, an Alternative TV interview from 1978.

"From the earliest age, Keith Moon proved himself an exception to all known rules, and upon discovering this about himself, he made it his purpose in life to challenge them in everything he did. He revolutionized the concept of the drummer in rock'n' roll and pop music by rejecting the previously accepted constraints, leading from the back as was almost unheard of rather than offering mere support as was then the convention, filling spaces that had always been left open, leaving gaps where usually lay the beat. He achieved greater international fame than his instrument was meant to inspire, only to treat that celebrity status as an ongoing opportunity to send up the whole notion. He sneered at the dominant British stiff upper lip, while appropriating it so effectively as to delete his working class background at will; he threw his head into the cavernous jaws of certain disaster time and again, including tempting fate with an almost unparalleled intake of alcohol and drugs, and emerged on every occasion (but the last) just about whole, beckoning the world to laugh with him at his apparent charmed existence.’"
(From the foreword to Dear Boy/Moon)

So why did I decide to spend three years of my life writing a biography on him?
Go to the Keith Moon section to find out. Interview transcripts with Alice Cooper, Dave Edmunds and Jeff Beck from the book research are up there - as is ongoing news relating to Keith and links to other sites concerning him.
It started out as "the place to put things that don't fit in any of the above segments. Random rants, observations, links and comments. My own chance to mouth off at the world rather than hold it in all day." More and more it's becoming a clearing ground for quotes, observations, theories and facts about the music business and/or the Internet as we know it. My thoughts on the whole MP3/Napster/downloading of music are up there, as are comments from people as varied as Chumbawamba, The The, Underworld, the Rosenbergs, and Teenage Fanclub. Consider it food for thought. It's also been home for my Musing on a September Mourning, a section offering my own thoughts on September 11 from the perspective of being in New York City, along with various responses and links.

It started a decade ago. The nascent New York Press was running an 'end-of the-80s' special and asked contributors, of which I was then one, to write a first-person account about one of the preceding ten years. I opted for 1980 and a specific week in which I left school, lost my virginity and was offered a dream rock'n'roll job. (To quote The Buzzccocks: And I wish I was 16 again.) The reaction to this nakedly honest - and deeply satisfying - first confessional was so positive that I wrote other short stories about my (mostly failed) relationships with girls and (equally unsuccessful) attempts to be a rock star and sent them out to friends as Christmas cards. People liked them enough that I felt encouraged to assemble a whole series of them into a book, with the love-of-my-youth as the central narrative around which the central character's development through music and girls would be told as flashbacks.
"A public place or medium for public discussion." This site qualifies on both fronts. As of March, I've introduced an open forum so that the traffic on this site is not just one way. I want this to be a place that inspires debate, and I'm hoping people out there will rise to that challenge. All subjects covered here are considered fair game. Continue
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iJamming! Site Copyright Tony Fletcher 2002