Wednesday, October 26, 2022

" Properly, we should read for power. Man reading should be man intensely alive. the book should be a ball of light in one's hands"

- Ezra Pound

(via Luke Davis)

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

"The Sex Pistols were about destroying the rock monolith; the Clash were about rescuing it…. [Punk was] not just another fashion, Peter York, because a fashion does not turn everything sour with its passing, a fashion does not destroy the hope of a huge money-drenched monolith… A fashion is a tranquiliser; Rotten was the biggest stimulant--Do Something!--this country has seen since Winston Churchill. After the Knowledge the Sex Pistols offered you, how can you ever forgive all these bands for being around?"

 Julie Burchill,  The Face, December 1980

[Rush of History + Amphetamines] "made the two years go by very fast; when it was over in 1978, there was a terrible tristesse about, a feeling of being jilted... No one who loved punk will ever be happy again, dear me no, but it was worth it. I pity the young people these days; I wish they could have some of what we had.

- Julie Burchill, East Village Eye interview (Summer 1981). 

Monday, October 24, 2022

"One of my favorite coinages, or twists, which I think I only ever used on  my blog is 'common groove'  -  basically, I have this polemic that the best black music, whether it's funk or disco, tends to be the most commercially successful stuff. The cream rises. 

"Nowadays, because of all these obscurantist reissue labels, you have a generation of hipsters who have listened to all this objectively second or third division disco, funk, etc  - but have never actually listened to Rose Royce or Stevie Wonder or Chic or whoever - the stuff that got into the charts and that masses of people bought and listened to.  

"All that stuff is common groove because there's loads of vinyl copies lingering in the world, going dirt cheap - and full of wonderful music. You could probably pick up 7 albums worth of it for the price of one of these stupid obscurer-than-thou deluxe vinyl reissues. 

"It relates to the Retromania chapter on Northern Soul. That was the original 'rare groove,'  although they didn't use that term, they talked about rare soul. The Northern Soulies had a whole thing where they wouldn't play Motown because it was 'commercial' - all that meant though was that it was so indisputably good that ordinary people liked it and bought it!  The 'rare soul' was just as commercial in intent, it's just that it wasn't good enough to be commercially successful.

"Same applies to 'rare groove'. It's basically the failed stuff."

Sunday, October 23, 2022


"You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life."
-- Winston Churchill

Saturday, October 22, 2022

  “What most of us have to fear for the future is not that something terrible is going to happen, but rather that nothing is going to happen. That we may live in a boring world, in an eventless world where nothing happens.”

- JG Ballard

Friday, October 21, 2022

  "Enjoying being insulting is a youthful corruption of power. You lose your taste for it when you realize how hard people try, how much they mind, and how long they remember."

Martin Amis, The War Against Cliche 

Thursday, October 20, 2022

  "You forget sometimes how when you're a kid, how many times you would listen to a record. You know, women never forget that. They could still do it. I don't know why but the wiring is different. Lili can play the same record all day long in a way that would drive me crazy the third time through. I'd have to turn it off but she can do that. And I found that similar with other women that I've known, that could really get into the rhythm of the whole thing in a way that I really can't.

"But as a kid, you have 20 records so you'd be very familiar with their contents. Sometimes you can have forgotten completely what those records were. And then a certain Moody Blues song can transport me to this dorm room at Choate [prep school] with these guys smoking pot. And thankfully, I'd never hear a Moody Blues song in any context but if I do... Or Cat Stevens songs – as much as I loathe that guy, they have these transportational qualities for me. And I think everybody has a store of those same kind of things. And it's pretty interesting to push peoples' buttons in that way. The fact that they have such emotional resonance. It makes music very powerful."

- Byron Coley, interviewed

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

 “It hurt my ears. Like being hit with a machine gun of ice cubes” - Neil Young on digital sound.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

"Thought is the enemy of flow" - Vinnie Colaiuta

A famous drummer I'd never heard of until I saw someone post this quote - but apparently he is King Drummer, toast of the technical mags.

