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What's new in iJamming!...
(Last updated
Sat, Feb 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!?

Click on the header buttons above, follow the menu at left, or scroll all the way down to find your way round the site....The front page is now being used for (near) daily postings....


"I cried when I learned of Keith Moon's death. . . It was the first time anybody's death had ever hit me personally, and it affected me in much deeper ways than I believe my family could understand at the time." (From my Keith Moon biography, Dear Boy,)

I'm a lot older now, far more versed in the experience of people passing away, and more likely to, in the words of Monty Python, "always look on the bright side of life." So I didn't cry when I heard of John Entwistle's death yesterday; I just felt like I'd been kicked in the gut instead.

But while admitting to an over-riding sadness that's going to take a while to heal, let's also find cause to celebrate. John Entwistle was an equal part of a group that revolutionised rock music; his thunderously melodic bass playing was no less phenomenal and influential than Keith Moon's drumming, Pete Townshend's power chords or Roger Daltrey's screams; his famously morbid humour was in a league of its own; and with the likes of 'Boris The Spider', 'My Wife,' and 'Heaven and Hell' (from which song my headline is taken), he earned his stripes as a songwriter of serious class. His taciturn nature was in fact something of a decoy, and certainly in the early years he provided a perfect foil to Keith Moon's extrovert lunacy; the pair were thick as thieves and loved raising hell together. John took his rhythm partner's death as hard as anyone in the band, which might explain why, in the 1980s, Entwistle seemed somewhat lost as both an individual and a musician.

Frustrated by the Who's absence from the concert circuit in the 1990s, he nonetheless determined to keep playing, primarily with his own band, but also with Roger Daltrey on a one-off tour and with others of his generation too. After Pete Townshend talked John and Roger into joining him for a Quadrophenia extravaganza in 1996, with Keith Moon protégé and Ringo offspring Zak Starkey on drums, the three founding members rediscovered their on-stage dynamic, and returned to the concert scene as a five-piece with a couple of shows at the Chicago House of Blues in 1999. I was fortunate to attend both nights; the second gig in particular, in a room that held only a few hundred, was the Who as I had always wanted to see them, and I'm happy to have that intimate memory of the band (on top of all the shows I've seen in bigger venues).

Seemingly rejuvenated, the Who toured the States in 2000, reintroduced themselves to UK fans with a number of equally impressive shows, and made a considerably loud statement of their continued live relevance with their appearance at the Concert For New York City last November. John was back in his element, playing as well as ever - those colossal '5.15' solos changed every night - and the renewed interest in the Who seemed to have spurred him on in other ways too. He was drawing and painting more than ever, and indeed was meant to have attended a gallery exhibition of his work in Las Vegas the very day he died.

I'm relieved to hear there was no alcohol or drugs involved in his death. (Unlike Dee Dee, for example.) I'm glad that if he had to go, it was in his sleep. I really wish he'd stuck around longer - and not just because I was planning on seeing the group in New York in a month - but because, you know, we're all meant to have three score years and ten. Still, while John 'only' made it to 57, he was willing, I wager, to swap some of the years in the retirement home for the ongoing experience of life on the road. He'd been nicknamed The Ox early in life for his beast-like stamina, and he took great pride in living hard when others around him had calmed down or, like Keith, already gone to the great gig in the sky. He remained in full control of his many talents until the absolute end, and he lived a life most of us could only dream of. We'll miss him.

Having paid my respects, I now need to ask what the fuck Pete and Roger think they're doing continuing the tour as soon as next Monday, while John's body is still warm? The Who's decision to continue without Keith Moon was one of the most creatively disastrous in the history of rock'n'roll, a sentiment I examined in Dear Boy, and one that I know is shared by most other Who fans. (It was well noted that Led Zeppelin broke up when John Bonham died.) It took twenty years for the Who to successfully replace Keith with Zak; do they think they can replace John, even with someone as talented Pino Palladino, just a few days after his death? While it's possible that John left instructions for the band to continue touring should he pass away, have they stopped to think whether this is actually what the fans want? It's certainly not what I want - and judging by some of the initial reactions I've seen posted on various Who boards and user groups, a significant number of the hardcore, long-term fans feel the same way. Given the extent to which Pete has claimed he's only been touring on Roger and John's behalf, then I wonder who really does want this. (Promoters, management, agents, the usual suspects.) I'm sorry, but I don't believe in all that "show must go on" bullshit, especially not in circumstances like this. Call it a day. At the very least take a break. It was never the same after Keith died, and it certainly won't be the same now. Hearing today's news that they'll continue the tour leaves me with the same kicked in-the-stomach feeling that I had when I heard the news of John's death yesterday. Have they no sense of decency?


