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What's new in iJamming!...
Mon, Mar 22, 2004
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."
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
May Manhattan Musings
a.k.a. Eight Days In A Week

It starts on a Sunday. It ends on a Sunday. There's eight days of mainly musical madness in between in a city that still barely sleeps.

Monday May 20

I've been talking with Josh Gabriel, a young freelancer and post-punk/new wave/sixties DJ who also works a weekend shift at Somethin' Else, about a Monday night on the town, each taking the other to their favoured spots, and we decided to go for it tonight. Ed Harcourt is in town, playing the Bowery Ballroom, and he's been kind enough to stick me on his guest list. (We'd met in London and bonded over Keith Moon.) Ed's debut album Here Be Monsters didn't win me over to the same extent it did many of my contemporaries: I think it starts extremely strong but gets quickly stuck in an admittedly interesting, introspective and intellectual groove. On stage though, his presence of personality lifts these songs into another dimension; they become far more nuanced and distinctive. His musicians make for futher musical definition, what with trumpet, pump organ, various taped sounds and glockenspiel on top of the regular guitars, bass and drums. At their most intense, they deliver with the fire of The The; at their most musical, they drift into a Tom Waits-like funereal jazz; and at their most melancholy, with Ed at the piano, an affinity with the Jeff Buckley school of singer-songwriters is apparent - as is a debt to someone as middle of the road as Billy Joel.

In the audience is my writing friend Jemma Kennedy, who's come over on a jolly from London with Heavenly bosses Martin Kelly and Jeff Barratt for the show. They'd all been up in the bars the night before until closing time (which, remember, is 4 am in New York City) and Ed Harcourt confesses to the audience that he may still be drunk, dedicating 'Hanging with The Wrong Crowd' to his handlers. Ed's second album is finished now, and judging by the songs he performs from it, 'Sleepyhead' among them, it's going to be a solid step forward for him.

Ed Harcourt at the Bowery Ballroom. Revellers at Mon-Daze at Sapphire

Still, it's to take in the small nightspots that Josh and I have teamed up, and we leave at encore time to make the most of the Transmission night at Plant bar before it tapers off around midnight. Host Dan Selzer is on the decks when we arrive, mixing - and properly - a healthy number of obscurities from his early 80s singles collection. That means OMD, Girls at Our Best, the Human League, ESG, A Certain Ratio and others that fall broadly into a sort of punk-funk-new wave melting pot. But Dan, it turns out, is particularly obsessive about the Homosexuals, whose debut 7" 'Hearts In Exile' I almost took to the UK with me for Death Disco; it apparently fetches $40 now. I saw the Homosexuals play the Kingston Poly the night in May 1979 that Maggie Thatcher was elected Prime Minsiter for the first time; I just about remember they had televisions all over the place for those who wanted to watch the incoming results while watching the group. I'd turned fifteen the week before. I went to five gigs in five nights that week. Talk about latch-key kids....

Dan and I promise each other a proper conversation on the Homosexuals another day. Meantime, former Communion protégé Alex English attempts to lure us down to a new night Glitch he's started at Guernica (the former Save the Robots). But it's one event too many for a Monday, and not enough of a cultural shift from Transmission. We pass up his invite and head round the corner for a quick pit-stop at Garageland, where Jayne County is Djing. That's THE Jayne County, or rather the former Wayne County, of classic 'Eddie & Sheena' and 'If You Don't Want To Fuck Me Baby, Then Baby Fuck Off' fame. Jayne was also resident DJ at the club Life when it hosted the book launch party for Moon, and I want to thank her for the excellent choices that night, whcih really helped make the occasion. Perhaps nervous that I might actually make a song request, she proves surprisingly aloof - considering she's merely playing CDs in an east village bar of, ooh, maybe twenty people, I'm not quite sure what the big deal about saying 'hello' is. Time to move on...