I wondered if it's true

In life

In writing

Or any kind of creative practice

I sort of think it's bunk, but then I'm very wedded to thought and thinking. Takes a lot to turn it off.

But I wondered if it might not even be true in music

(I'm not a musician so can't really speak to that)

But yeah thought - thought is flow, isn't it? Even linear thought is flow - just channeled a bit.

(This whole thing of being anti-linearity is very dated and '90s I think.)

(Yet also makes me think of that Edward de Bono fellow and his "lateral thinking" paperbacks that you'd see in the 1970s. Stuff that was made to be the stuff of management retraining seminars - "get your executives thinking outside the box and increase your profits" )


maybe sports is where this maxim of the world-famous drummer does apply

is this what sports people mean when they talk about being "in the zone" - where it's all automatic and reflexive...

perhaps sports is like a reversion to the state of grace of the animal - the instinctive movements of the predator and the prey

animals follow the rules of their nature, responds to the threats or opportunities provided by other creatures who are following the rules of their nature

no deliberation, no self-doubt, no decisions to be made as such


i am a supremely mediocre tennis player, but playing tennis I have felt something like this flow, and it is a kind of animal-like ecstasy of action, you make a shot that outwits your opponent and you feel like a wily fox... you leap like a leopard to make a difficult return...

football or a team sports, perhaps that is more like herd-consciousness or pack-consciousness - depending on whether in the defensive or attacking mode maybe - the antelope or the wolf


is "flow" just a near-synonym for "be here now? so not thought is the enemy so much as either future-oriented thinking (planning, anxiety, anticipation) OR past-oriented thinking (memory, regret, retracing footsteps etc) - anything that detracts/distracts from the moment-to-moment thinking

i have played videogames maybe a dozen times in my life but i should imagine the flow-state is a major part of the attraction

i wonder where gambling fits in this - it's not quite in the moment but there's a tremendous tension directed towards a moment to come (the horse crosses the line, the hand of cards is revealed) but it's so imminent and so tensed that all else is blotted out - all other worries in your life contract to this single Worry. I wouldn't know, i'm not a gambler, but I did just recently watch California Split, the great Altman film about addicted gamblers

those automatons you see at the fruit machines in Vegas are in a kind of flow (which begs the question of whether there are state-of-grace flows and profane, profoundly-fallen flows)

(in Vegas there is actually a college of Gambling Studies, a grim looking building on the outskirts of town)


the combination of focus, challenge, flow and resistance to flow is probably why puzzle books are so popular, especially with middle aged and elderly folk - their equivalent of games actually

solitaire also

playing chess must be where thought and flow are the same thing - wouldn't know, supremely mediocre chess player -

chinese checkers though (more my level) is thoughtflowtastic - it's problem solving but short term - and nothing real at stake


"play" is the word - playing music, playing games, playing the fool

child-games especially (chase, hide and seek, etc) are pure flow 



dancing on E


or in German fröhlich, meaning something like gay or merry

is this the "gay science" of which Friedrich speaks? 

ah well that is the German original of the book - Die fröhliche Wissenschaft


"The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz." - Mihály Csíkszentmihályi on the "flow state", aka “complete immersion in an activity"

 "It's an odd thing getting old. On the one hand. you think "I want to make every day count". On the other, you think "can I be arsed?".  Or simply "I'm so knackered". I have about six or seven ideas for books that itch quite strongly. But I have an equally strong counter-impulse (not the right word, that's too dynamic - it's more like a prolapse of the will, a spreading swamp of apathy) to never do another book.  I suppose  the point really is to not think about the finish line and how dauntingly far off it might seem, but more about how alluring the process of doing them is, or isn't. The reason to do it would be more about being energized and re-purposed in the now - rather some supposed achievement at the end of the process."

- Ronny Mieldsen

  "Popular culture is a contradiction in terms. If it's popular, it's not culture."   Vivienne Westwood