On a brighter note, I want to offer a very quick recap of a wonderful Wednesday wedding anniversary, the kind of night New York does right. Attended the free show over at Hudson River Park, featuring Clinic, Firewater and Radio 4. Excellent bands each of them, and for their own different reasons. Radio 4 I've already raved about on this site several tiems, but for good reason: walking across the West Side Highway, their post-punk funk carried over the air like most the seasoned of groups. And audience response never fails to prove their potential, the then-seated in the steamy humidity crowd reacting favourabley to the closing trio of 'Dreaming with My Eyes Open', 'Calling All Enthusiasts' and 'Dance To The Underground.'

Firewater is fronted by Tod A, formerly of Cop Shoot Cop, who brings a welcoming combination of poetry and punk to a group that's still struggling to escape the lower divisions despite three good albums, the last of them, Psychopharmacologfy bordering on the superb. Accompanied by violin, keys, a phenomenal drummer in Tamir Muskat and his own adequate bass playing and MacGowan-like drawl, Tod led a set dominated by newer songs: 'Fell off The Face of The Earth,' 'Car Crash Copllaborator' and 'Get Out Of My Head' from the last album, and 'Too Much Is Never Enough' from what presumably will be their next one. Ripe for promotion, are Firewater.

Finally, Clinic took to the stage in customary Beatle suits and surgical masks and the 2000-strong crowd surged to the front. Ade Blackburn and crew appear somewhat contrarian in interviews, but on stage and in person, they're thoroughly personable. The constant instrument-swapping - clarinets and flutes and all other manner of blown instruments , guitars and keyboards - combined with the twitchiness of the arrangements makes for a decidely dizzying effect, but the infectious power of songs such as 'Disintegrate,' 'Walking with Thee' and 'Pet Eunoch' is incontrovertible evidence of a group doing great things. After what seemed like nineteen songs, I checkled my watch and they'd been onstage for a mere 25 minues. Not sure when time last went by so slow: The Ramones, perhaps? Though storm clouds had been hovering over Manhattan all day, the rain stayed away for the duration of the show, part of a season in this park which seems to be promoting hell out of downtown, missing skyline or no.

From there it was over to the restaurant/wine bar Rhône, which as per its name, serves wines only from that region in France - and then from every appelation within that region. Clearly, Rhône is a restaurant after my own heart, and when it first opened a year or two ago I stopped by regularly. Those glasses of top-league Hermitage and Cornas began burning a hole in the pocket, however, and I had to go cold turkey on the place for a while. Now I remember why I'd been addicted. A glass of Yves Cuilleron Condrieu 'Les Chaillets' 1999 was the absolute epitomy of elegant Viognier: delightful perumed aromas of peaches and petals, a disarming softness on the palate and a finish that seemed to linger all night. But I reiterate: good Condrieu is an acquired taste, and it's one that Posie doesn't seem to share. She went for a glass of Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape 1999 instead, one of those old fashioned white blends I wrote about when discussing the southern Rhône whites. Unlike your $10 bottle though, this Chateauneuf du Pape has more of everything: fruit, flavour, power, intensity, finish and kick. Over a light meal, I also dipped into a glass of Jamet's 1997 Cote Rotie, still harshly tannic but full of those bacon fat flavours that distinguish the northern Rhône's finest Syrahs. (Often with a dollop of Viognier in there too.) I would drink Cote Rotie and Condrieu all year round if I could afford to, but I can't, and that's why Rhone is such a great destination: though glasses of these top end wines aren't cheap (around $14), they're good value considering that bottles of the same are out of my league, at $50 and up. The owner Jeffrey, has refused to compromise his belief in Rhône wines despite the everyday requests for Cabernet and Chardonnay; if you're in New York and want to discover the beauty of any of these Rhône appelations that I write about Cotes du Rhones, the Cotes du Rhones Villages, Hermitage, Condrieu, St Joseph and the like - head over to Rhône on Gansevoort Street. Just be sure to bring your credit card. The stuff is addictive.