...Down to Sapphire, where as ever it's quite the Monday night crowd. Considering that Baktun has been putting on a hit techno night of its own these last few weeks too, with the likes of Richie Hawtin and Carl Cox showing up to spin unannounced, the ongoing success of Mon-daze is a story worth celebrating. Better yet, while the other events we've been at tonight - Ed Harcourt, Transmission and Garageland - have been almost unanimously white, in music as well as crowd make up, Mon-daze has that multi-culti vibe that New York is rightly famous for. Joeski is spinning up a storm; Joshua seems suitably impressed. We stick around for an hour while Joeski spins some excellent upbeat house, hang with the same ugly faces I posted on the site back in April, and agree to do it again some time soon. A superb start to some peoples' working week.
Tuesday May 21

Today's a weird one in New York. The Bush Administration took a heavy hit over the weekend as more word came out about information in the system prior to September 11 and yet not acted upon. Seeking both to prove just how hard it is to predict something on the magnitude of that attack and churlishly demonstrating what life would be like if they were to act on every half-warning, they announce 'terror alerts' for New York City's landmarks the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty. Police presence is ratcheted up several degrees, helicopters buzz overhead, the bridge is closed for several hours, and people twitch like they did in mid and late September last year. To me, this is a red rag to a bull, so in the evening, I opt to drive right across the Brooklyn Bridge - still one of the wonders of the world, as far as I'm concerned - and up to the Tribeca Grand Hotel, which, along with its partner the Soho Grand, is these days making use of its extensive bar/lounge areas by hosting regular DJ events.

Tonight is quiet, as might be expected given that Englishman Richard Grey has stepped in at the last moment and is not desperately well known on these shores. But it's fun all the same. Shari Aronin from Grey's booking agency Hands on Deck is her usual exuberant self, telling me of her own ventures into DJing, and loudly singing the words - just 'I Love You' - to one of Gray's more up-tempo cuts. After enjoying a glass of complimentary Sancerre, so effervescent a glass of wine it's almost an upper, I find myself tapped by DJ FatKat to drop him home to Park Slope. As well as spinning 'porno beats' - his own term for the outsized trip-hop instrumentals he specialises in - FatKat is a lighting designer who just did the Fischer-Spooner shows at the Deutsch Projects, an 'art band in an art gallery' event that I missed 'cause I don't always get my act together. Fat Kat's off to the UK with them imminently. In the meantime, he offers me in to split a bottle of ice-cold vodka or, what was it, an 80-year old bourbon. Slow down man, it's only Tuesday. Besides, the only way I get to enjoy as much wine as I do is by laying off the spirits - most of the time. I'm in bed by one.
Wednesday May 22

My conscience gets the better of me and I break from work early to pick up Campbell and take him to our School District's demonstration against Budget Cuts outside City Hall. It's a complicated issue. New York City is looking at a $5 billion budget deficit this year, and the new Mayor, Mike Bloomberg, has bravely told even the Fire and Police Departments that they will need to make cuts. Personally, I don't believe Bloomberg's singling out the schools. But in prior budgets, in more opulent times, both his predecessor - Rudolph Guiliani - and the Governor, George Pataki, so cut school funding that the State Supreme Court actually determined, back in January 2001, that the state was failing to provide every child the sound basic education guaranteed in the Constitution. Pataki is challenging this finding, but in the mean time, if the next round of cuts are also applied, now that we're in lean times, we're seriously looking at class rooms closing. The Alliance For Quality Education, essentially an organisation of parents, has started daily protests at City Hall up until when the new budget is finally announced, and proof that activism does work has come with the news that some of the money marked for removal has been re instated. It's still not enough, but rather than come across as selfish in a time of collective belt-tightening, the AQE is supporting the City Council's proposed Personal Income Tax surcharge. In other words, the parents are stating their willingness to fund improved schooling out of their own pockets, though increased taxes. (However unAmerican that sounds.) Demonstrating the low cost of doing so, 'Seven cents a day, we're willing to pay' has become the chosen slogan of the campaign, and when we arrive at City Hall, we get a couple of free banners to that effect. Campbell quickly takes to repeating it; I try and make sure he knows what it is he's saying.