R.I.P. John Entwistle 1945-2002

Two people I have a lot of respect for, though I claim neither as close friends, died today, and I'm in something of a state of shock as I type this. John Entwistle, bass player for The Who, a frequently superb songwriter and a man who thrived on his well-earned nickname The Ox, passed away at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on the eve of The Who's new tour. He was aged 57. Cause of death is pending. John was the only one of three surviving original Who members to grant me an interview for my Keith Moon biography; it goes without saying that it was an experience visiting him at his country home. By the kind of coincidence that you note when people die, I had just today received a copy of Anyway Anyhow Anywhere, the beautifully packaged 'Complete Chronicle' of The Who, written by good friends Matt Kent and Andy Neill. I was looking forward to spending the evening digesting it. I probably still will. John's bass playing remained a source of envy and inspiration up until the very end. I don't believe there was ever anyone better. At the risk of sounding religious, that rhythm section up in Heaven is going to take some beating now John's joined back up with Keith Moon.
R.I.P. Timothy White 1952-2002.

The Editor-in-Chief of Billboard and author of many great rock biographies, Timothy White, died at his Manhattan office today; he suffered a heart attack after returning from lunch. He was 50, and leaves behind twin ten-year olds. As with John Entwistle, I only spent quality time with Timothy on the one occasion; it was for a TV special on Bob Marley, of whom White wrote an incredible biography entitled Catch A Fire. To my mind, that remains one of the great rock books, though White also penned biographies on The Beach Boys, James Taylor and many more besides. I often wondered how White found time to pen a lengthy column for Billboard every week, oversee the magazine's production, and write substantial and quality rock biographies. His workload, certainly, was an inspiration to all music journalists.

Nothing much more to say right now. The double dose of bad news came as a thunderstrom gathered over New York City, with NY1 advising its viewers how to avoid being hit by lightening! Thunderfingers, as Entwistle was also known, would appreciate the noise his departure caused here. I'd also only just finished laying out the gleeful pictures and prose about the Mermaid Parade - and it follows below anyway, because both Entwistle and White,in their own ways, exemplified how to make the most of your years while you have them. I've just found myself breaking the news to a close friend in London who knew both men better than me, so I don't feel too clever or contented all round right now. Sympathies. Respect. Peace.

Thursday June 27: CONEY ISLAND HIGH

My good friend Anthony Blampied, who used to write for Jamming!, came to stay a couple of years back and we got talking about Coney Island. Turns out we both had the same memory of a Mad magazine cartoon from our childhood that showed gangs of chain-weilding leather-coated street punks sizing each other up on the beach, framed by the Cyclone and the Parachute Jump, and as a result we'd each grown up fearing the legendary New York beach as a no-go zone. But while that may have been a justified image back then, these days Coney Island is a must-attend for every self-respecting summer tourist, a constant hive of juvenile exuberance and adult decadence, probably the most fun destination on the New York City summer map.

Coney Island is the equivalent of England's Brighton in so far as both communities are flourishing as beachfront entertainment centres while maintaining the sense of frivolity and seediness that made them popular in the first place. Brighton (England) will always be more upmarket, but then we're talking there about a whole town some fifty miles from the city of London. Coney Island, on the other hand, is a beach community that's very much part of New York City (Brooklyn, to be precise), no more than a 45 minute ride (for a mere $1.50 fare) from downtown Manhattan. And while the ocean water at Coney Island is not exactly pristine, it's warmer than anything the UK has to offer, and the beach offers miles upon miles of pure sand. Sit on it long enough and someone's bound to come along selling what you need (beer, ices, snacks) and if they don't, you can trot up to the boardwalk for a famous Nathan's hot dog and avail yourself of one of the few city locations that allows you to drink beer in the open air.

In the immediate post-war era, it was not uncommon for Coney Island to play host to a million people on a single summer's day. Then came the options offered by air travel and the leisure culture, followed by the various depravations that befell New York City in the 70s and 80s, and Coney Island sunk into disrepair. A couple of Coney Island's more famous rides gathered rust and have now disappeared forever, but as a key sign of the area's economic and cultural bounce back, a marvelous ocean-front minor league baseball stadium has been built in their place. In the meantime, the Cyclone celebrates its 75th birthday this weekend, there are still enough gravity-defying adventures to make you physically sick if you unwisely opted to eat first, and there's not one but two childrens' ride parks. (Not surprisingly, Coney Island - or Tony Island as he first thought it was called - is one of Campbell's favourite destinations: he went on his first ever ride here when he was two, and his face when his little roundabout started moving was one of the most beautiful things I ever saw.)

Mermade In America!
Hula! Hula! Hula!

Coney Island is also home to the last of the permanent freak shows (literally, though they call it a Sideshow now), it promotes burlesque, offers a higher density of exposed tattooed flesh than anywhere this side of Venice Beach, and for the last twenty years, has hosted an annual Mermaid Parade too, in which thousands of New Yorkers exchange their clothes for fins and body paint and dance their way down Surf Avenue before spending an afternoon showing out on the beach.

2002 Mermaid!
Amy-and-her-friend Mermaid!
Smiling Mermaid! My kind of Mermaid!

This year's Parade took place on June 22, a stiflingly hot and humid afternoon that necessitated fire trucks hosing people down with water to prevent them fainting. Not that the temperature stopped anyone: if anything, it just added to the number of viewers and reduced their amount of clothing. We parked ourselves at the corner where the Parade turned off toward the judging line; the extra space opened up there by the organisers allowed us an excellent view. Some highlights? The Hawaiian dancers who extended into our little t-junction for a synchronsied dance. The souped-up car-with-fins driven by a pensioner who halted, jumped out and did a jig around the vehicle. The toddler with a mohawk. The Radio Flyer with a group of toddler girls representing France. Our neighbour Amy like we've never seen her before. The topless woman whose hair discreetly kept her from being arrested, waving a giant Stars and Stripes from on top of a pick-up truck. The Hungry Marching Band. The Mermaid-in-America crew. The Fire-breather who dared the Fire-men to rain on her Parade. (They did!) And the Hillbilly Mermaids. Pictures of some, if not all, of the aforementioned are enclosed here. (And photographers were ten-a-penny. Check more photos here and here.)

Toddler Mohawk Mermaid!
Stars-and-Stripes Mermaid!
Snake-man! (too many clothes, dude.)

As the afternoon wore on, we retired to the beach, where our kid decided to cool off by swimming fully clothed (we should have guessed) and I continued to marvel at the fancy-dress on the sand. From there it was back to the boardwalk, where Djs had set up shop, and house music rang out for the masses. Dancing alongside so many exotically-and scantily-dressed sea creatures, including a few protesting the antiquated Cabaret License Laws that Giuliani used to close night clubs and control bars throughout the nineties, I could actually pretend I was on the Terrace at Space in Ibiza. Sure, the crowd wasn't quite that beautiful, the music wasn't quite that loud, and the DJs certainly weren't that famous. Then again, it didn't cost as much to get to Coney Island from here as did Ibiza, we could bring our kid, the ocean was within sight, the music was just fine, the dancers were even finer, and attendance was entirely free.

On that subject, last year the Village Voice sponsored a concert that perfectly targeted the kind of young people who come to Coney Island, with performances by Guided ByVoices, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Peaches and more. On July 20th 2002, the Second Siren Music Festival takes place with Sleater-Kinney, the Donnas, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Liars, the Shins, the Von Bondies and others. I don't know how they're going to fit the crowd of many thousands that will show, but I know where I'll be that day. These outdoor New York summer festivities are simply too good to pass up.


Let's see, it's over 90 degrees out there, about 100% humidity (for like the fifth day running), school broke up for the summer at lunchtime\ (which means I have the young 'un with me), I spent the early morning watching Brazil-Turkey, it's my wedding anniversary and like the loyal husband I am, I'm letting the wife take me to see Clinic, Firewater and Radio 4 at a free concert on the Hudson River this evening to celebrate. In other words, not much time to post. Count yourselves lucky. You'll get a double dose tomorrow.