Campbell, his friend Gen, and a very impressive papier-mache teacher all protest further budget cuts in education.

We listen to a number of short speeches demanding that our billionaire mayor supports his electors' less-wealthy childrens' education, and one much longer speech by a 17-year old Stuyvesant High School student who goes off on the cost of imprisoning non-violent drug offenders and bomb-manufacturing. Fair enough, but last time I checked, our Mayor wasn't the one setting the nation's military budget any more than the President fixes our city's school budget. I'm more taken by Cynthia Nixon, the lawyer in Sex In The City, partly because she's among the minority of wealthy and famous people in New York to send her child to a a public school, and especially because she's willing to stand up and be counted for that child's education. In fact, last week she was willing to sit down (on City Hall steps) and be arrested, too which brought plenty positive publiclity to the parental campaign. Can you imagine the quality of education we could take for granted if everyone with big money in this city supported the public school system by sending their kids into it, ensuring that children of different creeds, colours and classes successfully coalesce? I'm delighted to see that Russell Simmons is now lending the support of the Hip-Hop Action Summit Network to this cause. But let's out those who present themselves as voices of the people and act otherwise. Spike Lee, why do you send your offspring to private schools?

Campbell quickly gets bored of chanting and applauding - six year olds are not famous for lengthy attention spans - and I take him to the Viewing Platform at Ground Zero, just a few hundred yards away. I've been down and around the site many times these last few months, but with the work finishing in a week, I feel a sense of urgency about visiting the platform. In theory, we need (free) tickets from the South Street Seaport but when I explain this to Campbell, a police chief overhears us and waves us through. We join an odd combination of tourists, sailors on shore-leave (it's Fleet Week in New York, and there are white-uniformed sailors across the city by the thousands) and...who knows, probably just people like us, finally finding themselves downtown by choice or circumstance and wanting to pay their respects.

Above: reflections cast at sunset across the World FInancial Center where once buildings blocked the view.

Below: The 40-storey Deutsche Bank on Liberty Street. Recovery workers have just begun finding body parts in this building.

Above: A general message - one of thousands - inscribed on the Viewing Platform.

Below: An intensely personal message pinned around the entrance to the Viewing Platform.

Up top of the viewing platform there's not much to see any more, and that's part of the tragedy. In front of us instead lies sixteen acres of what you might believe to be just the beginning of a building site, except that the surrounding towers are draped in protective netting and American flags, and the viewing platform itself is inscribed with thousands upon thousands of heartfelt messages. As we gaze across the emptiness, a woman next to me starts crying uncontrollably. I've shed a lot of tears downtown, and at home, in the past nine months, but they don't seem to come today.

Being with Campbell, I don't really want them to either. Of course, neither do I necessarily want him saying the following: "You know the people who bombed these towers? I want us to bomb their towers." But can you blame him for it? He knows that a lot of people died on September 11. He points to the pictures of all the firemen, the police and the everyday workers that have been plastered around the viewing platforms and he comments on it. Fortunately, being six, he believes in Heaven, and so for him it's maybe not as definitive as it is for me. I find myself thinking of the 1800 victims whose remains have not been identified. They exist only in the air, and somewhere among the dust and rubble that has been carted off to Fresh Kills in Staten Island. (Oh, and in some of the neighbouring buildings which have been abandoned but untouched since that day.) I'm grateful not to have lost someone close to me, but the pain I feel for my chosen city will never go away.

I take a number of photos and note the changed tone in the graffiti from that which was around the city in the first few weeks after the attacks. Then it was just pure sorrow, with a hope for future understanding and peace. Now it feels more angry, less forgiving. There's even a souvenir t-shirt from Special Forces 'Tour of Afghanistan' that's been pinned to the wall. Yet from what I suppose would be called the left wing, there's a similar hardening inthe messages that berate the war in Afghanistan. This is what I mean when I write elsewhere how in the post September 11 world it seems like everyone has become more extreme in the views they already held, rather than coming together as I had - so naively - hoped would be the case.

Continue for part two of Tony Fletcher Manhattan May Musings.
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