No complaints about Brazil beating Turkey 1-0 to book their place in the final. Once more, evidence that a solid referee can keep the peace and brook no crap. Even Rivaldo gave up play-acting for ninety minutes. The Spanish and Italians continue to gripe about conspiracy, but the only charge on which FIFA is guilty is of employing sub-standard referees and then not standing by them when they make human errors. Looking forward to the Final now, for all the reasons listed yesterday, except I'm going to be on Fire Island without a TV. Help!

Tuesday June 25: EVERYTHING'S OK

I spent Sunday/Mornday at a friend's house upstate, where I learned something fascinating - assuming it's true. It goes like this: Thomas Van Buren, eighth President of the United States (1836-1840), was born in Old Kinderhook, across the Hudson River from Albany, and maintained a home there throughout his tenure as a Senator, Vice President and then President. When documents were sent to him at this upstate house, he would sign them off with an 'OK' as shorthand for his location. Given Van Buren's status as national leader, the phrase then gained popularity and credence, until it became part of the accepted national parlance. I live for learning factoids like this, ok? (Actually I live for considerably more, but you know what I mean.) If anyone can confirm or deny, I would love to hear from them - over at the Forum. OK?

. . .The ijamming! site scored a record number of hits again last week, which is wonderful. As a result, there are more e-mails than ever landing in the In-Box, and I am trying to be careful about making more work for myself than I can handle with this site. So once more, I do ask you to post your comments on the Forum if you don't mind sharing them; or send them to me, but don't expect an immediate reply. . .

Talking of replies, the letters page in last Sunday's New York Times sports section was full of readers defending the USA's 'feckless' and 'insipid' defender Jeff Agoos from being described as such on the front page of the biggest paper in America, as I reported a few days ago. English fans, on the other hand, are searching out scapegoats, and settling on goalie David Seaman for being off his line when Ronaldhino took that remarkable free kick and put Brazil 2-1 up. As far as I'm concerned, one mistake does not turn a hero into a villain, so I won't join the herd on that one. However, just as I winced every time I saw Agoos listed in the USA's starting line-up, I was baffled through all five England games when I saw Sven-Goran Eriksson stick loyally by Emile Heskey. I was quickly heard remarking about the 'blind donkey' on the England side which piqued my six year old's interest in the tournament considerably. (Whatever it takes; when I was his age I was begging to be allowed to stay up and watch the Brazil-Italy final of 1970. Campbell heads to the spare TV for early morning cartoons instead.) It seriously scares me that Heskey is meant to be the second-best striker England has - especially as Michael Owen is Welsh anyway.

Nice segue to the fact that the Germans opted to publicly criticise the USA for having so many 'naturalised' foreigners on their side. The ESPN commentators on the South Korea-Germany game this morning kindly pointed out that the two German forwards were themselves each born outside the Fatherland. Nice one. Even nicer was the game itself. For once, two teams absolutely committed to getting to the World Cup Final without hacking down their opponents, abusing the referee or feigning catastrophic injury. (Though the Germans couldn't help trying it on a few times; it's still in their nature.) Personally, I'm glad Germany won, for the following reasons:
1) I like the idea of the USA going out to the Finalists; it makes their own performance look all the better.
2) I want to see the best attack in the world (Brazil) take on the best defense in the world (Germany) in the Final (and for the best attack to win, so that, likewise, England can claim to have at least gone out to the champions), and
3) While I don't believe in scandalous backhanders to ensure that South Korea received favourable refereeing decisions, as the Italian and Spanish are insisting, I do believe they got incredibly lucky with a couple of referees. Of course, you create your own luck, and South Korea have proven to the world just how far a positive attitude, real determination and a great team spirit will take you (just as the Italians demonstrated how cynicism and negativity will eventually catch up with you). But it was time for that luck to run out. 1-0 may be the only score Germany seem to know these days, but this morning they were good for it. And the South Koreans and their fans were fantastically good losers in turn, a lesson in sportsmenship. Finally, the referee proved that it is possible to officiate at this World Cup and be neither fooled by swan dives nor wave yellow cards around like they're going out of fashion. Hopefully, the tournament has regained some of its credibility - just in time for what could be a bloodbath between Brazil and Turkey tomorrow.

. . .Why I don't read Lads Mags. FHMUS sends me e-mail press releases; on a whim, I decided to follow the link and check out the result of their 100 Sexiest Women In The World Poll. I'm still recovering. FHM readers apparently believe that the second most sexy woman on earth is that silicon-enhanced Pepsi-Cola swilling/selling tramp Britney Spears - just when I thought she was finally becoming old news. Can they worst that, you ask? Yes, by voting 'I'm-good-for anything-but-winning-Wimbledon' tennis brat Anna Kournikova the number one Sexiest Women In The World. Look, I love young female blondes as much as the next old male blonde, but Christ, aren't there any young pin-ups out there with more in the upstairs department than these two? (And by upstairs, I do mean above the bust.)


Listening to WNYC - a National Public Radio station - in the bathroom this morning, I heard a positive report from Kabul, where thousands had attended the football stadium there to watch, on a giant screen via live boradcast, their fellow Muslims Turkey play (and beat) Senegal in the World Cup. Although the report didn't state as much, I am assuming this is the same Kabul football stadium where the populace was perviously forced to witness executions as the Taliban hung 'offenders' from the goalposts. Back here in the West, you may recall that around the end of last year, you could hardly move for the vociferous group of cynics who decried the War in Afghanistan not least because they refused, as cynics will, to believe that new rulers would be any better than the old ones. I rest my case.

WNYC in general, especially the almost impossibly restrained Brian Lehrer who hosts the always educational Morning Edition, provides a welcome voice of reasoned intelligence in an ugly world of partisan political media reporting. In a move that I would love to see the BBC or the Independent imitate, Lehrer has in recent weeks invited two distinguished professors from opposite sides of the intensely heated Israel-Palestine debate to explain, with their interpretation of the facts and without inflaming each other, the background to important historical events in that region. I've learned a lot from these discussions, and so would other people whose domestic media does not present both sides of the argument. The discussions have been archived at the WNYC web site. You can hopefully find them here.

And with that, I'm out of here for 24 hours. Next posting will be on Tuesday, with photos from Saturday's glorious Mermaid Parade at Coney Island.


OF course it hurts. And caring about both England and the USA, and watching two Quarter-final defeats just five hours apart makes for a double dose of depression. So yeah, I'm in pain. . .

. . .But from the English perspective, I can't say it hurts as much as the 1990 Semi Final against Germany, the 1996 European Championships Semi-Final against Germany, or the 1998 Second Round knock-out to Argentina, all of which England lost on penalties, leaving the fans with that horrible "it's not fair" sinking feeling in the stomach. Against Brazil Thursday night, England were simply out-classed. For the whole first half, our boys played well, taking the game to their opponents, getting a good goal (Michael Owen making the most of a defensive mistake) and defending solidly. But after letting in goals either side of half time, including that freak free kick for which Seaman will probably be villififed like Beckham was four years ago (I refuse to play the scapegoat game; in case no one noticed, football is a team sport) England collapsed, never regaining their shape, looking confused for most of the second half and totally clueless for the last fifteen minutes. The only other time England let in a goal in this World Cup was in the second half of the opening game against Sweden, after which they also collapsed. There's a lesson about morale and composure here but it'll be four more years (of hurt) before we can apply it.

Palace player almost scores in World Cup! Referee misses handball, no penalty. Palace go home. Same old...
The USA, on the other hand, were genuinely unlucky to be knocked out. They refused to be intimidated by the German's supposed superiority, stubbornly refused to say die after going 1-0 down, and were desperately unfortunate not to have a penalty call for a handball on the goal line (off the Palace player Berhalter no less). Eventually they were outwitted by a miserly German defence that's let in just one goal in five games, and their insistence on playing the high ball against a team that was, almost to a man, taller than them, defied logic. But charging through the middle was no more successful, so it was left to the World Cup's youngest scorer (THREE times over) Landon Donovan to make the runs down the wing - and to somehow try and score the goals too. He actually came very close twice in the opening half hour, forcing superb saves off the German keeper Kahn; at the point at which Germany scored, on a dubious foul called shortly before half time, the USA had had five solid shots on goal against one German effort.

But of course, it's goals that count, and even the obvious handball on the goal line had to be written off as karma given that O'Brien got away with an even more obvious use of the fist against Mexico. Mohwaked Clint Mathis, who saw most of the five USA games from the bench as a result of his prima donna status and apparent fondness for fast food, couldn't make a difference in the half hour he played, and the clock ultimately ran down on a team that for almost three weeks, woke its home nation up to the sport. The USA has arrived on the world stage, and it can credit its youth programmes and the nascent MLS for much of its success. Now it's up to people like me to put their money where their mouths are and support that league as it continues to nurture great talent along the lines of Donovan, Beasley, McBride, O'Brien, Wolff and Mathis. Full credit to the Yanks for surprising so many people and playing with such passionate, determination and fairness throughout.

The only way to get through a night that saw kick-offs at 2.30 and 7.30 am was, indeed, to make a full night of it. By coincidence more than anything, June 20th saw a plethora of live music across the city and right up until 8pm I was figuring out my options. I finally decided that variety in music is the spice of life and started my night at Prospect Park for the opening concert of the Celebrate Brooklyn series, with New Orleans legend Dr. John. This outdoor summer concert season, a little brother to the more renowned Summer Stage concerts in Central Park, are incredibly easy going affairs. You're asked to make a $3 donation at the gate, but you're just as welcome to stay outside the perimeter, set up a picnic and watch for free. The sightlines are great, the sound system is superb, the atmosphere is never less than plesant, and the mix of people is always a treat, perhaps because the mix of music purposefully reflects the multicultural make-up of Brooklyn. (This year's concerts feature stars from Egypt, India, Ireland and a couple of indie-rock shows, include Lampchop and Mouth On Mars.) This was the first time I've seen Dr.John in concert and while the show was a little showbiz - much soloing from his bass-drums-guitar backing trio and a lot more emphasis on "funk" than boogaloo, or the blues, it's difficult not to love music as effortlessly infectious and skillfully played. Jools Holland would be the first to tell you that.

From Prospect Park, it was up to midtown in time to catch Doves' headlining show at Hammerstein Ballroom. (I would love to have seen New York's own The Rapture open, and being impressed by Elbow at a recent co-headliner with South at the Bowery Ballroom, could have done with a repeat performance from the night's middle act too, but three hours in one venue wears me down, so another day for each of them.) Eighteen months ago, I reported on the genuine ground-level excitement surrounding Doves, and it's since transformed into something far bigger, as the rapturous reaction of the sold-out crowd demonstrated. I walked in on the third song, 'Words,' easily my favorite from the new album The Last Broadcast, and was instantly impressed by how easily Doves' generally restrained sound filled the large hall. There's no doubt that twin brothers Jez and Andy Williams, along with Jimi Goodwin, have created for themselves an emotive middle ground in the fertile land between arena rock and cerebral pop, and it's refreshing to see a group grow gradually and genuinely without succumbing to the usual rock posturing and ego gratification. That said, while in concert the music washes over the listener with a cleansing clarity, I'm left longing for someone to step forward and claim the spotlight. And it's frustrating that, despite hiring a keyboard player, the group still finds it necessary to stick a number of bass parts on tape and have the drummer forced into a metronomic beat - especially on such well-known songs as 'Catch The Sun'. True enough, in their previous guise as Sub Sub, the trio was always immersed in the world of digital dance, but having thrown themselves forward as great rock contenders, I feel they should go the whole hog. The first encore, replete with video of northern soul dancers pulling their appropriate body pops (I didn't take notes and don't want to name the wrong song, but I believe it was 'Here It Comes', was wonderful.

The Propellerheads were in town Djing; so was Seb Fontaine; the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were playing a poorly-kept 'secret' show at Luxx; but the only place to be for any one with a love of dance music and a couple more hours to kill was the little used Metropolitan Pavilion for a Smirnoff-sponsored three-room rave-up with the likes of Gilles Peterson, Dave Ralph, John Kelly, Jon Creamer and Satoshie Tomie. I'm not a big advocate of alcohol and tobacco companies financing the youth scene, but given that in the States, you've got to be 21 to drink anyway (though you're free to start smoking your way to cancer at 18), you've got to figure that those who attend such shows are big enough to make their own vodka choices. I hit the Pavilion in time to enjoy Grandmaster Flash's classic old-school set - LL Cool J, Blondie, and breakbeats galore, with Flash regularly on the microphone extolling 'hands in the air' - but he was no sooner offstage at midnight than one of the friends I'd been at the Doves show with called to say Nevada Smiths had already closed its doors three hours ahead of the England game and that other bars were filling up likewise. There were England shirts all over the dancefloor at the Pavilion, just as there had been at Hammerstein, and our excitement level was such that we left them to it and got to the Sporting Club in time for our 1 am reservation.

Both Dave Ralph and Seb Fontaine came from their DJ gigs to claim spots at our table, which resembled something of a dance music convention by kick-off time. (My Palace mate Geoffrey Armes also attended; he forwarded this report from the Independent which sums up the game accurately for those who didn't watch.) Beer flowed freely, but so did nerves. We felt we could do it. We just had to prove it. For 45 minutes, the dream looked like coming true. Then came that freak free kick, and even with its propagator Ronaldhino's shock sending off (not one English fan in the bar could see why it was a red card), England couldn't muster a performance to justify progress to the semis. Rivaldo continued the dirty tricks campaign he started against Turkey, but that was as sordid as the game got. The previously raucous support for England at the Sporting Club grew gradually quieter, and the shrieks of the Brazilian girls stood right behind our table grew ever louder. Hey, if you're going to have opposing fans in your bar, they might as well be Brazilian and female. We gave them a round of applause at the end. When you're beaten fairly and squarely, you've got to accept it.

Three hours later, the Brazen Head in Brooklyn was pouring coffee, beer and Bloody Marys galore, and just after kick-off, my new-found World Cup friends Jamie (Sheffield Wednesday), his american girlfriend Jen and their Irish mate Dara (Limerick) charged into the bar, clearly without sleeping but with plenty drowning of sorrows since the England game, and immediately taught the gathered sleepy Americans lessons in singing support. Unfortunately, they raised the old Two World Wars song ("and a prospective World Cup") which only caused the lone German fan, a pathetic drunken East Village rocker dude, to start cheering on 'the Nazis.' A few more English in the room, and said dude might not have made it through the game conscious, but the American fans were more concerned with watching the match that rising to drunken bait and left him alone. As I wrote up top, on the field the Yanks gave as good as they got. And they came off it with respect. I went home for much-needed sleep and an afternoon's work. Though I've been giving a baroom report of much of the Cup, the excruciating hours have forced this to be my most sober tournament to date. And for those who still insist the Americans don't care, I take my hats off to the Florida family that drove 2500 miles just to watch the match in a stadium.

Win or lose - alright, lose - the weekend rolls on, and Saturday sees us at the Mermaid Parade along Coney Island's waterfront. In recent years, this carnival has replaced Wigstock as New York's dress-up party of choice, with a distinct Love Parade feel on top. That means plenty flesh in the sunshine, and to prove that going topless in the name of art is legal, a woman who was arrested last year for exposing body-painted breasts and had the case rightly thrown out has now taken the city to court for wrongful arrest. That should ensure a hands off approach this year (pun somewhat intended). Organisers are upping the ante by protesting the City's long-outdated Cabaret laws, which Guiliani enforced during his reign, shuttering clubs that dared allow customers to dance without an official license - which was impossible to acquire under his regime. New Mayor Bloomberg has already eased off the pressure on nightclubs and bars; hopefully, he'll see the futility of denying people a basic human emotion, and either grant more cabaret licenses, or repeal the law entirely. Regardless, we're assured of seeing much beauty in the name of art today, and the digital camera will be working overtime. It's in that spirit - and as peace offering for that picture of the Argentinean handbags - that I give us the enlosed. I believe there are similar pictures out there of France, German and Brazilian women similarly sponsored by the cheeky Adidas - and I'd like to see them. Have a great weekend.


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